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The Cold War was the start of a number of incursions into Karakura Town by various Arrancar under Sōsuke Aizen's command. It also presented new players in the war against Aizen as Isshin Kurosaki reveals himself to be a Shinigami and Ryūken Ishida reveals himself to be the true, last Quincy. This also marked the time when Ichigo Kurosaki realizes that he is not alone and there are other Shinigami who have gained Hollow powers called Visored.
A new transfer student arrives in Ichigo's class named Shinji Hirako. When introducing himself to the class, he writes his name in reverse. When questioned why he wrote it in this way, Shinji claims that he is pretty good at writing things backwards. While Shinji is introducing himself to his new classmates, Ichigo is still thinking to himself about Uryū Ishida. He remembers how he heard from Captain Jūshirō Ukitake about Ishida's fight with Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, which was the cause of Uryū losing his Quincy powers. Ichigo blames himself, as he was the one who took Uryū to the Soul Society. Just as Orihime Inoue turns around to look at Ichigo, Shinji barges in and sits next to him. After a very brief introduction, Ichigo's substitute badge starts glowing, indicating a Hollow presence in Karakura Town. Ichigo flees from the classroom, claiming he needs to use the bathroom again. Yasutora Sado excuses Ichigo's departure to Shinji, who claims that that is just how he imagined Ichigo to be.
Later that night, when Ichigo goes off to fight another Hollow, he meets Zennosuke Kurumadani, the Shinigami sent to replace Rukia Kuchiki. Shinji then approaches him from behind and proceeds to attack him, causing Ichigo to block the attack and recognize him. He then asks if it is a Zanpakutō that Shinji has and asks who he really is. Shinji tells him to be quiet, as with spiritual pressure like his, he cannot afford to lose his composure, or else he will be found out easily. Ichigo asks him to whom he is referring to which Shinji asks if he needs to tell Ichigo everything, or if he is unable to find out on his own.
Shinji then makes note of the arrival of some Hollows because Ichigo was not cautious of the level of his spiritual power, though Ichigo is more concerned with who Shinji really is. Frustrated with Ichigo's concern for the unimportant, Shinji dons a Hollow Mask and then asks Ichigo if he knows what it is. A greatly surprised Ichigo correctly identifiles it, and Shinji confirms that it is a Hollow Mask and also confirms that he has a Zanpakutō. Shinji then explains that he is a Shinigami who has crossed into the realm of Hollows, and asks Ichigo to be friends with him as they are both Visored. He then asks that Ichigo join his group as the boy does not belong with the Shinigami.
Elsewhere, Uryū is attacked by an Arrancar. Not sure of what it is, he determines that it must be some kind of Hollow and runs away. As Uryū runs, he realizes that he cannot keep evading forever and uses Gintō to try and slow the creature down. However, it has high-speed regeneration, which shocks Uryū. When he tries to counter the creature, he is deceived and it is revealed the creature has now split into two. Uryū is about to be attacked, but the creature is blasted from an unknown assailant.
Ryūken Ishida reveals himself to be his son's savior, as he is unimpressed with his showing against the Arrancar. Uryū acknowledges his father with surprise, calling him by his first name, which Ryūken scolds him for. As the Arrancar moves to attack again, Ryūken easily destroys it and mentions that it is not about stopping its high-speed regeneration, but destroying it before it can begin to regenerate. Uryū questions his father on how this is possible and why he has Quincy powers, as he thought Ryūken looked down on the Quincy, noting that he should have already given up his Quincy powers. Ryūken responds that is why Uryū is a fool, as he reminds his son what his exact words were. He then remarks that his powers are quite different then the feeble ones Uryū lost, and states that he is the man who inherited all the powers and techniques of the previous generation regardless of his personal wishes and interests. After Sōken Ishida died, he was given the title "The Last Quincy". He then presents his Quincy Cross (once belonging to Sōken) and notes that he is the one and only. Another Arrancar moves to attack Uryū, but is brought down by Ryūken with ease. Ryūken then mentions that Uryū went to Soul Society before his powers were fully matured and came back powerless. He then notes that it is within his power to return his son's Quincy powers to him, but he has one condition: Uryū must forgo all contact with the Shinigami now and in the future.
When Grand Fisher is about to attack Kon (who is in Ichigo's body), the charm Isshin gave Ichigo is activated, creating a barrier in between them. Isshin, wearing a Shinigami uniform, tells him to take it with him wherever he goes. He then turns his attention to Grand Fisher, telling him that Ichigo is not home and that he should play with him instead. When Grand Fisher questions who he is, Isshin apologizes and introduces himself. Hearing the name Kurosaki, Grand Fisher realizes that Isshin is the father of Ichigo. Isshin confirms this and throws the charm to Kon, addressing him as Kon. Kon then asks how long Isshin has known about Kon taking Ichigo's place, and Isshin reveals that he has known since he saw him enter Ichigo's body in the graveyard, and further notes that he has never called him by Ichigo's name when he was in Ichigo's body. Grand Fisher states that he has no interest in Isshin and that he only came to kill Ichigo, and orders Isshin to hand him over. Isshin reveals that he does not know where Ichigo is, as Ichigo is no longer a kid, and that he had always been very relaxed with the rules in his house. Kon comments that he is very strict with Yuzu and Karin, resulting in Isshin saying that girls and boys are very different. He then tells Grand Fisher that he came to kill him.
Grand Fisher begins to laugh and questions if they believe that he is nothing, but a regular Hollow, before transforming, growing in stature. A shocked Kon says that Grand Fisher is nothing like the Menos he saw before. Isshin then reveals that Grand Fisher is an Arrancar, a Hollow who has removed his mask to gain Shinigami powers. Grand Fisher draws his huge Zanpakutō, saying that the size of his sword shows the amount of power that he has, and then says that Isshin can't win with his twig sized sword. Isshin smiles and challenges Grand Fisher to give it a try, drawing his own Zanpakutō. After Isshin and Grand Fisher clash, Isshin states that all captain-level Shinigami consciously keep their Zanpakutō in a manageable size, otherwise everyone would be swinging around swords the size of skyscrapers. Isshin tells him to remember never to judge an opponent by the size of their Zanpakutō. As Grand Fisher is falling, Isshin says that he should not talk about a Shinigami's strength until he could understand that, calling him a kid.
Kisuke Urahara appears, asking if Isshin had his revenge. Urahara comments that it has been a long time since they saw each other and says that he is relieved that he seems well. When Isshin asks what he is on about, Kisuke says that it would be problematic if he had become weaker and blamed him for it. Isshin replies that he would simply accept it if he became weak, rather than blaming him. Kisuke asks how it feels to take the form of a Shinigami after abandoning it twenty years ago, to which Isshin replies that it's "so-so". Kisuke then asks if his heart is now free of guilt. Isshin replies that he never hated Grand Fisher, or any Hollow like that. The thing that he has not been able to get over during the last twenty years is that he was unable to save Masaki Kurosaki that night. Kisuke says that he has not changed and his attitude is similar to his son's, which Isshin denies. Isshin notes that the Visored have contacted Ichigo, as Kisuke predicted. Isshin explains that they are a group of ex-Shinigami that uses forbidden spells to acquire Hollow powers, and that they never found their base of operations or learned their goals. When Kisuke notes their contacting of Ichigo, Isshin says that they are preparing for the battles ahead, just like they are doing. Isshin tells Kisuke that they must have noticed the sudden growth of the Arrancar, commenting that Grand Fisher was a completely different level to the pseudo-Arrancar that they had been seen before, noting that Sōsuke Aizen, using the Hōgyoku must be responsible for their sudden growth. Isshin notes that Grand Fisher's Reiatsu was imperfect, and concludes that he is only an incomplete prototype, created to test how it performs in combat. Isshin says that Aizen will finish his research soon and lead an army of Arrancar to take over the Menos Grande before destroying their world.
Recruitment: The Visored
Their conversation is interrupted by an unbelievably strong spiritual pressure from some unknown person (Isshin Kurosaki) that neither Shinji nor Ichigo can readily identify. Ichigo goes to find the owner of the spiritual pressure, much to Shinji's surprise as he asks Ichigo where he is going as they are not done talking yet. Ichigo tells him he refuses his offer as he doesn't care who the Visored are, but he doesn't want to be part of it because he is a Shinigami and is definitely not one of them. After Ichigo leaves, Shinji's cell phone rings and he tells Hiyori Sarugaki that he has failed in his mission to recruit Ichigo, which prompts her to yell at him though he calmly tells her not to yell as it is only a matter of time and they will wait. The next morning, Shinji shows up at school and greets Ichigo as if nothing happened the previous night. When Orihime greets Shinji, he goes to give her a hug, causing a small altercation from some of her male classmates at what they perceive to be him making unwarranted advances. Ichigo grabs Shinji and pulls him outside so that they can talk. Ichigo yells at him for appearing at school after he said no to his attempt to recruit him. Shinji plainly tells him that he isn't going to give up after only two days, he tells Ichigo that he is very persistent and he will continue to bug him until he concedes. Shinji then explains that it is too late anyhow as once your a Visored you're always a Visored, so whether Ichigo likes it or not he is already one of them. He goes on further to state that all of his friends maybe his friends now, but if he continues on as a Shinigami he will slowly be devoured by his inner Hollow until he loses his mind. Shinji then asks Ichigo if he has noticed as the Inner Hollow has begun to get stronger at an unimaginable rate. He tells Ichigo to come with as he will help him keep his sanity.
While walking home Shinji is attacked from behind by Hiyori. She then smacks him with her sandal and yells at him for not succeeding in his mission. The two are then interrupted by the arrival of Orihime and Chad who were searching for Shinji. When Orihime asks who Shinji is and what he wants with Ichigo Kurosaki, Hiyori answers stating that Orihime didn't think they would actually tell them.
Hiyori introduces herself to them and they reply doing the same. Hiyori then voices her envy of their name's meanings compared to hers and Shinji's and the looks of Orihime compared to her own, even going as far as reaching for her sword and saying that she would just have to kill them as the conversation has become pointless. She is,however, quickly grabbed by Shinji who runs far away from Chad and Orihime with Hiyori over his shoulder. All the while she screams and argues with him causing him to punish her in a very uncomfortable way. Hiyori eventually calms down and admits that she hates Humans and Shinigami. Shinji tells her that he already knows that that is why he was the one that went to enlist Ichigo and told her to wait.
The Invasion of Karakura Town
Ulquiorra Cifer alongside Yammy Llargo arrive in Karakura Town to gain information on Ichigo Kurosaki. Yammy comments on his lack of enthusiasm being in the Human World which prompts Ulquiorra to mention that he insisted on coming with him so he shouldn't complain. Yammy apologizes and becomes uneasy that people are starting to gather at the sight they arrived, feeling they are staring at him. Yammy states he will eat now and uses his Gonzui ability only to find much to his displeasure the souls are foul tasting. Ulquiorra asks him what did he expect, such weak souls to taste good. Explaining to his fellow Arrancar that the humans can't see them so therefore they couldn't have been staring at him, to which Yammy admits that he knows before asking who have they come to kill. Ulquiorra mentions that they have only come to kill one being and the others can be left alone. When Yammy admits that such a task would be hard Ulquiorra details that there are currently only three beings of note with any spiritual strength. Upon the arrival of Chad and Orihime Inoue a altercation occurs resulting in Chad becoming grievously injured.
Ulquiorra watches as Yammy attempts to dispatch Orihime only to be stopped by her Santen Kesshun technique, then Yammy notices her Sōten Kisshun technique being used on Chad and questions if she is healing him. Upon noticing this himself, Ulquiorra realizes that it is not healing, as it looks more like time reversal or spatial renewal, but nothing as simple as healing, making note that he has never seen such a technique before. He then mentions that Orihime is a quite strange for a human. When she tries to attack using her Koten Zanshun technique Yammy easily stops it much to her dismay. Yammy then asks what should be done with her with Ulquiorra telling him to simply kill her, but he is quickly stopped by the timely arrival of Ichigo.
Somewhat confused Yammy asks Ulquiorra if this is the target they were meant to find, Ulquiorra confirms that he is an applauds Yammy's lack of subtlety as the reason Ichigo became aware of their presence so fast. He then witnesses with feigned surprise as Ichigo effortlessly blocks Yammy's attack and then cuts of the Arrancar's left arm. As Ulquiorra watches the fight between Ichigo and Yammy, he makes note to himself about Yammy's lack of refinement in battle, as he constantly recklessly charges into battle against Ulquiorra's instruction to learn to read his opponents. Though he readily admits that he is surprised that Ichigo was able to cut through Yammy's Hierro and though he has heard that Ichigo has only just recently attained Bankai, he is taken aback that his Reiatsu is so solid. Though he reasons to himself that at his current level Ichigo is no threat to Aizen. After Ichigo soundly beats Yammy, Ulquiorra comments that he is struggling and asks if he wants to switch. Yammy tells him to shut up and proceeds to take out his Zanpakutō, causing Ulquiorra to question whether it's actually necessary to use it against Ichigo. Ichigo is distracted as his inner Hollow acts up, enabling Yammy to attack him. Ulquiorra notes that Ichigo's reiatsu level is fluctuating wildly and that at its highest it surpasses his own.
Ulquiorra watches as Yammy attacks a distracted Ichigo until he is saved by the arrival of Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihōin. After Yammy is effortlessly beaten by Yoruichi and begins to battle Urahara who fires a blast at Yammy, Ulquiorra steps in and deflects the blast away from them. He then impales Yammy in the stomach with his hand and scolds him for being so reckless, stating who the two he has face are and mentioning that at Yammy's current level he will not win no matter how much he tries. Ulquiorra then opens a Garganta and tells Yammy its time they retreat.
When Yoruichi questions if they are running away, Ulquiorra plainly tells her that she is foolish to make such a taunt making note that if the two of them tried to fight him while protecting the others it would be obvious who would emerge the winner then. Ulquiorra then states that his mission is over and he will report to Aizen that the 'fake' Shinigami he was interested in is nothing more than a piece of trash.
This event marked the new players in the war to come. The Visored reveal themselves to Ichigo. Ichigo learns of the new threat he is to face, but is not yet aware of what he's up against. Isshin Kurosaki reveals himself as a Shinigami to Kon, who he swears to secrecy. Ishida learns his father is the true last Quincy and may get his powers returned after making a big choice. Soul Society is on alert for things to come.