"I am an insect Swinging around with no nature Desiring evil, descending Creeping like a worm, revolving My neck is stretching Higher than the moon Until no more sympathy is visible I run from you bastards"
THE BAD JOKE is the thirty-third volume of the Bleach manga series.
Ichigo Kurosaki's mission to rescue his friend Orihime Inoue from the Hollow world has turned into a struggle for survival against a succession of enemies, each one more powerful than the next. Now another vicious challenger has entered the fray, one that happens to know the startling truth about Ichigo's new friend Nel!
Ichigo fights Nnoitra and Szayelaporro goes into his Resurrección.
A new enemy arrives after Ichigo's fight with Grimmjow: Nnoitra Gilga. As Ichigo and Nnoitra begin to fight, Tesra Lindocruz, Nnoitra's subordinate, captures Orihime Inoue. Nnoitra then "relieves" Grimmjow of his battle. After a little chat with Ichigo, Nnoitra reveals that he is the fifth Espada, and is stronger than Grimmjow. He then tells Ichigo that he already forgot Ichigo's name, indicating that Ichigo will die soon. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Renji Abarai, Uryū Ishida, Dondochakka Birstanne, and Pesche Guatiche attempt to flee the Espada, Szayelaporro Granz, but due to Szayelaporro's control of the building they are in, he redirects the hallways to point back towards their battlefield. He greets the four men and then releases his Zanpakutō.
Szayelaporro makes clones of his enemies and Ichigo is overwhelmed by Nnoitra.
Szayelaporro talks about his definition of a bad joke and releases his Zanpakutō. As soon as the liquid from Szayelaporro's release makes contact with Renji and Uryū, multiple clones of them appear. Szayelaporro then informs them that the device used to restrict their spirit energy has been deactivated, and that they can now fight against their clones at full power.
Meanwhile, attacks from Ichigo with his Bankai are easily fended off by Nnoitra. Orihime is warned not to interfere by Nnoitra's lone Fracción, who threatened to kill her should she interfere. During the battle, Nel is seen behind a rock trembling with fear.
Ichigo and Nnoitra continue their fight with Ichigo on the losing side. Meanwhile, Tesra remembers that Ichigo's Arrancar companion, Nel, has gone missing. He locates the trembling Nel hiding behind a rock and exposes her. Nnoitra recognizes the terrified child immediately by her broken mask and facial mark. Inside Szayelaporro's room, Dondochakka tells Uryū that they have to find Nel immediately, or else she'll be in danger. Back outside, Nnoitra reveals Nel's real name and status: Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck, a former Espada.
Ichigo loses his battle with Nnoitra, but Nel goes into her adult form to fight him.
The fight between Nnoitra and Ichigo gets more desperate, as Nnoitra is about to crush Nel's head. Ichigo saves her, but Nnoitra brutally throws Ichigo out of the way each time he attempts to stop him. Nnoitra's moves get more aggressive until he begins to break Ichigo's arm. The intensity of Nel's emotions unleash an unintentional transformation to her original adult form.
Dondochakka Birstanne and Pesche Guatiche realize that Nel has transformed into her original form, and comment that it feels nostalgic. Nelliel takes Ichigo away from the battlefield, and as she prepares to fight Nnoitra, reveals that she was formerly the third Espada. She overpowers Nnoitra, and in desperation, Nnoitra uses a Cero blast. Nelliel uses her Cero Doble technique to absorb Nnoitra's Cero and redirect it at him with doubled force.
After using a double Cero blast against Nnoitra, Nel rushes to Ichigo and gives him a big hug as she would as a child. This causes him to go unconscious momentarily, due to the pain of his injuries. Orihime tries to get her off since he passed out, but this just causes her to hold him harder in fear for him. After this, Nnoitra kicks his Fracción into a wall for letting go of Orihime in worry of him, then gets out of the rubble. Nnoitra appears injured along his right side. Nnoitra smiles at Nelliel and asks what is wrong, he was hit by a Cero that she absorbed and then added her own to it...so why is he still alive? He notes that her face is asking that. He then admits that he forgot about her Cero Doble, her trademark technique. He then explains to her that she doesn't get it as she has forgotten one thing. Since she left Las Noches, he asks her how many years have passed since she disappeared. He then states that she shouldn't think the power of the current Espada is the same as when she was an Espada and that the number on her back is meaningless now.
Meanwhile, Renji activates his Bankai, causing all of his clones to activate their own. In doing so they destroy the room they are in and a now irritated Szayelaporro disperses all of the clones of Renji and Uryū saying that he will show them the "true power" of his released Zanpakutō.
Szayelaporro creates a doll of Uryū and Nel continues her battle.
After a little skirmish between Uryū and Renji, Szayelaporro proceeds to use his wing to swallow Uryū, which spits out Uryū and makes a miniature doll of him. He then hits the doll and reveals that he has control of all the five senses of Uryū. Despite Renji begging him to stop, Szayelaporro rips the doll apart, but although Uryū didn't lose his legs, Szayelaporro crushes the mini stomach organ inside the doll, injuring Uryū badly.
Meanwhile, Nel and Nnoitra square off, with Nnoitra commenting Nel's attitude from the past did not change.
A worried Ichigo wants to help Nel, but is stopped by Tesra saying only Nnoitra should kill Nel. Nnoitra notes that he has despised Nelliel even before her departure, then taunts Nelliel in regard to their past. During her time as the 3rd, she would constantly be challenged by Nnoitra to fights to prove that males are stronger than females. Nel would prove victorious in every duel. Later, Nnoitra would team up with Szayelaporro Granz (who was not an Espada at the time) to perform a sneak attack on Nel. Nnoitra ripped off the masks of her two Fracción Pesche and Dondochakka, apparently an unspeakable act among the Arrancar. Nel charged at him in a rage, but the Nnoitra she was seeing was actually an illusion created by Szayelaporro, and the real Nnoitra used this distraction to attack her from behind, landing a blow directly to the mask on her head. The attack itself broke off part of her mask, scarring her forehead and leaving her unconscious. He threw her and her Fracción out of Las Noches so that he could increase his power by the time she returned.
Pesche and Dondochakka decide to battle Szayelaporro.
Nnoitra finds that Nelliel had reverted into a child, disappointing him. Szayelaporro stated himself that Nel's "spiritual shrinkage" into a child was unexpected. Afterward, Pesche and Dondochakka vowed that they would protect the newly weakened Nel at any cost. They took the roles of her playful older brothers, never revealing to her their true identities or her own identity for fear of her memories coming back. According to Pesche, this is because she had always hated fighting, and in her child form she was spared from it.
Back to the present, wishing to defeat Szayelaporro quickly so that they could assist Nel in battle, they begin to show their true power. Pesche uses his Infinite Slick ability to cause the voodoo dolls to slip out of Szayelaporro's hands. Riding atop Bawabawa, who Dondochakka summons from his stomach moments before, Pesche and Dondochakka prepare to battle Szayelaporro.
Meanwhile, wanting to end the fight quicker, Nelliel then releases her Zanpakutō, shouting "Declare...!".