Can Things Go Back to What They Once Were?
The chapter opens with Kyoraku hopping through the rubble of the battle as he observes all the damage that was done during the past two days of battle. As he does so, he observes the destroyed buildings, and wonders if the Seireitei will be restored to what it once was if their "Quincy friends" are sent home, and if the damage done to the buildings will revert or remain.
As we turn the page, we see that Kyoraku is actually talking to Ukitake as he is saying this, who says that the buildings can simply be repaired if that is the case. It has been a very long time since we last saw Ukitake (not since the second invasion started 58 chapters ago), and it seems his body is completely wrapped in bandages underneath the Shihakusho. When we last saw him, he was in some kind of temple or hot spring with a lotus sculpture in it.
The Shadow is God's Presence
As they finish their brief discussion on the state of the Seireitei's buildings, Kyoraku points out that the Royal Guard let the invasion into their realm happen. This implies that the Royal Guard either had the means of prevent Yhwach and Co from reaching the Royal Realm but they chose not to do so, or they sent Ichigo down to the Seireitei knowing his Ouken Clothing would allow Yhwach to get into the Royal Realm. In other words, the Royal Guard wanted Yhwach to come to them so they could deal with him.
But the big mystery presented in this chapter is the existence of the "Kamikake". Whatever it is, it is connected to what Ukitake was doing before, Kyoraku knows about it meaning he was in on it, and it was apparently a success. Kyoraku confirms this when he looks down to see this bizarre shape with a ring around it and an eye in the middle of it - all stemming from Ukitake's shadow.
Ukitake describes this "thing" as "The 'Kamikake' based on what was foreseen". I doubt it is something to do with some kind of Shinigami Prophecy, because Ukitake and Kyoraku seem to have made this venture on their own. Whatever it is supposed to be, it is linked directly to Ukitake himself, and it may be the reason for the bandages around his body.
I must say, this was almost nostalgic. Just as Ukitake and Kyoraku worked behind the scenes together in the Soul Society arc to save Rukia, so they have done so here with whatever power or force the "Kamikake" is.
Motive for Visiting the Central 46
Kyoraku mentions that the Kamikake's success means they'll be able to handle a little more strain, and then tells Ukitake goodbye for the moment. As Ukitake asks where Kyoraku is going, he responds that he is going to the Central 46.
With all that has happened, I'm surprised that the Central 46 apparently managed to remain intact, much less not be targeted by the Stern Ritter. Since Kyoraku is the Captain-Commander now, I suspect - as is everyone else most likely - that Kyoraku is going to propose something drastic to the Central 46, something he will make them allow.
While I was supportive of the idea that Aizen had disguised himself as Okikiba using his power, I can see the possibility that Kyoraku is going to ask the Central 46 to bring up Aizen for the upcoming battles. But if it isn't Aizen, then it might be something or someone else entirety that Kyoraku is going to talk to the Central 46.
I must admit, it'd be a hoot if the person he's going to ask the Central 46 to release is Azashiro Soya. But if it's not a person, then it may be the other means to reach the Royal Realm, since Kyoraku seems set on going to the Royal Realm to assist the Royal Guard.
I'll Beat You From Within This Space
As we cut back to the Royal Realm, Ichibei is seen painting lines on the ground, and proclaims that he will defeat Yhwach within the distance between the two lines he painted, all with a big and jolly look on his face. However, Yhwach states that calculation is off, because he says that he'll have Ichibei Hyosube dead in three paces less than that.
As we have seen for the past few chapters, Yhwach has been pretty confident in his abilities and those of his Elite Guard. With how the Elite Guard started to perform after having the power of the Auswahlen shared with them, I can see where Yhwach's confidence comes from. He is powerful, he knows it, and he is set on his goals. His Elite Guard have started giving the other four members of the Royal Guard trouble, and they broke the Cage of Life, allowing Yhwach to get out and confront Ichibei in the first place.
While Ichibei is treating the situation in a jolly manner, Yhwach is much more serious about the confrontation. As Ichibei places the finishing touches on his preparation for battle - a "Seal" drawn in the air on the path to the Spirit King Palace, he reminds Yhwach that he should not use his name so casually.
Then we see what Ichibei meant when he said he would defeat Yhwach from within that space - it wasn't about fighting Yhwach in the space, but the space from where he'd launch his attack.
Palm Thrust of Buddha
Cue a giant hand sailing towards Yhwach, an image that actually surprises Yhwach. The hand distorts the air/space around it as it moves forward, collides with Yhwach and sends him flying, the air burning around him because of the speed at which he was blown away. In the same page, Ichibei catches up with Yhwach and explains the name of the attack - Senri Tsuutenshou (Heaven-piercing Palm of One Thousand Ri). As the name implies, anything hit by the technique is sent flying one thousand ri i.e. Three Thousand Nine Hundred Twenty-Seven Kilometres.
We've seen some pretty crazy powers in the Thousand Year Blood War arc, but this the only other time outside of Zaraki smashing the meteor with Nozarashi that such a feat was done casually. It doesn't even seem like Ichibei is using his Zanpakuto for this technique. Whatever it is, be a Hakuda, Kido, or a combination of both like Shunko, the Senri Tsuutenshou is a crazy powerful ability.
Yhwach tries to retaliate, but something is wrong.
He cannot even speak.
Speak Not the Name of the One Who Calls the True Name
Just as Ichibei warned Yhwach, speaking his name one too many times in a casual manner causes him to lose his voice, meaning Yhwach cannot use any technique that require calling names to retaliate against Ichibei. Ichibei manifests the hand of Senrei Tsuutenshou again - showing us the hand seems to be made of spirit energy - and tells Yhwach to make sure he repents before hitting him again with a palm thrust, sending Yhwach flying downward.
Well, there's no question about it now - Ichibei Hyosube is the Captain of the Royal Guard, and for good reason. While Nimaiya could curb-stomp the Elite Guard pre-Auswahlen single-handedly, he still needed help from Kirinji when Askin's "The Death-Dealing" started to affect him. But what Ichibei is doing here blows that feat away - literally. Not once, but twice has he sent Yhwach flying with the Senri Tsuutenshou, and he even briefly gained the upper hand by neutralizing Yhwach's voice.
Considering Yhwach is the same man who killed Yamamoto, that speaks volumes about how powerful Ichibei is. I have little doubt now that he may be the one Shinigami from a thousand years ago who was stronger than Yamamoto. Not only is he one of the oldest Shinigami - the one who named all things in the Soul Society - but his power is also a result of thousands of years of living and honing it. No wonder Yhwach wanted to deal with him personally - he's the only one that probably stood a chance against Ichibei.
Give Me The Voice
As Yhwach is sent flying another 1000 ri, he deals with the loss of his voice in a rather unorthodox way - he pierces his own neck with two of his fingers and streams reishi/power into it, thereby "bestowing" upon himself his "Voice" once more, upon which he immediately creates the Zankuto Bougen (Great Holy Bow) below him, and shoots himself with an arrow to force himself back up to Ichibei's position, slightly cutting his back in the process and drawing a trickle of blood.
This very pragmatic maneuver on Yhwach's part shows just what kind of an opponent Ichibei is. Not only did he have to stab his fingers into his own neck to restore his "Voice", but he also created the Zankuto Bougen to stop himself from flying any further from the Senri Tsuutenshou's attack by shooting himself with an arrow to get back up to Ichibei's position - while Ichibei only has a small cut on his back.
Let me repeat - Yhwach wounded himself twice already in this battle, and Ichibei just has a small cut. If Yhwach has not yet unleashed his true power (implied in 514), then he'll probably need to release at least some of that power in order to stand a better chance against Ichibei.
To get back to the Zankuto Bougen, I have a feeling that this gives more evidence to the idea that Yhwach's Schrift is "The Arrow". While it seems mundane compared to stuff like "The Visionary", what power would be more befitting the "Father of the Quincy" than a Schrift based on the traditional weapons of the Quincy, the Spirit Bow and Heilig Pfiel? It would certainly fit with the power Uryu has displayed with his Spirit Bow, and he shares "A" with Yhwach. After all, he already possesses the Auswahlen as "one of the powers" he possesses, according to Haschwalth.
Let's look at the indicators: he killed Yamamoto with a broadsword-like Heilig Pfiel he summoned from a giant spirit bow he created; he fires his normal Heilig Pfiel from his index finger, and how he has created a giant reishi construct with six giant Heilig Pfiel already primed.
So at this point, I will safely conclude that Yhwach is "The Arrow".
The Demon Monk
The chapter ends with Ichibei commenting on Yhwach firing an arrow through his own body to force himself back up to Ichibei's position, and calls him terrifying. As he states that now he has no choice but to kill Yhwach, we are treated to Ichibei's completely white eyes as he says these words. If Ichibei was part of the Gotei 13 when it was first created, then I can definitely see the demonic personality of the original Gotei 13 shining through in his expression here. Him being a part of the original Gotei 13 can be solidified by the fact Yhwach knows him enough to call him by his full name.
The leaders of the Vandenreich and the Royal Guard are now fighting each other, and already we have an intense battle that is on an entirely different level on our hands. Looking forward to seeing more.