Kidou - None
Locations - Karakura, real world
Relevant Terminology - chain of fate, hollow, plus, shinigami, soul cutter, Soul Society
Released Soul Cutters - None
The title page shows Ichigo with black hair dressed as a shinigami.
The story starts out with Ichigo (as a shinigami) standing before a "low hollow" begging him to not kill it as it will go back on its own. Ichigo doesn't listen, though, and after it's dealt with gives an old man plus a ticket so it can go to Soul Society. It then explains that there are two types of spirits: good ones (pluses) and bad ones (hollows). The two jobs of the shinigami are to free pluses from their physical bodies so they can go to Soul Society, which is the spirit world, and to repel hollows, which try to interfere with that process by pulling their companions out of the cycle of rebirth, and help them pass on. Rukia then pops out of Ichigo's shirt, only a few inches tall.
Next there's a flashback to a week earlier explaining how Ichigo got to be a shinigami. Until then he was just a naturally active spirit medium, but otherwise normal high school student. He's with Asano, and since they're hungry, they're discussing where to go eat while Ichigo ignores the large group of ghosts behind him. He's been able to see them since he was young so he doesn't think much of it. But then Rukia (normal size) suddenly shows up and jumps one of the ghosts. Ichigo figures out that she's a ghost when Asano, who has no spirit abilities, says he didn't see anything, but is bothered because it's the first time he's seen ghosts fight. When Rukia takes out her soul cutter to stab the ghost, Ichigo interferes by kicking her. Asano doesn't quite know what's going on, but figures Ichigo is seeing a ghost. Rukia's surprised that he can see her, and Ichigo retorts that he's a high level one spirit medium so he can see and touch all spirits. Rukia then shouts at him to get away because there's a hollow among his ghost tag-alongs. Ichigo and all the ghosts scatter as Rukia does some sort of impressive attack on the hollow.
When Ichigo comes to he's back in the Kurosaki Funeral Parlor with Rukia, who's now barely taller than a cigarette package, and finds out he's now a shinigami assistant. Rukia explains that while a shinigami is waiting for his or her powers to return they shrink and that the reason she has no powers is she had to use them all because Ichigo interfered. So, it's all his fault and while she waits the 7 nights for her power to return Ichigo's going to help her with her work. After that they get into a fight over the mug of hot milk Rukia's bathing in, during which Rukia demonstrates returning Ichigo to his body and popping him out using a stick with a spring in it. Then new orders come from Soul Society. It turns out Orihime Inoue, one of Ichigo's classmates, has died.
Next we seen Orihime attached to her body lying at the foot of some stair leading to a Shinto shrine. She thinks about how she's been living alone for 3 years since her father died. Ichigo and Rukia are going to get her and on the way we find out Ichigo wasn't particularly close. Ichigo asks her if souls that go to Soul Society stay there forever and she replies they stay there for 60 years until they move on to their next life. This makes Ichigo feel better because then Orihime can see her father there. When they reach Inoue she's a bit confused (although she does know she's dead), but seems to take Ichigo's explanations in stride pretty easily. Ichigo tries to hide Rukia's existence while explaining that cutting the chain of fate (which he does) releases her obligations and ties to her body so she can go on to the next world. Inoue isn't too keen on that, but Ichigo tells her she has to hurry so she doesn't get caught by bad ghosts.
Just then Inoue's dad shows up and says he'll guide Inoue to Soul Society. Inoue wants to tell Ichigo something before she goes, but her father tells her to come and then adds that she's dead and doesn't have a place there anymore, so telling Ichigo how she feels about him will only make Ichigo suffer. So Inoue tells him goodbye and leaves with her father. Rukia, who had been knocked out a bit earlier when Ichigo was trying to hide her existence for Inoue, wakes up and then asks about Inoue. When Ichigo explains what happened, she tells him to chase after them because Inoue's father is a hollow!
Back with Orihime, her dad has stopped going, and she asks him what's wrong. He asks to borrow her ticket, and Orihime gives it to him. But then he tears it up! You then see Orihime's dad from the back and see a hole about where his heart should have been. He asks Orihime how long it's been since she's forgotten him and says they're not going to Soul Society. They're going to live together as father and daughter forever. And then he changes into the shape of monster and grabs at her. But Ichigo catches up in time to block him.
Rukia then explains that Inoue's dad became a hollow. Spirits who are not sent to Soul Society or protected from hollows become hollows themselves. And then they tend to go after lovers or other people they were close to during their life. However, there's no way to save someone who's become a hollow besides cutting that soul with a soul cutter.
Then Orihime's dad accuses Ichigo of being the reason Orihime wasn't a good girl. After he died she prayed to him everyday. Even though he was a hollow he felt everything would be ok if she just kept praying. But after Orihime met Ichigo, she started praying less and less frequently. She kept talking about Kurosaki this and Kurosaki that as her father disappeared from her heart. During this Orihime has a flashback of Ichigo telling her that her father is suffering. Then her father says her mother died 10 years earlier and since then she's been his treasure. But she wouldn't answer his feelings, so he killed her.
This really makes Ichigo angry. He says he tried to send Orihime off happily so he wouldn't upset her and she wouldn't have any regrets, so he told her she could live happily with her father in Soul Society. And he was the one that killed her and doesn't understand how she feels at all now that he's a hollow. The father retorts that Ichigo couldn't understand it at all. And Ichigo agrees, but Inoue also lost her father. Those who die and those who are left behind both suffer. The father then shouts shut up and grabs Orihime, saying no matter what Ichigo does Orihime is coming with him. But then Orihime grabs Ichigo's sword and plunges it through both her neck and her father's neck. She says there wasn't a single day where she forgot her father, but she wanted her father to hear about school, friends, and the people she loves. She's sorry she made him lonely and she loves him. Then the father disappears in a flash of light and Ichigo catches Inoue.
Afterwards Rukia has healed Inoue, saying if she hadn't been there, Inoue would have passed on, too. Inoue thanks her saying, "Thank you small shinigami" and she gets upset, until she pops back to normal size, meaning her powers have returned. Orihime then tells Ichigo not to mind the stuff earlier and that she merely liked him as a classmate, and Ichigo, obviously uncomfortable, says he wasn't bothered by it at all. They agree to talk a lot more later and then Rukia makes a gate to Soul Society using her wand-thing and Orihime says goodbye.
But then we see Orihime talking to Rukia. She asks why they don't say something to Ichigo and Rukia responds how could they say it? If the higher ups find out what happened during those 7 days and that someone knew about shinigami, it'd be big trouble. So don't tell Ichigo and don't act like they're there for a reason. You can see Ichigo approaching their "doorway" from a distance and their two feet on the ground.Differences in the actual series:
- Ichigo's hair is naturally orange.
- Shinigami sleeves are all black.
- Hollows wear masks and there isn't such a thing as "low hollows".
- Instead of being given a ticket to enter Soul Society and go there by themselves, shinigami perform soul burials on pluses.
- Hollows don't try to interrupt the process of souls going to Soul Society and pull their companions out of the cycle of rebirth, but merely eat other high-density souls to fill their empty hearts.
- A shinigami's job is to perform soul burials and cut hollows with their soul cutter.
- Rukia is short, but is never a few inches tall.
- Rukia is a member of the 13th division of the 13 Gotei Divisions.
- Ichigo meets Rukia in his room as she is searching for a hollow. He does kick her when they first meet, though.
- It is not common knowledge that Ichigo can see ghosts (only his family knows).
- Ichigo's dad is a doctor and the family lives in his clinic.
- When shinigami loose their powers their clothes turn white. Regaining their powers takes an indefinite amount of time, during which they enter an artificial body to disguise themselves as a normal human.
- Instead of using a wand to punch Ichigo out of his body, Rukia uses a glove on her hand to punch him out of his body.
- Ichigo can return to his body on his own.
- Inoue never dies.
- Instead of Inoue's father dying 3 years ago and becoming a hollow, it's her brother, Sora Inoue, who was 15 years older and raised her as if she was his child. Both their parents are apparently alive, but not very good parents.
- Souls that go to Soul Society can stay there indefinitely.
- Rather than using the wand to make a gate to Soul Society, shinigami use their soul cutters like a key. The gate also looks much different - rather than a circle in mid-air it resembles a series of sliding doors in a traditional Japanese house.