From the back cover:
Ichigo’s recent battles with the Arrancars have proven that if he wants to protect his friends he must get stronger, and the only way to do that is to control his inner Hollow. Ichigo turns to the Visoreds*, ex-Soul Reapers who have been Hollowfied, to teach him. But before his training begins, Ichigo must do battle against his Hollow self—winner takes his soul!
* Referred to as “Vizards” in previous volumes.
This was essentially a training volume, in which Ichigo must first prove his worthiness to the Visoreds (spelling changed, I think, because of the newly-revealed connection between their Hollow masks and their power) in order to be taught how to “Hollowfy,” and then fight an internal battle to control the Hollow within.
The fights with the Visoreds are not very interesting, but the battle with the Inner Hollow is pretty good, if occasionally confusing. Even though I suppose it’s silly that the Inner Hollow’s sword and garment are white where Ichigo’s are black, it still looks neat and allows for some symbolic representations of who is exerting dominance over whom. The Inner Hollow gives a lot of advice about how Ichigo needs a killer instinct to be “the king,” and then there’s a section where Ichigo thinks about instinct and battle and fighting and then suddenly he’s winning. I don’t really understand what went on there internally, but at least the outcome is clear.
Unfortunately, some of the pivotal moments in the battle felt a little unsatisfying because the chapters were so short. You’d get, like, 2 truly cool pages in each one and the rest would be talking or things crumbling. There was a lot of crumbling in this volume.
Very little is seen of other characters in this volume, which could be a blessing since Rangiku’s boobs are not referenced once, but at the very end, details on Aizen’s latest objective are revealed. It involves a hitherto-unmentioned royal family of the Soul Society, which is a shade retconny, but whatever. It sounds like it could be a reason for bringing the gang together again and going on a group quest, which is when this series is at its best. I’m looking forward to it.