It’s nice to finally see Aizen ready to make an attack with the Hougyoku. This chapter was mostly dialogue and set up though (do villains always sit there and watch while the protagonists bicker around?). Yourichi and Urahara’s conversation was mildly amusing, but they did leave their back wide open to Aizen; luckily, he didn’t take the opportunity to attack. Urahara clearly spent some time preparing beforehand for the battle, but so far it hasn’t done much good.
I had thought Ichigo and Gin would just continue to watch the battle, and Gin also voiced that sentiment. However, he quickly follows up by starting the fight again, pulling out an even faster attack. While I was unimpressed by Gin’s mind games, Ichigo finally pulls out his mask, though at this point it really isn’t that special anymore. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before we see his super hollow form again, but at least the fight advanced a little this time. Next time we see Gin, I’m hoping to see something more interesting than his bankai, namely, hollowfication (since Tosen had a mask, it’s likely Gin has one too).
On another note, Kira seems to still call Gin “Captain”, and Mastumoto also seems to have gotten up. My first thought was that this was Aizen using his illusion abilities, but this didn’t really line up with the storyline, so it probably has something to do with Gin. They shared a pretty close relationship in the past, so there will probably be a reunion of some sort soon (again, this parallels to Tousen). I look forward to seeing more about Gin and Rangiku’s past.