A chapter where I actually like Yama-ji? That I was not expecting. The old guy really went up in my books for this, and even though the idea of losing some well-beloved characters is harsh, when Yama-ji said that he meant to take down Aizen with him, and that everyone there was prepared to die to see it through, I was like "Whoaaa..." I think this might be the first time I've ever felt the Gotei 13 was a truly cohesive group with a single purpose. It also makes me wonder if this is what guided the old guys choices for what captains to send to HM and which ones to go with him. I think the loyalty of each of the captains there in FKT is unquestioned, and while I wouldn't question Unohana or Byakuya either, Mayuri and Kenpachi are both wild cards who are only loyal to their own desires -- research and battle.
As for Ichigo... just WTF is going on here? I don't much blame him for standing back and staring when Old Yama is in full flame -- it had Ukitake and Shunsui both almost petrified back in the SS arc, and they are much older and more experienced than Ichigo -- but the whole 'get back, boy, this isn't your fight' just makes me scratch my head. Talk about mixed messages. The guy keeps getting shuttled back and forth between "We don't need you to fight our fights" to "Hey, you're our only hope!" and back to "This isn't your fight." Dear Kubo, please make up your mind. Which is it? I'm getting damn confused, and so is Ichigo, I'll bet.
As for Wonderwyce... dude, we always knew there was something special about the kid but YIKES. He was made specifically to take out Yama-ji? While I don't like the implications of that on an "OMG everyone's DOOMED!" level, I gotta say it certainly adds a level of tension I didn't feel before. Like, just what all can Aizen do with the Hougyoku?
My assessment: O_O Damn good chapter. Much better than I expected, for sure.
ETA: BTW, WTF is Hinamori? Like, the one Hitsu stabbed but who now seems to have vanished?