One evening, after Ichigo Kurosaki has a fight with his father, a large black butterfly enters through his bedroom window. The butterfly is soon followed by a petite, attractive young woman wearing all black traditional Japanese attire and a sheathed katana at her side. He kicks the mysterious intruder, thinking she is a burglar, but she claims she is a Shinigami, a spirit invisible to most Humans, sent to the Human World from a place known as Soul Society. Ichigo, refusing to believe her, tries to push her back out the window. Annoyed, the Shinigami uses an incantation, known as Kidō, to bind Ichigo's hands behind his back. She explains a Shinigami has two duties: to send Souls who have lost their way to Soul Society, and to purify evil spirits called Hollows. She was following a Hollow, but has now lost his trail because something interfered with her senses. When the Hollow attacks the house, Ichigo is first to hear its roar; they hear a scream from Ichigo's younger sister, Yuzu Kurosaki. When Ichigo asks the Shinigami to release him, she refuses. After Yuzu's twin, Karin Kurosaki, comes to Ichigo's room to warn him of the attack, Ichigo manages to force the Kidō off, despite the Shinigami's warning. Ichigo, picking up a baseball bat, runs out of the room and finds his father passed out and bleeding in the kitchen. Through a hole in the wall, he sees the Hollow's silhouette.
As he runs out of his house, Ichigo is amazed to see the Hollow's shape. According to what the Shinigami told him, he expected to see something Human-like; instead, he is facing a 16 foot tall monster, with a hideous, white, fish-like mask. As he tells himself he is not scared, as he has seen many ghosts and the Hollow is just another ghost, he, to his horror, sees Yuzu in the Hollow's grip. Trying to attack, he is hit by the Hollow's huge fist, knocking him back and breaking his bat. As the Hollow tries to attack again, the Shinigami, intervening, cuts the Hollow's right hand, which was holding Yuzu. The Hollow, roaring in pain, lets go of Yuzu, but Ichigo manages to catch his unconscious sister. When the Shinigami tells Ichigo his family will be alright, as the Hollow has not devoured their souls, Ichigo asks the Shinigami why the Hollow attacked if it was not after his family's souls. She explains Hollows search for and attack souls with high spiritual power, which sometimes includes Humans. Ichigo is the first Human she has met with enough spiritual power to not only see Shinigami, but also resist Kidō.
When he hears this, Ichigo blames himself for the attack. Trying to console Ichigo, the Shinigami is distracted and the Hollow attacks her, throwing her into a wall. Angry at herself for failing to watch her own back, the Shinigami, looking back, sees Ichigo facing the Hollow and challenging it to a battle, face to face. The Hollow attacks but the Shinigami protects Ichigo with her body, allowing the Hollow's mouth to close on her as her sword cuts through its face. The wounded Hollow backs away, caressing his face, and the gravely injured Shinigami falls to the ground. She tells Ichigo his power is no match to that of the Hollow, and his own death will not protect the rest of his family. Now, since she can no longer fight, they can only wait until the Hollow makes a meal of them.
Seeing Ichigo's distress, the Shinigami offers him a way to protect his family. She says the only way left is for Ichigo to become a Shinigami himself. In order to do this, she must stab Ichigo through the middle of the chest with her katana, known as a Zanpakutō, so she can insert half of her Shinigami powers into him. He will temporarily attain the powers of a Shinigami and be able to defeat the Hollow. Given Ichigo's spiritual nature, she believes there is a high probability of failure, in which case Ichigo will die. However, they must try, as it is their only hope. Ichigo, hesitating, hears Yuzu calling his name in her dream, telling him to stay away from danger. Ichigo, realizing his family loves and worries about him even while in mortal danger themselves, figures his own worries for himself are foolish. Asking the Shinigami for her sword, he says he will try what she suggested. When the Shinigami introduces herself as Rukia Kuchiki, Ichigo, introducing himself, says he hopes it will not be the last words they say.
The Hollow, having recuperated enough to resume his attack, starts approaching the two again. Ichigo, grabbing the hilt of Rukia's sword, pierces his chest with it. As the Hollow closes in for the kill, his right arm is suddenly cut off. The Hollow looks behind him at his severed arm. Before it, he sees Ichigo dressed in the uniform of a Shinigami and holding a huge sword, as long as his entire body, in his hand. Rukia is shaken up when she realizes instead of taking half her power, Ichigo took all of it. She realizes when she entered Ichigo's room, her senses were clouded by the vast spiritual power pouring out of him. She marvels at the size of Ichigo's Zanpakutō, another indication of his spiritual power. Ichigo, charging at the Hollow, cuts off its left leg at the knee. The Hollow, stumbling, falls on top of Ichigo, but he is prepared. Telling the Hollow he will regret his attack on the Kurosaki family, he swings his sword, cutting the Hollow in half and purifying it.
Having lost all her powers, Rukia can neither continue performing her duties nor return to Soul Society. She enrolls as a student into Ichigo's school, the Karakura High School, in an attempt to enlist his help to fight off the Hollows and send lost Souls to Soul Society.
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 35, page 17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 1, pages 13-30
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 1, pages 31-56
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 2, pages 10-12