First, the fanart I saw yesterday morning that got me
By some spectacular artist named letmyself_go
I've had some friends bemoaning the status of Renji in the manga. The guy played such a pivotal role in the SS arc but seems to be a tag-along in HM.
I'm one of those fangirls who was late aboard the Renji bandwagon. His superstar hawtness status did little for me while SS was going on, and I was more ready to slash him with Ishida than ship him with Rukia (although that pairing has always been one to melt my heart---awww, Renji, you messed that relationship up so much!) Then the regrettable filler!Renji of the anime and movies where our tall tattooed dude is a joke and a fall-guy actually made me warm up to him. You see, I've always been a little mad at him for the way he pounced on Rukia on the bridge in his first appearance--let's just say his goofiness went a ways in redeeming him for how badly he treated his childhood friend.
His canon (I use that word to mean manga-only) moments post SS, starting with his protective touch on Rukia's shoulder when Yamma-ji was making the Shinigami leave the Living World, following through Dondo dropping him on his head hilarity to the whole guy-bonding warmth of his fighting alongside Ishida--ah, I just fell in love with the big lug.
Is his role so stagnant now? He's the only one of the Scooby Gang in HM who hasn't had a victory in a fight, an important power-up (or display of new weaponry like Ishida) or an moment of self-revelation. His devotion to Rukia was emphasized in the prequel chapters of SOULs and over and over in the HM arc but what ABOUT that relationship? My previous post on "connections" has me wondering what needs to be resolved there. Renji's position in the heirarchy of SS seems to in question--the guy doesn't seem to have ambitions towards Captainhood and seems comfortable in his "rebel" role. A few of my friends believe that if Kubo is going to kill any good guy (HEAVEN FORBID! D:), it will be Renji.
What do you think lies ahead for Abarai?