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26 July 2009 @ 01:59 am
The Lust Arc = IchiHime FAIL: An Essay.  
This essay is devoted to deconstructing the Ichihime frenzy that has appeared regarding The Lust arc.

When Kubo started his seven deadly sins arc, I remember commenting that if he really went through with them, any chapter called "the Lust" was going to cause convulsions in the shipper fandom. In the end, while I was right, "The Lust" mini-arc was six chapters, concluding with "The Ash" for seven.

There was a minority that insisted this was the moment for the Ichigo x Orihime ship: Orihime asking and Ichigo delivering, Ichigo sacrificing his humanity (on a silver platter) to his beloved, a glittering moment where The Ship Of Bleach was crowned in a powerful and upstaging parallel to the Byakuya fight that capped off the end of the Soul Society arc.

I can't agree.

Now, I did not write this to soothe the anxiety from my own ship. I did not write this because I have sour grapes that this didn't happen to my ship. I did not write this because I am a vicious, evil human being who likes munching on the delicious feelings of Ichihime shippers for breakfast.

(Well, that last one is a little true.)

I mainly wrote this because I disagree. If this arc is the crowning moment of anything, it's the time Kubo Tite decided to show why Ichigo and Orihime won't ever be a couple. Together, their actions in this arc epitomize everything they don't want to happen: their worst fears come to life by their own hands.

This is what I'm arguing. If stating the obvious is being meaaaaaaaaaaaan, then I am guilty as charged. Read this at your own risk.

Disclaimers: I'm an Ichigo x Rukia shipper, yet I don't ship Ulquiorra x Orihime. Funny, that.
Warnings: I am extremely long-winded. Accordingly, VERY heavy image usage behind the cut.




The first hint that Kubo gives that this may not be the arc of Ichihime love is when he introduces it in the first place, by calling it "THE LUST". It opens with Ichigo fighting Ulquiorra, and the former's mask being blown to pieces. Down below, the rush of power is strong enough that it throws Orihime to her knees, though they don't know what's happening: "What on earth is going on up there?" (c347) Orihime then asks Ishida to take her up to the top of the dome.



While Kubo is sometimes lax with drawing the injuries on Orihime's face, note that as soon as she makes this fateful request: "Would you be able to carry me to the top of the dome?", the bruise is visible for the first time in the chapter. As the rest of the arc progresses, Orihime steadily becomes more and more bruised and beaten, a reflection of Orihime's mind and heart.

When they get to the dome, Ulquiorra has a present waiting for her. That present is shooting Ichigo through the chest with a huge cero, to which she is visibly horrified:



In addition to the physical bruising, at any given time, take a look under Orihime's eyes to see how she's doing. Kubo took a very interesting visual tactic here, because the bags give the impression that her face is spinning on itself. Somewhat like this: @_@

Eh-hem. In any case, we all know what happens next.



I circled the Kurosaki-kun fail here to be helpful.



This is the biggest mistake Orihime has made in the entire series. In fact, this is the biggest mistake of her life. Many years from now, after the war is over and they've danced in Aizen's blood and are living normal lives, she will look back on this moment and regret, with all her heart, that she did this.

I'm not exaggerating. Let's hop back to 192:



and 228:



Let's not forget that the whole reason Orihime decided to go to Hueco Mundo was because she was hoping to protect her friends. In short, it was extremely, extremely important to Orihime that she herself not be protected anymore, that she do some protecting herself. These are not my expectations for Orihime: these are her own.

It is not an exaggeration for me to say that the person Orihime hurt most of all in this scene was herself. By relying on Ichigo yet again, she betrays the promise she made herself that when the time next came, she would not rely on Kurosaki-kun again.

To underscore how important it is that she need to protect him, let me clip back to... Masaki. Yes, Ichigo's mother. When Ichigo thinks back to her, there are two particularly important details. One is that it was imprinted into his brain that his name means "to protect one thing". The other is that the one thing he wanted to protect above all else was his mother. And it wasn't just because she was his mom.



The person Ichigo wanted to protect most in the whole world, above his sisters and his father and his friends, was his own protector. That was the person most important to him, the "one thing" he wanted to keep safe. The theme established in these original chapters is how screamingly important it is for characters in this series to protect.

When the moment came for Orihime to protect the man she said she wanted to fall in love with for five lifetimes, when he was lying there on the floor, eyes glazed open and a hole the size of a basketball hoop through his chest, she repeats his name like a prayer, asking him what she should do. When he doesn't tell her what she should do - because he's not there anymore - she instead asks him for help, the man she thinks she loves.

Kubo did not intend her calling his name like this to be read as a sane thing, either. Take a look at this panel in the original Japanese:





The name "Kurosaki-kun" is usually written in kanji (characters), like this: 黒崎くん

However, Kubo decided to write it in hiragana, which made it look like this: くろさきくんくろさきくんくろさきくんくろさきくんくろさきくんくろさきくん

It's not a name anymore. It is syllables coming out of her mouth that sound like "Kurosaki-kun", evidence of her loss of elocution and mental stability.

Some people have more pity than me, more sympathy than me, and probably more human kindness than me. Some people are just unwilling to see this as anything but Ichihime success. Whoever they are, they come with defenses, hoping that one of them will be sufficient to mitigate the extraordinarily high level of emotional failure in this scene.

"She had no other options."
"Well, she tried, and she's just sixteen, anyway."
"She knows her limitations, and that's so much better than characters who don't and keep trying stupidly."
"She was asking on Ishida's behalf, not herself."
"It's the love of her life and he's dead. Of course she would lose her mind."
"It's okay because he responded and by waking him, she saved his life."

Let's start here:



Orihime brought her fairies out, the three that make up her shield, in what looks like an unsuccessful attempt to shield from Ulquiorra. But do you know who's not here?

That's right. Her offensive fairy, Tsubaki. He's healed, he works, but he hasn't been seen in a hundred chapters because she won't bring him out. For a person who has stated that her goal was to protect her love of five lifetimes, is there any good reason that she should not have brought out her one weapon in a fight where his life is on the line?

Oh, that's right. I'm told she's a pacifist, one who could never hurt a fly. A pacifist whose powers do things like this:



I understand that her powers are a lot like Hachi's, no? After all, he tells her that like him, she is unsuitable for fighting. That must mean they have really, really good reasons for not fighting.



In other words, she's not a pacifist, and she has other options that she does not exercise in this scene. Even beyond that glaring one, there are others. Why doesn't she try bargaining with Ulquiorra? (As proven at the end of this arc, she's not afraid of him.) Why doesn't she throw her body in front of the attacks? Why doesn't she try her shields again? And if they break, again? Who cares if they break: she has no other moral options.

No, I don't cut her a break for being just sixteen - they're all sixteen. I would have cut her a break if she had tried absolutely everything she had in her arsenal - even if they failed, that would have been fine. But she didn't. Like powers with all characters in a shounen series, the limitations on her powers exist only for her to break them. It's not good enough that she fail once and stop - that's why it's important to keep trying.

When you love someone, when they need you, that is the time to pull through. She's capable of it. This is why it's also not an excuse that "Ichigo is the love of her life and he died, of course she would lose her mind." Backtrack here, to chapter five, the first Orihime arc:

Here is the moment when she recognizes her brother:



In talking to her brother, she's horrified at what he's become (a monster):



And here is Orihime, hip-deep in emotional despair, pulling her shit together anyway.



Orihime didn't have powers, she didn't even know what a Hollow was, she was confronted with the nightmare of the brother she loved becoming a monster who tried to kill her friends because of her, but she was calm and cool and broke through her brother's madness. She reached the person she loved.

So when again Orihime was wrapped in emotional despair, looking at someone she loved in pain and suffering, this time, what does she do? She fails both of them by asking for his help. There is every reason to think that Orihime can pull through. "She's so scared, it's the man she loves and he's dead! It's okay that she panics." No, Inoue Orihime is capable of better. She has a warm heart, kindness, and the willingness to do what's right, even in the most emotionally difficult of times. Saying that it's understandable when she fails to pull through for the man she says she loves - that is a condescending and brutal underestimation of her character.

Continuing on, as for her request supposedly saving Ichigo's life, since this chapter, 220:



It's been foreshadowed that should Ichigo ever "fall off his horse", his hollow will take over. Lo and behold, irreparable hole through his chest and his hollow came out. Now, I can't prove one way or another that his hollow would have come out for sure, but this early hint does indicate that there is no way it can be definitely assumed she saved Ichigo, either.

In any case, say she did. Say she's the reason Ichigo became a monster. That wouldn't make her "HELP ME, KUROSAKI-KUN" morally sound, unless consequences are the sole determinant of morality. For instance, Person X wants to drown a child in a freezing lake. He fails, through no fault of his own, so no harm done. Morally sound? Of course not.

And before anyone shrieks "hater" (more than previously, that is), I am not suggesting that Orihime would drown a child in a freezing lake. The point is, "the ends justify the means" is not a valid argument here.

Also, because I'm really tired of people making special exceptions for the incredible failure at hand here - never mind that Orihime is horrified herself:



You know what, Orihime is special. I went back through the manga to find other instances of people who asked for help for themselves.

I was pretty sure that Yuzu did:



No, not Yuzu. She's trying to protect her brother... okay. How about that screaming kid in chapter 2?



He falls on his face and screams a lot, but he never asks for help.

Someone suggested to me that this was just like that time Renji asked for help:



No, Renji specifically tells Ichigo to save Rukia, since he just tried everything he had to see if he could, and couldn't.

Maybe Hanatarou? Quivering, healer-boy Yamada Hanatarou? How about him?



No, he asks Ganjyuu to take Rukia out as he trots off for Byakuya to kill him.

Hinamori is in a lot of pain here, but ...



Misguided, yes, but the request is not for herself.

Who is it? There is no way she's the only character in this series to ask someone to save her.

Oh, I got it! It's another very special, unique individual.



Orihime and Noveno Espada, Aaroniero Aluluerie. It's a very elite group of individuals in this series that ask to be saved.

As for her asking for help for Ishida, to all the people who like to translate this scene as "Help us, Kurosaki-kun!", you are incorrect. There is no pronoun in the original Japanese. If anything, the most accurate literal translation is simply, "Help". Given context, that's why the translators assumed a pronoun...



... Just as they assumed one here. I am told by multiple sources that Japanese usually has a pronoun that is dropped after its initial use because it would be redundant. Guess what, everyone who thinks that Ichigo knows exactly who is calling him, this page is without even those pronouns.

Here, because the need exists, is EXACTLY what is written in the Japanese (credit to Cezaria):

Yonderunda, kikoeru
Tateyo
tate, ore ga
Ore ga
Ore ga mamoru--


Which is literally:

Calling, I can hear
Stand up
Stand, I will
I will
I will protect--

There is. no. pronoun. for. "her". There is no pronoun. Really, if there is, challenge me and my translators and bold the specific romaji or original Japanese and bring it in the comments, because you can see and hear for yourself, there is no "her". The pronoun that isn't there isn't there.

Though really, I have never cared whether or not it was there or not. (Though please, it's not.) Here's this question: if Kubo really wanted us to think that Ichigo was responding to Inoue Orihime's call for help, why didn't he have her name in Ichigo's mind? A simple "Inoue... I hear her... calling... she's calling me..." could very well have been in the realm of possibility. It would not have been hard to insert. A proper noun - such an intimate thing. Yet, why didn't he?

The answer to this question is the same answer to, "Why haven't Ichigo and Orihime gotten a color spread?" and "why did Kubo name the arc of IchiOri lurve after the lust?" But in any case, why would Kubo do that if Ichihime is the lead ship of this series? Why wouldn't he have Ichigo specifically respond to Inoue if he was doing it out of love? Why does he just keep muttering about protecting, and in grammatically broken sentences? Why does it seem so... instinctive?



Every single one of you who insists that Ichigo's protection for Orihime is so very fierce and wild and special, you are missing the point. This is the backbone of what makes Ichigo Ichigo - it's in his name, for chrissake. He truly wants to protect people, specifically, a whole mountainful of people. Rare in this series it may be, it is unsurprising that he reacts to a request for protection. The man didn't need an excuse in the first place. In any case, the lack of pronouns and the lack of proper nouns - and the fact that Ichigo doesn't remember a thing later - tell me that it is impossible to prove that IchiThing was specifically reacting to the person, Inoue Orihime, she whom he should love.

And yes, I call him IchiThing. But before I get to why, I'd like to point out something that Cezaria spelled out in this post here: http://community.livejournal.com/bleachness/304544.html

If you can't take the time to read her excellent post, know that the form of IchiHime love, the supposed depths to which he will sink in order to protect her, talks 1) without pronouns that identify Orihime and 2) in katakana, a style of Japanese writing that in manga "most often used to signify that the speaker is NOT human or does not resemble anything human". To say that this is definitely Ichigo responding to his love, who he knows because who else could it be - that is incorrect.

What it really is? It's standard Hollow talk. A ton and a half of Hollows in this series, particularly the early ones and ones like Aaroniero, speak in Katakana. The "she's calling me / I can hear her" is in Katakana, as is this:



And of all the Hollows out there, who does IchiThing most closely resemble?





In case you're missing what I'm driving at, let me refresh:






Instincts vary per Hollow based on his or her original life. Some people become Hollows that really want pink champagne. Some really want to chew their little sister's friends into pieces. Some really want beef, pork (chicken, mmm).

When you get Ichigo to the core of who he considers himself as and what his primary goals are, he wants to protect. It is the most important thing to him in the whole world and makes up the backbone of his identity.

So when you take away Ichigo's heart and literally break him down, this is what happens. All that is left is this pile of instincts. This is his version of "beef, pork". His screaming, the incoherency, the inability to express oneself - all of these are characteristics of when Allon and other Hollows are born. Orihime doesn't deserve all the blame here. Ichigo himself left Vizard training early; he refuses to accept that his Hollow is a part of himself and is constantly warring with it, leaving him open to a coup; Ichigo has gotten the attitude that he can protect everyone and no one can protect him.

And there's the problem, isn't it? Orihime can't intervene with Ichigo because she is feeding into this exact problem. And once his hollow kicks him off the horse and takes over, once instinct takes over Ichigo in a way that hasn't been previously seen other than Allon, shit goes to hell.

IchiThing is born screaming a healthy rush of katakana and with a brand new appearance that hails something completely different. The first thing he does to this love of his life, Orihime, is this:



If the only thing he cared about was protecting Orihime, it's pretty funny that the first thing he does is explode her face-first into the ground. He clearly does not care enough about her to stop from hurting her, which is the exact opposite of protecting.

Ah, and to address another argument I've seen about this scene. From time to time, I remember to be polite, but not here. You're 100% insane if you think this is Ichigo tossing Orihime to Ishida. This is not anything like Ichigo tossing Rukia to Renji, so stop making that comparison. For one thing, Ishida had to lunge in order to catch her; for another, I sincerely doubt that a man in love would calculate the pass such that his beloved would have to bounce. On her face.

But really, I find this hilarious, given that back when Ichigo did toss Rukia to Renji, Ichihime people were swearing up and down that Ichigo had passed Rukia to her beloved. Strange that it's "just like that time with Rukia", except ... her beloved isn't catching her? Or is he?

Now, looking back to the vice-captains in FKT chapters, I didn't originally know where Kubo was going with Allon. "This is boring and pointless," I said. Now I know. That character's whole existence was to give you a reference point for IchiThing. And Allon is, of course, the chimera-like creature made from the spare parts of others, a screaming, howling, bestial creature with a desire to fight and fight violently.

At this point, if you don't see the resemblance, I can't help you. They're only both screaming in katakana, roaring the same awful OOOOAAARGH noise, being drawn in the same poses, scaring the crap out of people around them, and in general, being quite incoherent. Which is not the same as stupid - they are both damn good fighters with a lust for blood.

There's even similarities in their chimera-like foundations. Ichigo has been hinted at since 289 to contain within him the various incarnations of living and dead beings. The top left corner is what most closely resembles his IchiThing incarnation with the horn, distinct from his "Shirosaki" self.



To give you another angle at Kubo's message regarding Allon, here's his volume 39 poem. Translation is from here. http://mangahelpers.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1396093&postcount=323

愆(あやま)つは人、殺(ころ)すは魔(おに)
Ayamatsu ha hito, korosu ha oni
Translated as: To err is human. / To kill is the devil.

That translation was by sheetz, who posted the translation at mangahelpers. (The irony here does not escape me, no it does not.) Cezaria verified the authenticity of this translation.

But in any case, this is as clear as Kubo has ever been in a volume poem. Making a mistake is human enough, but killing is evil. Whether or not you agree with this kind of morality, Kubo thinks it's bad to kill - killing is the devil's work. It's this ideal that he's expressing through his characters. Like with Ishida, here:



This is why Ichigo is freaking out here.



He woke up to find that he stabbed his nakama in the chest. However stupid his attempt at reparations may be, he knows that what happened is wrong, and that is why he is panicking. Ichigo likes to think that he's all about protecting, about fighting to protect, and when he comes out of whatever just happened, he finds that he stabbed his own friend and fought in such a way that his enemy is now dying. However much he wants to deny it - and this is one of his problems - protecting isn't the only instinct Ichigo has.



Why was Ichigo fighting this fight? He never tells Ulquiorra why he has to win, only that he has to win. I am perfectly happy to point out that in the oft-compared Byakuya fight, Ichigo would not shut up with why he was there and why he had to win and what he was going to do once he won. Ichigo never says any of those things here. And no, it's not because he's overtaken by his feelings for Orihime, the love that dare not speak its name.

Ichigo has problems in this arc. He is overprotective of his friends to the point where he tries to exclude them, in the misguided hope that this will help. He cannot properly resolve his Hollow - he relies on its powers without accepting it, the equivalent of hating and beating your horse and using it anyways. And as much as he is overprotective, there is a part of him that is here to fight, exclusive of the need to protect. Ulquiorra tells him that he won't kill Orihime... but Ichigo wants to fight anyway. When Ulquiorra agrees, Ichigo is pleased that he's been accepted.

That is not the right attitude for saving someone who should be your friend, much less the love of your life. He's careless with Orihime's feelings here, sending her off with Ishida and starting a fight he says he has to win ... but really, does he? He certainly never says why.

I know there are those who think that Ichigo is in control during this whole fight, but having already established the whole throwing-Orihime-face-first-into-rocks thing, I'd like to remind you of this:



If Ichigo was in control, he would not do this. He's horrified that he has once he wakes up. Seriously, this is his nakama. This is Ichigo's failure crystallized: his shortfalls in controlling his hollow, his instinct to protect turning into a problem: it all results in him stabbing his friend through the gut. And no, Ishida does not deserve it.

So, now, Ichigo's desire to protect has manifested itself as the demonic motivation of his instincts. Once-good feelings turned into fodder for brutal failure.

The thing about Hueco Mundo is not that it's about Ichihime. It's largely about Ichigo and Orihime, but in terms of their separate individual inadequacies, manifested in awful ways. Keep in mind that Ichigo doesn't even know Orihime has feelings for him. The fact that the large part of Orihime's actions towards Ichigo, her thoughts, her desperate crying and catching him - all of this happens while he's unconscious, moments he doesn't remember - it's exactly like her feelings for him in the first place.

On the topic of these feelings, I want to go over why she went up there in the first place. Orihime is not here to protect him. Why do I say that? I can't possibly mean that, can I? Why else would she be there?

Why indeed.

There's a famous moment during the Byakuya fight where Orihime will not let herself go, because, as Ishida observes, she knows she will simply get in the way. This is a direct contrast to that scene, but it's not as simple as her going because she thinks she can be helpful now. As I stated at the beginning of this thing, the reiatsu blast that triggered the request was so strong that it brought Orihime to her knees.



It is extremely doubtful that Orihime truly thinks she can be helpful when faced with that kind of power, especially when she doesn't bring Tsubaki out even when she's personally being beaten on.



She left because she was convinced, despite very good evidence to the contrary (like the last several times that Ulquiorra owned Ichigo) that Ichigo would win. That he would succeed. She feels a sudden, horrible blast and decides to go back up. She does not say that she wants to help - she simply asks for Ishida to take her up. That alone doesn't preclude her going to help, right? She said she wanted to help. I was babbling up there about consequences not determining morality; shouldn't I be judging her on her intent?

Sure I am.

To be clearer, let's flip to earlier, when Orihime shields Ichigo from Ulquiorra's attack.


She doesn't know the answer. That's because the question isn't really "why did you help him?" but "why didn't you help him before?" The answer to this question goes unsaid, but there's only one reason for Orihime's lack of intervention. Remember, she knows that her powers are a matter of willpower.



The answer? She herself did not want to intervene.



Orihime made herself a promise that when the time came around, she was not going to be protected by Kurosaki-kun again. She is capable of protection. She turns Sora back to sanity, she protects Tatsuki - they protect and cherish her all her life, and she returns these precious people the favor. To Ichigo, the boy she has declared that she would want to fall in love with five separate lifetimes, this should be the most important person of all that she should want to protect. Who, after all, is more important to protect than the person you love? No one in the world.

And yet, in the end, she wanted him to protect her. She's horrified and shocked by this, but there you go. This is what Ichihime comes down to, in the end. This is what this arc amounts to, this is what Kubo is driving home, and this is how her feelings will be resolved - not in requited love. In fact, not even in unrequited love.

Orihime is not in love with Ichigo. When someone is truly the person you love, the love of your life, the person you think is the half of your soul, your most important person, there had better be nothing you won't sacrifice of yourself for that person's sake. Your powers, your strength, your life - for what purpose are they if you don't give them for the one you love? For all that shippers were saying Ichigo sacrificed his humanity to protect Orihime, they missed the point that Orihime sacrificed nothing of herself for him.

It is the only character in this series who has openly expressed romantic feelings that cannot give of herself to save the man she says she loves. Who is not there to protect him, but to be protected. Who left only because she thought he could win and discovered to her horror otherwise. The fact that she is the only one with open feelings has often been cited as proof that her love is the only real one, that her love will definitely be reciprocated: and in fact, the opposite is true. Hers is the one that's not real.

The last nail in this coffin of Ichihime fail is the presence of Ulquihime.



Frankly, the Ulquihime is overkill at this point. I mentioned that I don't ship Ulquihime, and I am dead serious. But the fact that this business and talk about where the heart is and Ulquiorra finding it in Orihime's hand? Her reaching back to him? It's an Ulquihime moment. #2 most popular heterosexual Bleach ship. You bet your ass Kubo knew exactly who he was catering to here. Rather than Hueco Mundo being the arc of IchiHime love, it ended up being the crystallizing moment of high romance and tragedy for Ulquhime.

(For those of you who are Ulquihime shippers, you may be wondering why I'm not talking about your ship more. Well, because Ichihime fails on its own, even without you showing them up in a lesson titled "HOW KUBO DOES ROMANCE".)

On a different and unrelated note, I know Ichihime shippers were confused by Ishida's presence. "Why is he here? Is he just a plot device? Will this be the moment when he realizes she's only going love Kurosaki forever and ever?"

No. First, he was here as Ichigo, and the reader's, moral compass. You know, "If you do this / You won't be human anymore!" But aside from that, Ishida had a personal reason for coming.



Ishida is here for Orihime. He came here to protect her. It's canon that Ishida likes Orihime romantically, and he's said consistently throughout this arc that he came here "not to fight Espada, but to save Inoue-san". He is the counterpoint to this situation, the one who stays human throughout this whole fight, the one who tries to fight for his friend, and the one injured by that very same friend.

More than that, Ishida was here the. whole. time. Orihime was not alone in seeing Ichigo fall to being nothing more than his instincts. Far more than a plot device to bring Orihime up, Ishida's very presence here, his own witnessing of the killing of Ulquiorra at the hands of the creature his nakama became, his attempt to save his friend's own humanity as best he could - this places Ishida right alongside her. There will be no happenings on this dome that herald in a new kind of era of IchiOri love, because it must include Ishida.

This void of Ichihime happenings can be seen right here:



For an arc that is supposed to be crowning Ichihime glory, that is the most excruciatingly boring, snooze-worthy reunion on the face of existence. Ichigo barely acknowledges Orihime before cutting to Ishida, not even waiting for a verbal response. Is it because she smiled and that was enough? If it was, Ichigo is still a man who has no idea what's going on in Orihime's head (as Grimmjow commented long ago). She's really not okay right now, and yet he passes by, off to talk to other people, ignorant of the turmoil inside her. That's what his perception of her is like.

An interesting change happens here for all future Ichihime interaction from this point forward. Remember those times when Orihime was his only healer, the one who could heal him, how that was Orihime's special duty that she could always do for him? ...



Here is Orihime, distraught over the (looks like) death of Ichigo. His Allon-like Hollow form is gone. He's reverted to being human, but the gaping hole is still there.

Do you know what's not there?

The Shun Shun Rikka. Forget Tsubaki, I am talking about her healing fairies. This is a girl who knows she can bring people back from the dead, and here, when sobbing over Ichigo's death, not once does she try her fairies out on the boy she professed to want to love for five lifetimes.

All this time, the one thing Orihime has really been able to do for Ichigo is heal him. She's a healer, that's the song that Ichihime people have been singing. A pacifist, so kind hearted that she heals people who abuse her and repay the favor by trying to kill her, she's the healer with powers that defy the very gods themselves.

Ichigo doesn't need her. He can heal himself. He has high-speed regeneration. Orihime's healing capabilities re: Ichigo are now obsolete. And we know she won't use Tsubaki, even when his life and her nakamas’ life are on the line. The fact that Kubo would not let Orihime heal Ichigo is incredibly telling; it is no longer the one special thing she can do for him.

Oh, and what the hell. How about some overkill? Here's a list of things Kubo Tite should have done that if this was their big arc of love:

- give them a decent reunion. One where Ichigo was awake would be neat.
- a color spread just for them.
- have Ichigo tell Ulquiorra why he was fighting (he never does).
- have Ichigo save Orihime.

What's that last one? Didn't he save her life? That Big Bad that kidnapped and emotionally tortured her, the one she's so terrified of?



Oh, she's quaking in her boots. Looks instead like the only person who scared her in the Lust arc was Ichigo himself.



Ichigo doesn't think he won, and he's right. Yes, he survived and Ulquiorra didn't, but I would call the latter the winner. In the end, Ichigo did not accomplish what he originally set out to do at the beginning of Hueco Mundo. He didn't save Orihime from anything. Ichigo stabbed one of his friends during a psychotic break that he can't even remember, due to powers he can't control, powers he refuses to accept as his, and an overbearing tendency to protect all at all costs.



See that face? This is not the face of a boy who chose to do all this, who made some sort of voluntary sacrifice on a silver platter in behalf of his beloved. He wakes up horrified and not even cognizant of the horrors that he himself had unleashed. As for Orihime, she broke her most important promise to herself; didn't save Ichigo, didn't heal him, didn't protect him. Then she had a tragic moment with Ulquiorra, who promptly died. They have only just begun to pay the heavy prices for their sins in this arc.

I know, I am extremely harsh on Ichigo and Orihime. But I want to say something to everyone who thinks it is mean to criticize a character: they. aren't. real. (Even if they were, criticizing politicians is my second favorite thing to do, so don't think they would be spared.) Additionally, it is impossible to have worthwhile discussion without opening up to the fact that characters are flawed and make mistakes. It's okay. They will get through this. Yes, for those of you who know me, even Orihime. There is hope in the future, but that does not negate the failures of the past.

I sincerely doubt any Ichihime fan got down here (frankly I doubt more than ten people altogether did). But if you did, know this. I'm not telling you to not ship your ship. Ship whatever you like, that's the joy of it. But one day, maybe not very soon, but in the near future, there will come a day when it becomes brutally clear to all that Ichigo and Orihime will never be a canon couple. When it does, don't claim that Kubo is forcing it, that this is an about-twist of him, how dare he convert the Straight Will and Grace, that he's only giving into the money of the popular, obvious ship because he's a shallow, selfish author... you're wrong. Kubo's had this in the works for a long time. This arc was his way of letting you know.

As khyata put it, Kubo could very well change his mind, do a 180, and fuck with everything that he's been developing for over 350 chapters, making all of this irrelevant. But when I consider the kind of author he is, I think the chances of that are very unlikely. It is the way it is.

I am happy to discuss this essay. However, if you're one of those people that posts gigantic walls of text in CAPSLOCK, I'm already planning on ignoring you. Also: I almost certainly will not reply to any discussion pertaining to IchiRuki. I'm not inclined to defend my ship against you because you're hurt about something I said here, and quite frankly, my ship is not related to IchiHime fail.

ETA: 7/29/09: added the c289 Ichigo spread and the hiragana panel of Orihime's Kurosaki-kun from c349.
ETA: 8/18/09: added the exact damn wording of the c350 translation from IchiThing's mind because of some wank.


THANK YOUS: because no woman is a village, and it certainly took a village to raise this creature to adulthood.

- _debbiechan_ for allowing me to post this essay on her wonderful community, Bleachness. I hope this respects the trust you gave me.
- chuuni, who was kind enough to let me reference her great post on translation wank, to provide or confirm all translations used in this essay, answer other questions for me, and is, generally speaking, hilarious and a very talented artist.
- Annie, who told me that she needed this. I didn't forget.

And if it weren't for khyata, this wouldn't have happened at all. Sea, I bet you had no idea how crazy I was. I seem moderately intelligent and sane at first glance, but the more you talked to me, the more you learned otherwise. Ohh, the otherwise. You are a darling, my Bleach soulmate and the best beta ever. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If any of you liked anything in this essay, it is certainly because of her, and anything you didn't like is because of me.
 
 
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( 899 comments — Leave a comment )
hinodeh: Ulquiorra - the heartbeat that rips throhinodeh on July 26th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
Magnificent. Adding this to my memories.
Kylara: memories in the rainkarenai on July 26th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
I thought it would be a toss-up as to whether the first comment would a hater or a lover. Thanks for the complimentary words.
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_debbiechan_: meow_debbiechan_ on July 26th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)


Oohh creepy this:



I hadn't noticed that the only one to call out for help this way was this fail!Espada.

Admiration is the furthest thing from understanding, is it not? As much as I want to have sympathy for Orihime's feelings for Ichigo and call them love because hell, I've been there, Kubo keeps juxtaposing those feelings to Momo felt for Aizen and what the Arrancar feel for Aizen... that's so... tragic.

As for an IchiOri love arc being named The Lust. Yeah, the Lust is a sin. Nuff said.

What gets me the most is the insistence that Ichigo rose to protect Orihime and only Orihime. I've even heard it said that Ichigo has had no clear cut motive in early chapters of Bleach--the boy who said he wanted to protect "mountains of people!" He turns into a protect machine in this arc.

Well, I was open to the possibility of IchiOri, even the slightest bit of it maybe happening in canon and thought the UlquiIchi fight would determine the course of it. Here's where I called it over--at the precise moment Kubo pulled the great tease--you think maybe Ichigo is rising to defend Orihime like a Great Hero because of her cries. He stands up, he looks awesome, this is shounen, this is gonna turn out all savior saving the princess but....

Orihime takes a face-plant! And Ishida saves her from worse damage!

You're 100% insane if you think this is Ichigo tossing Orihime to Ishida. This is not anything like Ichigo tossing Rukia to Renji, so stop making that comparison. For one thing, Ishida had to lunge in order to catch her; for another, I sincerely doubt that a man in love would calculate the pass such that his beloved would have to bounce. On her face.


Yeah.

Thanks for the essay.
Kylara: rukia fangirlkarenai on July 26th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
Debbie, it means a lot that you are okay with this essay. I know you get a lot of flack already from the Ichihime fans, and this is the kind of thing that will not earn you any more love. "Look at those hater crazies she lets post in Bleachnesss..." Thanks for letting me share my thoughts here. I appreciate it a ton.

"As for an IchiOri love arc being named The Lust. Yeah, the Lust is a sin. Nuff said."

I know, you could probably skip my whole essay and just keep this in mind and get to the same conclusion XD ahh, well.
Grenatescarboucle on July 26th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
You're my hero XD

I think that what's been telling with Inoue is that, even though we don't see her fantasies anymore, she still thinks that Ichigo is a prince, and like a prince, he shall never fail the princess. After all, it's what happened in the SS arc, right? You could clearly see this when she thought she couldn't see herself in his eyes during his fight with GJ - because, no matter what people say, it's a way in many shoujo to tell people if the love is unrequited or requited [not seeing her/himself VS seeing her/himself in the eyes of the other; it's so commonly used I shouldn't even have to argue this point].

It's also telling that despite this, she's been afraid OF him [and not FOR him as I saw people say] during his fight with GJ; if anything, this arc shows how disconnected Ichigo and Inoue are, and that bringing them together doesn't make them any better - on the contrary, it makes them worse, way worse, as they spin each other's bad traits].

I still think that Inoue will get on her feet and will get better. As someone who's never been a fan of her, I can say it clearly; she's been better, she will be better, but right now, she's either at the bottom or not quite there yet. But she will definitely grow a lot.
Kylara: memories in the rainkarenai on July 26th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the compliment. <3

The thing about Orihime's prince-complex is that she knows better, she's SEEN Ichigo lose, and lose to Ulquiorra at that. She's just so incredibly dependent on him that it overrides her common sense and moral inhibitions.

I still think that Inoue will get on her feet and will get better. As someone who's never been a fan of her, I can say it clearly; she's been better, she will be better, but right now, she's either at the bottom or not quite there yet. But she will definitely grow a lot.

Wow, words out of my mouth. My money is on "not quite there yet", for the record.
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廚二病chuuni on July 26th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Ohhh this was what I've been waiting for for ages! And you don't disappoint ^^

I'm usually more ...Shipperly-Correct when it comes to passing judgement on other shippers, but clearly, CLEARLY, there's got to be a few screws loose there if you believe the Lust chapters prove the canonity of the IchiOri ship. I always thought reading manga was kind of like reading a novel or watching a movie, and people usually get the right idea because there is such a thing called author's intent. But I have to conclude there are people out there not reading the same manga I am, obviously.

I also try not be smug, I really do. But I can't help it at this point. If there was a main cast involved pairing that is center to this arc, it's Ulquihime. It was a slap in their faces like Orihime's slap in Ulquiorra's face. And I don't blame you for not mentioning it, because I see no reason to mention it when I talk of IchiOri (however, them shippers just LOVE to bring it up). I'm going to get ready for more bashers but hey, I don't read FSTDT and wade through shit in the Asian fandom for nothing. Bring it on :D

I love how you put things bluntly, I tend to be more roundabout so there's always a chance people don't get what I'm trying to say. Kudos.
Kylara: rukia likes it on topkarenai on July 26th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
Oops, your comment moved o_O Here's my reply.

*phew* For me, I get to breathe a big sigh of relief as certain people comment without a "YOU'RE A STUPID IDIOT YOU DISGUSTING HATER YOU". As my translator, you are one of them XD I'm so glad you're not disappointed.

Oh, I think "the Lust" refers - in very different ways - to more than Ulquiorra; namely, Ulqui, Ichi, Orihime. I originally talked about how, but it went waaaay off-topic. Just concentrating on the ichihime fail was enough.

But yeah, I didn't talk about Ulquihime very much, and you know why. Besides the whole overkill factor, I've never argued anything that less needed a relative base of comparison.

I love how you put things bluntly
Curious fact about Kylara! 50% of the people that meet her will, in the same conversation, say, "Wow, you're really blunt." Yes, somehow I manage to make friends, I'm surprised, too.
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nehalenia: ichigo fadenehalenia on July 26th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
This is one hell of a piece of work, and I am dully impressed. After your first couple of paragraphs, I was planning on playing Devil's Advocate. My main question was that if Orihime hadn't called out to him, wouldn't he have just died? The way it happens, KT sure makes it look like he regenerates due to Orihime's call for help, but the later scene -- where the hole closes up after his mask is broken -- shows that he could have regenerated on his own.

The other Devil's Advocate point I was going to make was this: while I fully agreed with your assessment that the Lust chapters show that Orihime and Ichigo are emphasizing each others' weaknesses, that doesn't necessarily preclude them from becoming a couple -- IF they could overcome the negative dynamic.

After reading your essay however, especially the way you pointed out where Orihime could have taken some action and sacrificed something for the man she says she loves, I have to agree fully with your assessment. I still think there is a very slight possibility (.01%) the two could get together in the future -- it is in KT's hands, after all -- but there would have to be so much growth and development on each character's part, that I doubt Ichigo and Orihime would be the essentially the same people they are now.

Thanks for posting this, and for spending so much time working this out and providing the graphics to go with this. To me, the Lust Arc already revealed huge flaws in the Ichigo/Orihime relatiosship, but you pointed out things I hadn't even thought of or connected before. Really well done!
Kylara: partnerskarenai on July 26th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
The other Devil's Advocate point I was going to make was this: while I fully agreed with your assessment that the Lust chapters show that Orihime and Ichigo are emphasizing each others' weaknesses, that doesn't necessarily preclude them from becoming a couple -- IF they could overcome the negative dynamic.

I credit Khyata for this one. I knew that this was a possible counter-argument, but she's the one who pointed out that any IchiHime growing beyond this fail would have to happen with Ishida, since he's just as much a part of this. Which means hey, maybe you'll get a three hearts combined as one moment, neha. XD

I still think there is a very slight possibility (.01%) the two could get together in the future -- it is in KT's hands, after all

Yeah, he could, but since they're not each other's only love interests, that's why I think it's at zero XD but that's my personal bias coming in.

Thanks for the really kind words. <3
MT: Keigo- Winter sucksdbnext on July 26th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
THIS.

Just. This. Thankyou, that was a brilliant read.

I don't really hang around the Bleach message boards, so I just read the manga and come to my own conclusions and this was pretty much the same impression I got, though you also shed light on a lot of details I had missed.

I also have to thankyou for this:

Disclaimers: I'm an Ichigo x Rukia shipper, yet I don't ship Ulquiorra x Orihime. Funny, that.

As someone who also doesn't ship UlquiHime it's VERY nice to be able to get an analytical view on these particular events without UlquiHime shipper goggles also saturating it.

I'm so anxious to get back to the dome now. From now on the dynamics between these three will NEVER be the same.

Also just as a side-note, one of your image links is broken there. Photobucket deletes such random things.
Kylara: Lisakarenai on July 26th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
OFFS, Photobucket. Sigh. What is this, an hour into the post? Thanks for letting me know, I fixed it :sweat

That disclaimer was a shot at all the little jerks who say that all the IchiRuki shippers are Ulquihime shippers and vice versa. Noooo... the world is not actually joined in a giant conspiracy of anti-Ichihime hate. Some of us like ships independent of whatever others are doing. XD Glad you liked it.

And thank you so much for the compliments. *blushes*

I'm so anxious to get back to the dome now. I've been afraid for a month that we would get back to the dome before I posted this essay XD now that it's done, yeah, I want to go back too. ^^;
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selenityshiroi: Orihime-not scared!selenityshiroi on July 26th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm speechless. I...just...*applause*

I've never thought for a moment that IchiOri would be canon (even before I started shipping the pairings that I do) so seeing my instinctive rejection of the pairing explained in such a logical, rational way is amazing.
Kylarakarenai on July 26th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're too sweet. Thanks so much *blush*

Sea and I were trying to be as logical and clear as possible, which is why there's not a lot of other ship talk and the argument is really spelled out. I'm so glad that you thought this was rational :D
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Kylara: Rukia karenai on July 26th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
The sticking point in the end is that this ended up happening because Orihime is not really in love with Ichigo. Her feelings are very complicated, but in brief, they are dependency and idolatry without understanding. Once she clears that up, she is not *again* going to fall in love with him. Because they're both heroes and essentially good people, they will become better nakama, they will get over their individual failures - but it won't lead to them getting together.

Thanks for the compliment, and reading!
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masakochan: Bleach - Ulquiorra - <3masakochan on July 26th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
This essay is brilliant, and definitely going into my memories.
Kylara: rukia fangirlkarenai on July 26th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yay! :D
Shinigami_Lucia: Rukia&Konshinigami_lucia on July 26th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Wonderful essay! <333

Despite the lacked of IchiRuki in the manga, I still believe they're Kubo's pairing and will be canon at the end. But I'll be lying if I said that my faith hasn't been shaken at all. There are times when I wonder whether I'm really getting or understanding what Kubo's intention is in his manga. However, I think if he intends IchiOri, he missed alot of chances. He could have done things differently to make it more of a possibility. But he kept portraying the negativity of their relationship and portraying the positive with other pairing. Somebody said above that,

"while I fully agreed with your assessment that the Lust chapters show that Orihime and Ichigo are emphasizing each others' weaknesses, that doesn't necessarily preclude them from becoming a couple -- IF they could overcome the negative dynamic."

While I agree with this, it also doesn't necessarily mean that once they have overcome those weaknesses or problems, that they will become a pairing. What exactly is Kubo's intent when it comes to Ichigo & Orihime? Is it romance or is it nothing more than just the development of their characters? Does Ichigo's kindness and protective nature means that he's interested in a romantic way? Or does his behavior towards Orihime means nothing more than a concern for a friend's safety because he can see that she can't even protect herself from harm?
Bunnisteffi lay flayrah u silflay.: xmasbunnisteffi on July 26th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Bravo. *A*

It was a helluva good fun to read this to the end. You've pointed out things that I wouldn't have ever thought about, and that I'm glad to know now.
Kylara: Rukia karenai on July 26th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I am so glad that you said this was good fun to read. I was horribly worried that this was incredibly tedious (and I have no doubt that there will be some who think so), so it really puts a smile on my face to see this. :D thanks!
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balladbirdballadbird on July 26th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
It was an interesting read, and I admit I enjoyed it, even though I suppose it's something of a guilty pleasure. ^^ I don't usually read anti-essays, but I recently came to terms with the fact that shipping fandom is a hate-filled battleground in which there are no innocents, and everyone attacks everyone when the chance arises. I'm sure IchiHime has at least one essay that is equally attacking of IchiRuki/IshiHime/UlquiHime, so I won't waste my time feeling guilty about saying that this piece of work, which matches my own opinion regarding the interpretation of events, suited me.

In the spirit of not drawing from UlquiHIme interpretations, I shall offer my follow-up observations as freed from shipper goggles as a fellow like me can. ^^

The IchiUlqui fight had a unique dynamic, one that is completely different from any other fight involving Ichigo in all of Bleach. This dynamic was created in the very chapter before the fight began, by a single line of dialogue spoken as swords were drawn:

"I have no reason to kill this girl. I will permit her to live until such an order descends."

I found Kubo's decision to have this line be spoken, and done prior to the actual fight, to be a curious move, as it changes the nature of the suspense, right off the bat. Now, Ichigo isn't being the valiant hero defending the princess from terrible deeds at the hands of the dragon. For the first time in Bleach, Ichigo enters into a battle in which the only life he's truly defending is his own.

Some people have claimed that Ulquiorra was lying about not wanting to kill Orihime, but if that were true it would contradict everything Ulquiorra did afterward. He spent the entire fight trying to draw Ichigo to full power, he said and did many things in the name of provoking said power out of him. Knowing that this was his intent, why would he actually LIE about wanting to kill Orihime. Given Ichigo's nature, nothing would give him a power boost faster than if Ulquiorra were to have said "Yeah, I was a few seconds away from slitting this bitch's throat, just you try and stop me!"

As such, it's prudent to believe that what was said was true, and it was a fact that largely removed Orihime from the equation, as far as Ichigo's motivation was concerned. He was fighting because Ulquiorra beat him last time, and he vowed he would overcome him. It became a contest between Ichigo's love of battle and Ulquiorra's intent to exhibit despair.

Unfortunately, this is also what makes a lot of things about the fight a bit of a stretch for the reader... such as Ichigo's determination that he absolutely couldn't lose. Shonen hero grit is legendary, but Ichigo never seemed like the type who would be so determined to win just for his own sake. At the same time, it can't be seen that he's protecting anyone else from Ulquiorra. He already said that he wouldn't kill Orihime, and the only other time he was presented with one of Ichigo's nakama (Ishida,) he showed no particular aggression, and attacked only after being attacked himself.

I get the feeling that a lot of things about this fight, especially from Ichigo's point of view, will remain mysterious for a little while afterward, and will be the subject of illumination for quite a while to come.
廚二病: P3 MCchuuni on July 26th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
You know Ballad, I always thought there was something inherently "off" about this IchiUlqui fight. Maybe it was because Ichigo only gave Orihime a fleeting glance when he showed up, before turning attention fully on Ulquiorra. Or may it's because there is just so little focus on Orihime throughout the battle. Ichigo hardly thought of her until Ulquiorra mentioned her or the Lollies start beating her.

To be honest, I hadn't thought of that line as so important until now. I used to think of it as Ulquiorra poking through holes in his orders (similar to what Byakuya did when he released Renji and Rukia after he brought them back to SS) for the sake of Orihime (yeah, yeah, I'm shippy, sue me). But now that I think about it, that does preclude Orihime from danger at all, and there would have been no reason to fight if Ichigo was smart enough to mention that WORD OF GOD/AIZEN had allowed for Orihime's removal.

So. Uh. What was I trying to say? Oh yeah, Ichigo wasn't really fighting for her sake at all. I think I mentioned this in the last Ichigo-thing I wrote.

Sorry for the jumble of words. ^^;
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Jenni: beguilemetaphore_art on July 26th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
Beauteous.

Ah, logic! Sweet, glorious logic! And that's what I struggle with every time IchiOri trots out its evidence - it's all a house of cards backed up with theories that they've "read between the lines." They have a particular bad habit of looking at everything in a vacuum, or more to the point, selectively choosing which scenes they're going to combine together in the vacuum and which (the majority) they're going to just throw out to the far-reaches of space.

Looking at The Lust in a vacuum, without the benefit of the 250+ chapters that had come before it, one could make an argument that he came back from the dead specifically for Orihime, and if that's the case, then she must be something really special to him. And, as you so deftly pointed out, as we don't see anything of her powers or any willingness on her part to try to protect and/or heal in these chapters, again, in a vacuum, one could also assume she's a pacifist and had no means to do anything for herself or the others.

But the point that we've tried to make over and over and...OVER is that you can't look at this in a vacuum. You have to look at ALL YOUR EVIDENCE. No one's actually gone back and laid it all out before in such a step by step sequence, and that's why this essay is so valuable - because when you look at the evidence as a whole, you see that oh, Ichigo's hollow already told him the second he lost it, he was taking over, and oh, the foundation was already laid that he could regenerate in that state. So he didn't come back only because of her necessarily. And oh, Orihime has powers and abilities and she's used them quite competently before. Obviously, I'm just scratching the surface, but you've laid it out so perfectly, there's no need to rehash. ^^

It is this that we ask for as evidence of the foundations of an argument. Yet in the face of all this, what we get is, "Well obviously Ichigo came back from the dead specifically to save Orihime because he loves her."

"What about all this other evidence?" we ask.

"Pointless," they say.

"All right. Then how so? Build us your case, prove your elements."

And some of them try to use actual scenes, but they're all explained away by what actually happened in the story. So we end up with:

Random symbolism that they've just decided proves their theory as evidence (like eagles, seriously WTF?),

Numerology (for God's sake, don't get me started)

Made up stories (apparently Ichigo gave Orihime Enraku, her teddy bear, did you know that? No, it was never shown, hinted at, or talked about, but he did. So their love has been blooming secretly for a very, very long time), and

General statements that are backed up in absolutely nothing (Ichigo holds Orihime up on a pedestal. Really? How do we know this? Oh, right, this is another one of those things that's inferred between the lines.)

And so what we're left with is this circular argument: "Ichigo loves Orihime therefore he came back from the dead to save her therefore he loves her." This is all the evidence that we're given. This is the foundation of their case. Forgive us if we simply don't see it.

Meanwhile, not only do we have ample evidence that IchiOri simply fails on its own, but also ample evidence actually backed up and with a solid foundation that there's something special, something more between not only Ichigo and Rukia, but also Orihime and Ishida and Orihime and Ulquiorra.

Honestly, it has nothing to do with ship rivalries at this point, and everything to do with what's been laid out for us by Kubo to understand. No, I don't like or understand IchiOri as a couple, but I look at it as that's because I'm clearly not supposed to. If I was supposed to, Kubo would have made sure that I did. Instead, he's actually done his damnedest to make sure that we understood the story he's actually telling.

So great, great essay! Puts perfectly, succinctly, and clearly what we've all been saying in bits and pieces among ourselves, or just simply known without really thinking why for years!
V to the A to the D-E-R (Vader!): ichigo - purty facejaina on July 26th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
apparently Ichigo gave Orihime Enraku, her teddy bear, did you know that? No, it was never shown, hinted at, or talked about, but he did.

...what.
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karasunomai on July 26th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
I applaud you, and all those who had a part in the undertaking of this essay. It's a magnificent piece of work, outlining every reason why I don't ship IchiHime.

I appreciate very much your raw tone; you don't hold back, which is exactly what any shipping essay needs.



Kylara: memories in the rainkarenai on July 27th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. And I'm glad you liked my tone :)
(Anonymous) on July 26th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
ESSAY WIN! x33
Baka-Chan from BA ICHIrUKI fc-

Wow,just wow.I love the way you've put it all quite bluntly and staright to the point.I always thought that Kubo wrote this whole Lust Arc thang to PREPARE the IchiHime fanbase for what will come- the real,crude panels and apges which will finally sink what is left of this ship that actually never was.

Kubo would NEVER,ever never ever throw away the 350 chapters of amazing that he has written of Bleach.You can see the way he used Allon to prepare US fro Ichi!Thing, and all the other intricate plot details and workings and character development.For me,THAT is why IchiHime is not just unlikely but impossible.SOrry if I offend.Like Karenai-sempai said,have fun with the shipping =_____-
Kylara: squeeeekarenai on July 26th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
Re: ESSAY WIN! x33
Honey, you don't need to upgrade me to SEMPAI. *dies laughing* I am touched by the sentiment though, and you're a sweetheart. Thanks for reading, I'm glad you loved it.
kaiserkawaiikaiserkawaii on July 26th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
You're 100% insane if you think this is Ichigo tossing Orihime to Ishida. ---> I love this part...
Kylarakarenai on July 26th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) Glad you enjoyed.
manonlechat: Gin_Ichimarumanonlechat on July 26th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
This is impressively presented but I think you may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a couple arguments. ;) I think it's perfect possible to believe that Orihime truly loves Ichigo, and that Ichigo treats and protects her in a special and different way than he would say Ishida or Chad, yet still not see the Lust chapters as a romantic IchiHime arc.

Orihime not in love with Ichigo? Are you kidding? She's obsessed with him. She'd take a cero blast for him. She'd suffer anything for him; her heartbreak is she hasn't overcome her confidence/fear/will/whatever issues in order to fight for him (or herself). That's the crossroads that Orihime stands at--and one of the points of this arc--her fear and unwillingness to use her powers directly causes Ichigo's monstrous transformation into IchiThing (totally agreed that that was not a romantic moment).

As for Ichigo, I do not believe that he would have turned into IchiThing had it been Ishida or Chad calling for him (of course, neither one of the characters would because they're not suffering from Orihime's particular complex). Ichigo responded to Orihime's cries in particular and Ichigo's strong uncontrolled emotion** at that point is what opened the door for his takeover by brutal, inhuman force.
[**note---that strong uncontrolled emotion does not have to be romantic love, which--IMO--we've never seen Ichigo exhibit toward Orihime.]

I am also reluctant to agree fully on the idea that--in general--asking/accepting help for yourself is always presented negatively in Bleach... One of the lessons Rukia had to learn in the Rescue arc: It is okay to let your friends help you.

Just to play devil's advocate. ;) As I said above, you've done an impressive amount of work.
Kylara: Rukia karenai on July 26th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
Orihime not in love with Ichigo? Are you kidding? She's obsessed with him.

See, that's exactly why I say she's not in love with him. Shoot, call me an idealist, but you should not be obsessed with the love of your life. Being willing to take a bullet or thirty for the man means nothing in terms of the purity of Your One True Love. I understand your point - and trust me, I'm not disputing that she has feelings for him. It's the nature of those feelings that I think is questionable. I think she idolizes him, I think she's heavily dependent on him, I think she has unrealistic expectations and fantasies of him - I do not think these are *love*.

As for Ichigo, I do not believe that he would have turned into IchiThing had it been Ishida or Chad calling for him (of course, neither one of the characters would because they're not suffering from Orihime's particular complex).

As you've said, this is inherently untestable because there is no other character in this series that would ask. This is also why she's the one character in the series (I guess, other than Aaroniero) that Ichigo absolutely can't get together with. But let me ask you this, what makes you think that Ichigo wouldn't have manifested for Ishida or Chad? Ichigo is sulking back in chapter 2 about not wanting to help out the other Plus souls, but he can't stand to see anyone suffering in front of him. I think there's reason to believe that "mountainful of people" boy has a trigger for protecting people in general. :)

I am also reluctant to agree fully on the idea that--in general--asking/accepting help for yourself is always presented negatively in Bleach... One of the lessons Rukia had to learn in the Rescue arc: It is okay to let your friends help you.

Ah, I agree, there is nothing inherently wrong with recognizing that you need help. But there is a world of difference between asking for help when you yourself are capable, and letting your friends help you when you are *not*. That's my beef with the asking: she had other options that she could have resorted to if only she had relied on herself, rather than the dead body of her beloved. When you are at the point that you are more willing to rely on someone dead than yourself, there is nothing good about that. I'm repeating myself, but the fact that no other characters but Aaroniero have done it in this series tells me that Kubo is not particularly fond of it, either.

:) Thanks for reading, and I appreciate the discussion!
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 syx: librodarksyx on July 26th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
Great essay! I really love the part about the moral implications of Ichigo and Orihime actions, I'm so fed up with people excusing characters saying their have no other option or it was for the greater good... Anyway is the author who choose the path for them so I believe he is always trying to say something this way, it's a shônen so I think the lesson is clear.

The best how more than a "wall of text" you use the manga panels, they talk by themselves but with you pointing the facts it is more clear.

Haters, mmmm, it's an exposition of facts, if they get all work out about it, it's their problem.

It's been an interesting lecture. Thank you.
Kylara: violence is the answerkarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
SNORT. you are the first person to call it a lecture. Thank you for the compliments, I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

"Anyway is the author who choose the path for them so I believe he is always trying to say something this way, it's a shônen so I think the lesson is clear."

Yeah, shounen series do tend to be pretty didactic, no? That's okay, I'm fond of the genre anyway.
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kluxoriouskluxorious on July 26th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
this is sheer hilarity. thank you
Kylarakarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
No problem, thank you for reading.
fatexstay_nightfatexstay_night on July 26th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Bahaha! I never realized there were people that were insane enough to think that Ichigo was tossing Orihime to Ishida! I had a good lul for that. But let's face it; from the moment he entered Hueco Mundo, Ichihime was doomed! Grimmjow himself asked Ichigo if he came here for revenge [for when he ran Rukia through with his hand] or if he came here to fight. Nothing in here about Inoue. :/ Unless I remembered wrong...
Kylarakarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Some of them said that the rock IchiThing blew up when he sent her flying face first ... was a heart. XD There was even pink coloring involved.

I didn't bother addressing that in the essay, as I felt .. no. But thanks for reading! ^^
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(Anonymous) on July 26th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Hahah, and I thought I wouldn't anymore post in these things xD
This is one of the best essays I've read and it doesn't even involve IchiRuki ^^ Thanks for this :D
I never liked IchiHime pairing, well, because she was always KUROSAKI-KUN and I really hate characters like that ^^; But as for her feelings for Ichigo... They are waaay too random to be love. I mean when did she have a crush on him? They first met when she was carrying her DYING BROTHER in the Kurosaki clinic. When did she "fell in love" with him? When he was saving ANOTHER GIRL who changed his world completely?? Is Hime a masochist of some sort??
As for Ichigo treating Orihime "speacially"... I can list a lot of Bleach characters who treat Hime "speacially". I call it: How every guy (and a few girls) in Bleach is in love with Hime XDD But thank you :D I really loved reading this and it wasn't tedious at all. ^^
Kylarakarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Hahah, and I thought I wouldn't anymore post in these things xD
I didn't want to involve IchiRuki for the same reason that I kept Ulquihime at a peripheral involvement, which is that I feel it's wholly unnecessary and distracting to the main argument. Plus, this thing was kind of long already ^_^;

Thanks for the compliments, I'm glad you enjoyed the essay and that it wasn't tedious :D
SimHumansimhuman on July 26th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Wonderful essay. Because I generally like Orihime I've tried to give IchiHime fair consideration, but this arc killed it for me for a lot of the reasons you discuss. Orihime and Ichigo bring out the worst, most negative parts of each other. Orihime idolizes Ichigo, but the more time goes on, the more it seems to be a high school infatuation built into obsession by the dramatic circumstances of her life.

I also hadn't thought about Aaroniero as the only other character to beg to be saved. It's obvious that Kubo intended her begging to be a failure (why else would it be followed with IchiThing?) and I hope Orihime has the opportunity to fully develop and demonstrate the backbone she's been trying to build up.
Kylara: memories in the rainkarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
I am not what you'd call fond of Orihime, but I genuinely believe she will recover, that she has a bright future ahead of her, and that it was her misfortune that Kubo decided to pick her to make a metaphorical argument for the fallacies of romantic love. She has the potential here to do so much more, Kubo didn't put that in for no reason.

"It's obvious that Kubo intended her begging to be a failure (why else would it be followed with IchiThing?)" That, and something I didn't touch on, which is the whole visual depiction of the scene. All screaming dripping blacks and horror movie angles and Orihime's big horrified eyes, savage handwriting for the text and ... yeah. Really, Kubo didn't paint this as a pretty thing, a good thing, any positive thing.

Thanks so much for the comments. I am really happy that an Orihime fan was able to get something out of this essay. <3
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honeyhammer: Bleach: Mr. Jeagerjacquezhoneyhammer on July 26th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC)
It was lovely to see this is my inbox this morning. I've been waiting to read this essay, and it did not disappoint. Definitely adding to my memories. :)
Kylara: squeeeekarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. It was the people who were waiting to read this that I was most worried about disappointing *sweat* You know, higher expectations and all. So I'm very glad that it met your expectations.
Seakhyata on July 26th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Oh god I oversleep and wow. Seems like you're doing pretty well in the comments *hides superhero cape* xD

As someone who has been with you since this essay's inception, all I have to say is brava, my love. Its simply glorious. It really is. *hugs* <3333
Kylara: rukia fangirlkarenai on July 26th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
YOU MY LOVE MY DARLING *glomps*

I hope you're feeling better, my crazy beta you. And your superhero cape never comes off, it is part of your natural clothing <3 <3 <3

"As someone who has been with you since this essay's inception": You know I mean it when I say "couldn't have done it without you", right? You are the best.
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never give up!  ৵  never surrender!: (bleach) ichiruki deeper and deeperloquaciousquark on July 26th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
YES A WOMAN AFTER MY OWN HEART. One of my absolute favorite things to do is just go back and link all the moments that parallel each other even when they're ages apart, like the Aaronierro/Orihime help parallel and just EVERYTHING YAY.

also

I sincerely doubt that a man in love would calculate the pass such that his beloved would have to bounce. On her face.

oh my god i loled so hard
Kylarakarenai on July 27th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
I'm making a memo that when I meet the love of my life, I'm going to bounce him on his face to make sure. ;P

The parallels are intense. The fact that Sora said he was trying to kill her friends because of her - it's clearly a scene reverberating in this one. Fun stuff.
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