Ichigo Kurosaki vs. Renji Abarai & Byakuya Kuchiki is a fight which takes place between Ichigo Kurosaki and Lieutenant Renji Abarai & Captain Byakuya Kuchiki after the latter two arrive in the Human World to bring Rukia Kuchiki back to Soul Society for her impending execution.
After Uryū Ishida uses bait to attract Hollows in order to have a competition with Ichigo Kurosaki, he accidentally attracts a Menos Grande into the Human World along with a massive amount of Hollow. Ichigo manages to block its Cero attack and then injure the Menos Grande, forcing it to retreat back to Hueco Mundo.
After the battle, Ichigo's Reiatsu begins to destabilize and he collapses from the strain and his Zanpakutō begins to unravel. Using his Quincy abilities Uryū is able to save him at great cost to himself as his hands and arms are greatly injured in the effort of releasing the unstable Reiatsu until the air around them normalizes.
Quietly watching the events from the sidelines, Rukia Kuchiki reflects that the news of a Menos Grande attacking the Human World is bound to get back to the Soul Society. She spends a while being quite withdrawn from her friends as she is distracted by what she knows will be the consequences of being found by the Soul Society.
Members of the Soul Society do find out about the attack of the Menos Grande, and as a result of their findings, dispatch two Shinigami in order to either retrieve Rukia from the Human World or to kill her. That evening, Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihōin discuss the issue and Yoruichi states that those sent to take Rukia back have already arrived in Karakura Town.
Knowing she is a target and that she cannot escape her fate, Rukia flees from the Kurosaki Clinic without saying goodbye to Ichigo but leaving him a note thanking him for helping her out. As she runs into the night, Rukia is unaware that she is already being tailed by the two Shinigami sent to capture her. Standing above the buildings, two Shinigami appear, assessing her as she runs and the two of them are surprised to find her occupying an odd type of Gigai. Rukia reflects on her budding friendships in the Human World, noting that Shinigami are not meant to have such attachments there. She considers her feelings to be disgraceful and decides that she has become too attached to the Human World and she needs to cut herself off from her feelings.
While reflecting on how living with Ichigo and his friends has changed her, Rukia wonders aloud about her predicament and is suddenly surprised when someone behind her answers her thoughts. The new arrival agrees with her assessment that she has become too attached to those in the Human World. She looks up and sees a long-haired Shinigami seated at the top of a telegraph pole behind her, with his Zanpakutō drawn and a mocking expression on his face. He chastises her for her willingness to stay in the Human World and how she is now allowing that life to influence her as her ramblings are no longer making any sense.
Rukia recognizes her pursuer as Renji Abarai and when she calls out to him, he cuts her off with a sudden attack, slashing downwards directly in front of her, missing her on purpose. Rukia is taken aback and stunned by the sudden violence and Renji continues to berate her for this. He asserts that he, a hunter from the Soul Society, was right behind her since she left the clinic and she has been too lost in her own thoughts to even notice his presence. While maintaining that while she is in a body that is not her own, the Gigai, she still should have been able to sense his approach insisting that she has softened too much during the last several months she has spent in the Human World.
Lifting his blade from the ground, Renji slings it casually across his shoulder and demands that Rukia call for the Human that stole the Shinigami powers from her. Shocked that he is so informed on the situation and hesitating as a result, Rukia tries to lie about her current circumstances; she denies that a Human stole her powers while asserting that he is making assumptions just because she is currently residing within a Gigai. Not fooled by her words, Renji rebuffs her claims stating that he knows for a fact that Rukia's powers were stolen by a mere Human and that the Human-like expression on her face, which he dismisses, proves it.
Renji reminds Rukia that she is a native of the Rukongai district just like him and yet she was taken in and adopted by the prestigious Kuchiki Clan in order to be trained as an elite Shinigami. Yet, despite this special treatment reserved for her, she is still behaving like a Human which is unbecoming of somebody with her rank and station. To reinforce his statement, he calls out to another Shinigami standing behind Rukia, referring to him as his "Captain". A stunned Rukia turns around to see another Shinigami looming behind her, watching her quietly. Much to her horror, she recognizes her adoptive brother, Byakuya Kuchiki, and hesitatingly greets him in a shaken voice and he merely calmly acknowledges her presence in return, his face expressionless.
While Rukia stands shocked by her brother's arrival, Renji moves behind her and slashes his Zanpakutō in an attempt to attack her. Rukia notices the movement just in time and spins away in an effort to evade the blow. However, she does not move fast enough and the right side her face is slashed in the process. Renji points his blade at her and asserts that passing her Shinigami powers to a Human is a grave sin in the Shinigami community. He insists that Rukia should be grateful that both he and Byakuya were permitted to deal with the situation rather than an Execution team. He again demands that she call for the Human who stole her powers so that they can kill him and return with her to the Soul Society.
Renji tells Rukia that he has been going easy on her and has been allowing her to escape his blows, but advises her that if she doesn't start to do as they ask, his next attacks will be lethal. Just then he notices a glint of light on his blades as a shot of Reiatsu comes towards him, forcing him to evade it. Uryū, with his hands still bandaged, walks on the scene stating that, from the outside observer, Renji appears to be a man, with a weapon, attacking an unarmed woman and he really hates that sort of thing. Seething, Renji asks Uryū who he is but the teenager simply states that he is a friend from Rukia's class and just happens to also be someone who hates Shinigami.
Surprised and worried, Rukia asks Uryū what he is doing there but the teenager makes up an excuse, stating that he was out shopping at an all-night clothing shop and shows a bag he brought to prove this. However, he soon abandons this lie and states that he had sensed the presence of the Shinigami and rushed out with the lie prepared. Rukia is shocked and wonder quietly how stupid Uryū is to show up while clearly outnumbered. Renji interrupts them, cutting the bag from his hands as he again demands to know who he is, threatening to kill him despite Rukia's protests that he is not involved in the situation.
Uryū again states that he is merely a friend of Rukia's from school and that he hates Shinigami but Renji says he doesn't care about that. Uryū finally reveals his name and pleasantly greets the Shinigami. Uryū change in attitude surprises Renji and he asks him about it but Uryū replies that even if he is just a Shinigami, he will want to know the name of the person who will defeat him. This enrages Renji and he decides to kill the teenager. Renji manages to easily defeat Uryū, knocking him to the ground without receiving an injury himself. Renji arrogantly raises his blade to deliver the finishing blow while sardonically introducing himself in a similar manner that Uryū had.
Whilst Renji is about to use his Zanpakutō to kill Uryū, a large explosion of Reiatsu breaks the ground apart under his feet. Instinctively, he jumps away and land on a wall nearby wondering who it was that caused the ruptures in the ground. He looks over to see that Ichigo has arrived on the scene to protect his friends. Enraged, Ichigo introduces himself to Renji and tells him to remember his name as he is about to be the person who will defeat him, mockingly echoing the words Renji had just used against Uryū before he intervened on the battle.
Upon seeing the outfit that Ichigo is wearing, namely the Shihakushō uniform that is worn by all Shinigami, Renji becomes confused as to who he is. He demands to know what Division of the Gotei 13 Ichigo is a part of. However, before Ichigo has a chance to answer him, Renji sees his Zanpakutō and is immediately stunned by the size of it as it is much larger than the traditional blades carried by other Shinigami. He asks Ichigo about it, but the Substitute Shinigami is unconcerned since he had previously thought it was big compared to Rukia but until now, there was never anyone else to compared the size of his blade to.
Renji studies Ichigo and his sword while mentally stating to himself that the size of a Zanpakutō reflects the amount of Reiatsu its wielder has and yet Ichigo appears to be a rookie but has such a huge blade. Ichigo gets irritated when the Shinigami continues to stare at him but Renji is soon distracted when he notices Rukia murmuring to herself about Ichigo staying away from the fight. The Shinigami then comes to the realization that Ichigo is the Human that both he and Byakuya have been sent to kill, the Human who stole Rukia's Shinigami powers. Renji declares this fact to Ichigo and the teenager merely agrees with the accusation carelessly. In response, Renji leaps from the wall towards him as Byakuya watches on.
Renji attacks Ichigo several times with his blade, forcing the teenager to block with his own Zanpakutō. Confident in his superior abilities, Renji begins to mock Ichigo while continuing his onslaught. Ichigo is forced on the defensive time and again, marveling at the speed and strength of his opponent while telling him to stop talking so much during their battle. Ichigo tries to go on the offensive, swinging his large blade downwards in an attempt to strike Renji down but the experienced Shinigami is too fast and leaps into the air, evading the blade. While above Ichigo, Renji stealthily spins and uses his blade to slash Ichigo on the right shoulder, shocking him.
When Ichigo falls to his knees gripping his shoulder, Renji stands above him and declares the fight to be over as Ichigo will not be able to defeat him. He goes on to state that he will kill the teenager and with Ichigo's death, Rukia will get her powers back. Further elaborating on his intentions, Renji mentions that after they bring Rukia back to the Soul Society, she will be executed for her crimes. Ichigo is shocked and looks to Rukia as Renji states this, seeing her injured face turned downwards and sorrowful, quietly accepting her fate.
Renji begins to berate Ichigo again, insulting his lack intelligence in coming out to try and help Rukia when she purposefully left on her own so that he wouldn't be in danger. He insists that Ichigo would not be able to change anything in coming to her aid especially since he wouldn't ever be able to put a scratch on an inexperienced Shinigami like himself. While he's still chastising the teenager, Ichigo suddenly slices his Zanpakutō upwards and slices Renji's chin, interrupting him in the middle of his speech. Ichigo sardonically apologizes to the Shinigami, maintaining that his hand just slipped and he hadn't intended to interrupt him.
Renji mocks Ichigo for his sarcasm but he is immediately chastised by his Captain, Byakuya, who moves forward and informs his subordinate that he was careless to allow Ichigo the chance to attack him. Renji begins to state that the cut meant nothing but Byakuya interrupts him by revealing that Ichigo Kurosaki was the name of someone in a recent report he had received. According to the report, Ichigo had managed to deal an invading Menos Grande a serious blow and thus force it back to Hueco Mundo. The large Hollow was then easily dealt with as a result of the scar left during his confrontation with the teenager.
While Ichigo wonders if they are referring to the large Hollow he and Uryū had faced off against, Renji bursts out laughing at the thought of a rookie like Ichigo being able to defeat a Menos Grande. He goes as far as to suggest that the report was erroneous due to Ichigo's lack of experience. Byakuya goes to speak but Renji interrupts him, insisting that while Ichigo's sword is big, there is no strength behind it so there must have been a mistake. He then calls out to Ichigo and asks him the name of his Zanpakutō. This question confuses Ichigo and so he denies that he has given his sword a name, asking if they all give their swords names since it wasn't something he considered doing himself.
Renji is elated with his answer as it confirms just how inexperienced of a Shinigami Ichigo is as he doesn't even know the name of his Zanpakutō. Deciding once and for all that Ichigo could never be his equal, Renji releases his Shikai, Zabimaru by running his hand along the blade and reciting its release phrase. Renji's blade changes form and becomes a large, segmented and jagged blade instead of a usual katana. Ichigo is immediately alarmed by this and can only raise his blade to block Renji's attack as the Shinigami leaps towards him. However, the segments of the sword extend and, instead of slashing Ichigo as he expected, they stab into his left shoulder and back, wounding him deeply.
Ichigo drops his sword and Renji pulls the jagged segments of his blade along Ichigo's shoulder, injuring him further, before pulling it free. He triumphantly declares, again, that the fight is over and that Ichigo has lost to Renji Abarai. He insists that they are too different in strength and that a Shinigami can alter the shape and size of their Zanpakutō at will. He maintains that this blade signifies Renji's true strength and Reiatsu. Asserting that he has nothing personal against Ichigo, who is on his knees in front of him, Renji raises his Zanpakutō and prepares to land the final blow to end Ichigo's life.
Watching the battle, Rukia assesses the difference in Renji's power since the last time she saw him. She reflects that she had hoped that Ichigo would flee from the battle before getting too injured by the more experienced Shinigami due to the obvious difference in power levels. She wonders if Ichigo can move and decides to create an opening that he can use to escape. Renji moves in to attack the wounded Substitute Shinigami but Rukia runs forward, flinging herself onto Renji's back while wrapping her hands around the arm holding his sword in order to prevent the swing. She cries out for Ichigo to flee while struggling with Renji who maintains that she is making it worse for herself.
Instead of running, the dazed Ichigo comes to his sense and picks up his Zanpakutō instead, shocking both Rukia and Renji. Rukia urges Ichigo to run but watching him get to his feet, Renji becomes excited at the prospect of beating him down again. When he doesn't attack first, Renji moves to do so but is alarmed by a sudden blast of Reiatsu that releases from his opponent. Ichigo leaps over Renji and slices his shoulder as he does so, stunning the Shinigami. Ichigo keeps up the momentum, slashing upwards with his sword, forcing Renji to block but still manages to break the Shinigami's sunglasses and injure his forehead in the process as he knocks him backwards.
Staggering and holding on to the railing for support following the attack, Renji wonders where the sudden burst of Reiatsu came from in Ichigo. His opponent taunts him that his movements have gotten slow and Renji realizes that Ichigo doesn't know that he is the one who has gotten faster, not the other way around. Ichigo is elated by the sudden turn in events, declaring that his wound no longer hurts and that he feels like he can actually defeat Renji in combat. The red-haired Shinigami can only watch, stunned by the power of his opponents Reiatsu, as Ichigo comes at him, bringing his sword down to attack and finish the battle. However, at the last moment, Ichigo's blade appears to be sliced in half.
Ichigo is utterly confounded by this turn of events, wondering how the majority of his sword just vanished like that. He looks to Renji and realizes that it couldn't have been him as the stunned and injured Shinigami had not even moved to defend himself from his attack. He looks up to see the other Shinigami, Byakuya, standing a good distance away from the battle. Despite this, the other man is holding the large, missing piece of Ichigo's blade in his hand, shocking Ichigo that he could have moved such a distance, so fast without the Substitute Shinigami being aware of it. Byakuya silently lifts the blade a bit before dropping it casually to the ground as Ichigo looks on.
Byakuya reaches for the hilt of his own blade, causing Ichigo alarm as he wonders if the other man is about to attack. Before he can do anything, however, Byakuya seems to appear behind him without Ichigo even noticing him pass. Suddenly, a deep wound opens up on Ichigo's chest and blood explodes from it. Stunned, Ichigo wonders if he was attacked, reflecting that if he was, he can't even tell if he was hit from the back or the front but all he could feel was the pain as he fell. Byakuya appears beside him and asserts that Ichigo is "slow", even when he is falling down. As Rukia cries out for him to stop, her brother stabs Ichigo again from the back and he collapses to the ground.
Renji watches in awe of his Captains prowess in battle but, when questioned, asserts that he did not need Byakuya's help in defeating their opponent. Byakuya reminds him that if he does not participate in combat, his skills may begin to degrade, which Renji does not think possible. He is distracted from these thoughts, however, when a frantic and worried Rukia runs towards the gravely wounded Ichigo. Annoyed, Renji slams her into a lamppost asserting that Ichigo is dead and that there is no point in adding more to her crimes over a dead man.
Rukia states that she doesn't care about her sentence, that everything that had happened to Ichigo in recent months was because of her involvement. As Ichigo's current situation is her responsibility, she feels she has no other choice but to go to him. Seeing her distress, Byakuya surmises that even if her punishment worsens, she still wants to be by Ichigo's side and assumes that this is due to Ichigo's resemblance to him. Despite his injuries, Ichigo is still conscious and manages to grab the bottom of Byakuya's Shihakushō whilst demanding that they not have a discussion about him without his permission.
At first, Rukia is delighted to see that Ichigo has survived the battle but is soon apprehensive of the fresh danger that he is in. Byakuya tells Ichigo to let him go but Ichigo refuses to until he looks at him. The captain decides that because of Ichigo's refusal to release him, he is going to cut off his arm. Before he does so, Rukia rushes forward and kicks Ichigo's hand from the bottom of Byakuya's robe, berating the teenager for his lack of respect towards her brother. She maintains that she is ready to leave and accept her punishment as Ichigo's actions and disrespect have opened her eyes to the truth.
Ichigo tries to get to his feet in protest, but Renji stomps on him, pushing him to the ground, telling him that he'll only make things worse for himself and that he should just die quietly. Rukia convinces her brother that Ichigo is not worth delivering a final blow to as he will soon stop breathing on his own anyway. When Ichigo protests again, Rukia tells him that if he follows her, she will never forgive him. She states that he will die soon so he should try to live a while longer in the meantime. Byakuya relents, taking his hand away from his Zanpakutō, insisting that even if Ichigo does not die, by some miracle, he will lose all of his Shinigami powers as a result of his injuries.
Renji steps forward and uses his Zanpakutō to open a Senkaimon so that the trio can return to the Soul Society. Rukia gives Ichigo one last, saddened glance as the doors slide closed behind her. Ichigo is left reflecting to himself how he was unable to save Rukia and how, in the end, she saved him. Grievously injured on the ground, Ichigo is found by Urahara, who brings him to his home and helps him recover with Tessai Tsukabishi. Urahara offers to help Ichigo train in and help him get to the Soul Society so that he can save Rukia. However, he states that, as he is now, there is no way that Ichigo could succeed in rescuing her so he agrees with Urahara's conditions.