This chapter starts right off with Aizen continuing his speech about the Hougyoku. He drops a huge bomb: the bulk of his power apparently doesn’t lie in his shinigami skills, nor his reality-bending zanpakuto, but rather comes from the Hougyoku in his chest. I see no other alternative here than to quote Omni: “Let’s just call it an I win button.” Yes, the crux of the stone’s power lies not in its Shinigami-to-Hollow powers or healing abilities, but in the fact that it grants the wishes of those around it. Perhaps because the Hougyoku hasn’t been mentioned in a while, I was actually rather surprised at this development (my face while reading the chapter was similar to Ichigo’s expression in the image). As this chapter continues to show however, Aizen is arrogant, as he doesn’t seem to deviate from his “bwahaha just as planned” personality. With his seemingly endless bag of tricks, I suppose his attitude is justified. A really smart villain though would reveal his powers through his attacks, not his speeches.
Although the dialogue was a bit dragged out, I found this chapter to be fairly exciting. The one major flaw however is how this whole revelation seems to be an overpowered plot device Kubo pulled out to fill the holes in the story. Unfortunately, while it may tie up some loose ends, it creates several more. Namely,
As we have just been introduced to the powers of the Hougyoku and don’t know that much about it, I’m willing to stretch my imagination here and think of possible interpretations, ranging from the possibility the Hougyoku has a will of its own, to the possibility of certain rules that define what happens when there are conflicting wishes. There is also the chance the Hougyoku works like a fate stone, using normal means (as opposed to instant gratification) to bring wishes to pass. Putting that aside, I’m hoping for some more Aizen-pounding next time, with the fashionably late arrival of Urahara Kisuke.