Because I only visit one or two fan forums for Bleach on a regular basis (BF and Manga Helpers), it was only on the periphery of my awareness what HUGE Rukia versus Orihime ship debates were everywhere. Other than this fascinatingly insane person, I hadn't seen any ranting or name-calling. Then that person was banned from this or that forum, and I don't care to know where he/she has taken refuge.
Being the nice little girl that I am, it was beyond me how anyone could dislike let alone hate the characters of Rukia or Orihime. I would read "Rukia is a domineering bitch" and crack up--that's true, isn't it? "Orihime floats because her boobs are made of helium." Oh very funny. I just skimmed over the dumbest remarks--"No she doesn't" "Yes, she does" "Ichigo likes Rukia better." "No, he likes Orihime better." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..
A few people, though, on BF expressed themselves with fluid sentences, clear thinking, and passionate insight--I LOVED reading those posts, no matter what ship they supported . People crazy for cartoons validate my own craziness, I suppose. I knew that sometimes people got too excited over nothing. I had lived through yaoi vs het wars, a few fanfic writer rivalries (MEOW!), and a lot of guy bull about power levels. The little I'd read about the Ginny and Hermoine deals scared me... I should've KNOWN that if obsessive weirdness could morph to pathological levels in one fandom, they could in another.
Is the Orihime-hating that bad in the Bleach fandom? That's the one I hear the most about. I remember that early in the series, I would defend her character sometimes--no, she's not a cliche, no she's not dumb. I believed then (and still do) that Bleach was going to be a unique shounen in that it would focus as much on girls growing up (i.e., becoming aware of their strengths, faults, sexuality) as boys. I suspected that Rukia and Orihime would attain as much new self-awareness by the end of Bleach as the boy hero usually does.The girls in Bleach were that great right from the beginning.
Apparently there's quite a split between people who want to shake Hime by the shoulders for being stupid in this current arc and others who celebrate her as the one with the most potential power (the daughter of God?) For some reason, I got automatically thrown in the former group by people who read my shipper essay, and now I want to rewrite the damn thing AGAIN. It could be because I'm just a damn perfectionist; it could be because I'm a hopeless and tragic people-pleaser; but I think I will rewrite the essay because Orihime is a very special character for me.
I love her.
Minus the boobs, I'm her. Ditzy, too trusting, very often clueless but occasionally pointing out what no one else has noticed. Add some Ishida (intellectual, guarded) and you've got me. I'm IshiHime. It bothers me to no end that people think I don't understand Orihime.
I'm the girl who wrote Little Miss Perfect , Not Crying and at least another five Orihime-centric stories.
For my own obscure psychological reasons?
Honestly, how often are your ideas about characters been changed by posts? Peoples' essays? I find that sometimes my perceptions of characters are influenced by fanfiction but not that much. The original text is where most people mine for their subjective values and pan for gold. Still, the platitude that anyone can read WHATEVER they want into a character carries little weight with me. I'm not so post-modernist that I live in the future. I believe in authorial intent, form and structure, the honest analysis of I think this is what is going to happen next because...
I also believe that the big metal hook that goes through every obsessive fan's heart is identification with characters, themes, even specific plots of a story. Hell, something I didn't remember when I go into writing Bleach fic was this: Me, Deb, as a young girl-- I'd had the crush on this hero boy for years and only later turned and noticed the good, decent, smart boy (now husband) who had been loving me all along. I figured this connection out eventually but still kept turning out IshiHimes like a toy factory in Taiwan.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this post. I started with the intent of exploring Orihime's character, the archetype of the romantic beauty, the sleeping princess, why Inoue Orihime is either so damn adorable or so endlessly frustrating.
Now I'm wondering about the nature of the character-lover (or pair shipper) and what is the line between wooo, this gives me so much fun and entertainment and In defense of my cartoon, I will degrade another living person behind the words in cyberspace.
Do you sometimes feel you're too invested? Does the over-investment of others make you want to flee fandom?
Orihime will now hug everyone and make everything all better.....