Howdy Bleach fans and if you don't know the results of the latest Jump popularity poll, what rock have you been hiding under today?
As much as those of us who hid in the bandroom in high school hate to admit it, popularity counts. Don Kanjoni bombed in the polls and a main comedic character disappeared as a result. Hitsugaya was a close second to Ichigo two years ago and he got a movie. Yes, popularity matters--that's why Jump does these polls. One has to wonder if Kubo, the artist who cares about the course of his manga and who once said he thinks of his characters as real people, gets all nervous about the results.
Yes, those of us who buy postage stamps also buy the Bleach merchandise and we matter in the great scheme of things. I saw my own voting as performance art, actually. I'm not the sort of girl who spends money on tanning booths and manicures but I blew a bundle on some postcards to Japan. I only voted for my favorites (Ishida, Rukia, Orihime, and Hirako Shinji) while my son spent a good deal of his birthday money to send hand-drawn postcards bearing the name (*shudders* ) Hitsugaya all the way to the Jump office in Tokyo. I had to counteract my nine year old's votes was my rationalization.
Here are the official results gratis of Spacecat (*blows kisses to Spacey*) who got them from our reliable, valuable Himajin in Japan:
6位 雛森桃 4102
40位 コン 135
5位 石田雨竜 4710
3位 黒崎一護 7829
2位 朽木ルキア 7895
1位 百番屋冬獅郎 8278
40th place Kon
My first reactions:
1. ISHIDA! <3
2. Wait. There are some people missing. Where's Renji? Urahara? Where's--? WTF?
3. If none of these results make any difference then why is the Bleach fandom spazzing out this morning?
Then I saw the color spread of the top five placers and I got the feeling that Kubo didn't want to draw it.
I heard a few people joking HITSU-RUKIA--BOTH ICE BEARERS--CANON! CANON! about the spread and some sincerely speculating that Ichigo was looking wistfully for Orihime who would appear in next week's spread. Okaaaaaaay. I was disappointed in the white suits but Ishida wears white (not to mention suits) well so I couldn't be all that cast down. I'd really wanted bare midriff and torn jeans for everyone but.... a fan can't have everything.
(I hope I hope I hope the white leisure suit theme continues--I want to see Ulquiorra!)
The last pop poll spread was more colorful, costume-wise, but don't the expressions here beat all? I'd have to say that Hitsugaya looks downright CASTIGATORY with his glare at the audience. Rukia is adjusting her scarf with a smug smile (hey, she tops Ichigo! RUKIA TOPS ICHIGO! Yey for GIRL POWER!). Ichigo looks downright forlorn. Grimmjow doesn't seem to care that he's wearing a white leisure suit or maybe he wants to kill you, Kubo, and everyone involved..... and Ishida looks embarrassed over all those votes I sent in for him.
Rukia really is the big winner here. As my friend Jaimie observed, the top boys dropped in vote numbers since the last poll but Rukia's votes soared. I'm quite happy about this because she's a unique shounen character and because her last fight and flashbacks had me bawling with love and admiration for her. You go you little determined darling.
For the record, here are Jaimie's numbers:
Hitsugaya went from #2 --> #1 and lost 43 votes
Rukia went from #3 --> #2 and gained 1,773 votes
Ichigo went from #1 --> #3 and lost 541 votes
Ishida went from #15 --> #5 and gained 2,968 votes
Hinamori went from #12 --> #6 and gained 1,367 votes
Byakuya went from #6 --> #7 and gained 258 votes
Orihime went from #10 --> #8 and gained 1,074 votes
Kira went from #11 --> #9 and gained 979 votes
Orihime did well too! I'd been afraid that she was THAT hated in Japan that she'd drop in the polls, but I believe it's not Orihime that Japan hates as much as it hates the IchiOri pairing (yes folks, that pairings poll taken in Japan last year was reliable and IchiOri placed 50th in it).
So Orihime went from 10th to 8th after being heavily featured in this arc, but Hinamori--HINAMORI, whose scarcely been seen since being in a coma and whose ONLY manga appearance has been in an omake baking Aizen cookies--HINAMORI got higher than Orihime. This does not feel good. My feminist sensibilities are offended. No, I'm not ashamed to say that I am NOT a Hinamori fan but I guess the Hitsugaya factor helped pull her up. She's cute, she's tragic... but geez.
Ulquiorra, not surprisingly, went from 20th to 10th and gained over 3000 votes. Ishida jumped from fifteenth to fifth and gained over 2000, close to 3000 votes. My only fear is that now Kubo (who has remarked that he likes to give time to the less-liked characters) is going to make my boy disappear for a whole volume again...but then I come to my senses and realize that my Ishida still figures in the plot as one of the indispensable young main leads. Chad too--don't despair Chad lovers! We knew he wouldn't be in the top ten, but there's a whole lotta Hueco Mundo is COMING HOME explaining that Kubo has to do vis a vis Chad's powers.
Two years ago Kira's taking number 11 was a surprise. His jumping two more positions shouldn't have shocked us, but damn. This morning I had to enlighten someone about the power of yaoi fangirls. Kira is the most popular uke in Bleach.....
but explain the absence of Gin in the top 10 then!
Renji... replaced by Grimmjow, the new Renji anti-hero with bare-chest time (as my friend Puaena observed). I was teased by a "Renji is a loser" fan today that Renji's lost the girl, lost the battles, and now he's lost the fans. But I'm not concerned---let Renji's hair fall and let his chest bleed but for a mere chapter and his popularity will be restored! (What I'm more worried about is substantial character development--he's been kinda a tag-along in this arc, and I want more from him than just bonding with Ishida and straight man jokes with Dondo).
So, while I don't want to take the pop polls very seriously, the polls---like the reputation spamming game at forums--make my blood pressure go up a little. The polls afflict me with both glee and contempt. Here in America we like rankings. We give them more value than we should. Japan has that "let's work as a team" social attitude but here we're all about individuality and competition so....
*armpump* YEY RUKIA AND ISHIDA.
And meanwhile my inner hiding-in-the-bandroom nerd, that skinny little girl with the glasses on the end of her nose, scoffs at popularity contests. Hooey hooey. Nyah nyah. I don't care if Shinji's not there because the Visored will RETURN, oh this I believe!
To celebrate Rukia's good showing in the polls, here's a lovely fanart done for her birthday last week. It's the loveliest Rukia birthday art I've seen. Thank you to syneiam for finding it.
BY INDIGO BLUE