Things are looking bad for our heroes as Rukia is apparently dead after defeating Espada number 9, Renji is struggling against Espada number 8, Szayelaporro, and Ichigo is facing Ulquirra who seems to be the most dangerous of them all. All to rescue Inoue they put their lives on the line in the evil spirit world Hueco Mundo. It’s fight time!
Volume 31 is bare bones as far as plot progression goes, the only thing it highlights is how the Espada enemy don’t really get along and Ichigo is pretty weak against the stronger enemies. No fights are won with definite victory and the first surprise outcome of Ichigo vs Ulquirra is quickly diminished by the volumes end, it is pretty good when you have an advanced god healer lying around in the Bleach universe. But we get three full fights here which show flashy displays of brute force and even a few examples of tactics, albeit aggressive ones. But apart from the fights nothing really happens outside of them, no underlining plots which promise to surface with a huge plot twist payoff at the end like Soul Society had. It is just fight fight fight with beams and big pages of black. Thirty minutes is all it takes to finish a volume of Bleach and you can see why.
But the fights this time round are decent thanks to the villains being interesting and seemingly dangerous unlike the ex-Espada we had to face a few volumes ago. This is like the Espada 9 battle with Rukia, you can’t really see the outcomes but unlike that fight they are uninterrupted with huge dialogues and instead focus on flashy attacks and gore. Ichigo vs Ulquirra shows how hopeless things are, Renji and Ishida vs mad scientist Szayelaporro show how much risk they have to throw themselves in for a chance of victory and Grimmjaw vs Ulquirra is a nice surprise no one was expecting. Plus none of these Espada have transformed yet so you know things are going to get even more intense.
With flashy fights, cool title names and covers, Bleach continues to be style over substance but this time the style is over interesting characters and events rather than long drawn out filler type moments the Hueco Mundo assault started with. Things have gone and exploded!