Yammy is pissed off after Ulquiorra is defeated, and takes out his anger on Rukia, Chad and Renji. He releases his resurreccion, Ira, which reveals his true number, zero. Yammy’s huge size and strength easily overpowers all of their attacks and he prepares to fire a cero at them. In the fake Karakura town, the captains are having trouble against the top three Espada. Harribel reveals herself to be the #3 espada and Hitsugaya is forced to stay on the defensive against her even after releasing his bankai. She releases her ressurreccion, Tiburon, and seemingly slices off one of Hitsugaya’s wings; however he later reveals this to be an illusion. Shunsui and Stark continue their fight and seem evenly matched in swordplay, though the latter manages to land a cut in. On the side, Soifon and Omaeda aren’t doing well against Baraggan, and she reveals that their power limiters have already been removed.
I don’t think Yammy is really the “best” Espada; perhaps zero is just a way to signify that his potential power level is the highest of the Espada. It seems he just relies on brute strength and an extremely tough hierro to overwhelm his enemies (or prey). Without much of a brain, he wouldn’t stand a chance against the majority of opponents near his power level. And if looking at other series gives any clue, big powerful but dull characters usually don’t last too long. No wonder Ulquiorra didn’t consider him too important.
As for the protagonists, shikai and bankai have really become cheapened in value. Most of the powers can’t hurt the caliber of enemies in recent battles. Understandably, this is an inevitable trend in the genre, especially as the series progresses for several years, but it’s still annoying seeing the likes of Hitsugaya and Renji forced to release their bankai’s in most fights, but not being able to do significant damage with them. Bankai supposedly increases the wielder’s power by five to ten times, and used to be the pinnacle of shinigami achievement. At this point, power levels seem to vary so widely that often releasing bankai doesn’t do anything significant (of course, the strongest shinigami are a different story). Standards sure rise quickly in such a competitive world.
Looking at the three Espada, Stark seems to most interesting one to me. His powerful but cool demeanor compares nicely with Shunsui’s, and it would be cool to see them release more powerful abilities against each other. Harribel (yes they did do some censorship, though a lot of cleavage is still visible) seems like a straightforward character, though I laughed at her intention to go after Yamamoto; I seriously doubt she could do much against him, but fire vs. water is an interesting prospect at least. As for Hitsugaya, I’m very unimpressed with him (as I mentioned above about bankai), and I know there are a lot of his anti-fans out there. However, he uses his brain to fight, so I’m not counting out his abilities to pull off something effective. Aizen is seriously wasting his time here though, it shouldn’t be a problem to quickly advance his plans with his overpowered abilities instead of messing around with subordinates. It’s like… fighting just for the sake of showing off different characters and abilities.