|I'm not just assuming that Yamamoto will be killed because of his power level. It's also highly likely because he is the battlefield leader of the Gotei 13, the temporary leader of the whole of Soul Society after the massacre of the Council of 46, and also the wise old Obi Wan/Yoda figure. All of these things would seem to point towards his imminent death, and it would make fairly good storytelling sense to kill a character that is crucial to the mechanics and history of the world but not that important to fans.|
But then we've been wrong-footed by this series before, and it just really depends which mythological tropes Kubo wants to play with. It hadn't occurred to me before starting this post, but what if Yamamoto isn't Yoda? What if he's King Lear? Destined to live through the fall of what he has created and be forced to watch... which would mean that he is likely to survive until close to the overall end of the story, and which makes it more likely that both Ukitate and Kyōraku will die and he will be powerless to prevent it from happening. That's also a compelling outcome and I would argue more emotionally resonant. We would still get to see Yamamoto being powerless in the face of the enemy, he has never had our sympathy before and both of his oldest serving captains are hella loveable.
As for "If he took him down,what chance do we have?", I'll refer you to comments I made in the Bleach FTVT thread. This is the structure on which hang all the character relationships in Bleach, being as much magnification of a society's obsession with standing and honourifics as it is a map which allows us to intepret how our principal protagonist Ichigo is faring against the principal antagonist Aizen. It's how a vast amount of Shonen anime gains its structure and in the case of this series I don't believe it should be reduced to something as simplistic as The Worf Effect. I'd cite the impact of -108 as essential in the case against this kind of reductionism, a chapter in which our entire understanding of the Gotei 13 is rewritten by placing characters that were arguably second tier into crucial positions of prominence. It's a chapter that wrongfooted a lot of people, and Kubo seems to know this himself when he refers to *ripples* that he is setting up with each progressive revelation. What's important is not that this structure is in place (that's a given in this type of series) but how it is used, and I'd argue that throughout the history of the story we've been treated to some extraordinarily well-executed and unexpected narrative and character shifts that play with the model in very interesting ways.
As for the storytelling mechanics of the coming confrontation in Karakura Town, we can be fairly sure that Soi Fong will not die unless Yoruichi makes her presence felt (while Yoruichi may die alone, Soi Fong almost certainly cannot meet her end without her mentor and possible former lover). Likewise it would seem reasonable to expect that Tousen, Komamura and Hisagi will survive to make it to Soul Society because of what we were promised at the end of the first major arc ("Friend of Tousen's whose name I do not know, what would you have said to him to make him stop?" and the contract with the audience that Tousen will be returning to that grave). Gin, Matsumoto and Hitsugaya's relationships are unlikely to be resolved without the presence of Momo Hinamori, and if my speculation that Gin's loyalties aren't what they appear to be is true then it would seem likely that Kubo will leave the resolution of his arc until later in the story. So that pretty much leaves him with Ukitate, Kyōraku and Yamamoto to play with, as well as their respective Lieutenants.
As for issue -106... my speculation is that Kubo is not just counting down the years with these issues. I really think that there will be one hundred and eight issues counting down to the first, and that these will not be told in just one block but interspersed throughout the run. He is already pacing the story in such a manner that the two months of backstory that he has promised will not tell the complete story of the events leading up to the present.
There's a lot that's interesting about this latest issue, -106. Urahara is trying to reach Hiyori, to subvert her understanding of him as just a flakey weirdo with a bunch of mad scientist gear. He's found a particularly manipulative way of doing it, too: by pulling the rug out from beneath her entire understanding of Soul Society and how it operates he is simultaneously creating not only a new frame for her comprehension of him and their relationship, but also herself as she fits into the context of a society about which she knows substantially less than she thinks she does. He's turned the tables on her. She is now the fish out of water, and he is the one who knows the environment and the rules.
Very interesting career he's held, eh? Essentially he started off as The Prisoner's Number 2, instituted the role of the Twelfth as Tech Division, created a bunch of taboo devices and meddled in with the building blocks of life itself, before going into exile in order to become some kind of Merlin/Gandalf agent provocateur.
Because that's clearly what we have here: The Prisoner. Once you're a Shinigami you cannot leave. We saw a prefiguring of this in the judgement on Rukia when she went AWOL. Simply put, you allow yourself to enter a system in which you become too powerful and know too much to ever be allowed to leave. This revelation may not be rock bottom for a society that we are being taught to distrust even more than Hueco Mundo, but it's certainly a good pointer towards the sickness beneath such a militaristic outlook. If Urahara is to be taken at his word he's a reformer, one who would like to take a principled stand against such an institution. But when have we ever felt fully comfortable believing a word he's said? The notion of Urahara as humanitarian in the context of everything else we know about him is a pretty incongruous. This is a man who does not share information and who prefers manipulation to seeking consent.
Hands up who thought it would be Isshin in the cell?