Bleach 496 – You Shall Not Pass
The captains finally show up to face off against the Sternritter, but as of yet even they are unable to do anything to stop the rampage. Based on what they know from Sasakibe’s dying words, the captains decide to release their bankai’s anyways, in an attempt to either defeat them before they get sealed or break the seal afterwards. Given their limited knowledge of the enemy, it’s still a bit of a brash strategy, though in hindsight that was obviously not the case. With Senbonzakura , Byakuya is actually able to gain some edge initially against As Nodt and the fat one. However, as soon as he releases his bankai, As Nodt uses a medallion-like object to take it away completely, utterly shocking the normally calm and composed Byakuya. I’m assuming the same fate has befallen Hitsugaya, Komamura and Soifon as they have probably done exactly what the Quincies wanted them to do.
Of course, so far there has only been bankai’s that we have already seen, and perhaps Kubo intends to take them out of the picture for now, before beginning to reveal the new stuff. I myself am looking forward more to seeing the bankai’s we haven’t seen before (e.g. Yamamoto, the vizards, Kyouraku), but the remaining captains will have to adjust their game plan and come up with some way to deal with the Vandenreich’s bankai-stealing ability. And if they don’t, Ichigo will have to end up saving the day yet again, though that time may still be far away, depending on how things unravel in Hueco Mundo. Keeping in line with what we’ve seen from Bleach in the past, I do expect there to be some major twists as the battles proceed.