THE BROKEN CODA is the seventh volume of the Bleach manga series.
Rukia Kuchiki, the ex-Shinigami responsible for Ichigo's transformation, is on the run. Her brethren at the Soul Society are quite displeased with the fact that she transferred the powers of a Shinigami to a Human and have dispatched two of their strongest agents to neutralize the situation. Their mission is twofold: to return Rukia to the Soul Society, so that she may pay for her crime and to deal with Ichigo--permanently. But an unlikely third party is standing in their way: Uryū Ishida, the Quincy!
Uryū takes on Renji while Ichigo and Kon realize that Rukia is missing.
Rukia wonders what Uryū is doing there, and he provides a lie, then admits that it's a pathetic lie. Renji is bored with Uryū, and demands to know who he is. Uryū provides his name, saying Renji will want it as it's the name of the guy who will beat him.
At Ichigo's home, Ichigo discovers that Kon has been taped to the back of the toilet. After Ichigo unties him, Kon points out a letter Rukia left, saying that he thinks she's in trouble. Ichigo opens the note and sees that she left a coded message with a poor drawing of an unknown creature to help them figure out the code. Ichigo realizes that the drawing is of a raccoon, and figures out her message, which said that she's going to leave and that he should go into hiding. Ichigo doesn't understand the meaning, but Kon says that she must be in trouble with the Soul Society.
Ichigo decides to leave to go help her, and then realizes that he can't become a Shinigami without her aid. While he begins to panic, Urahara appears in his window, offering to help, because Rukia is such a good customer.
Meanwhile, Renji has easily cut Uryū down, who is now lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. Renji moves in to kill him, but is stopped by Ichigo's timely arrival.
Ichigo takes on Renji, but Renji gains the upper hand.
Renji is surprised by Ichigo's demanding to know whose orders he's following. He then mocks the size of Ichigo's Zanpakutō, thinking to himself that the size of the Zanpakutō is representative of the Shinigami's power, and that a rookie can't have such power. He then realizes that Ichigo must be the Human who stole Rukia's powers. Upon learning this, he and Ichigo engage in battle.
Meanwhile, Kon wonders to himself who Urahara is. He then asks his plushie form what it thinks.
As Renji gains the upper hand, he explains that when Ichigo dies, Rukia will get her powers back and she will then be taken back to the Soul Society to be executed. Upset by his words, Ichigo swipes a sword at him, and Byakuya then reprimands Renji for being careless. Byakuya explains that Ichigo had injured a Menos Grande, which Renji doesn't believe. He then asks Ichigo for the name of his Zanpakutō, but Ichigo says that he doesn't name his sword.
Renji then transforms his Zanpakutō, by saying "Howl, Zabimaru," and lands a blow on Ichigo. As Ichigo stands there motionless, Renji tells Ichigo that Ichigo will die there.
Ichigo finds the strength to continue fighting and bests Renji. Before he can kill Renji, though, Byakuya intervenes.
Renji moves forward to finish off Ichigo, mocking him as he approaches the motionless Ichigo. Rukia worries to herself, hoping that Ichigo will get up and run away. She then jumps on Renji's arm, and calls at Ichigo, telling him to flee.
Ichigo then moves to stand, and Renji thinks it'll be great for them to have a final confrontation, while Rukia continues to tell him to run away. However, his spiritual power increases and he quickly strikes Renji on his left shoulder, surprising him. A second strike on Renji pushes him back, breaks his sunglasses and cuts his forehead. Ichigo proceeds to mock Renji, who is surprised at the density of Ichigo's spiritual power.
Ichigo moves forward to deliver a finishing blow when his Zanpakutō's blade suddenly disappears. He notices Byakuya, but thinks that he couldn't have done anything from so far away, until he sees Byakuya drop the end of his Zanpakutō blade. Byakuya then moves his hand to his Zanpakutō, and Ichigo wonders if he's coming. Moving quickly, Byakuya lands a blow on Ichigo chest.
As Ichigo lays critically injured, Rukia departs with Byakuya and Renji back to the Soul Society.
Ichigo collapses, aware that he's in pain, but unsure of whether Byakuya attacked and if so, whether he was hit from the back or the front. Renji comments that it'd been a while since he'd seen Byakuya move like that, saying he had a hard time following his movements, barely catching the second strike Byakuya had landed on Ichigo. When Byakuya asks if anything is wrong, Renji says that he could have taken Ichigo out on his own, but Byakuya says that he needs to practice, too.
Rukia, upset, runs to Ichigo, but Renji stops her, telling her to not get in more trouble over someone who's dead. Rukia, however, says it's her fault, so she wants to go to him. Byakuya interrupts, and says that Ichigo resembles him an awful lot, so he understood why Rukia was willing to get in more trouble.
However, Ichigo, hearing them talk about him, grabs the bottom of Byakuya clothes, and he orders Byakuya to look at him when talking to him. Rukia then runs over, kicking Ichigo's hand away from Byakuya, and reprimands him. She agrees to go with them, asking them to spare Ichigo's life, which Byakuya agrees to. The three then depart to the Soul Society.
Ichigo, now laying in a pool of his own blood, cries out, upset over the fact that he wasn't able to help, as it begins raining.
Ichigo lays dying in the rain when Urahara approaches him, carrying an umbrella. Ichigo then blacks out, and later awakes face-to-face with Tessai. He moves to get up, noting that he's not dead and that he's not in his home. Urahara then arrives, and Ichigo seems upset over the fact that his life was saved. He then asks about Uryū's whereabouts, and Urahara explains that he treated Uryū's wounds on the spot. Urahara adds that Uryū seemed concerned over Ichigo, and that Uryū had said that Ichigo was the only one capable of saving her.
Ichigo, however, is distressed, and thinks there's no way to save her now that she's in the Soul Society. Urahara says that he will tell Ichigo an alternate way if Ichigo trains for the next ten days with him to learn how to fight properly. Ichigo protests, but Urahara points out that he will die if he doesn't train first, adding that convicts are usually given a grace period of one month anyway, so ten days of training won't prevent them from saving her.
Ichigo wonders if he can become strong enough to save her, and Urahara states that he can, if he has a strong enough will to fight. Ichigo agrees to try.
Ichigo returns to school and finds that no one remembers Rukia.
Ichigo is greeted by a boy whose name he can't remember. The boy introduces him as Tetsuo Momohara, who tells Ichigo that he asked Ichigo numerous times to join the karate team and can't believe that Ichigo still doesn't remember him. Ichigo apologizes, and proceeds to narrate the fact that he is at school right now because Urahara gave him a bottle of pills and told him to take a pill every hour and attend the last day of school, promising to start Ichigo's training from tomorrow, when Ichigo's summer holiday starts. He comments on how amazing the pills are, but that he is shocked by the fact that no one remembers Rukia. No one has mentioned her name and Momohara is sitting where Rukia used to. He realizes that, that is what is meant by returning to Soul Society. Rukia's existence form the world of living has been erased. She is a blank.
Ichigo's easy going teacher ends the last school day by telling the students to have fun and not work to hard and telling them to come back alive in September, before dismissing the class. As the other students file out, Ichigo comments on Ishida's absence and how Ishida was likely to be a person who did remember Rukia. As he is thinking this, Keigo puts a blindfolds Ichigo and after spinning him around tells him to break the watermelon. Ichigo hits Keigo on the head instead. Keigo then suggests that they all go on a ten day trip to the beach. However, they all decline citing various reasons, causing Keigo to break down in tears.
Ichigo continues his narration as he walks home. Commenting on how the world is moving on without Rukia, but how that is not a surprise given that Rukia does not truly belong in this world, having originally come from Soul Society. As he continue on his way, he finds Inoue waiting for him. She asks him where Rukia is and why no one remembers her. Ichigo is shocked, but explains everything to Inoue. He then starts to comment on how he didn't know Inoue could see Shinigami, but he is interrupted by Inoue who asks her what he is planning on doing. She asks him if it is indeed the right thing to do, to bring Rukia back to the world of the living after rescuing her as her family and friends are all back in Soul Society. Ichigo starts to say something, but Inoue interrupts him again and states that it is the right thing to do, or rather that Ichigo had already made up his mind and so while she could point out that he would be taking Rukia away from her friends and family, he would reply that as long as Rukia lived, she could see her friends and family again. Ichigo finds his determination kindled by this conversation and thanks Inoue. As Ichigo gets going, Inoue whispers for him to not get hurt, but then resolves that she won't let him get hurt. Later she calls Chad and tell him that she has made up her mind.
Ichigo is then seen at Urahara's shop. He tells Urahara that he told his family that he is staying with a friend, an excuse Urahara finds lame. He then thanks Urahara for saving him, but Urahara pretends not to hear even though Ichigo said it very loudly. Urahara then tells Ichigo that it is time to get started on the training.
While Rukia is imprisoned in Soul Society, Ichigo begins training to regain his Shinigami powers.
In Soul Society, Renji comes to the 6th Division Barracks despite it being his day off to find Rikichi having difficulty handling a Hell Butterfly. Renji berates him and then asks him about the prisoner. Rikichi tells him that Rukia has been the same and that since they brought her in, she has just been sitting still with her back to the door.
Renji goes to see Rukia and asks her how long she is going to sulk, telling her to eat or she won't survive to be executed. Rukia tells him that she is not sulking, but that she is just not hungry. She then proceeds to tease him with his new rank and his tattooed eyebrows, sending Renji into a comical rage. Rukia then asks Renji whether she is really going to die. Renji replies that she is, telling her that she is going to be executed any day now. Rukia accepts the answer and replies "Why wouldn't I be." Renji comically yells at her and tells her that he was joking. He then tells her that Captain Kuchiki is on his way to headquarters and will probably ask for a reduced sentence. Renji reminds Rukia that Byakuya is her older brother and therefore won't stand-by and let them execute her. Rukia replies that Renji is right, Byakuya will kill her, himself. Rukia then tells Renji that in the forty years since the Kuchiki family took her in, Byakuya has never once looked at her.
The scene changes to show that Urahara had closed his shop and has taken Ichigo to an underground training facility below the shop. Urahara praises the training facility himself as Ichigo did not do so. Ichigo tells him to shut-up and that he is impressed. Urahara tells him that the facility was built overnight, just for Ichigo. Urahara continues to praise the facility and the work of his team as Ichigo points out that the facility is probably illegal and in violation of multiple city ordinances. Ichigo then asks him to start the training already.
Urahara proceeds to separate Ichigo's soul from his body, causing Ichigo great distress. Urahara asks Ichigo if it is difficult to breath. He then explains that Byakuya destroyed Ichigo's source of spiritual energy, the Hakusui, and it's booster, the Saketsu. Explaining that now Ichigo is just a regular disembodied spirit from a regular Human with no spiritual powers. He informs Ichigo that if he wants to fight Shinigami, then his spiritual power must be restored and to do so, he must learn to control his spirit body, going on to explain that spirit energy will give him that control. The more energy he has the better his spirit body will respond and that when his spirit body can move better than his material body, he would have recovered his spirit energy.
Ichigo tells him that it sounds complicated and asks what he is suppose to do. Urahara tells him that he'll probably learn better by doing and calls Ururu. Urahara tells her that Ichigo's first lesson is to hit Ururu. Going on to say that the rules of the lesson are simple, the session ends when one of them can no longer move. Knock out before you get knocked out. Ichigo demands to know if Urahara is sick that he wants him to hit a little girl. Urahara assures Ichigo that it is not as easy as he thinks. Ichigo is unconvinced, but Ururu throws some protective gear on the ground and tells Ichigo to put them on or that he will die. She then proceeds to attack Ichigo, seeming to land a blow that sends the ground flying. Urahara comments that it was as he had warned, as the chapter concludes.
The group of Urahara's shop look on as the dust starts to clear, wondering if Ichigo is dead. Ichigo soon comes into view, lying in an awkward angle some distance away from Ururu. He gets up and runs past Ururu to where the protective gear is lying on the ground. He picks it up and asks Urahara how it works. Urahara urges him to hold the headgear to his forehead and scream "Take the power of Justice! The Armor and Headband of justice! Protect yourself!". Ichigo acts as if he is going to do it, but then throws the headgear on the ground and informs Urahara that he can't do it. However, when he barely dodges another punch from Ururu, he reluctantly does as told. Nothing happens and Urahara is amused by the fact that Ichigo actually did it. He then tells Ichigo the real way to get the headband on.
Having put the headband on, Ichigo gets ready to counter attack. But instead finds himself continuing to dodge and run-away from Ururu's powerful attacks. Ichigo starts to think that the headband won't save him. He thinks that if Ururu hits him then he will die, but then realizes that he is able to outrun her, concluding that this would indicate that he is fast enough to dodge her and counter attack. He makes a stand and dodges her punch, striking back, but opting to hold back because he is so much bigger then Ururu. Eventually, he manages to graze Ururu a little, drawing blood. Ururu gets a strange look on her face and balancing on Ichigo's punching arm, lands a devastating kick on him. Urahara stops Ururu from launching any more attacks as Tessai catches Ichigo before the latter hits a rock face. Ichigo gets up and demands to have another go at Ururu, but Urahara ends the lesson, informing Ichigo that he passed. He goes on to explain that Ururu has Shinigami level fighting powers and as such, a Human Konpaku does not stand a chance against her. He then explains that the lesson was all about whether Ichigo would survive the first punch or not. By placing Ichigo's soul in mortal danger, they were able to increase his spiritual power quickly, informing Ichigo that if that had not happened, then Ichigo would have died. Ichigo is annoyed, but Urahara is excited about Ichigo passing lesson one and celebrates by going straight to lesson two. Tessai severs Ichigo's Chain of Fate with an axe before Urahara is done talking.
Elsewhere, Orihime and Chad are approached by a talking black cat, Yoruichi, who offers them lessons to prepare them for what awaits them in Soul Society.
The chapter opens with Ishida standing in front of a waterfall, commenting on how he can train without anyone bothering him. Just as he says this Orihime and Chad come on the scene. Orihime explains how she and Chad are going to take lessons to go to Soul Society and asks Ishida to join. Ishida asks who their teacher is, prompting Yoruichi to make itself known. Confronted with a talking cat, Ishida freaks out, much to the surprise of Orihime, who wonders what the big deal about a talking cat is. Chad comments on how it is a little unusual as Ishida calms down. Orihime asks Ishida if he is training to save Rukia as well. Ishida denies this and says he is only training because he is angry at himself for losing to a Shinigami and he declines Yoruichi's offered lesson. Yoruichi leads the others way. Before she leaves, Orihime tells Ishida that they will be waiting. After she leaves, Ishida apologies to her and says that his training can't be witnessed by anyone.
Meanwhile, Ichigo, with his Chain of Fate severed, can no longer return to his body and is doomed to die unless he becomes a Shinigami. Urahara explains that lesson two will end when Ichigo had regained his powers of a Shinigami and calls for the Shattered Shaft. A deep dark hole appears below Ichigo and he is plunged to the bottom, along with Tessai who is restraining him with Bakudō #99 Kin. Tessai informs him that until the lesson is over, he has to restrain Ichigo's arms. Urahara explains that in the Shattered Shaft, the Encroachment of Ichigo's Chain of Fate is hastened and he has to become a Shinigami in order to climb out of the shaft. As Ichigo yells at Urahara, the latter tells him to not waste time as the Encroachment has already began.