With the death of such a major character, tensions are at an all-time high in Bleach. While it was clear that Yamamoto would lose, I think few people expected him to die in such a gruesome and spectacular manner. Kubo went all out to show just how incredibly strong Juha Bach was by basically destroying the already incredibly strong captain-commander in one move. Yamamoto has been portrayed as the ultimate bad-ass with near god-like battle prowess and raw power for the entire history of the series, and I had expected to see him going down swinging. Bankai or not, I found it very difficult to believe that he could not even defend against one attack from Juha’s Seele Schneider, albeit a very strong attack. Strong is an understatement for Juha though, as that one slash was enough to cleave off his entire upper torso. Even with Bleach characters surviving ridiculous injuries, Yamamoto is almsot certainly dead now, especially considering the flashbacks that were shown.
The Quincy leader has advanced many times farther than his old nemesis in the past millennia, and it has paid off with crushing victories so far against the Gotei 13. Yamamoto’s stubbornness was part of his downfall, and his group weakened over the course of hundreds of years. With the death of their leader, dark times for the Shinigami are looming, and both their captains and small fry lie dying as Soul Society crumbles around them. I am impressed at the Vandenreich’s attack strategy, at how well prepared they were even for the mysterious Zero Squad. For some reason it is reminiscent of the blitzkrieg attacks of WWII, and I’m sure the abundance of cult-like Nazi parallels and imagery in this arc is not lost on the readers. Even the army of identical Vandenreich foot soldiers looks like a battalion of white-colored Nazi soldiers wearing gas masks.
Of course, if Kubo doesn’t throw a wrench into their perfect plan soon, there won’t be much of a story left to tell. That seems like what is happening at the end as the sky cracks. I’d bet it’s Ichigo, since he’s always the one to foil the enemies plans, but it could also be someone else coming to help. Urahara has been MIA for a while now, as have some of the captains, Ishida and Isshin.