Well well well, this was quite an exciting chapter. Let's get right down to it.

We begin by returning to Shunsui and Haschwalth who have yet to begin battling. That would normally be a disappointment to me but we get a good exchange between them and it leads into some very interesting stuff. They agree on a modest opinion that the battles are going evenly. Haschwalth hints at there being a specific reason why he has confronted Shunsui, though further into the chapter I believe another is revealed. At this moment he says it is his role to tip the scales in the Wandenreich's favour. He destroys the reishi barrier between them and explains he had been sapping it from his side, but commends the skill of Nanao who reveals that she too had been at work, forming another barrier between them. Nanao says it does look weaker due to the design, leading Haschwalth to surmise that a trap is involved somehow. Not willing to wait any longer however, he prepares to use a more violent approach when a message of some kind appears behind him, ordering him to return to Silbern, the HQ. Haschwalth declares he will return as soon as ordered, and Shunsui says he'll have delicious tea brewed and waiting for him.

People have noted that Haschwalth's sword looks different than it did when we last saw it, but I'm not sure I agree. I think Kubo is simply embellishing upon its detail more than before, because it's now highly significant and arguably seen closer up. However, some have also noted that Shunsui has lost his eye patch in his last frame in this chapter. That I cannot explain. Hopefully it bears some significance, rather than being an oversight by Kubo.

We jump to Ikkaku and Yumichika, with the former expressing anxiety about night falling and the shadows increasing. Hisagi makes his much anticipated return in underwhelming fashion and explains the Quincy have been spreading high density reishi throughout Seireitei to mask their presence. As Ikkaku reiterates his worries, Mask de Masculine appears once more from above and we cut to BG9 and Cang Du being judged by Yhwach for their defeats. BG9, highly irregularly, desperately pleads that he can still fight for his majesty. Yhwach states he was lucky, and Haschwalth says the scales of battle must be fair and seemingly cuts down a pleading BG9.

For some reason his blade has fallen upon Cang Du, perhaps he pushed BG9 out of the way, I don't know. But anyway, he reveals the meaning behind his epithet, he seems to possess a highly enhanced version of Blut Vene which has stopped Haschwalth's sword 'easily'. Declaring he won't be killed by anyone but his majesty, Haschwalth retorts, noting his Cang's second bit of good luck and revealing what seems to surely be his ability, with tipped scales leaning over him. He strikes Cang once more and while the extent of the damage isn't clear, he has at least lopped off much of his right side.

Haschwalth's epither seems likely to be 'The Balance', which makes his attack on Kajomaru way back more interesting and shows another reason why he is/was engaged with Shunsui: his ability to balance the scales of fortune in battle is a good match for Katen Kyoukotsu's games.

We return to Mask elbow dropping Hisagi and presumably defeating the three Lieutenants, upon which James rings a bell to signal a victory. Oh Kubo. But epicness is restored upon the arrival of Rukia and Renji, ready for round two in the ring.

Great chapter. R&R make their return, development in what will be a fantastic battle, revelation of two Sternritter abilities and with any luck we'll see the three lieutenants strike back. I'll be pretty disappointed if they're out just like that. Hisagi should have his Bankai now and Ikkaku and Yumichika could both be pushed to reveal their respective secrets.

Bring on next week!

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