Warning: shipping, sarcasm, bad poetry and stolen poetry.
I don't follow the Bleach anime regularly anymore, but I tune in for good fights (Ichigo versus Grimm the Hedgehog last week) and for the little shipping controversies that keep me off the streets and away from "abridged editions" of anime on YouTube. This morning I awoke to such a ruckus that I thought for a moment that Isshin's Gotei 13 position had been revealed, but no, it was only that episode 167 had changed a little bit of the manga to slant the story into a more (shoujo-shoujo-shoujo) Ichigo x Orihime bent.
Even some IchiOri shippers were calling the scene OOC because Orihime didn't blush when Ichigo took her hand but plenty were reveling in "anime canon." (I like the term--anime canon CAN totally defy manga canon, for one thing... let us argue now for forty years about whether it belongs in the fandom lexicon).
I, for one, can't staaaaand the pairing, but the story didn't seem too violated to me--not in the way some manga have been desecrated when turned into moving color pictures. Bleach, for all its regrettable filler (ugh, ugh, weepy OOC Ishida almost drowning in a puddle in his pajamas in the Bound arc!), is fairly faithful to the manga, and Kubo has more of a hand in the anime than most manga-ka. He does character designs but he doesn't really know what's been done to a scene until he gets the video footage in the mail. In interviews, at best, he's been polite when describing his surprise over how things turn can turn out in anime (because there are so many people involved, he claims, rather than just the one pushing the pen) and he's told his audiences in the spirit of a true artist: "What's fun in the anime and what's fun in the manga are two different things...What I recommend most is to read the manga first then watch the anime." (Shounen Jump, June 2007)
Although I'm partial to Kubo's drawn panels where Ichigo hoists Orihime on his back, accidentally insults her by insinuating that she's fat, Hime blushes up a storm and Nel socks Ichigo in the family jewels, some IchiOri viiiibe is supposed to be a part of the narrative here. It's here in the manga when Kubo deliberately teases the audience with this pairing possibility (Rukia is supposed to be dead in a puddle of blood atm) and it was last summer I wrote all my authorial intent essays to answer some of my friends' speculations--you know, the kind gentle offhand observations like wtf is KUBO DOING with this arc? Where is he going? Did he forget the past five years?
Not a couple weeks ago, IchiRuki shippers were jumping because at a convention in Tokyo, Pierrot had this little item (actually a large shikiji) up for sale in honor of its 30th anniversary:
Take all the openings and endings where Ichi and Ruki sleep side by side and cavort here and there in main-couple status, take the jealous of Rukia filler characters (Rin and Nel) and Nel's little added line "What's your relationship with Itsycho?" to Rukia and yeah, one could say Pierrot ships IchiRuki.
This is the studio that NEGLECTED Orihime's manga-canon crush on Ichigo for years, after all, so yeah *draws circle in sand with big toe and looks sheepish* maybe the studio is trying to make up for that big boo-boo?
The rest of the day found me and my IchiRuki buds trying to mollify ourselves with the idea that it always seems that whenever the anime effs up Kubo's story, Kubo comes back with a vengance. I can't remember all the incidences people recalled but being an Ishida-holic, I had a story to contribute. During the Bound arc, when Ishida was being character-assassinated along with being flung every which way by bad guys in this horrible filler, dressed in women's clothing in Kon's imagination and rape-kissed by a vampiric older woman, Non-tan and some other Bleach seiyuu were asked by fans on Japanese radio why it was that whenever Ishida was beaten up or tossed against a wall, his glasses didn't fall off? Non-tan giggled and said he didn't know. Kubo RIGHT AWAY drew the chapter in which Ryuuken shoots Ishida and behold, we have a whole panel devoted to Ishida's glasses flying off.
An IchiOri handshake! Kubo will draw IchiRuki coitus!
Disclaimer: Bleach was created by Kubo Tite, and he, Studio Pierrot, Viz Comics, and Shueisha Inc. make the bucks off it, but the story and characters belong to all who love it and even those who could give a rat's ass about it. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF POSTMODERN ART!
How to enjoy a work of art if you're not the manga-ka:
Appropriate that text! Shake, rattle and roll the source material! In other words, write fanfictions. Draw post-modern cartoons. Produce movies that deviate from the manga timeline or produce an entire anime the plot of which deviates completely from the manga.
My friend in Italy, Mezz, found a comic in Japan, about Ishida and Orihime watching the anime version of Bleach. (Btw,
mezzo_marinaio did the translations and wants everyone to know she apologizes for her poor Japanese).
TV: "They're a couple, but one of them holds a secret they can't tell the other..."
Orihime: Ishida-kun doesn't have any secret he can't tell me, right?
Ishida: Aaah... of course...............
Ishida: I... if we go by the anime version... (I think, the kanji are very small)
Bounto girl: Thank you, Quincy-san...
Ishida: I-I... always thought I'd have my first kiss with Inoue-san, but in reality... that bounto miss...
Orihime: Eeeeh... it's just something like that?
Orihime: If we're talking about Ishida-kun's first kiss...
Orihime: ....mmmmmh, like I thought... the covers aren't enough for the cold...
Orihime: Aaaahhh... it's warm! I used to do this with my brother when I was little...
Ishida: *murmurs something*
Orihime: Aaaaw... so cute!
Orihime: So... like that...
Ishida: Eeeeeeh! B-but... wait! Inoue-san... at that time, you liked Kurosaki, didn't you...?
Orihime: Mmmh, that's right. I suppose the fact that now I'm here with Ishida-kun is something like FATE, right?
Orihime: From now on, every one of Ishida-kun's kisses will be mine, ok!
It was only yesterday, before ep 167 aired that a friend and I were going HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADDESK over what we heard were IchiOri shippers attempts to rewrite Kubo's databook poems to "favor" their ship (don't ask--for some reason, because Orihime glows in chapter 166 and because of other metaphorical resonances in the manga, some shippers have designated Orihime to be the "White Sun" in the fashion that Kubo called Ichigo "Black Sun" and Rukia "White Moon" in the databook poems).
For the record, the Kubo poem is The rain drags Black Sun down but the rain dried by White Moon. And inside the Souls book, next to a picture of Ichigo is the poem "the sun that locks heaven" and in the Vibes book, next to a picture of Rukia is the poem "the moon that erases the night."
The plan, as I understand it, was for the poem to be rewritten for somehow Orihime, the White Sun, to dry up Ichigo's... er... rain? And for this to be included in a signature or motif of some sort in a public arena for the purposes of ship-flag waving, etc, etc.... all in good fun, right?
At first, my friends and I were appalled in all sorts of puritanical manga-snob ways about any attempts (and sadly, these weren't even humorous attempts, I believe) to appropriate the poems to fit Ichigo and Orihime. Then, we thought--WHY NOT?
I wrote: Black cat drags white mouse down but purple slurpee dried by red light district.
Then adam_epp just showed me all up and wrote parodies of Kubo's volume poems. See if you can guess which ones. (sorry Adam, you put them out there--ART BELONGS TO THE MASSES! I'VE TAKEN THEM AND REPRINTED THEM! I saw no copyright, mister!)
"If I were the pr0n
That joins same-sex girls that otherwise never touch
Could I join to make it a threeway?"
"That's right. No one else can haXors my world."
"I can't eat you without holding a fork
I can't spam you while holding a spoon."
"Those who do not know what teh NSFW is
liken it to beauty.
Those who claim to know what teh NSFW is
liken it to ugliness."
"Doesn't matter who it is
I'll fucking pwn anybody."
"If it rusts, it can never be trusted
If its owner fails to control it, it will cut him
Yes, wit is
Like a spoon."
And yes, others got into the act and we were in one another's shoutboxes all this morning because there were no spoilers and we are goofy children, heaven help us.