A dark, rugged landscape with dark clouds in the sky and shadows dancing across the floor opens the first episode. A dark mass rises from the ground and shoots up into the sky, then hurtles down from the clouds into the town below. A black swallow-tailed butterfly flutters past the moon and a lone figure can be seen standing on a telephone pole. She senses a strong pulse and leaps to the adjacent telephone pole and the houses beyond.
A prostrate figure lies on the ground, and the deep voice of his companion can be heard asking the orange-haired assailant why he has asked them to get out of the way after kicking “Yama-chan” down. The assailant merely scratches his head, infuriating the hooligan to no end. The hooligan tries to punch him, but is kicked in the face before he can land the punch. He is then stamped on by the assailant as his other companions watch on in fear and disbelief. The assailant knocks the thug’s head into the ground, shouting at him to shut up and look at the base of a pole, where a vase of flowers has been knocked over. He asks the guy in the middle what it is, and he replies that it is a tribute for the child which died there recently. Despite answering accurately, he gets kicked down by the orange-haired boy. He then asks the remaining two how it could have fallen over, and they answer with shaking voices that they had been skateboarding and knocked it over. They are also kicked and dared to try it again by the assailant, who is now fiery with anger, and are promised that people will be laying flowers for them soon. They run away, their legs weak with fright.
Their assailant sighs and says that after being scared like that, they wouldn’t be back soon. The figure of a young girl hovers over the fallen vase as he tells her that he will bring her new flowers the next day. The girl thanks him, saying that she can now rest in peace. He rights the vase and walks away, telling her to go to heaven. As the girl disappears, he introduces himself as Kurosaki Ichigo, a 15-year-old High School freshman, whose family runs the town clinic. They save and don’t save lives, and perhaps because of that, he has been able to see ghosts as long as he can remember.
As he enters his house, he is greeted by his father, who kicks him in the face and reprimands him for coming home late, as their dinner time is 7 o’clock every night. Ichigo retorts that he was helping a ghost on the way home, but his father replies that no matter what the reason may be, whoever disrupts their family time will be punished. He also accuses Ichigo of bragging that he can see and interact with ghosts. Ichigo’s little sisters are eating in the background, and one of them, Yuzu, tries to get them to stop fighting as the food is getting cold. Karin, the other, tells her not to bother, and get her more rice. Ichigo punches his father so hard that he goes flying, and says that putting such a curfew on a healthy male High School student is unimaginable. Karin cuts him short, saying that he has a new friend. True enough, a ghost has appeared next to Ichigo, much to his annoyance as he complains about exorcising and exorcising, but yet they keep coming. Karin comments that he has it rough being “hi-spec”, which Yuzu, who can only sense their presence, envies. Karin does not believe in ghosts, despite also being able to see them (only Yuzu and their father can’t), so it’s like the ghosts never existed.
Ichigo is suddenly caught off-guard by his father, and another scuffle ensues. Ichigo wins again with a punch and walks upstairs to go to bed, albeit Yuzu calling after him. He puts his bag down on his chair and lies down on his bed as his family continues their conversation downstairs. Apparently, Ichigo has been seeing ghosts more frequently, and their father is shocked that Ichigo tells his two sisters such things and not him. Karin accuses him of communicating like a child despite being over 40, and he runs to a giant poster of his wife, complaining that perhaps because of puberty, Yuzu and Karin have become meaner.
The next morning, the news reports that one block past the train station, where there had been violent shaking of the ground followed by the faces of buildings being blown off. Ichigo walks into the dining room and greets his sisters, then, taking a slice of bread from the toaster, asks where their father is. Karin replies that he was having a meeting and would not be back that night. Ichigo watches the news, recognizing the affected area as one near where they are. He passes that area on his way to lay new flowers for the girl. He reaches the area and calls out to the girl but hears no reply save for a scream. He follows the direction of the scream, where another “explosion” takes place. As people run away from the area, he runs against the flow of people into the dust and smoke. The dust settles and a menacingly large creature donning a white mask can be seen. As Ichigo stares at it in wonder, the girl comes running towards him, and the two run away from the scene, chased by the spider-like being. The girl slips and falls, just as a black swallow-tailed butterfly flutters past his face. The woman who had stood atop the telephone post earlier appears and draws her sword. She draws her sword across its mask, landing swiftly next to Ichigo. She swiftly lifts off again, this time slicing the creature into half right down the center, and it dissipates into the air. She sheaths her sword as Ichigo calls out to her, but she ignores him and walks away as the crowd gathers to see what had happened.
That night, Ichigo lies in bed, his window open. He wonders who the woman was, just as a black swallow-tailed butterfly flutters into his room and the subject of his thoughts steps out of his wall onto his table. She totally pays no heed to his question as to her identity, and prepares to draw her sword again. He asks her what she wants, and he steps off his table onto the floor, saying that “it is near”. She is kicked in the back by Ichigo, who demands to know why she ignores him after scaring him out of his wits. She is stunned that this boy is able to see and even interact with her, and also recognizes him as the boy who she had seen in town earlier. Normally, no one should be able to see her at all. Ichigo tries to kick her, but she jumps and lands on his calf, using that as a platform to jump onto his head and off. She tells him that she is a Shinigami (death god).
The little girl from earlier is being chased by another of the huge creatures, which makes huge dinosaur-like footprints in the ground it walks on (think Jurassic Park).
The Shinigami has finished her explanation, in which she says that she is a Shinigami who has come from Soul Society to vanquish evil spirits like the earlier monster that had attacked the girl. However, Ichigo will not buy her story, and flips his little coffee table. The Shinigami says that he can see ghosts, so he should believe in the existence of Shinigami. Ichigo replies that he has never seen a Shinigami before, and he will not believe without seeing. Although he can see her, he will only go as far as to say she is not a human. He puts his hand on her head and calls her a “stupid brat”. She is pissed off by this remark as she, despite her looks, has lived almost 10 times as long as he. She performs a binding spell on him, and he falls to the floor with his hands crossed behind his back. It is demon magic, the noble magic only Shinigami can do. He is now unable to move. She says that she would kill him if she was not forbidden to harm people she is not ordered to.
To prove her story, she uses the back of her sword to put a chop on the male ghost Ichigo had seen the previous day. The ghost says that he does not want to go to hell, but she explains that he will go to relaxing Soul Society. He sinks into the ground and flies away as a black swallow-tailed butterfly. She explains that she has performed a “soul burial” on him, sending him to Soul Society. That is one of a Shinigami’s duties. She then draws out pictures to explain. There are 2 types of spirits in the world: Good spirits, or “Pluses”, and bad spirits like the monster, which are called “Hollows”. Hollows eat living and dead souls. Ichigo would like to know why her drawings are so crude, and this earns him marker-drawn moustaches by the Shinigami. She continues her explanation for “your Excellency Baron”. Shinigami have two main duties, the fist being to send pluses up to Soul Society, and the next being to eliminate Hollows, which even they do not fully understand.
The second Hollow is about to pick the little girl ghost up, when he smells two delicious spirits, one being that of a Shinigami, nearby. He abandons the girl and stomps away. Ichigo hears something and alerts Rukia, but she just says that a second Hollow is definitely roaming the area. Ichigo tells her to go kill that one too, but she says that recently, she has been unable to sense their presence, as if some huge power was hindering her senses. Ichigo shouts at her, asking her if she can hear the Hollow’s loud voice. She cannot, but does so later, confirming that this is the sound of a Hollow. They suddenly hear a scream, and Ichigo recognizes this to be that of Yuzu. The Shinigami runs out of the room but is stopped in her tracks by the huge spirit force coming up the stairs.
It stops, and an injured Yuzu stumbles up the stairs and outside Ichigo’s room, asking him to save Karin, before fainting. Ichigo is still bound and unable to move, but the Shinigami rushes down the stairs to face the Hollow. Karin is grasped tight between the Hollow’s hand, and the Shinigami draws her sword as Ichigo tumbles down the stairs. Ichigo gets to his feet, surprising the Shinigami, as he is moving even under her demon magic. Ichigo sees, through the hole in the wall, Karin and the Hollow, and is galvanized so greatly that he fights against the binds despite the Shinigami’s warnings that he will die if he attempts to force it. However, she is shocked to see him, a human being, dissolve the demon magic on his own in a flash of light. He breaks free and grabs a foldable chair. He tries to use the chair to smack the Hollow, but is knocked away by the Hollow as Karin yells at him to run away.
Ichigo is the one the Hollow has been looking for, so the Hollow tries to use a hand to squash Ichigo. Ichigo moves away in time and the Shinigami cuts the Hollow’s arm, causing it to scream in pain. It drops Karin into Ichigo’s waiting arms and disappears. The Shinigami tells him not to panic, as the Hollow has not eaten his sisters’ souls. It is only looking for souls with high spiritual powers, like him. Until of late, Ichigo’s spirit power was subdued to the lowest possible emission such that she did not sense him and no Hollows attacked him. The Shinigami hypothesizes that the spirit power unable to flow out of his body did so when he touched the girl ghost. The Hollows had followed the strength of his scent from the girl, and had been after him all along. For the same reason, his family had been attacked.
The Hollow reappears and she tells him to run away. He does not, and foolishly tries to challenge the Hollow. The Hollow attacks, but the Shinigami blocks the attack, and falls, a wound on her shoulder spewing blood, to the floor. She says that his strength is nothing against that, and did he think that everything would revert to normal if he gave up his soul? The Shinigami crawls to the lamppost and sits there, telling him that the only way to save his family now is for him to become a Shinigami. To do so, he must thrust her sword, or Zanpakutou (Soul Slayer), through his heart so that she can pour her powers into him. The Hollow roars as she continues to say that she is not sure if it will work. The Hollow advances and he takes on the offer, taking up her Zanpakutou.
She tells Ichigo that her name is not “Shinigami”, but Kuchiki Rukia. He tells her his name, then pierces his chest with the Zanpakutou. There is a violent burst of blue light, and the Hollow’s arm is suddenly severed. Before the Hollow stands Ichigo, wearing the same black kimono as Rukia had. In his hand, he holds a Zanpakutou much larger than Rukia’s. Rukia, now wearing a white kimono, is dumbfounded. She had only intended to give half her powers, but he had taken it all. She had never seen a human with enough spirit power to confuse a Shinigami’s senses, nor one that could break demon magic, let alone a Shinigami with such a large Zanpakutou.
Ichigo runs at the Hollow and cuts off its leg, then, as revenge for raising a hand at his family, kills the Hollow by slicing its mask.
Kurosaki Ichigo; 15 years old; Orange hair; Brown eyes; High School student; and also… Shinigami.