Ichigo has completed the forging of his new dual zanpakuto’s – and not a moment too soon as Soul Society comes under attack immediately again. The quincies reveal that they have actually been hiding within Sereitei all this time and had used their reishi manipulation abilities to construct an entire dimension concealed in the shadows. For a thousand years they have sat right under the noses of the Gotei 13 undetected, and at the same time proving the utter incompetence of the shinigami yet again. Now that Yhwach has ordered the strike, the shinigami are completely caught by surprise as their world is completely enveloped in light and fades away into the quincies world, fitting in pretty well with the themes behind the quincies’ powers. Although their intentions seems to be to end the battle quickly within a few days using the element of surprise, there’s little doubt that Kubo also intends to drag out the battles for a good amount of time, showing many different fights consecutively. Although the shinigami will probably suffer heavy losses initially especially among the grunts, they also have several aces to pull.
There is just one captain not caught off guard by the surprise attack: Kurotsuchi (and Nemu), who have apparently figured out the quincies secret after the first attack. Of course, the sensible thing to do is to keep their discovery hidden from any of the other captains and shinigami, instead locking themselves in a special shadow-free laboratory in order to design the most hideous costumes they can think of. It remains to be seen what sort of counter-abilities they have developed, but a few quincy casualties can probably be expected. In addition, Kenpachi and Komamura will arrive to the battle buffed up significantly, though from them we can expect more brute power than fancy gear. Urahara, Orihime, and Sado are also due to arrive from Hueco Mundo with the surviving arrancar in tow (Grimmjow we are looking at you).
Finally, those who went to the Soul King’s palace will likely come back as important assets, including Ichigo, the undisputed hero of Soul Society with his quadruple hybrid abilities. While there’s no doubt that he will be extremely powerful in the upcoming fights, Kyouraku has revealed to his friends and family that there is an off-chance that Ichigo’s new form will render him unable to return to the real world – all for the sake of cleaning up Soul Society’s mess again, as Keigo aptly put it. As of now there are too many possibilities to list, and still a large amount of unknown factors and information to be revealed on both sides, so readers can look forward to more crazy twists in this final Bleach arc.