Woohoo! We are finally getting to the Soul Society arc. For the first time, we meet a current shinigami besides Rukia, in their full power. (Well, limited somewhat since they are captain and lieutenant, but there’s no mention of this so early on in the series.)
Byakuya shares top spot in my favorite characters along with Urahara, so even though he’s being a big meanie in this one, I was still happy to read it. The early drawing style threw me off quite a bit, since Byakuya looks like he’s 12 years old. Compare the Byakuya on the cover of volume 7 to his actual rendition inside both volumes 6 and 7 and you will see the difference.
I remember now why it took me so long to like Renji, considering how bloodthirsty and cruel he seems in this volume. I believe this is his reaction to wanting to appear strong in front of his captain and also in order to intimidate Ichigo. I just can’t bring myself to think he would really kill Rukia, as he threatens to do.