Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto (山本元柳斎 重國, Yamamoto Genryūsai Shigekuni) was the captain of the 1st Division in the Gotei 13 and also the Captain-Commander (Head-Captain in the English Dub) of the whole Gotei 13. His lieutenant was Chōjirō Sasakibe.
Yamamoto is the oldest captain in the Gotei 13. He has the appearance of an old man with red eyes, a very long white beard, and long eyebrows. There are many scars on his torso and head, the two most prominent being a pair of long, perpendicular scars above his right eye, left by his battle with his lieutenant. After his brief confrontation with Sōsuke Aizen, Yamamoto lost his left arm. He wears the standard Shinigami uniform, but its size is greatly exaggerated. He drapes his haori over his back instead of actually wearing it. Despite his old and frail appearance, he has a very muscular body which he only reveals when he goes to battle, something which Shunsui Kyōraku claims is not seen too often.
When he was much younger, Yamamoto had black hair on the sides of his head, and was bald on top. He had a tuft of hair sticking up at the back of his head in a topknot. He had thick black eyebrows and a long, thick black mustache. He had a single large scar on his forehead, which earned him the nickname "Eijisai" due to its shape. He had prominent wrinkles on his forehead and beneath his eyes, and shallow cheeks. He wore the typical black outfit of a Shinigami.
As the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, Yamamoto is highly respected by most of the Shinigami, most notably Sajin Komamura, who views Yamamoto as a benefactor who saved his life. The embodiment of conviction, Yamamoto follows the laws and regulations of Soul Society to the letter, and expects the same of others. He is not a man to tolerate insubordination, and is vocal with those who attempt to act in such a manner. He is quick to anger in the face of possible betrayal and can be quite aggressive in combat. He has a habit of referring to those he faces in battle as "youngster", and he refers to a battle as a "beating" or "punishment". When in a state of peace, he carries himself with an air of frailty, to the point where he fell asleep standing while awaiting Shunsui Kyōraku's arrival for a meeting. Due to years of experience, Yamamoto very rarely shows any sign of distress or surprise, usually responding by opening one or both of his eyes, which are partially closed slits for the majority of the time.
Yamamoto is very loyal to Soul Society, and takes his duties very seriously, expecting the same from the rest of the Gotei 13. His loyalty is so great, he is willing to sacrifice himself and the Gotei 13 in order to defeat Aizen, believing it to be their duty to lay down their lives for the sake of the Soul Society if necessary. Yamamoto becomes visibly angry when Shunsui, Byakuya Kuchiki, and Kenpachi Zaraki lose their haori and show little regret: to him, the haori represents their status as captains. Inversely, he prefers not to involve allies who are not part of the Gotei 13 (particularly humans), as he requested Ichigo Kurosaki to move to safety, and did not request for Orihime Inoue to repair the left arm he sacrificed for Ittō Kasō.
Despite his stern and steadfast personality, it is not to say he has no compassion and admiration, even for his enemies, as he was reluctant to strike down Wonderweiss Margela for his childish form and personality (only managing to get through this when Wonderweiss' Resurrección makes him no longer look like a child), and felt pity for him that Sōsuke Aizen stripped him of all his higher mental capacities except emotions (mainly fear of death). He commended the Tres Bestias for their bravery of attacking him with only one arm each, and struck them down without killing them. Yamamoto felt particularly furious when Driscoll Berci utilized his lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe's stolen Bankai, considering the inferior power to that of the original wielder as an insult to Chōjiro's memories and hard work; Yamamoto brutally burned Driscoll to cinders, showing his immense respect for a longtime friend and subordinate.
Yamamoto appreciates Eastern cultures, and is a master at the Japanese tea ceremony. He dislikes the Western traditions preferred by his lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe. Yamamoto holds a tea session every month in the 1st Division quarters for every member of his division. He plaits his own beard and arranges its ends once a month, and likes to be rubbed down with a dry towel while exposed to the sun on his balcony.
Yamamoto was apparently shameful of his past actions. He once referred to a painting of his past self as a monster that brought the Soul Society further turmoil when it was in a period of instability.Yhwach noted 1000 years ago, Yamamoto was a demon himself, using any necessary means to defeat his enemies, and treated Humans and his own subordinates alike as expendable pawns; it was only after defeating the Quincy and attaining peace did Yamamoto live with honor and justice that led him to hesitate in sacrificing people heedlessly.
Around 2,100 years ago, Yamamoto was the "Genryū" Founder and "Genji School" Head Instructor. At some point, Yamamoto founded the Gotei 13 as well; he sought out Yachiru Unohana, the most diabolical criminal of Soul Society and a master swordswoman, to join the group as one of the founding captains. Yamamoto was himself a teacher at this academy, and personally instructed Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake. He admits to being rather proud of the two. When they became captains, he boasted about them as though they were his sons.
During Yamamoto's time as an instructor, Chōjirō Sasakibe routinely visited him, always referring to him as "Eijisai-dono", a reference to the large scar on his forehead, despite knowing it annoyed him. He insisted it would be wrong to use Yamamoto's real name. During one of his visits, Chōjirō told Yamamoto he wished to be his right arm and compensate for anything which Yamamoto could not do. When Yamamoto told him to become his disciple, he declined. At Yamamoto's behest, Chōjirō tried to defeat him with his Bankai. Though he failed to defeat him, he left a permanent scar on Yamamoto's forehead, crossing his earlier scar. Others began to refer to him by a different name due to the new scar, but Chōjirō refused to use this new name. As a result, Yamamoto decided to call himself Genryūsai.
Approximately one thousand years ago, Yamamoto became the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13. Around the same time, he failed to kill Yhwach, although he did kill several of his Quincy subordinates, including Hubert, Zeidritz and Argola.
On various occasions, Yamamoto would catch the young Shunsui Kyōraku sneaking into his room. On one particular instance, he scolded the boy for doing so. When Shunsui asked about a painting of a dark silhouette within a field of fire, Yamamoto explained how the painting was of a monster which appeared in Soul Society a long time ago. He stated it had appeared at a time when Soul Society was facing a difficult situation, and the monster's appearance had made the situation worse. Yamamoto stated it was unlikely to return, but if it did, its return would mark Yamamoto's last day in Soul Society.
At some point, Yamamoto came across Sajin Komamura and gave him the opportunity to join the Gotei 13, despite him not being a Human soul.
Sometime shortly after Kenpachi Zaraki joined the Gotei 13, Yamamoto forced him to learn kendō because he had not learned any formal swordsmanship training, having bypassed those normally necessary qualifications due to the way he attained his position. Concerned by the devastation which Kenpachi could cause if he were to ever rebel after growing even stronger, Central 46 had Yamamoto stop the training after just one day.
Turn Back the Pendulum arc
Approximately 110 years ago, Yamamoto was noted as being the oldest captain among the Gotei 13, followed by Retsu Unohana, Shunsui, and Ukitake. It was stated the four of them had been captains of the Gotei 13 for at least 100 years at this point. Pushing Kisuke Urahara into the First Division headquarters so he could start the promotion ceremony, Yamamoto explained how seven days ago, there was an order to promote the 12th Division Captain Kirio Hikifune, which would leave her position open. Notifying the various captains of the opening, he asked them to submit nominations for the selection of a new captain. Within a short period of time, he got a recommendation from 2nd Division Captain Yoruichi Shihōin to promote her 3rd Seat, Kisuke Urahara. The following day, Yamamoto called Urahara in so he could take the Captain's Proficiency Test, administered by himself, 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana and 6th Division Captain Ginrei Kuchiki, so they can confirm Urahara is qualified to be a captain. Having satisfied his three superiors, the three senior captains appointed Urahara the new captain of the 12th Division.
10 years later, Yamamoto called an emergency meeting of the captains of the Gotei 13, where he gave an intelligence report on the disappearances of 9th Division Captain Kensei Muguruma and Lieutenant Mashiro Kuna, who had previously been sent out to investigate the disappearance of other 9th Division members. As he stated he would choose 5 captains to form an investigation team, a very winded and frantic Urahara showed up to ask permission to go with the investigation team, for he had previously seen his lieutenant, Hiyori Sarugaki, go to the sight of the disappearances. Declining to grant this, Yamamoto, continuing with the meeting, selected 3rd Division Captain Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi, 5th Division Captain Shinji Hirako, and 7th Division Captain Love Aikawa. Telling them to head to the campground, he ordered Yoruichi to stand by, while the remaining captains present were to stay behind and guard the Seireitei.
Yamamoto ordered Unohana to prepare her relief stations for casualties. When Unohana insisted she should tend to the wounded at the site of the disappearances, Yamamoto stated he could not send healers without knowing the full extent of the situation. Upon the arrival of the captain of the Kidō Corps, Tessai Tsukabishi, and his lieutenant, Hachigen Ushōda, Yamamoto, asking Tessai if he had heard the news of the disappearances, told him he wanted the two of them to head to the campground as well. Interrupting, Shunsui asked if it was a good idea to send both the captain and lieutenant of the Kidō Corps when they had no idea what was going on. When Yamamoto asked what he would suggest, Shunsui told him they should send his lieutenant, Lisa Yadōmaru. With the squad formed, Yamamoto sent them out to investigate the disappearances.
After Isshin Shiba fought White, he reported back to Yamamoto. Pointing out how he had taken action without permission, Yamamoto stated his quick actions kept casualties low and damage to a minimum, and therefore he would not punish Isshin. As Isshin turned to leave, Yamamoto, suspecting Isshin was leaving out information, asked if there was something else worth mentioning, which Isshin denied.
Zanpakutō Unknown Tales arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Several centuries ago, during a rebellion which caused a civil war in Soul Society, Yamamoto, praising the actions of Kōga Kuchiki, later gave him the leadership of a special contingent of troops. When Kōga became a rogue, Yamamoto helped Ginrei seal Kōga with a special Kidō spell.
Soul Society arc
Yamamoto is present during a meeting between captains over their fellow Captain Gin Ichimaru's failure to kill Ichigo Kurosaki. Upon arrival, Gin gets into an argument with 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki and 12th Division Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Telling them to stand down, Yamamoto, asking Gin if he has been told why he has been summoned, details how Gin acted without permission and failed to capture or kill the target, which he feels is unusual for a captain, and asks for an explanation.
Stating he has nothing to say, which confuses Yamamoto, Gin says he has no excuse - he made a mistake, and will not try to justify his carelessness. As Yamamoto decides Gin will have to be punished, an intruder alert goes off. Shortly after Kenpachi leaves, Yamamoto dismisses the meeting, stating Gin's punishment will be handled later, and orders the captains to return to their defense stations. Later, following Renji's defeat, Yamamoto drops Gin's punishment and authorizes all Shinigami up to the captain-level to carry their Zanpakutō and use Bankai if necessary.
At Rukia Kuchiki's execution, Yamamoto asks her if she has any last words. When Rukia requests Ichigo and his friends be allowed to return to the Human World unharmed, Yamamoto grants her request, though in truth, he has no intention of allowing them to live. Upon the activation of the Sōkyoku, Yamamoto explains the Phoenix produced by it, called Kikōō, is the true form of the spearhead of the Sōkyoku and the executioner of the grand penalty, and after it pierces through the criminal's body, the grand penalty ends.
Yamamoto watches as Ichigo Kurosaki, appearing, saves Rukia by deflecting the Kikōō. He sends his lieutenant, Chōjirō Sasakibe, to stop Ichigo while he confronts Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake after they destroy the Sōkyoku. Ordering them to not move, Yamamoto states while the person who made off with Rukia was a replaceable lieutenant and is a matter which can be easily dealt with, he cannot forgive them for what they have done. As he notes the severity of their crimes as captain-rank Shinigami, they escape down the side of the cliff. After they move a considerable distance away, they stop, but Yamamoto, who is already there waiting for them, states it is not often he has to chase after young children. When Yamamoto exerts his Reiatsu, Nanao Ise collapses, forcing Shunsui to take her far away from the battle.
Upon Shunsui's return, he notes Shunsui and Ukitake's history, for they are like sons to him, and how powerful they are. He tells them it is too late for words, and to take out their swords. Dodging his attack, Shunsui and Ukitake draw their Zanpakutō. When Yamamoto asks if they intend on fighting him without releasing their Zanpakutō, Shunsui asks if there is any other way than fighting. Silencing him, Yamamoto states he has taught them there is no mercy for those who obstruct justice. When Shunsui states Yamamoto also said to follow through with your own sense of justice, Ukitake proclaims they have to protect justice with everything they have. Yamamoto dismisses the notion of individual justice, for it cannot override global justice. Tired of talking, Yamamoto removes his haori and top, telling them to prepare themselves for battle, and releases his Shikai.
Standing prepared for battle, Yamamoto, asking them what they are waiting for, tells them they should release their Zanpakutō unless they plan on burning to ashes without any resistance. As Shunsui and Ukitake release their Zanpakutō, Yamamoto notes they are the only dual Zanpakutō in Soul Society. Charging at each other, they create a large explosion of Reiryoku. After a while, the battle is forced to stop with Isane Kotetsu's announcement about the true intentions of Sōsuke Aizen, who is responsible for all of the chaos in Soul Society.
When Aizen's scheme is revealed, most of the remaining captains, closing in on his position, completely surround him. When the Menos Grande come to his, Gin, and Kaname Tōsen's rescue, Yamamoto warns the other Shinigami about the Negación technique the Menos Grande perform to rescue their fellow Hollows.
Bount arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Thinking Mayuri Kurotsuchi is betraying Soul Society, Yamamoto has Byakuya get all information he can about the Bount. Later, he, holding a meeting with the remaining captains, tells them about the Bount invading Rukongai and the origins of the Bount.
Yamamoto calls all of the captains for an emergency. Later, Yamamoto has a short video conversation with Tōshirō Hitsugaya over the Arrancar invasion of Karakura Town, and allows Momo Hinamori to speak with Hitsugaya. Once the conversation begins to revolve around Aizen and how Momo believes he is innocent, Yamamoto, cutting their conversation short by knocking Momo unconscious with a Kidō, notes it is too soon to let her speak.
After Orihime Inoue is kidnapped, Yamamoto, ordering Hitsugaya's task force to retreat to Soul Society in preparation for the war against Aizen, firmly disapproves of the idea of Ichigo and the others going to her rescue, seeing it as a suicide mission and believing that Orihime willingly betrayed them.
After Coyote Starrk recaptures Orihime and takes her back to Aizen, it is explained Yamamoto ordered the creation of a replacement Karakura Town so the captains can fight at full strength without damaging the city. Later, he, alongside several other captains and lieutenants, waits as Aizen and his forces arrive in the Fake Karakura Town.
The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Yamamoto presides over Shūsuke Amagai being appointed captain of the 3rd Division. Amagai uses his position to attempt to exact revenge against Yamamoto, believing he killed his father, Shin'etsu Kisaragi. In reality, Shin'etsu had been given a mission to investigate the Kasumiōji Clan, but was captured by Gyōkaku Kumoi and used as a test subject for the Bakkōtō. As Shin'etsu was possessed by the Bakkōtō, Yamamoto killed him to end his suffering. After killing Kumoi, Amagai attacks Yamamoto, using his Bakkōtō to prevent Yamamoto from using his Zanpakutō. While Yamamoto is defenseless, Ichigo arrives and fights Amagai, but despite Amagai being outmatched and near death, he stabs Yamamoto. After Yoruichi Shihōin and Yamamoto reveal the truth, Amagai commits suicide to atone for his crimes.
It is explained Yamamoto has set up four pillars around the fake town which, if destroyed, will lure the real Karakura Town out of Soul Society. Realizing this, Baraggan Louisenbairn sends out his Fracción to obliterate the towers. This plan is halted by Yamamoto's four soldiers - Izuru Kira, Yumichika Ayasegawa, Ikkaku Madarame, and Shūhei Hisagi - who have been placed at the pillars to protect them. After the pillars are successfully defended and four of Baraggan's Fracción are killed, the Espada and remaining Fracción pair up against a Shinigami and begin to battle. Yamamoto proclaims the real fights have begun.
When several of the lieutenants are critically injured against the "pet", Ayon, of Tier Harribel's Fracción, Yamamoto, stepping in, creates a large hole on the left side of Ayon's chest. When an enraged Ayon swells to gigantic proportions, Yamamoto cuts him in half with Nadegiri, and when Ayon's left half returns, he incinerates him with his Shikai. After killing Ayon, Yamamoto tells Izuru to not let down the barrier. When Emilou Apacci, Franceska Mila Rose, and Cyan Sung-Sun launch a desperate attack from behind, even though they are each left with just one arm, Yamamoto takes them down by swinging his Shikai and, in respect to their dedication to fight, "lightly toasts" all three of them, which fatally injures them. Later, he notices Harribel has set her sights on him to avenge her fallen subordinates, but before they can engage each other, Hitsugaya intervenes.
Along with the rest of the captains and lieutenants, Yamamoto notices the huge Hollow creature and Wonderweiss Margela joining the battle. When Shunsui and Ukitake are attacked by Starrk and Wonderweiss, he calls out to them as they fall to the town below.
Yamamoto appears somewhat surprised at the arrival of the Visored, having not seen them for 100 years. When Shinji Hirako approaches Yamamoto to greet him, Yamamoto asks if he has come for revenge. Shinji tells him if it is against Aizen, they have, but as for the Gotei 13, he could not care less. He states if he were mad at the Gotei 13, it would be for making the barrier around the Fake Karakura Town so hard to get through. When Shinji states if he had not found Lieutenant Chōjirō outside the barrier, they still would be on the outside of it, Chōjirō apologizes to Yamamoto for allowing them in, saying he thought it was necessary given the circumstances, but before he can finish, Yamamoto, forgiving his actions, asks Shinji if he is right to assume they are allies. Telling him it is obvious they are not, Shinji states the Visored are not on the Gotei 13's side, but they are against Aizen, and they are Ichigo's allies. Yamamoto muses to himself about the statement of the Visored being Ichigo's allies.
After the last combatants are defeated by Aizen, Yamamoto makes his presence known by drawing Aizen's attention with a huge pillar of fire. Aizen states though he has finally shown himself, he is too late: as of now, he is the only one left to be counted as manpower. Aizen notes if he falls, the Gotei 13 will crumble, and states Yamamoto has lost his chance. When Yamamoto asks Aizen if he really thinks he can cut him down with this much power, Aizen states he does not have to cut him down, for he already has. Before an enraged Yamamoto can react, Aizen appears behind him. As Yamamoto turns to face him, Aizen stabs him through his stomach with his Zanpakutō. Grabbing Aizen's arm, Yamamoto, pulling him in closer, proclaims he has caught him. When Aizen tries to trick him into questioning whether or not he has caught the real Aizen, Yamamoto, calling his bluff, states if he only relied on his eyes or skin, he would say yes, but he instead only needs to rely on sensing the Reiatsu of Aizen's Zanpakutō, which is impaled into his stomach. Revealing he has laid a trap for Aizen, Yamamoto initiates his Ennetsu Jigoku technique, detailing how the entire fight up to this point was to trap him in this technique. Noting he would use his subordinates to set such a trap, Aizen expresses admiration at his cunning. Stating he plans to die with Aizen in the flames, he tells Ichigo to get back, for he is not part of the Gotei 13 and he should not have to endure their fate. When Aizen asks if he would really risk killing the other combatants to try and destroy him, Yamamoto states they are all prepared to die to destroy evil, which is the true spirit of the Gotei 13. A released Wonderweiss appears behind Yamamoto, who, sensing his presence, attacks, only to have his blade caught by Wonderweiss, who, throwing Yamamoto, sends him crashing into the city below. When Yamamoto expresses confusion at how the flames of Ryūjin Jakka disappeared without warning, Aizen explains he knows full well Ryūjin Jakka is the strongest Zanpakutō, and in a one-on-one battle, Yamamoto's strength far outweighs his own. He reveals Wonderweiss is the only modified Arrancar in existence, and his Resurrección, Extinguir, is built solely for the purpose of stopping Ryūjin Jakka.
When Yamamoto still questions what happened, Aizen states in exchange for the power to seal away the flames of Ryūjin Jakka, Wonderweiss gave up his speech, knowledge, memory, and reason. As he bids farewell to him, Wonderweiss moves to attack Yamamoto, who lands a devastating punch which, creating a large hole in Wonderweiss' chest, sends the Arrancar flying several city blocks before crashing into a building. Asking Aizen if he actually thought he would be able to strike him down by sealing his Zanpakutō, he, telling Aizen he is naive, asks him if he ever stopped to think how he served as the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 for 1,000 years. Stating there has not been a Shinigami stronger than him born in the past thousand years, he, using Shunpo, appears in front of Aizen. As he moves to punch him in the face, the blow is intercepted by Wonderweiss, who takes the impact instead. Yamamoto tells the Arrancar he was not planning on leaving anything to chance, and he has some remarkable features. Stating if he cannot break one bone, he will result to tactics which bring more pain, he removes his top.
As Wonderweiss moves to attack, Yamamoto, dodging, asks Wonderweiss if he is unable to adapt and learn, or if all he is capable of is regeneration. When an arm, extending itself from out of the back of Wonderweiss' shoulder, tries to attack him, Yamamoto, grabbing it, tears it off. As Wonderweiss screams, other arms, appearing from his shoulders, attack Yamamoto with an onslaught of punches. As he grabs Yamamoto's arms, the tops of his shoulders explode, revealing a multitude of arms, which pummel Yamamoto with an even greater magnitude of blows. Once he has stopped, an unfazed Yamamoto, asking him if this is all he has got, rips off Wonderweiss' arms. Telling him if this is all, he is glad the Arrancar is no longer in child form, for he is not going to hold back and will blast him to death, Yamamoto uses Sōkotsu.
As the blow utterly destroys Wonderweiss, the screaming Arrancar shatters. When Yamamoto laments Wonderweiss' existence as pathetic and inhuman, Aizen, questioning his words, notes the very nature of being a Hollow means they, as creatures, serve no purpose and only exist to devour souls, and he gave them a purpose. When he tells Yamamoto the only inhuman one is him, for he just crushed a soul with purpose, Yamamoto states he has no intention of entering into a pointless argument with the likes of him, for it will all soon be over. Telling him he makes light of his words, Aizen states he should remember his previous words: Wonderweiss' Resurrección, Extinguir, was created for the sole purpose of sealing Ryūjin Jakka. Stating sealing the blade makes it impossible for it to create new flames, Aizen asks what happens to flames already produced, for Yamamoto had flames already in effect before Wonderweiss showed up. As he asks him where those flames were sealed, Yamamoto realizes those flames are sealed in Wonderweiss' body, and since he is dead, they will explode. As Yamamoto jumps on the body, it erupts in a large area, destroying buildings around it. Aizen approaches as the flames subside to reveal Yamamoto, who has been injured by the explosion. Aizen states he is truly worthy of the title of Captain-Commander, having reduced the damage of such a large explosion, and had he not suppressed the explosion with his body, the flames would have vaporized the barrier around the Fake Karakura Town, and an area greater than the size of the town would have been turned to ashes. Thanking Yamamoto for protecting his world, he, moving close to him, unsheathes his Zanpakutō, telling him he should not think he will say he will not kill him, for Yamamoto is the history of Soul Society, so at the very least, he must finish him off with his own blade. Grabbing Aizen by the ankle, he, telling him to not make him say it again, calls Aizen naive. Yamamoto takes advantage of the damage inflicted by Wonderweiss' explosion to use his own charred body as a catalyst for the sacrificial spell, Hadō #96. Ittō Kasō, his arm cracking as he casts it, and becomes greatly damaged.
Ten days after Aizen's defeat and subsequent capture, Yamamoto returns to Soul Society, where his injuries are healed, save for his lost left arm. He is furious to learn that not only did Captains Shunsui, Byakuya, and Kenpachi lose their respective captain haori, but that they care very little about it. He proceeds to scold the three for their lack of care for the symbol of their station.
Zanpakutō Unknown Tales arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
As Yamamoto does some paperwork in the 1st Division office, the manifestations of Katen Kyōkotsu, Minazuki, and Sōgyo no Kotowari approach the doors of the office. Later, Muramasa details to the gathered Gotei 13 captains and lieutenants Yamamoto has been sealed away by Minazuki, Katen Kyōkotsu, and Sōgyo no Kotowari after his own Zanpakutō, Ryūjin Jakka, refused to join forces with Muramasa. Later, Yamamoto stands inside a pyramid. When Sōgyo no Kotowari, Katen Kyōkotsu, and Minazuki begin pouring their energy into it, Yamamoto releases a surge of flames to drive them back.
Following the discovery of where Yamamoto is being held, Captains Kenpachi, Shunsui, and Ukitake, alongside Yoruichi and Ichigo proceed into the underground caves of Soul Society to save him. Ichigo makes it to the chamber, where he finds Yamamoto unconscious inside the barrier with flames from his Zanpakutō making it impossible to get near. Ichigo resolves to himself to break the barrier and free him. Ichigo is engaged in battle by Muramasa, who goads him into using his full power against him. Wearing his Hollow Mask, Ichigo fires a Bankai-enhanced Getsuga Tenshō, creating a large explosion. When the dust settles, Yoruichi, Ichigo, Shunsui, and Ukitake see the barrier crack and shatter. When Shunsui notes Muramasa combined his power with Ichigo's attack while deflecting it toward the barrier in order to break it, they all realize they were all wrong in assuming Muramasa had placed the barrier around him, realizing too late Yamamoto had put the barrier up himself.
Awakening, Yamamoto, stating they have lost this round, uses Shunpo to move next to them. When Yamamoto explains how Muramasa wanted to enter his inner world so he could take control of his Zanpakutō Spirit as he did with the others, Muramasa, confirming their realization, states by placing himself in a barrier and falling unconscious, Yamamoto had made sure he had no way into the Yamamoto's mind. When he reveals had brought out the Zanpakutō Spirits of the other Shinigami and staged the "Zanpakutō Rebellion" to lead to his final goal, Yamamoto and the others witness the enraged Katen Kyōkotsu and Sōgyo no Kotowari move to attack Muramasa for his betrayal and manipulation. Surprised when a large wall of flames incinerates the two pairs, they realize Muramasa now has control of Ryūjin Jakka. As Muramasa escapes in a huge column of flame, Ukitake asks Yamamoto what Muramasa is. Stating he is a Zanpakutō with tapeworm-like abilities, Yamamoto, revealing he enters his enemy's Zanpakutō and uses it as necessary, making him quite unique, tells them the Gotei 13 must stop him.
While the group is trapped in Ryūjin Jakka's flames, Yamamoto tells them Muramasa is the Zanpakutō of Kōga Kuchiki, a rebel Shinigami who once turned on Soul Society. Stating Kōga was sealed away in Karakura Town, Yamamoto reveals he knew how to break the seal which was placed on him, knowledge which is now in the hands of Muramasa. After sending Ichigo to Karakura to stop Muramasa, Yamamoto decides it is time to punish his own Zanpakutō.
Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
When Yamamoto is notified of the situation concerning the missing lieutenants, he calls Mayuri to his office for his opinion on the matter. After hearing Mayuri's explanation, Yamamoto organizes an urgent captains meeting in order to address the current issue occurring in Soul Society. At the captains meeting, Mayuri explains there is a time gap in the Dangai, and further study is needed in order to determine the cause. Agreeing, Yamamoto, stating Mayuri will be in charge of the Dangai unit, orders Kenpachi Zaraki as security. As the two quarrel about their positions, Yamamoto, breaking up their argument, assigns Byakuya, Renji, and Hitsugaya to assist them.
When Byakuya, Renji, and Hitsugaya return from their trip to the Dangai, they present an item to Yamamoto. Telling him they found it at the rendezvous site in which they were meant to regroup, they claim Mayuri and the others were nowhere to be seen. When many of the members of the Gotei 13 escape from the Dangai to the Human World, Yamamoto holds a captain's meeting in Soul Society, unaware most of the captains are Reigai. He is visited by Shunsui and Ukitake, who reveal themselves to be Reigai by trying to attack him in surprise. Evading their attack, Yamamoto, revealing he could sense their killing intent, states he will not lose to youngsters like them. They continue their battle with their various techniques, with Yamamoto marveling at how similar the Reigai are to his original students. All three receive injuries from their attacks. As the Reigai fall from the sky, worn out from their battle, Yamamoto, berating them for thinking him weakened with only one arm, for they are clearly struggling against his flames, resolves to kill the two of them after they insist they have their own beliefs which differ from the originals and must remain a secret. When Reigai-Unohana, arriving, heals the two of them, Yamamoto, insisting this is still a fight to the death regardless of her presence, continues to fight.
As the fight continues, Yamamoto, seeing Reigai-Unohana has healed Reigai-Ukitake, calls them "darned children", and unleashes his fiery-red Reiatsu. When Reigai-Unohana states his Reiatsu is slowly draining, and soon he will not have enough to continue the fight, Yamamoto, shrugging it off, raises his Reiatsu in response. As the Reigai attack again, he, slamming his Zanpakutō into the ground, traps them all in Ennetsu Jigoku.
Arriving, Unohana supports him following his battle with the Reigai. She urges him to fall back and regroup, for the Gotei 13 would fall apart without him. Later, while receiving treatment from Unohana, he asks Renji about the situation. Stating they have lost contact with the other captains, Renji, saying it is hard to believe the captains were defeated so easily, suggests the signal Urahara had received may have been incomplete. Telling the lieutenant there is no need to comfort him, Yamamoto points out the only battle-ready people are the lieutenants and Ichigo's group in the Human World. As he says they must prepare for an invasion, Unohana notes she has noticed Hollows appearing in large numbers. Stating this is due to the power balance between Soul Society and the Human World being disrupted, Yamamoto tells Renji protecting the Human World from Hollows is important, but they must not give Kagerōza Inaba an opportunity to invade. After Renji leaves, Unohana turns to Yamamoto, who tells her she does not have to say it, which she relents to. Afterwards, Yamamoto is healed by Unohana.
Later, Yamamoto, going to the Human World, arrives in time to save his subordinates from Reigai-Byakuya with a powerful surge of flames, which defeats the Reigai. Upon landing, he, asking about Nozomi Kujō, makes it clear he is not interested in her identity beyond being a Mod-Soul. Before they can talk further about this, the Reigai of Ukitake and Kyōraku appear. Though Yamamoto insists everyone stay back, Nozomi, determined to not let anyone else get hurt because of her, charges forward to fight the Reigai, prompting Ichigo to back her up. While Yamamoto watches and is annoyed at their reckless behavior, Reigai-Unohana, appearing, ensnares Yamamoto with multiple high-level Bakudō spells. Despite this, Yamamoto breaks free from his imprisonment with an enormous eruption of blazing Reiatsu.
As the three Reigai prepare to engage Yamamoto, Inaba, convinced Yamamoto has been weakened enough, appears to take over the fight. After a brief skirmish, Ichigo warns the captain of Inaba's Shikai, prompting Yamamoto to state he is already aware of it. While thinking of how to handle Inaba, Nozomi offers to be a distraction, allowing for an opening to attack. Before she attacks, Yamamoto secretly gives some of his Reiatsu to Nozomi's Shikai. She attacks Inaba, who dodges her attacks. Finding the opening he needs, Yamamoto attacks with a powerful fire blast. As Inaba, seeing it, reacts, Ichigo launches an attack of his own. As the explosion settles, Inaba, emerging unharmed, reveals since he could not negate and copy their attacks at the same time, he instead copied Nozomi's absorption power and used it to counter Yamamoto and Ichigo's attack. When Inaba unleashes all the collected energy against Yamamoto, Nozomi, appearing in front of Yamamoto, attempts to absorb the blast.
Unable to absorb such large amounts of energy at once, Nozomi's blade shatters. Before the blast can hit her, Yamamoto, intervening, pushes her out of the way and counters the blast. The colliding blasts erupt and launch them both to the ground. Badly injured, Nozomi asks him why he saved her after voicing his disapproval of her as a Mod-Soul. Stating his pride will not allow him to be saved by a child, Yamamoto collapses. Later, Inaba emerges, hurt, but still able to fight. As he attempts to take Nozomi, Yamamoto, regaining consciousness, launches a fire blast at him, giving Nozomi a chance to retreat. Inaba goes after her, but Yamamoto is too weak to follow. Later, he is brought to the Shinigami's temporary base for treatment, where Unohana states Yamamoto, while stable, will not be able to rejoin the fight for a while.
After Ōko Yushima is resurrected, he begins his endgame, using "Renzan: Hajō Kūri" to produce a giant structure which begins absorbing Soul Society's Reishi to destroy it. Yamamoto producing a massive Bakudō #81. Dankū to repel one of the giant structure's potent blasts.
The Lost Substitute Shinigami arc
During a meeting with the captains in the 1st Division office, Urahara asks for help with restoring Ichigo's powers. Yamamoto tells Urahara to give him the special sword he would be using for this purpose, prompting Unohana to ask if he intends to help. He states they were saved by Ichigo, and it is now their turn to save him, regardless if the action is going against customs, for it would be shameful if they did not help somebody they owed so much to. He orders all the captains and lieutenants to place their Reiatsu into the sword.
Yamamoto orders Renji to bring back Kūgo Ginjō's body when he is dead. Later, a messenger reports to Yamamoto Ichigo has arrived in Soul Society. When Ichigo arrives at the First Division, he meets with Yamamoto and most of the other captains. Yamamoto starts to say Ichigo had fought an arduous battle, but Ichigo states he came to take back Kūgo's body so he can bury it. After Ichigo explains his reasons to Shinji, Yamamoto states he believes Ichigo thought carefully about it before making his request. He eventually approves his request, and Ichigo tells him to inform other Shinigami about his Substitute Shinigami license, for he will resume his former position.
The Thousand-Year Blood War arc
In his office, Yamamoto receives reports about the investigations carried out by the Eleventh Division and Ninth Division regarding the disappearances in the Rukongai. As his messenger begins to report about the Tenth Division, he is struck down before he can finish his sentence. Yamamoto turns to find the culprits are seven masked individuals. When he demands to know who they are, one, greeting him, reveals they are there to declare war on the Gotei 13. When one of the strangers questions the level of security in Yamamoto's chamber, Yamamoto tells him he himself is the best security there is. When Lieutenant Chōjirō is propelled across the room with a large arrow through his body, the stranger, telling him to praise the lieutenant for showing him what his fate will be, states after fighting and sacrificing everything, Soul Society will be destroyed in five days by the "Wandenreich".
Freeing Chōjirō, Yamamoto looks at the masked men. One of the masked men states he can tell Yamamoto wants to ask who they are, and they will never answer, though it is easy to figure out who they really are. As they, bidding farewell to Yamamoto, leave by using a shadow, Yamamoto, trying to make them stay, releases Ryūjin Jakka and burns a large area before realizing the men have already left. He notices their Reiatsu has already disappeared from the Seireitei, meaning they are not affected by the Shakonmaku. Waking up, Chōjirō and tells Yamamoto something about the masked men and Bankai before dying. Later, Yamamoto, solemnly watching on at Chōjirō's cremation, gives the order to light the fire.
At a captains meeting, Yamamoto listens to Akon's report on the rebels who have declared war on Soul Society. Mayuri tells them their enemies are Quincy, but he does not know how they were able to infiltrate the Seireitei. Deciding they have heard enough, Yamamoto states he just wants to know where their headquarters are. When Mayuri asserts they do not know, Yamamoto, lamenting how they cannot invade them, requests all captains present prepare for war so they will not be unprepared for an attack the next time. Later, Mayuri confirms he ordered his Division to kill 28,000 Rukongai citizens to correct the balance of souls. When Yamamoto, asking why he did not attain permission, notes given the seriousness of the situation, he would have attained it, Mayuri states he would have had to take responsibility if things got worse. When Yamamoto states the situation would not have been so bad if the SRDI had reported the problem sooner, Mayuri, reminding Yamamoto of how he had dismissed Mayuri's warning when Uryū Ishida entered Soul Society, states Yamamoto is responsible for the current events because he failed to kill "that man" a thousand years ago.
Later, the Sternritter and the Wandenreich Leader invade Soul Society. Looking on from his office, Yamamoto, telling Genshirō Okikiba to stay and protect the office, leaves. Later, he arrives just in time to deflect an attack from the SternritterDriscoll Berci, who, becoming elated by his presence, reveals he possesses Chōjirō's stolen Bankai, threatening to kill Yamamoto with it. Struck by the Bankai, Yamamoto, saying it is weaker than when his lieutenant used it, incinerates the Sternritter with his Shikai. Telling Shūhei Hisagi he will kill all the Wandenreich members, Yamamoto heads off to fight on the front lines. Confronting Yhwach, he states has come to annihilate him.
Yamamoto is attacked from above by Sternritter members Äs Nödt, NaNaNa Najahkoop, and Bazz-B, who believe him foolish to approach their leader by himself. As Yamamoto incinerates them all with Ryūjin Jakka, Yhwach calls them stupid fools, for it is their own fault for interfering in his battle. When Yamamoto gives a disappointed look, Yhwach asks what is on his mind, prompting Yamamoto to attack. As Yhwach blocks it, though still sustaining injury to his forearm, Yamamoto tells him he has not changed, and the wicked way in which he looks down on his own subordinates will end here today. When Yhwach states Yamamoto has gotten old, but the way he allows his anger to get the best of him reminds him of when he was younger, Yamamoto, telling him to be silent, attacks. When Yhwach, evading, generates his Reishi sword, Yamamoto acknowledges the weapon. When Yhwach states he acts as though he was waiting for him to bring the sword out, Yamamoto, acknowledging he was waiting for it so he may destroy Yhwach entirely, activates his Bankai, Zanka no Tachi.
While Haschwalth questions the look of what is apparently Yamamoto's Bankai, Yhwach, telling him he should not underestimate the sword, details its power - it is a sword with a tremendous flame. Confirming the Quincy's explanation, Yamamoto notes Yhwach has already seen this Bankai, some 1,000 years ago, and asks him if he thinks facing it again will be the same as it was then. Yamamoto tells Yhwach he can try the blade of Zanka no Tachi on his own body and determine for himself if it is the same as 1,000 years ago or not. As Yamamoto attacks, Yhwach, evading, notes the point of the blade is the real danger after watching a piece of rubble it touches creates a gash in the earth. Activating Zanka no Tachi, Higashi: Kyokujitsujin, he, explaining its ability, states not even the Quincy's Blut Vene can defend against it. Noting the technique is boring, Yhwach, stating he simply has to cut him without touching his sword, moves to attack the Shinigami. When he finds his own sword has been incinerated, much to his surprise, Yamamoto tells him he is too confident, and he should listen when people talk. Activating Zanka no Tachi, Nishi: Zanjitsu Gokui, he states he cannot be touched while he is using Bankai, surprising Yhwach.
Questioning why Yhwach is just standing around, Yamamoto encourages him to run if nothing else. When Yhwach fires a Heilig Pfeil, Yamamoto, destroying it, states it would make sense: since his sword is broken, arrows are all he has left. As he moves to attack, Yhwach activates Kirchenlied: Sankt Zwinger. An undeterred Yamamoto activates Zanka no Taichi, Minami: Kaka Jūmanokushi Daisōjin, which calls forth an undead army.
Surprised by the the ability, Yhwach questions what is happening. When Yamamoto explains the ability, Yhwach laughs at the ability, finding the leader of the Gotei 13 being able to call the dead funny, and states Yamamoto is a disgrace to think such an attack can stop him. As he, moving to attack, is blocked by a wall of skeletons, Yamamoto tells him to stop talking and look closer. Looking closer at the undead skeletons, Yhwach is shocked to see the faces of his former subordinates. When Yamamoto starts to leave, Yhwach asks where he is going.
Yamamoto states he is making some distance, and if he wants to kill him, he should kill his former subordinates and come and do so. Asking Yhwach if he regrets not taking his Bankai from the start, Yamamoto, claiming he knows why he could not take it in the first place, states it has come to the end of their battle and activates Zanka no Tachi, Kita: Tenchi Kaijin, incinerating a large section of Yhwach's torso and arm. Falling to the ground as Yamamoto deactivates his Bankai, Yhwach, stating his power was not enough, apologizes to the great Yhwach.
Wondering why Yhwach would apologize for losing when he caused the war, Yamamoto, turning around, is surprised to find the opponent he fought against was not Yhwach, but the imitating Sternritter, Royd Lloyd. Hearing a large explosion, he sees the 1st Division headquarters burning. As he screams out to his 3rd Seat, whom he had left in charge, the true Yhwach, appearing behind Yamamoto, thanks Royd for his service before incinerating his body with a Quincy technique. When Yamamoto asks him what he has been up to this entire time, Yhwach asks what is underneath the First Division headquarters.
Stating he went to the central underground to speak to Aizen and ask him to join his army as a Special War Potential, though he refused the offer, he asks Yamamoto if he used his power to fight his decoy. When Yamamoto begins to initiate Bankai, Yhwach, stealing his Bankai with a medallion, explains it is not that they could not take his Bankai, but it is that his power is too enormous for anyone but Yhwach himself to handle. Stating this is why he ordered Royd to not do anything until he returns, he goads Yamamoto by asking him if he should use his Bankai and call forth dead Shinigami to attack him. As Yhwach waves his sword, a large sword made of spiritual energy falls from the sky. Bidding Yamamoto farewell, Yhwach attacks him.
Bisected from his shoulder to his waist, a dying Yamamoto falls down. As Yhwach, berating him, attempts to walk away, Yamamoto grabs hold of him. Cutting off his arm, Yhwach, calling Yamamoto foolish, explains why he never listed him as one of the war potentials. Stating he had gotten weak over time, and the time he was truly a threat was 1,000 years ago, he states Soul Society will die soon, but what Yamamoto never understood was the Gotei 13 died 1,000 years ago along with the Quincy. Unleashing an onslaught of Reishi blasts on Yamamoto, Yhwach completely obliterates Yamamoto's body.
The only remains of the battle the Gotei 13 could recover was the scorched and broken Ryūjin Jakka, which they laid in the center of the meeting hall within the 1st Division's barracks.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsman: As the founder of the Shinō Academy and a warrior with over two millennia of combat experience, Yamamoto is the most powerful combatant in Soul Society. Few would hope to come out alive from a fight with him. He can fight two captain-level Shinigami simultaneously with a single hand. His skill in swordsmanship is great enough to take down his opponent with a single precise strike.
Hitotsume: Nadegiri (一つ目・撫で斬り, The First: Killing Stroke): A precision cut of extreme force and speed which can slice through large, multi-story high opponents. The opponent is killed with one swift slash so precise, they are not even aware of until after it has taken place.
Onibi (鬼火, Oni Fire): Yamamoto takes his Zanpakutō in its sealed cane form and thrusts it at his opponent, creating a large hole in their body. This technique was effective against a multiple story-high opponent like Ayon.
Hakuda Master: While it is unknown how much his ability has declined from old age, Yamamoto remains a highly skilled and dangerous combatant even without his Zanpakutō. In addition to his skill in swordsmanship, he is a master in hand-to-hand combat. He effortlessly caught a strike from the deceptively fast Ayon. Yamamoto can deliver powerful blows which can smash through Espada-level Hierro, and block the majority of multiple punches from a multi-armed opponent.
Ikkotsu (一骨, Single Bone): A powerful punch used by Yamamoto against Wonderweiss. Using this technique, Yamamoto destroyed much of Wonderweiss' abdomen and sent him flying along a city street and into a building, destroying it.
Sōkotsu (双骨, Double Bone): Stronger than Ikkotsu, it is a powerful two-fisted punch used by Yamamoto against Wonderweiss. The attack can completely destroy an opponent with a single blow.
Kidō Master: Yamamoto's knowledge of Kidō is so great, he can perform them without calling out their names while retaining their great potential power, whereas most users require a name to do so, if not a full incantation. He can produce immensely powerful barriers to protect him from all but the strongest of attacks. He cast a level 96 Hadō without incantation, and still used it to great effect.
Shunpo Master: Yamamoto is highly skilled and experienced in the art of Shunpo, outracing Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake during a chase across the Seireitei. He overtook both captains, and arrived at their destination first without even being noticed by them.
Master Strategist & Tactician: With his years of experience as a teacher and warrior, along with being the commander of the entire Gotei 13, Yamamoto is a very intelligent man. He can quickly adjust to new developments and make quick decisions accordingly. He has great tactical acumen, proven by his preparations for the battle in the Fake Karakura Town. As noted by Aizen, Yamamoto is very cunning, setting up a trap to kill him while Aizen was focused on the Visored and the rest of the Gotei 13. He is a very perceptive man, easily deducing Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi was hiding knowledge on the Bounts. His skill at battle tactics is undeniable: as captain-commander, he commonly sends the captains and divisions out to engage in battle, be it to relatively small or large threats, and has done so for a number of centuries.
Immense Spiritual Power: Being the oldest and therefore the most experienced Shinigami, Yamamoto possesses an extremely massive and powerful Reiryoku. Its sheer strength is powerful enough to effortlessly break free from four overlapping and high-level Bakudō spells restraining him. Even Aizen openly acknowledges Yamamoto's power (via his Zanpakutō) as being so superior that if he were to fight directly against it, it could overpower even him. Yamamoto has served as the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 for over 1,000 years because there has not been a Shinigami stronger than him born in all this time.
Masterful Reiatsu Control: Yamamoto can exert his Reiatsu to induce fear in captain-level combatants, and can physically paralyze combatants of lieutenant-level and lower simply by gazing in their direction. Yamamoto's spiritual pressure has the same effect as his Zanpakutō, for it is the elemental representative of fire. He tends to glow with a fiery aura, which has the potential to burn and set his surroundings on fire without the use of his Zanpakutō. It is the formidable pressure of his Reiatsu which makes the Reiatsu itself look like flames. When Yamamoto is enraged, his Reiatsu is powerful enough to be felt all around Seireitei with tremendous force.
Immense Strength: In addition to his surprisingly muscular physique for his age, Yamamoto possesses tremendous physical strength. He easily and swiftly put a large hole into the chest of the monster Ayon without much effort at all, using only the blunt end of his cane. With a single hand, he stopped one of Ayon's strikes and overpowered it, despite it having enlarged its arm and increased its strength several folds. With one punch, he put a large hole through the chest of Wonderweiss Margela while he was in Resurrección and sent him flying back several city blocks. He tore off Wonderweiss' arms, with his bare hands, with little to no effort. With a single double-fisted strike, he shattered Wonderweiss' entire body into pieces.
Immense Durability: In addition to his resilience, Yamamoto possesses remarkable durability. He fought against two of Soul Society's strongest captains, Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake, and emerged without any sign of injury. He took an onslaught of punches from Wonderweiss' multiple arms twice, and came out completely unfazed by the assault, with no more than simple scratches. He sustained an explosion of flames which had the power to incinerate all of Karakura Town and a great area around it. In his younger years, he challenged Chōjirō to defeat him with his newly achieved Bankai, and in the end only suffered a light scar on his forehead.  2000 years later, he would take on a barrage of powerful lightning strikes from Chōjirō's fully mastered Bankai and only be singed by its power, though he stated it had become weaker. He can easily deflect a giant Heilig Pfeil from a Sternritter with one hand without any noticeable damage done to his being.
Immense Endurance: Despite his old age, Yamamoto can fight for extended periods of time, even when outnumbered, with no visible signs of exhaustion. He can take direct attacks from others unfazed. He can endure being impaled on a sword without so much as flinching from the perceived damage, even when the blow is dealt by the likes of Aizen, a powerful opponent. Even after being bifurcated by Yhwach, Yamamoto survived and managed to grab onto his cloak.
Ryūjin Jakka (流刃若火, Flowing Blade-like Flame): Yamamoto's Zanpakutō is the oldest and most powerful fire-type Zanpakutō, and has greater offensive power than all other Zanpakutō in Soul Society. In its sealed form, Ryūjin Jakka usually takes the appearance of a harmless wooden staff, which can be used like a spear. At any time, Yamamoto can remove this disguise by peeling off the wood, revealing its true form of a standard katana, with a dark purple handle and a circular hand guard. Its power is so great, even the strongest of Shinigami are afraid of it, even in its sealed form. After Yamamoto was killed, Ryūjin Jakka, now scorched and shattered, was returned to the 1st Division barracks.
Shikai: Its Shikai command is "Reduce All Creation to Ash" (万象一切灰燼と為せ, banshō issai kaijin to nase; "All things in the universe turn to ashes" in the English Dub). The release of his Zanpakutō comes with an extreme release of spiritual pressure, affecting all in the area, and can be felt for miles upon miles across all of the Seireitei.
Shikai Special Ability: When released, the blade of Ryūjin Jakka is engulfed in fire. The aura of this weapon disintegrates everything and anything which Yamamoto waves the sword at, changing it into nothing more than ash, and engulfs the surrounding landscape in a blazing firestorm, the heat of which is intense enough to scorch the sky and consume the clouds. Only powerful fighters such as Shunsui and Ukitake can resist it, but even then only indirectly. Even in its Shikai, Ryūjin Jakka is powerful enough to fight against the Shikai of two other captains simultaneously, both of whom had the reputation of being the strongest captains in Soul Society while together. Unlike other known Zanpakutō, resealing Ryūjin Jakka does not deactivate any ability already used against an opponent, proven when Yamamoto imprisons Sōsuke Aizen, Gin Ichimaru, and Kaname Tōsen.
Jōkaku Enjō (城郭炎上, Fortress Blaze): This technique creates an immense wall of flame, which surrounds the target and forms a huge contained sphere of flame in which to imprison enemies. It is immensely powerful, imprisoning three captain-level Shinigami (namely Aizen, Gin, and Tōsen) for a significant amount of time.
Taimatsu (松明, Torch): This technique allows Yamamoto to create a great inferno with a simple wave of Ryūjin Jakka. The fire generated by the attack completely consumes whatever is caught within it, until nothing remains, but ashes. The flames created by Ryūjin Jakka can be controlled, with great precision, by Yamamoto to attack only the targets he chooses, and he has power over the intensity of the flames.
Ennetsu Jigoku (炎熱地獄, Flames of Hell): Creates seven or more immense pillars of flame which surround an area. The intent of this technique is to trap the opponent in the caged inferno and destroy them. The power of this technique can destroy everyone caught in its vicinity, including Yamamoto himself. These flames can incinerate an area much greater than Karakura Town's.
Bankai: Zanka no Tachi (残火の太刀, Longsword of the Remnant Flame): In its Bankai, the blade takes the form of an ancient and worn katana, severely scorched by fire.
Bankai Special Ability: Upon activation, any flames previously produced by Ryūjin Jakka are absorbed into the blade.Zanka no Tachi incorporates the full power of Yamamoto's flames into the blade: the flames within the blade burn anything it cuts out of existence. Zanka no Tachi has the side-effect of depleting the moisture in an entire area (at least the size of the Seireitei), causing the air and the water to dry up. Even Tōshirō Hitsugaya's Bankai, Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, cannot be used, for its ice melts due to the intense heat of Zanka no Tachi. No flames are visible as it cuts. Yamamoto claims releasing his Bankai clads both his blade and his body in the flames of the Sun, and that prolonged use of his Bankai can destroy his opponent, Soul Society, and even himself.
Zanka no Tachi, Higashi: Kyokujitsujin (残火の太刀 "東": 旭日刃, Longsword of the Remnant Flame, East: Rising Sun Edge): Automatically activated at release, this ability concentrates the intense flames of the sword along the edge of the blade. It neither burns nor erupts, but anything it touches is eradicated to nothingness. Even the defensive power of the Wandenreich's Blut Vene cannot stand up against this technique.
Zanka no Tachi, Nishi: Zanjitsu Gokui (残火の太刀 "西": 残日獄衣, Longsword of the Remnant Flame, West: Remnant Sun Prison Garb): Automatically activated at release, this ability is unseen by the eyes of anyone else unless Yamamoto wills it to be seen. It engulfs his body in heat which reaches a temperature upwards of 15,000,000 degrees. Therefore, it becomes impossible to even touch him while he is using his Bankai. The level of heat produced by this technique is so high, it would not actually appear in the form of flames.
Zanka no Tachi, Minami: Kaka Jūmanokushi Daisōjin (残火の太刀 "南": 火火十万億死大葬陣, Longsword of the Remnant Flame, South: Great Burial Ranks of the Ten Trillion Fire Dead): Impaling the tip of his sword into the ground, Yamamoto calls upon the corpses and ashes of the dead who were killed by his flames to come forth and fight on his behalf. They emerge from a rupture in the ground which comes with enough force to decimate Kirchenlied: Sankt Zwinger. Using the heat of his sword on their ashes, he can rouse all the people he has killed, allowing the corpses to become his limbs and attack whomever he deems as his enemy until they become dust. He can bring forth any specific corpse which he wishes, allowing him to inflict psychological damage upon those with connections to those he has slain.
Zanka no Tachi, Kita: Tenchi Kaijin (残火の太刀 "北": 天地灰尽, Longsword of the Remnant Flame, North: Heaven and Earth End in Ashes): A slash of concentrated fire and heat which incinerates whatever it touches out of existence.
Wonderweiss Margela (Temporary): Wonderweiss is the only modified Arrancar in existence, having been designed for the sole purpose of nullifying the powers of Ryūjin Jakka. Upon his Resurrección, Wonderweiss prevents the blade from creating any new flames, while sealing the already created flames into is own body. Should Wonderweiss be killed, the flames would burst with explosive force.
Appearance in other media
Yamamoto is a playable character in most of the Bleach video games. He fights with his Shikai, and has a variety of attacks. He uses Jōkaku Enjō as a Special and Nadegiri in Soul Carnival 2. He appears in all four movies, but plays very little role in them. In the Nintendo DS video games, Bleach: The Blade of Fate and Bleach: Dark Souls, he can perform Ama no Murakumo and Yazuhomura no Orochi, the former named after the Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi, which is later known as the "Kusanagi no Tsurugi", which is one of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan, while the latter made an appearance in Bleach: The 3rd Phantom. When he performs Yazuhomura no Orochi, his strongest attack in those games, he shoots a giant pillar of fire upwards, which falls on the foe and the surrounding area. In Bleach: The 3rd Phantom, instead of the former, it creates a flaming area which burns the opponents. Additionally, he can use offensive spells, such as Shakkahō and Sōkatsui.
Though Shigekuni is his first name (meaning heavy or important country), Yamamoto is generally known by his title of "Genryūsai" (meaning something like "Original willow's purity"), which he adopted approximately 2000 years ago.
Yamamoto has never made it in the top 50 in the popularity polls, but his Zanpakutō, Ryūjin Jakka, came 32nd in the Zanpakutō poll.
(To Nanao Ise) "Listen well! Be gone from here! I don't have time nor the patience to teach a mere infant like you how to breathe."
(To Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake) "I was proud of you as if you were my own sons. I believed that, even if the character is different, it is fine if they took the same paths."
(To Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake) "As I taught you before, there is no mercy for he who obstructs justice."
(To Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake) "There is no individual sense of justice that can overrule the justice of the world."
(To the Gotei 13) "Place everything you have on the line, and crush them where they stand! Even if they should tear your flesh from your bones, make every last fragment of those bones an iron wall! They must not be permitted to set a single foot upon Soul Society's ground!"
(To Izuru Kira) "Dear me. Forcing the Captain-Commander himself to come to their aid. What are today's officers coming to?"
(To Ayon) "It seems you are a simple monster who knows nothing but slaughter. A pity."
(To Sōsuke Aizen) "It is time for you to perish alongside me in this blazing inferno."
(To Sōsuke Aizen) "They give their lives to vanquish a great evil. That is the nature of the Gotei 13."
(To Sōsuke Aizen) "Do you believe that simply by sealing Ryūjin Jakka, you have defeated me? You fool. Your foolishness is so great, it astounds me. Why, precisely, do you think I have served as Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 for a thousand years? Because in all those thousand years, no Shinigami was born to rival me in strength.
(To Wonderweiss Margela) "I am glad that you at least abandoned your childlike form. As a result, I can slaughter you without hesitation."
(To Byakuya Kuchiki, Kenpachi Zaraki, and Shunsui Kyōraku) "Now listen! Victory is not the only thing that matters on the field of battle! What exactly do you fools take your Captain's robes for, anyway?!"
(To the Gotei 13, about restoring Ichigo Kurosaki's powers) "Regardless of the circumstances, we were saved by Ichigo Kurosaki in our time of need. It is now time that we returned the favor. Even if that should require violating our own statutes, to allow such a debt to go unpaid would bring eternal shame upon the entire Gotei 13."
(To a young Shunsui Kyōraku) "Ah, that picture... That is a monster that appeared in Soul Society long ago. It appeared when Soul Society was in great need and only brought further turmoil. It will not trouble us again. If, someday, that monster were to appear before us again... I fear that will be the last day I am ever seen in this place."
↑ 1.01.11.21.3Bleach Official Character Book of Souls, page 200