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15 September 2009 @ 09:31 pm
IchiHime, MonoMyth and Freud by PerennialLurker  

I encourage fan essays, don't I?

This one appears to be an answer to the "close reading" of a specific part of Bleach that argues against the Ichigo/Orihime ship ( Karenai's essay here) by proposing an "in toto" reading of Bleach and the Ichigo/Orihime relationship. It's got Freud and Joseph Campbell in there!
I thank the author for sending it to me and asking me to post it here. She wants feedback and specifically requested that IchiHime shippers not respond to the essay here (presumably they can respond to it elsewhere--although I have no problems with their responding here as well; my only guess is that Perennial Lurker was hoping to avoid side-battles about the inevitable extraneous shippy stuffs and wanted to keep comments to specifically addressing the points in the essay)


I'm trusting this community to respond to this essay with the kindness and respect it deserves. I know a lot of you will disagree with it--disagree with it without bashing, excessive sarcasm or shipping ugliness. Prove to the fan community that shippers can debate without the fur flying and the neighbors having to call the SPCA.



IchiHime, Monomyth and Freud by PerennialLurker

I suppose I should begin with my justification for this essay. An interpretation of a scene in a book, film, or manga is only valid if it is part of a coherent view of the manga as a whole. No story is a series of unconnected events. Stories have flow. They use characters to move inexorably from event to event, changing the characters as they do so. This is what makes good interpretations so powerful. When Gilbert and Gubar examined female characters in The Madwoman in the Attic, the reason that their interpretation was so influential was because each study looked at the character throughout the novel (or poem). They did not pick and choose their scenes – they argued based on the text as a whole. Now, obviously we cannot do this for Bleach – we don't have access to the whole manga yet. This essay is merely an attempt to look at the narrative of Bleach so far, to see where the flow has led us. I might make some educated guesses at the end, but they will be nothing more than that. Guesses. What I am attempting to do, really, is to present a series of criteria that must be argued against as a whole in order to argue against Ichihime. As Samuel Johnson said of Bishop Berkeley, ''thus do I refute it''. Well, thus do I refute anti-Ichihime arguments.

Bleach and the three arc structure.

The three arc structure is most obviously seen in theatre, but can be applied to any fictional medium with the caveat that it is likely to be less precise in more extended forms like TV shows or manga. The three act structure consists of Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. In the setup, the hero and the other main characters are introduced, the dramatic premise is established and the Call to Adventure takes place. The Confrontation is the longest part of the story – the hero tries to resolve the conflict that was created in the Setup, meets with successes and failures, and the antagonist begins to invervene directly. The Confrontation usually ends with the hero at their lowest point. The Resolution includes the climax, where the Hero recovers from his (look, we're talking about Ichigo, I'm going to use his, screw PC essay writing) despair, challenges the antagonist and wins. The denouement follows, everything settles down, we see how the characters have grown and matured over the course of the story.
Now the problem with Bleach and the three act structure is that as a shonen manga, it is written in a series of Arcs, and each of these contains within it a minor version of both the three arc structure and the Monomyth. In the Soul Society Arc, we can see the Three act Structure played out as Rukia's capture – Setup, Arc itself – Confrontation, and the fight with Byakuya as the Resolution. However, the whole of the manga up to the return to the world of the living can also be seen as the First Act of Bleach as a whole. It introduces all the main characters (and there are so many of them), it introduces the antagonist and the central conflict of the manga – Aizen's rise to power. The Call to Adventure also takes place here (the pre-SS Arc is in its entirety the Call to Adventure, if you're confused, but more about this in Monomyth).
The Confrontation Act includes the Arrancar Arc, the Hueco Mundo arc and the Fake Karakura Arc (not yet completed). It deals with the problems that have arisen from the 'first turning point' (Hmm... The problem is that the first turning point actually encompasses a whole series of actions linked together at Aizen's reveal, including Rukia's capture and the emergence of Ichigo's hollow, but for simplicity's sake I'm going to say that it's Aizen's reveal because that's when it becomes clear that these actions are one narrative rather than many). The second act includes successes (Ichigo's victory over his hollow and his victory over Grimmjow) but also setbacks (Orihime's kidnapping, Aizen's revelation that she was kidnapped as a diversion, Aizen's creation of the Royal Key (Ok, that hasn't happened yet, but I'm getting to that)). Most importantly, it ends with the heros at their lowest point (Ishida has lost an arm, Ichigo has defeated Ulquiorra, but at great personal cost, Orihime is struggling with her guilt and fear and Aizen is about to create the King's Key (This is a necessity. Bleach cannot continue without it. If Aizen doesn't win here he will die, and that doesn't really make narrative sense. So.)). An appropriate comparison to Bleach can be found in many films, but most obviously in Star Wars.
Now, we haven't seen Act Three yet, but I would guess that it will, like the others, take up at least two arcs and that Ichigo will defeat Aizen at the end (also, if the Royal Key is made, Orihime will reject it and restore Karakura)

Bleach and Psychoanalysis.

Bleach and Psychoanalysis are not perhaps the likeliest of bedfellows at first glance, but a simple examination of both will reveal a stronger link than might be expected. The first piece of evidence we receive is Rukia's description of hollows in Chapter 28– ''The hole in a hollow's chest is the sign of its lost conscience. A hollow is a mass of raging instinct. And the white skull mask shields its naked is from the outer world'' (Link: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/28/10/ and http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/28/11/). Admittedly, this is from the early volumes of the Viz translation, which was unreliable in the early volumes. However, strong corroborating evidence is found in Volume 25, where Ichigo's inner hollow discusses their relationship. To follow the psychoanalytic reading of Bleach, this is a conversation between the Id and the ego. In Freud's work, he describes the relationship between the Id and the ego as one where ''The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the Id, which contains the passions ... in its relation to the Id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength, while the ego uses borrowed forces''. Wikipedia further summarises this by adding ''The horse provides the energy and means of obtaining the energy and information needed, while the rider ultimately controls the direction it wants to go. However, due to unfavorable conditions, sometimes the horse makes its own decisions over the rocky terrain''. Then Ichigo's hollow, in Chapter 220, gives the following speech – ''Ichigo, what's the difference between a king and the horse he rides? Don't worry, it's not a riddle or some stupid guessing game. It's an important truth. Is it shape, ability, strength? When two beings are exactly the same How do they decide which of them will be the king and lead them into battle and which will lend its strength to the other, like a horse? What allows one to dominate the other?'' (Link: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/220/11/).
These speeches provide the most convincing piece for this reading of Bleach. Not only are they linguistically similar, but they contain similar dynamics, particularly that which points out that the Id may in certain cases dominate the ego. On the whole, I don't believe that this similarity could be coincidence, because on its own, the metaphor of a king and his horse is not a particularly good one. Ichigo's hollow specifies that the two beings under discussion are exactly the same, whereas a king and a horse are not hugely similar. Kubo is allowing the Id to express its relationship to the ego through Freud's own words, so this can only be to reinforce for the reader his use of Freudian symbolism.
There is also circumstantial evidence to support the theory. Rukia says that hollows are missing their conscience, which Freud assigns to the superego (the superego frequently uses guilt as its tool). This fits with their description of hollows as the Id – it also relates to the power of the soul reapers themselves. In terms of power, and were we to draw terms from D&D, alignment, shinigami see themselves as the opposites of hollows; they are lawful good, hollows are chaotic evil; they are the superego to the hollow's Id. This fits with their rigid and law-bound society, and the fact that the seat of their power is the chain of fate, the place where a hollow's hole forms – the missing superego.

Bleach through the Monomyth

Keeping this in mind, let us examine Bleach more closely using the Monomyth, a tool for textual interpretation developed from Jungian pychoanalysis. Monomyth is the basic pattern of the Hero's journey as described by Joseph Cambell. It starts with the Call to Adventure and the Refusal of the Call. The Call ''signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land (...) The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, (...) or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder''. Let's break this down. The Call itself is Rukia's transferral of her power to Ichigo and her request that he undertake the work of a shinigami while he is weakened. What's interesting about this is that it takes place over several chapters – I'll be referring to this again, because the serialised form of Bleach means that symbolic events are often extended, with humorous or dramatic interludes (or simply fights) intermingled. Leaving that aside, how well do these events match up to Cambell's description. ''Destiny has summoned the hero'' – this is interesting. In The Sand and The Rotator, Ichigo calls for ''a blade to shatter fate'', while Rukia says that shinigami believe that fate is ''guided by an infallible power'', implied to be the shinigami themselves. In asking Ichigo to undertake the work of a shinigami, she asks him to become an agent of fate. This matches nicely with the description Cambell gives. The key difference is that Ichigo uses his power over fate to fight against fate, which is a recurring theme in Bleach. Note that although Bleach deals with Ichigo's mythical journey, we can also read the mythical journeys of other characters within the story. In the first six Volumes of the manga Chad, Orihime and Ishida also receive the Call to Adventure.
The Refusal ''may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy''. In Ichigo's case, his refusal is due to the last - inadequacy. When we meet Ichigo he has been powerless for so long that he has lost belief in his ability to protect others. This is evinced by Chapter 17, wherein he thinks ''That's the reason I decided I would protect them till I die. That's the real reason.'' (Link: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/17/03/), though we are carefully deceived beforehand into thinking that he refuses the Call because of apathy - ''I won't protect strangers'' (Link: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/2/13/). As Ichigo faces fight after fight, he gradually sheds his selfish reasons for fighting (his first two fights are to protect friends, in his third he takes into consideration a crowd nearby, in his fourth he fights for revenge and in his fifth he fights to protect his town). As he says in Chapter 47, ''I'm not superman. I can't protect everybody in the world. But I don't just want to protect the few who I can hold in my arms, either. I want to protect as many people as I can'' (Link: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/47/11/).
The Call and the Refusal end when Rukia is arrested by Reji and Byakuya, and Ichigo resolves to save her. At this point he is no longer fighting for selfish reasons but for the sake of duty, friendship and loyalty. He casts aside his doubts and assumes the true mantle of a hero. At this point, Urahara emerges to provide the next stage, Supernatural Aid.
I want to pause here. Urahara's training, and his advice, which Ichigo remembers at various critical junctures during the Soul Society Arc, clearly constitute supernatural aid. However, there is some question as to where the Belly of the Whale is situated. In terms of SS, it's when Ichigo is chased through the dangai (which is in and of itself a wonderfully appropriate visual rendition of the darkness and danger that accompany this stage). However, in terms of Bleach as a whole, the Belly of the Whale overlaps with Spiritual Aid – it's the moment when Ichigo is trapped in the shattered shaft, when he faces his inner hollow for the first time, when he arises from the mist with a shinigami's robe and a hollow's mask (I'll talk more about that later). It is in this moment that he becomes truly of the other world, having symbolically left his earthly form and gained a form of the spiritual realm. Furthermore, it is the point where he moves beyond the known, where the powerful creative forces of the world begin to act on him (more on that later too).
Now, back to Supernatural Aid. If you read Cambell's description, you will notice two important lines ''What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny'' and '' And in so far as the hero's act coincides with that for which his society is ready, he seems to ride on the great rhythm of the historical process''. The first quote is interesting because, as I said before, one of the themes of Bleach is fighting against fate, against overwhelming odds that seem unbeatable. Aizen could be very easily associated with fate too – he wishes to assume the role of God, and God is often seen as the administer of fate, and his zanpakuto's ability is to reorder the world of his victim as he wishes it, which is the control of an individual's fate, or at least the illusion of such control. The second quote is interesting because again it seems to echo Ichigo's effect in both SS and HM. Both realms are paralysed in one way or another – Soul Society by turgid laws and a cruel council, and Hueco Mundo by enforcing a life upon its inhabitants that, as Hobbes might have put it, is ''nasty, brutish, ugly and short''. In both cases, Ichigo's interaction with the realm is a catalyst for change.
I mentioned before that while SS and HM are part of a complete Monomyth – each is a trial on the Road of Trials – they are also complete Monomyths in and of themselves. I will discuss each separately, therefore, looking at the ways in which they are similar and the ways in which they contrast one another and why these contrasts are so important to the resolution of the shipping argument.
Let us begin with SS, with Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Ishida and Yoruichi leaving the Belly of the Whale and entering upon the Road of Trials. The Road of Trials comes in threes – as Wikipedia (which, academic unacceptability aside is a wonderful resource for the Monomyth) says, ''Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes''. SS consists of two sets of three tasks – the first I will call the tasks of entry, the second the tasks of conviction. The tasks of entry are literally that – tasks through which Ichigo gains entry to the Serieiti. The first task is his fight against Jidanbo, which he technically wins but realistically fails because of Gin, the second is the flight in the cannonball, which is the most literal task of entry. Ichigo passes this, but at cost – his party is separated and will not be reunited for the rest of the arc. The third task is his fight against Ikkaku, which I have defined as a task of entry because on the one hand Ikkaku represents a guardian figure, the gatekeeper who must be defeated before access can be gained to sought-atfter land (a wonderful example of this can be found in a wizard of Earthsea; Ikkaku is a less literal example of the same motif). It is only after Ichigo defeats Ikkaku that he learns where Rukia is being kept and meets Hanatarou, who is the symbolic figure of the Guide.
The tasks of conviction I have so named because in each battle Ichigo brings his opponent around to his perspective. His battle with Renji ends with Renji pleading with Ichigo to save Rukia, after his battle with Zaraki the captain rescues Orihime, Chad and Ishida, declaring that he needs to repay Ichigo, and Byakuya agrees not to pursue Rukia any more after his battle with Ichigo on the hill of the Sokyoku.
Incidentally, lest it be thought that I am making this up, TV Tropes points out that Ichigo faces Byakua, Grimmjow and Ulquiorra three times each, defeating them only in the last of the three battles.
Now we come to the controversial bit. The next step of the Monomyth is the Meeting with the Goddess. In SS, this is Ichigo's meeting with Orihime after the fight with Byakuya. This ''ultimate adventure, when all the barriers and ogres have been overcome, is commonly represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World (...) The meeting with the goddess (who is incarnate in every woman) is the final test of the talent of the hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity''. To this description, Wikipedia adds ''This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother''.
Now, this description cannot be anyone other than Orihime, for reasons I will elucidate. Firstly, for Ichigo to meet the Goddess in Rukia, the meeting would have to occur when he rescues her from the Sokyoku (it cannot be when he lets her stay in SS, because that is Atonement with the Father), and this meeting occurs before the final trial. However, I myself have argued that events can overlap, so on its own, this is not a valid refutation. However, I have pointed out in my examination of Bleach and Psychoanalysis that shinigami are aligned with the father while Orihime is aligned with the mother, and the goddess is the most feminine of all archetypes. Furthermore, Ichigo's meeting with Rukia at that point does not seem to describe a moment where he ''experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother''. If one glances even briefly at this scene, one will observe that Ichigo looks strong and confident, and that he is giving Rukia strength rather than receiving it. In his meeting with Orihime, on the other hand, his eyes soften and he is absolved, momentarily, of responsibility. This is akin to the love that a child may experience with its mother.
Another strong argument for Orihime being the Goddess is her power. Orihime's healing shield is very much akin to the womb, a protective enclosure which prepares the body to face the external world, and its warm glow seems to conjure up images of nurturing love. Combined with the many other arguments for Orhime's link with the mother and the feminine principal, and the point that it is at this moment that Orihime expresses for the first time to Ichigo something of her feeligns towards him (indicating that he has won her love), it seems unlikely that the Meeting with the Goddess could be any other moment in SS.
The next step, Woman as Temptress, I will not dwell on, suffice to say that it is Aizen's brutal and efficient defeat of Ichigo. Anyone who wants me to clarify this is welcome to contact me.
The next three steps are Atonement with the Father, Apotheosis and the Ultimate Boon. Atonement with the father is Rukia's announcement that she will stay in SS and Ichigo's acceptance of this decision. Not only does it show that he has matured to the point where although he values Rukia, he must no longer quest after her, but it is his resolution of the battle with his superego. He has moved beyond his inhibiting weaknesses (literally, he is much more powerful) and he has . Apotheosis is his goodbye with Rukia. Although Ichigo has let go of her as his quest object, he still values her highly and their goodbye is an emotionally charged scene. However, as they say goodbye, Ichigo receives the ultimate boon – the rain in his heart stops and he is freed from guilt. In his description of Atonement with the Father Campell says ''It is in this ordeal that the hero may derive hope and assurance from the helpful female figure, by whose magic (pollen charms or power of intercession) he is protected through all the frightening experiences of the father's ego-shattering initiation.'' Note that Orihime is present at the meeting between Ichigo and Rukia – she plays the goddess while Rukia draws on her regained role as a shinigami (and this is the scene where she announces her intention to resume her shinigaimi duties) to act as the patriarchal archetype. Furthermore, Rukia does indeed shatter Ichigo's ego in this meeting by informing him that although he saved her, he is not the center of her world – she will remain in Soul Society and continue her duties (again, duty is strongly associated with the superego). Campell also states that in this moment the two (father and hero) are atoned, which is true of Ichigo and Rukia. Ichigo has overcome the pain in his heart, while Rukia has let go of her guilt. (If I were to write an essay on Rukia's Monomyth, I would point out that Renji is her goddess – he is the one who allows her to forgive herself.)
The Ruturn brings the SS arc to a close. Ichigo leaves SS, free of debt and guilt, returning to the mundane world that he left but, transformed by his experience, able to see it in a new light. (Terry Pratchett expresses this concept fabulously in A Hat Full of Sky, which is highly recommended.) He passes through The Magic Flight quite literally, ''the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron'' as Urahara flies them home. His shinigami badge and his mortality grant him the status of the Master of Two Worlds, but he does not yet have freedom to live. Aizen is still on the loose, and with this the cycle begins again.

I covered the stages of the Monomyth in detail for SS so that the reader would clearly understand my arguments for reading Bleach through this form of textual analysis. With HM, it is no longer necessary to do this, so I will focus instead on the differences between them. However, as a quick rundown, The Call to Adventure is Ulquiorra's arrival, The Refusal of the Call Ichigo's self doubt, Supernatural Aid the support team from SS, the Belly of the Whale the entry to HM, and the Road of Trials has just finished (it was a long road). Still to come is the Meeting with the Goddess, certain to be Orihime again, Atonement with the Father (I'm guessing Ichigo mastering his new form, though I can't be sure), and his achievement of the Ultimate Boon.
Now for the differences. HM is the arc of the Id, and one major difference between it and SS is that in SS we hear Ichigo's thoughts while in HM we do not. In another post I argued that this was for dramatic effect, because Ichigo was thinking something that the reader was not meant to know, but a supplementary reason might be that Ichigo, in entering the realm of the Id and confronting his dark self, begins to move beyond words to a more primal reality.
HM is a difficult arc. It's been critiqued by many as a copy of SS, and by others as too long. In general, it seems that readers are discomfited by it. And yet it does echo SS. Ichigo enters HM in a team of three, there are three privaron espada, Ichigo defeats three enemies in total (Dordonni, Grimmjow and Ulquiorra). So why is it so divisive? SS and HM are separate arcs, each of which incorporates a full cycle of the Monomyth. However they are also two trials on the road of trials within the superstructure of the Bleach Monomyth. Having presented all my information, it's time to link one to the other – psychoanalysis and Monomyth. At the end of the last section I asked why Kubo had repeated the arc within an arc structure twice, with a premise that seemed similar but engendered very different reactions within the reader. The answer I believe lies in a psychoanalytic reading of Bleach – each of these arcs represents his confrontation with a different aspect of his psyche – in SS, the superego, in HM, the Id.

Soul Society and the Superego.

Soul Society and the realm of the Superego have a lot in common. Both are rigid and rulebound, to the point of being stifling (note this is the superego on its own – in conjunction with the Id, as Freud describes it, it becomes a force for greater creativity). SS is where Ichigo trains with Zangetsu, who is the personification of his superego and who, speaking broadly, resembles his father. Both induce guilt – in SS, when Ichigo and Rukia talk about one another, guilt is frequently mentioned. Both are connected with the father – Ichigo's father is, after all, a shinigami. Furthermore, Rukia herself is linked to the father principle in Ichigo. She constantly speaks to him of duty, she reminds him of his role in life, she strengthens his resolve – all duties of the superego. Her boon, too, is a gift from the superego – the relief of shame and guilt. Finally, Byakuya is a character dominated totally by the superego, so driven by the rules that he seems unable to comprehend mercy. He is the extreme of the superego.

Hueco Mundo and the Id

If SS is the arc wherein Ichigo confronts his superego, HM is the arc wherein he confronts his Id. My reasoning behind this lies in three principal points. Firstly, Hueco Mundo is the realm of hollows, the embodiment of the naked Id. Secondly, the only time we see Ichigo's mother (as a speaking being) in the present is when Grand Fisher creates her image with his lure. Killed by a hollow and re-embodied by a hollow, Ichigo's mother is thematically associated with hollows, which is important because the love of the mother is primary in Freud's notion of the Id. Therefore, there is a connection between Hueco Mundo, the feminine principle and the Id. Finally, Hueco Mundo is a dark, lawless realm, characterised by savagery and brutality. Like the Id, its denizens are ruled by the pleasure principal. The endless night and the ever present moon, traditionally a feminine symbol, reinforce this image. They also echo the yin aspect of the yin-yang, which would itself be associated with the Id. It is also in HM that Ichigo fights with his hollow powers – that is, he draws on the Id for power, culminating in his assumption of the true form of his Id, the minotaur. In the last section I noted that Byakuya is the extreme of the superego – at the same time, Ulquiorra is the extreme of the Id, specifically the death instinct, ''our unconscious wish to die, as death puts an end to the everyday struggles for happiness and survival. Freud noticed the death instinct in our desire for peace and attempts to escape reality''.
I wish to pause here and reinforce one point. The Id is not necessarily negative. It is dark, it is frightening, it contains much that we don't wish to admit about ourselves, but it is, as Lacan expressed it ''Man is spoken by [the Id]''. It is the primal well from which we create ourselves. For Jung, the Id and the Shadow are similar, and the latter is described as ''everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied. These are dark rejected aspects of our being as well as light, so there is positive undeveloped potential in the Shadow that we don’t know about''. All of this needs to be kept in mind when thinking about HM, because Ichigo is confronting his Id, and I want to stave off any assumption that this means that the focus of HM, Inoue, is somehow a negative influence on him. I think it's fascinating that HM provoked such strong and varied reactions in people, because that is in and of itself an excellent argument for HM as the representation of the Id. Unlike the Superego, which is what we tend to think of as the more desirable aspect of our personalities (it is moral, it strives for perfection), the Id contains much that we don't appreciate. As Ichigo confronts his Id, we are forced to confront aspects of him that are not nearly so attractive. I'm inclined to think that HM reads most fluently if you read it as Ichigo confronting and overcoming parts of himself that he has repressed.
HM ends with the the battle of the seven deadly sins (entirely appropriate, because each sin represents a primal aspect of the pleasure principal unchecked by the superego). During this battle, Ichigo assumes the form of the minotaur, a man with the head of a bull. The most famous minotaur of all is the one at the heart of the labyrinth on Crete. The labyrinth is a commonly accepted symbol for the unconscious, and the minotaur that waits at its heart is the Shadow archetype. This certainly sheds interesting light on Ichigo's speech – ''Help you, I'll help you''. On the one hand, this represents what Kubo identified as one of Ichigo's flaws – he protects others even at tremendous cost to himself, and this is certainly a confrontation with that aspect of his personality. However, I am forced to read that passage, as many other Ichihime fans have, as an indication that he does have unacknowledged feelings for Inoue. Now, when Ichigo returns to his normal self, he cries out ''I didn't want to win this way''. In a wonderful essay on the Shadow, Rebecca Eigen points out that ''whenever you catch yourself saying “I’m not like that,” if it gave you an emotional charge when they said it, — you probably are like that, you just don’t know it''. The indiscriminate violence that Ichigo displays as the minotaur is part of himself that he has repressed, and it is called out by Inoue, who, as the link to his subconscious, is able to summon it forth so that he can confront it (Just to be clear, I'm talking about this on a thematic level. I do not think that Inoue intended to call him forth – her Id is also at work in HM), and overcome it(I would guess by the end of HM). This is used as an argument against Ichihime, but that is a fallacy. What Ichigo went through was necessary. Had he remained an unblemished hero, he would not have gained the strength to defeat Aizen. Not only is his minotaur form physically stronger, but Aizen's power lies in the manipulation of the weaknesses of those around him. You can be sure that if Ichigo had an unacknowledged weakness, Aizen would have ruthlessly exploited it.
Jung himself said that ''Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.'' This is why we see Ichigo's inner hollow emerge during the fight with Byakuya – when he tries to fight solely with his superego, his inner hollow becomes a snag. Many detractors argue that Orihime made Ichigo into what he hated most, and it is true that his transformation was in part due to her (and in part due to Ichigo's own issues – I think it would be closer to the truth to say that Orihime was unconsciously a trigger for Ichigo's transformation), but in truth she was the trigger for him to become the opposite of what he was at the end of SS. To put it bluntly, she was the key to his self transformation which was in and of itself, a positive thing. I know this will be objected to. The moment cited will be when Ishida says ''If you do this you won't be human any more''. Ishida, however, is another figure who draws on the superego. Quincys destroy hollows; like the soul reapers, they oppose the Id. Furthermore, Ishida is associated with the father – he was trained by his grandfather, his individual quest is to learn what his father wishes to protect so that he may learn what he wishes to protect, his mother has never been shown or even referred to. My point with this is that it has been argued, using Ishida's comments as evidence, that Ichigo's transformation is a moral one, that his bond with Orihime is immoral. However, I would read it rather as a transformation which is amoral – Ichigo does become a being who relies on the pleasure principle, but through this he will learn what it is that he drives him, and this will make him stronger.
Another key argument often made against Ichihime is that Rukia makes Ichigo stronger while Inoue makes him weaker. This, I think, results from the original misreading of HM that I've been talking about. In truth, both Rukia and Inoue strengthen Ichigo, but in different ways. Rukia draws on the superego – she bosses him, bulllies him, guides him, her influence is asexual, and she focuses on his ideal qualities. Conversely, Inoue strengthens him by allowing him to confront his weaknesses. She acts from underneath – she never orders him, but uses compassion and understanding to support him, her inspiration to him comes in the form of requests and her influence is sexualised.
Inoue is the embodiment of the feminine principal in Ichigo's Id, she is the replacement for the mother (by this I do not mean that she is a mother figure to him but that she is the receptacle for the feelings of the Oedipal complex displaced by the superego), she is the polarisation of his self. In Rebecca Eigen's essay, she states that ''Now a person carrying a light part of our Shadow we will be very drawn to, and may even fall in love with, and this is the ‘Gold’ part of our Shadow''. This person will be acting from one extreme while we act from another - ''Chances are that we are lopsided in our character and we need to learn how to do precisely what they are doing if we want to grow. Not to the extreme that they are doing it, but halfway.'' This holds true for both Ichigo and Orihime in respect to the other – she desires his strength, and though it has not been explicitly stated, I would guess that he desires her compassion. I will be blunt here – it does not hold true for Ichigo and Rukia. They are alike in their methods and in their strengths.

I want to finish this essay by returning to my personal reading of Bleach, and why I ship Ichihime. I believe that all stories have what I call flow. In Changing Planes: Armchair Travel for the Mind, Ursula Le Guin talks about the English language as a progressively restrictive language. With each word added to a sentence, the pool of words from which the next word can be chosen is reduced. A perfect example of this, she says, is ''To be or not to be, that is the -''. Only one word can end that sentence. I believe that stories have a similar flow. They move inexorably to an ending that in retrospect seems inevitable, whether that ending is happy or joyous. To my mind, Ichihime is a part of this inevitable ending, because the flow of the story up until now has been in that direction. That said, I do not believe that my logic could ever convince someone who did not already support the ship, and so I wrote this. Let this be my logic. Let this stand as my argument – a cohesive reading of Bleach that offers a thematic explanation for why Ichihime will happen.
I make no claim to the power of words. This long essay is, as Macbeth might have put it, a tale of sound and fury. It was written for enjoyment only, so please use it to have some fun yourself.

Websites used (I lost some of the links I used, but simple searches of key words like shadow, jung, freud, id, labyrinth, unconscious, etc should find them for you):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego,_and_super-ego
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_(psychology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth
http://www.lavigne.dk/labyrinth/e1a_phil.htm
http://www.shadowdance.com/shadow/theshadow.html

All Bleach quotes except those from HM are drawn from the official Viz translation. Quotes from Hm are drawn from Onemanga.

 
 
 
 
There's no Love Without you: pic#77599619ne_wayz on September 16th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
Wow, this seems a lot longer here than it did in your LJ Debbie -_-

I don't remember who mentioned it, and it may not even have anything to do with this essay but, do all IchiHime's defend their position with "Rukia is too much like a boy and Hime is the girly girl therefore IchiOri RULEZ"? Because that seems to be the thing now. And from what Ive read at the BA FLOL, all they talk about is how good at sex Ichigo and Orihime would be.

So it actually surprised me when I read that she hasn't received many comments from her piers because she seems to articulately defend all their points. And, now re-reading some parts with more detail, it actually doesn't surprise me that she used Freud. Confused? Go check the HichiHime FC at BA. They sure said there all the things they couldn't say at the IchiHime FC...
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on September 16th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)


it may not even have anything to do with this essay but, do all IchiHime's defend their position with "Rukia is too much like a boy and Hime is the girly girl therefore IchiOri RULEZ"?

Actually that's the only part of your comment that does have anything to do with the essay. IchiOri fans talking about sex in their fanclubs doesn't really have anything to do with this essay at all--I don't think a single one of them would've anticipated an essay with reference to Freud coming out of their discussions. I honestly don't believe their sex talk inspired it, LOL.

But Freud himself had lots of very identifiable, concrete ideas about sex. What they have to do with Bleach is where I'm at a loss.

So says PerennialLurker about Ichigo and Inoue according to Freud:

Inoue is the embodiment of the feminine principal in Ichigo's Id, she is the replacement for the mother ... This holds true for both Ichigo and Orihime in respect to the other – she desires his strength, and though it has not been explicitly stated, I would guess that he desires her compassion. I will be blunt here – it does not hold true for Ichigo and Rukia. They are alike in their methods and in their strengths.

So says Kubo Tite about Ichigo and Rukia according to Kubo Tite:

The rain drags Black Sun down, but the rain dried by White Moon.

Yes, of course, ALIKE indeed. That's why Kubo chose to portray Ichigo and Rukia within the immediately recognizable symbology of Yin and Yang ... not the elaborate story archetypes of Freud, Jung, or Joseph Campbell.

In Kubo's story, Rukia and Ichigo are identified within canon by archetypical symbols that are contrasting .

The case could be made that Rukia fits the Goddess archetype of monomyth.

I seriously doubt that Rukia would embody any of Freud's conceptions of womanhood, because in my view, Freud had some very sexist, messed-up ideas of womanhood but that's for later. ^^
(no subject) - karkashan on September 16th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
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oh my god, I'm sorry for my rambling... 1/2 - (Anonymous) on September 17th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: oh my god, I'm sorry for my rambling... 1/2 - jaina on September 17th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: oh my god, I'm sorry for my rambling... 1/2 - shinigami_1nabe on September 18th, 2009 09:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
and 2/2 - (Anonymous) on September 17th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: and 2/2 - shinigami_1nabe on September 18th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
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karkashan: SmugPridekarkashan on September 16th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
Wow, that essay actually surprised me in its complexity. Very well thought out. Now then prepare yourself! (for a comment/response that I'll probably forget to spell check)

I think the only problem I have with it is the description of the 'arcs'/'acts'. While boiling works into 3's is easy to do/see in those that are written all at once/planned all at once/the author knows exactly how long a work of fiction is going to be before finishing (amount of books), this same thing often cannot be used with serialized works.

Works can drag out longer than initially intended (or longer than they want to have them drag out. See: Dragonball) or be cut short before their time due to a myriad of factors (see: Gun Blaze West and Buso Renkin).

Although I doubt Bleach will be cancelled, it's 'arc' structure actually tends to follow something slightly different than what you're saying. Each arc has its own 'mood' (Karakura - coping with identity) (Soul Society - discovering what's important, family vs. duty and the precarious balance in between) (Hueco Mundo - accepting the consequences that come with power). And judging from the tone the manga is currently taking, it wouldn't surprise me if Bleach ended within the next two-three years.

Hope that made sense. (And I commend your bravery, asking this essay to be posted to the deepest den of Ulquihime shippers on the planet. Now that takes some guts)
『ミカオル』 ☆: himemikaoru on September 16th, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
That was interesting indeed. I have so much things to say, but it's late and o have to sleep now.

For now, I just want to mention that as someone who studied one year at Faculty of Psychology (yes, I changed because i did not see myself as a Psychologist, that's another topic) which, let me say it, is known for being one of the most important at teaching Psychonalysis (focusing on Freud and Lacan) method; I would have not use Jung, Lacan and Freud all together to justify something, simply because each one of them had a completely different vision of Psychoanalysis.

So, I will come back to comment on several points, but for now i gotta say, that did not seem the most pertinent thing to do (in my POV of course, but nvm, i'm just a noob in what it comes to PA *shrugs*)
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on September 16th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
Yes, certainly Jung, Lacan, Freud all had different ideas of psychoanalysis but let's just presume that there *is* a core idea of psychoanalysis like there can be said to be a core idea of Christianity or Zoroastrianism or any other complicated belief system without much scientific basis....

why compare it to Bleach?

Essentially, any argument for the interpretation of the story and any prediction for the story is going to be post-conceptual if it is based on such a comparison.

This essay makes the story fit with monomyth (not a hard thing to do--lots of stories fit with monomyth) and Freudian theory. But why does Freudian theory validate any of the interpretations? If there were some reason to believe that Kubo Tite were steeped in Freudian influences, a case could be made for the comparisons. Maybe if manga tropes in Japan resonated with Freudian imagery, maybe if it could be shown that Kubo is undergoing Jungian therapy--I don't know. Otherwise, I don't see how the connections matter. They're interesting but they seem to be imposed on the text rather than coming from epecifics about the characters themselves--or even from an "in toto" viewpoint that takes Kubo Tite's literary culture into consideration.

Edited at 2009-09-16 04:29 am (UTC)
Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 10:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
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yulieana on September 16th, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
Very complex essay, however instead of using vague examples, how about using the manga instead? I still fail to see why IchiHime works. And I failed to see how Orihime plays the role of his mother when, despite all of the bulling and bickering, it is Rukia who encourages him and gives him back his resolve. Hime and Orihime barely have any serious interaction until the Arrancar arc. But still, it is very limited because she gets kidnapped pretty fast.

At the end, Orihime, did make him "face" his weakness, however it wasn't really "facing", it was the weakness temporary taking control over him, because he couldn't consciously overcome this weakness, fight it, prevent it from hurting the people that he loved. He wasn't the one who broke out of it, it was an outside source none related to him. (Ulquiorra)
yulieana on September 16th, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
Hime = Him
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Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Kylara: henshinkarenai on September 16th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Part 1 of 4
The following comment is addressed to the author, not to Debbie, though she posted it.

The argument in a nutshell is that Bleach follows the Monomyth, first. Second, that Orihime is the classic mother figure, the goddess, who will eventually unite with the hero. Third, that since the flow has started this way, Kubo will also finish it this way, as he has been following it all along.

This is not actually the first issue that should have been addressed. For you to use the Monomyth as a predictive device for Bleach, you must prove first that Kubo knows of it in the first place. The point of the device is that it is used to identify classic and basic storytelling devices; it is entirely possible for authors, simply by calling on the stories of their tradition, to write without knowledge of Campbell's analysis. I cannot tell you myself whether that is read in high school in Japan.

Yes, Kubo would need to be aware of what he is alluding to here for you to use this as a predictive device for what will happen next. This is the first problem: you are assuming Western culture here. This is not a Western work written in the era of Freud; this is a post-Freud era written by a man in Japan. A well-read man, one who pulls references everywhere from the Lone Ranger to the Bible to feudal Japanese poetry, but not one who has necessarily indicated a slavish devotion to Freud to Campbell. Kubo seems very well-read, and even if he hasn't, it's reasonable to say that he has good control over the natural form of a story. I'll assume that he is at least aware of the tradition of storytelling.

The second thing you must prove is whether or not Kubo is strictly following it and will continue to strictly follow it. There are many, many ways where Kubo's journey for Ichigo does not coincide perfectly, or at all, with the Monomyth. In order to make it fit, you have to stretch; you have to say that Rukia and the shinigami represent his father, you have to put Aizen in as the Woman as Temptress. Road of Trials may fit, but that is also the simplest and least controversial of what you are attempting to prove.

When you say that a story flows and as it flows, it will conclude - that is an argument that does not take into account either authority or independence of the author. Say that Orihime does represent the goddess in the Monomyth. Why cannot Kubo subvert the idea that the Goddess figure unites with the hero? Saying that as it flows it flows is not sufficient. Why would he subvert it, you ask? Wouldn't that make no little sense, wouldn't that not follow the classical story? Well, classical stories on their own cannot be used to predict how modern-day stories will turn out. We live and write in the age after the fall of the novel, a time when our modern authors are conscious of what has gone before. Consequently, many like to deliberately change their own stories in an effort to not repeat the myths of old. (Whether or not they are successful is another issue.) Kubo may like making allusions and references to myths so that he can give Bleach the status of an epic, but that is no reason to think that he will adhere to the form of the classic from beginning to end. Where is the autonomy of a modern author who wants to write an epic tale, then? There would be none in your world.
Grenat: ichiruki2escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1 of 4
I'm French and I have NO CLUE about what the Monomyth is. I had to say this XD

And while we did study a bit of Freud in high school here, we didn't delve past the ego/superego thingie. Actually, "Je pense donc je suis" was our main meal for months :P [and let me tell you that, it was pure torture XD].

But there's something I have to agree with, that I already pointed out in deb's LJ: Kubo is a mangaka, and as such, he uses tropes and cultural influences from Japan when he wants to convey something. Hence why I can easily point out the tropes he uses for Bleach. I don't think that using Freud or this Monomyth would be a smart move from someone who WANTS his audience to get the right idea from his work. It takes too much stretching, too much thought, while what he conveys needs to be done in one read - something that will make people think 'this scene is romantic, this scene is cute, this scene is intense, etc'. This is what tropes are for. And manga tropes are different from western tropes.

While we think nothing of a boy resting on a girl's lap, it's obviously very different in Japan. So why would the Monomyth hold any truth in Japan? Let us forget that I don't know about it, and let us pretend that Kubo DOES know about it; why would he use something that most of his fanbase wouldn't get anyway?

As you said, even if he knew about it, he could very well make fun of it and twist it. Kubo LOVES irony. That's something I can't deny. He doesn't make fun of his readers, but he does make fun of his own characters - oh boy, yes he does. So why should I believe that he's not making fun of the Monomyth instead of following it as the author thinks so?

You need concrete evidence. Also, thinking that IchiThing is showing his hidden feelings for Inoue may be one of the most fail points. I had to say this because I don't know if I'll have the courage to comment again XD
Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 10:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Re: Part 1 of 4 - mikaoru on September 16th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Kylarakarenai on September 16th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Part 2 of 4
//shinigami are aligned with the father while Orihime is aligned with the mother, and the goddess is the most feminine of all archetypes. Furthermore, Ichigo's meeting with Rukia at that point does not seem to describe a moment where he ''experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother''. If one glances even briefly at this scene, one will observe that Ichigo looks strong and confident, and that he is giving Rukia strength rather than receiving it. In his meeting with Orihime, on the other hand, his eyes soften and he is absolved, momentarily, of responsibility. This is akin to the love that a child may experience with its mother.//

Rukia is a shinigami, but that does not mean you can align her with the father figure in Bleach. For one thing, while she was very much a shinigami in chapter one, she does not actually function as one for 99% of the time that Ichigo initially knows her. During the SS arc, she is being held prisoner by the shinigami - yes, she is one of them, but all that Ichigo can see is that it is the shinigami against her. This holds her, symbolically, in direct opposition to them. This is also why he is surprised that she will not go back with him - he did not think of her as "one of the shinigami", and it is Ichigo's point of view that directs the symbolic allocation of other figures in this story.

In addition, Rukia is not depicted as ever representing a masculine stereotype. I'm not saying Orihime does or something - what I'm pointing out is that Rukia is shown in series to be very, very feminine. Renji cannot stop himself, even as a young child, from admiring her grace. He says she talks like a boy, but he knows very well indeed that she is not one. Whenever Kubo draws her in her own clothes, nine times out of ten, he will depict her in a dress. They are her outfit of choice; she rarely wears pants, to the point where people fangirl when she does because it is so rare. Yuzu describes her as a "girl-like girl" - this is the impression she gives. Finally, Kubo associates her with white, and in yin and yang, that's not the male color. Black is. Rukia is Kubo's white moon, and she is decidedly feminine, both in her role in the story and her demeanour.

//Another strong argument for Orihime being the Goddess is her power. Orihime's healing shield is very much akin to the womb, a protective enclosure which prepares the body to face the external world, and its warm glow seems to conjure up images of nurturing love. Combined with the many other arguments for Orhime's link with the mother and the feminine principal, and the point that it is at this moment that Orihime expresses for the first time to Ichigo something of her feeligns towards him (indicating that he has won her love), it seems unlikely that the Meeting with the Goddess could be any other moment in SS.//

What has actually been stated in canon is that her powers go beyond what the gods should accept. Far from being godly, the implication is, they are something quite, quite dangerous. In addition, make no mistake - while they are warm in color and put up a shield, they function principally on the idea of rejection. Don't carry the womb analogy so far that you neglect the series-basis for her powers, which is that they reject the reality of whatever is happening within their borders. That is what inherently defines them - rejection, not the womb. And if wombs rejected us, the fate of humanity would be in far more trouble.

Edited at 2009-09-16 06:04 am (UTC)
Catwoman & bitch extraordinaireelfishscallywag on September 16th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Part 2 of 4
And if wombs rejected us, the fate of humanity would be in far more trouble.
lol. Have I mentioned I love you?
But seriously, I adore your reply as well. I rather completely agree and you make your points eloquently and beautifully♥
Re: Part 2 of 4 - karenai on September 18th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Re: Part 2 of 4 - karenai on September 16th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Re: Part 2 of 4 - karenai on September 17th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part 2 of 4 - marheavenangel on February 10th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Kylara: Lisakarenai on September 16th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
Part 3 of 4
//However, as they say goodbye, Ichigo receives the ultimate boon – the rain in his heart stops and he is freed from guilt.
//Rukia does indeed shatter Ichigo's ego in this meeting by informing him that although he saved her, he is not the center of her world – she will remain in Soul Society and continue her duties (again, duty is strongly associated with the superego).

The reason Rukia stays behind is so that she can regain her powers, yes, but it's not just for duty. Ichigo has just gotten himself involved in a fight crossing worlds, and without her powers, she is no good to him. Her loyalties are not with Soul Society - if you think that's why she stayed, then you mistake why she went to Hueco Mundo against their strict orders. Ichigo and her friends are more important to her now. Additionally, if he received the ultimate boon from the shattering of his ego, the shattering which then led to the rain in his heart stopping, Ichigo is so screwed up he shouldn't be able to see straight. These comments are contradictory - do not so freely mix your psychology and your literary analysis.

// (If I were to write an essay on Rukia's Monomyth, I would point out that Renji is her goddess – he is the one who allows her to forgive herself.)

No, he's not. The person who gives her the strength to forgive herself is Ichigo. It is after Ichigo saves her and gives her back her brother and her best friend that Rukia finally is able to get the courage to go to the Shiba family and apologize. As she states in the Sokyoku scene, Ichigo is what gives her strength. Renji, if anything, is one of the things that Ichigo gives her to prove HIS worth - that is what kind of man he is, one who can fix the problems of her life.

//In truth, both Rukia and Inoue strengthen Ichigo, but in different ways. Rukia draws on the superego – she bosses him, bulllies him, guides him, her influence is asexual, and she focuses on his ideal qualities. Conversely, Inoue strengthens him by allowing him to confront his weaknesses. She acts from underneath – she never orders him, but uses compassion and understanding to support him, her inspiration to him comes in the form of requests and her influence is sexualised.//

In order for Orihime's influence on Ichigo to be sexualized, we would have to see some recognition of it from the boy in question. This is the boy that turns neon red when Yoruichi strips, when Rangiku buttons down her shirt, who is horrified to find that Kon has been kissing people (even on the cheek) in his body, to the point where he can hardly say the word "kiss". You would know if he was looking at Orihime sexually, and he never has. Take the scene when he throws her over his shoulder - not only does he not blush, or act nervous in the slightest, it is implied that he threw her on his shoulder because he thought she was too heavy to carry the way he does Nel or Rukia, which is under his arm. That is not sexual.

Additionally, it is completely false that Orihime strengthens him. When you say she "strengthens him by allowing him to confront his weaknesses", you are ignoring what actually happened, the moment when everything was in her hands. What happened? The Thing happened. He comes out after she cries for help. Don't idealize it by calling this a "request" - she was hysterical and wanted to rely on him as she usually did.

Ichigo does not confront his weakness, most notably his inner monster, in the Lust fight, nor does he ever try to. He has before - in the Byakuya fight, he specifically tells it to get out, and he succeeds in getting rid of it. This, the manifestation of his weakness, his flaw as a protector and as a human - this, he does not defeat. You never see nor hear of an inner struggle, because there is none. There is no "confrontation [of] his weaknesses"; instead, due to Orihime and his own flaws, he is steamrolled by them. He does not grow stronger; he ends the arc in despair. In addition, it is LACK of understanding that initially stymies him in the Grimmjow fight, what with her being unable to support him because she cannot see her reflection in his eyes, because she cannot get past her fear of his Hollow exterior even when, in that scene, it was Ichigo in control all along.

Edited at 2009-09-16 05:05 am (UTC)
Running on Coffee and Schadenfreude: Academicsarcadiasilver on September 16th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
OHAI OFF TOPIC
As a practicing pagan, a scholarly feminist, and an avid studier of myths, legends and stories since I was in middle school, I take serious issue with the monomyth and how it coincides goddesshood with the feminine qualities of nurturing, compassion and lack of aggression as it conveyed by the author. How Rukia's "lack" of these qualities excludes her from the Goddess role because of it. She is aggressive, bossy, and war like and therefore not feminine enough (a common argument of IchiHime shippers)

I would like to point out to the class that there are pantheons upon pantheons rife with goddesses who specialize in war and battle. Athena and Diana from the Greeks/Romans, Sif and Freya from the Norse, Sekhmet and Bast from Egypt, and my personal favorite, Kali of the Hindus. All over the place we see goddess who personify the feminine aggression and capacity for war.

In fact, I'd like to make a point with Kali. this statue in particular portrays a myth concerning Kali that I think coincides with Rukia and Ichigo relationship, or at least can make a parallel of.

The figure under Kali's feet is Shiva - at first glance. Shiva is the husband of Kali and considered by large and all to be the purest of the gods, the most beloved. So, why is Kali stepping on her husband, seemingly subjugating him (bullying him as many accuse Rukia of doing to Ichigo) and deviating from the proper aspect of a Hindu wife? Very simply put, that is not Shiva.

During a time when Kali was slaying demons, she stepped upon a demon boy and under her feet, transformed him into Shiva on the battlefield. The wickedest of the wicked transformed into the purest of the pure. If you wish to call this redemption or salvation, that is up to you. However, the act of transformation and positive change is germinated in Kali, the destruction goddess and probably the template furthest from the Campbell Monomyth Goddess.

Kali also comes in many depictions as wreathed in flame. Many, especially those of us from an Eastern perspective where fire is associated with hell and damnation most often, see this as furthering Kali's negative image. However, the fires around Kali are the ones of cremation, of ushering the soul from its confines in the body to the spiritual realm that is its true home. Freedom, purification through destruction and pain.

What does this have to do with anything? Simply put, you never learn any real lessons without some pain. Its through the fire and the flames that we are transformed and purified, much in the way gold is separated from the slag. Its in the crucible that we are made pure, not the soft comfort of gentle hands. Rukia is the one, representing the dark goddess archetype, that is the transformer and the changer that turns Ichigo from the demon child to the Shiva. Where Orihime would try to comfort and soothe, Rukia lets Ichigo go through his licks to learn (Chapter two, forcing him to action via the little boy as an example of his ignorance).

Annnnnd, shutting my proverbial face now.
Re: OHAI OFF TOPIC - r0ck3tsci3ntist on September 16th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: OHAI OFF TOPIC - iluxe_love on September 22nd, 2009 01:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part 3 of 4 - hekka on September 15th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kylara: Sode no Shirayukikarenai on September 16th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
Part 4 of 4
The last problem with this is that there is an underlying implication here that Orihime's passivity is feminine and Rukia's proactive nature is masculine, and this is not applicable to Bleach. I have addressed how very feminine Rukia is in Kubo's own depiction; beyond that, if there is an argument here at all about passivity versus being proactive, Kubo falls squarely on the side of superior proactive behavior being desirable and passivity undesirable. It is Orihime who cries in her mind, "Why did I rely on him again?" the implication being, "Why did I not help myself? Why did I not protect him and us?" Her passive behavior was a disaster.

//This holds true for both Ichigo and Orihime in respect to the other – she desires his strength, and though it has not been explicitly stated, I would guess that he desires her compassion. I will be blunt here – it does not hold true for Ichigo and Rukia. They are alike in their methods and in their strengths.//

It hasn't been stated that he desires her compassion because it is not true. He has compassion of his own - that is what wills him to catch Grimmjow at the end of the fight, to want to come out and protect souls from Hollows, that makes him mourn when he realizes the sins his monster has committed. He has not ever felt a lack of compassion on his part - instead, the lack inside him that he wishes to fill is the fear that he will not be able to live up to his name and protect the mountainful of people that he so desires. That lack was emphasized in Chapter 00A, the Sand: that he wanted power, to not be ground by the gears of destiny.

This part here: // Let this stand as my argument – a cohesive reading of Bleach that offers a thematic explanation for why Ichihime will happen. I make no claim to the power of words.//

I know you commented about my essay - not to me directly, but elsewhere - on the grounds that I was not looking at Bleach on a whole - that I was too closely making predictions based on one plot arc and ignoring the rest of the series. It is my argument that the Lust Arc functions as a microcosm for the Ichigo x Orihime relationship - that if you look very carefully at it, it is an extension of the flaws that they had already displayed earlier in the arc, that it is their natural conclusion. The Lust arc served to magnify these problems. Let me tell you something, that essay was an example of close-reading, not ignoring the rest of Bleach. Close-reading a passage and placing it in context of the main story is what I did. You have taken the opposite tactic from what you accused me of; by looking at the story from such a broad perspective and attempting to make it strictly follow the Monomyth device, whether or not it makes sense, whether or not the characters match, whether or not it is relevant, whether or not Kubo knows about it, whether or not Kubo is going to follow it, you have excessively diluted the story of Bleach.

I give you credit for requesting that this be posted in Bleachness, because for the most part, I am not been impressed by individuals who don't have the guts to make comments or arguments to the author's face. Such people are cowards.
ruinin fuckin' everything: BACKPACKIN across the universeallelujah on September 16th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
Re: Part 4 of 4
..../claps. just claps. if there was rep on lj you'd get it.
Re: Part 4 of 4 - _debbiechan_ on September 16th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part 4 of 4 - pogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 05:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part 4 of 4 - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - karenai on September 16th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
descrimedescrime on September 16th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
An Argument in Parts (1/?) - I'm answering as I read
Let’s accept your argument’s structure uncritically. I have some problems with how you characterize some moments.

Furthermore, Ichigo's meeting with Rukia at that point does not seem to describe a moment where he ''experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother''.

This description is much more applicable to Ichigo’s and Rukia’s meeting at the Shiba house. Ichigo’s worry (that had him running all over SS looking for Rukia) vanishes, the two connect to the exclusion of the whole world (half page frames that nonetheless are close-ups with white backgrounds) and Ichigo remarks that he now remembers why he wanted to save Rukia in the first place and that she has stopped the rain in his heart (i.e. given him peace from the guilt/fear/etc that has plagued him since his mother died).

The whole healing scene (ch 167), on the other hand, is only 2 pages and the part you are talking about only takes up about 3 small frames (I happened to serendipitously read this section yesterday. Chapter numbers in your argument would be really helpful to anyone trying to follow along. I spent a long time reading ch 179 because I was mixing them up in my head.)

Inoue is crying, thanking Ichigo for surviving. I read the scene as Ichigo being touched by the display of caring a friend showed him. Notice that after Inoue’s heartfelt “But...I was just so worried about Kurosaki-kun. I’m sorry, Kurosaki-kun...I wasn’t able to help you. Thank you, Kurosaki-kun, for staying alive...I’m so glad that Kurosaki-kun is okay”--all Ichigo says is “Thanks...Inoue.”

EXCUSE ME? Not helpful?! She came to the land of the dead to save a girl she barely knew. She created the shield they landed on after entering SS, saved the giant’s arm (who later came and fought off the other three gatekeepers, something that would not have been possible one-armed), shielded Ishida at several points from deadly attacks, was able to subdue two low-ranking Shinigami and steal their uniforms, allowing her and Ishida to walk unnoticed among the ranks, healed Ichigo so he could go save Rukia from Aizen, and then healed him after Aizen’s fight. Not helpful my ass.

Yet, Ichigo does nothing to contradict this massive inaccuracy. He does nothing to boost her self-confidence or express his appreciation of her even being willing to come on such a dangerous mission. He just accepts her appreciation without seeing the self-recrimination that’s eating her up. It’s a nice, honest moment between friends, but it’s not particularly deep.

Compare it to the Shiba scene, where after Rukia says she wants to stay in SS, Ichigo stares at her for a long time to make sure that this is what she really wants.

ICHIGO: I see...That’s good.
RUKIA: Huh?
ICHIGO: Heh, since you decided it for yourself...If you actually want to stay here...isn’t that a good thing? I remembered now...the reason I wanted to save you so much.

Rukia is expecting Ichigo to be confused (and who wouldn’t be, the scene knocked readers for a loop the first time), but Ichigo already understands exactly how she’s feeling. It’s a scene of deep connection between the two characters as well as having a sense of tranquility in the slow unfolding of the panels. This is the calm after the storm, and the true ending of the chain of events that started with Rukia’s capture.
descrimedescrime on September 16th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
(2/?) - Goodbye, Sweetheart (I going to make up random titles now for each part)
Apotheosis is his goodbye with Rukia. Although Ichigo has let go of her as his quest object, he still values her highly and their goodbye is an emotionally charged scene.

Hahaha. Here’s where you have to remember that the structure you are using to describe Bleach has been compiled from numerous paternalistic novels written in an era when women were considered by men to have very little self-determination and were in fact on par with old cups and wooden doohickies and other objects men took for themselves (at least in the literature). That’s not Kubo’s cup of tea when it comes to Rukia.

Ichigo doesn’t give Rukia up or let her go. She was never his to begin with. As he says himself up above, the reason he went “questing” wasn’t to win the girl, it was to give Rukia a chance to decide for herself where she wanted to be rather than be forced. Ichigo doesn’t try to argue with her or change her mind, because he respects her ability to choose for herself. His ego isn’t shattered, his heart is relieved that a person he cares about (in whatever capacity) is free to choose her own path and is no longer in danger.

Rukia has four main cases of guilt in the SS arc:
1) Kaien’s death - this is partially relieved by Ganju’s and Kuukaku’s forgiveness and then dealt with more in the HM arc

2) Letting Renji go - the two are reunited due to the strong bond between them, but let’s be clear that this is in large part due to Ichigo and Renji duking it out at the beginning of the SS arc and Ichigo getting it through to Renji that saving Rukia is what he should be doing rather than getting pissed at Ichigo

3) Letting Byakuya and the Kuchiki family down - learning about Hisana and the reason that she wasn’t seated wasn’t because of her own inadequacies but because of Byakuya’s overwhelming love for her sister helped bring the two siblings closer together and give Rukia some more self-confidence in fighting; once again, this is in large part due to Ichigo spending his whole fight with Byakuya talking about Rukia and wearing down Byakuya’s reasons for being such an ass, a fact Byakuya acknowledges in ch 179.

4) Dragging Ichigo into the whole Shinigami business and putting him in danger - this guilt is relayed through Hanatarou directly to Ichigo who then proceeds in both rescue moments he has with Rukia (both the bridge and the guillotine) to try to relieve this guilt by telling her that he’s not leaving her behind no matter what she says, they’re getting out of this, and they’re all going to be okay. When Ichigo succeeds, Rukia finally seems to make some peace with this, though I suspect it might come up again when she’s finally confronted with his Hollow mask.
Re: (3/?) - Embrace With An Edge - descrime on September 16th, 2009 05:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Interlude - descrime on September 16th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Interlude - karenai on September 16th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Really, I Will Eventually Shut Up - descrime on September 16th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Really, I Will Eventually Shut Up - descrime on September 16th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: (3/?) - Embrace With An Edge - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - annie_08 on September 16th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Spark Notes Version of My Argument (1/2) - descrime on September 16th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Spark Notes Version of My Argument (1/2) - jaina on September 16th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Spark Notes Version of My Argument (1/2) - descrime on September 16th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Spark Notes Version of My Argument (1/2) - nehalenia on September 16th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Spark Notes Version of My Argument (1/2) - annie_08 on September 16th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ancient history, but. - hallowd on September 16th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Ancient history, but. - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hallowd on September 16th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jaina on September 16th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 21st, 2011 07:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - nehalenia on September 17th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _debbiechan_ on September 16th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hallowd on September 16th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinigami_lucia on September 17th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Ancient history, but. - descrime on September 16th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Ancient history, but. - annie_08 on September 17th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
Original Author
To my mind, the Monomyth, and Freud's work, are tools to help us understand the thematic intent of the writer more clearly. By reading stories through these filters, we can sometimes gain a clearer understanding of the writer's overall intent. That was what I tried to do.

Thanks for your comment.
Re: Original Author - chuuni on September 16th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - karenai on September 16th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Original Author - vkikay on September 17th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Shinigami_Lucia: Rukia&Konshinigami_lucia on September 16th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
I don't know what to say about this essay. I really have no comment because I just don't understand why some people need to bring outside sources like freud, disneyland, numerology, or mating bald eagles..in order to explain their favorite pairing as the most likely. I always believe that the best way to know the author's real intent for his/her story or his/her characters, are inside the actual manga itself. I don't think comparing Bleach or Kubo to other literary works or other writers, are the best way to predict the outcome of the series. Bleach is Bleach. Harry Potter is Harry Potter. Freud IS NOT Kubo, and Kubo IS NOT Rowling. Freud may be well-known, but it doesn't mean Kubo knows and admires the guy to the point that he basically is writing Bleach based on Freud's own viewpoints. I don't know. I personally don't see any connection between Bleach and Freud..But hey, that's just me XDD
(Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Original Author
Um... I appreciate your response, but I'd prefer it if you restrained your criticism to me. I don't mind it - I like most of it, but I really don't like my friends being made fun of behind their backs.

Thank you for your comment though. I totally get what you're trying to say.
Re: Original Author - shinigami_lucia on September 17th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
Kim!: Mmm... Jump...spartydragon on September 16th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
*wanders in from left field*

Yanno, I always felt that if Ichigo ended up with Inoue, it would be because of purely selfish, egotistical reasons. She lets him protect her. She doesn't need protecting, but she lets him.

From a Freudian standpoint, this would be a fine and dandy reason. But we all know Freud was a sad, strange, horny little man. X)
oh gallant piglet,: SEAWEED AMBASSADORaizome on September 16th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
Aaaah, your last sentence! I was trying to come up with a nice way of expressing general opinion of Freud these days, but you said it much more concisely. X)
(no subject) - spartydragon on September 17th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - nehalenia on September 16th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spartydragon on September 17th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spartydragon on September 17th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mikaoru on September 16th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spartydragon on September 17th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
It was actually an intelligent argument for IchiHime, however psychoanalysis has a habit of generalizing the human experience. That is of course to say that there is no proper way to view the world. A solid example of this is the constant analysis of bleach from an academic standpoint, each person looks at it a different way.

I personally don't put much stock in the dialogues especially coming from translators, what I mean to say is the emotions in Bleach and thus the story can be interpreted solely from the visuals. I could go through and analyze almost every expression panel you see in Bleach but that would be pointless. If you really want to find concrete logic that transcends language barriers you can do this for yourself.

I will just finish by saying two things, of two primary female characters one is drawn with exceptionally tasteful sexuality in almost all instances and was deemed the moon by her creator. Also because it requires reiteration, Kubo is the best mangaka currently drawing or probably has been to date at conveying subtle emotions.
(Deleted comment)
oh gallant piglet,: rukihimeaizome on September 16th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, this. She's definitely good at putting together some very thought-out writing. And to request that it be posted here shows confidence in her own intelligence, opinions aside.

I sure don't have the guts to put together something like this and post it on a more general comm. On a ship-specific one, maybe. But this is impressive.
pogo: Poland <3pogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
she is the polarisation of his self. In Rebecca Eigen's essay, she states that ''Now a person ... ‘Gold’ part of our Shadow''. This person will be acting from one extreme while we act from another - ''Chances are ... are doing it, but halfway.'' This holds true for both Ichigo and Orihime in respect to the other – she desires his strength, and though it has not been explicitly stated, I would guess that he desires her compassion.

Okay, so gathering from this post, you are essentially making the claim that Ichgo isn't a compassionate character, since you said Inoue is the polarization of Ichigo. I take this to mean that they are opposites. Then you go on to say that Ichigo desires Inoue's compassion. I would like to where you got this idea from? When has Ichigo ever even mentioned Inoue's compassion? You saying he craves or desires Inoue's compassion means that he doesn't have any. Or, at the very least, he doesn’t have much of it. That is a very bold thing to say. I strongly disagree with you here. Ichigo, throughout Bleach, is known to be a compassionate hero. He never kills enemies. When he wins, he spares them. Like karenai mentioned, Grimmjow is a big example of this. Grimmjow was extremely brutal with Ichigo. He hurt Rukia and then almost killed her. He brutally beat Ichigo twice and formed a grudge with him. Then he threatened Inoue. All in all, Ichigo has every right to hate him. And yet, as Grimmjow is falling, Ichigo catches him and then later, even tries to reason with him. And while he did kill Ulquiorra, he immediately regrets it. It seems like you are confusing Ichigo's normal angry behavior with one that lacks compassion.

pogopogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 06:58 am (UTC)
Conversely, Inoue strengthens him by allowing him to confront his weaknesses.

Hmmm, this is an interesting point. It actually remind me of ethics. I've been noticing this a lot with what happened with the Lust chapters. Many Origers see it as a positive because

1) Ichigo saved everyone. If this didn't happen, he'd still be dead and who knows what would have happened with Inoue and Ishida if he was still dead.

2) Like you said, it'll allow him to confront his problems and hopefully fix them.

This seems to be a very utilitarianistic point of view. If you're not familiar with the study of ethics (which is fine, since I wasn’t before I decided to take a course on it XD), utilitarianism states that the best thing for people to do is achieve the most happiness. Essentially goodness = happiness. A basic goal is to achieve the most amount of happiness for the most amount of people. 'The ends justifying the means' is also big here. So, for example, let's say my brother angers me. I get so mad, I want to smack him with a bat (purely hypothetical, I assure you :p). I swing at him, and miss, but I hit a man who was about to kill us both. Does this mean my actions are morally right? A utilitarianist would say yes, since if we were hit, 1 person would be happy, while two are not happy. But since we weren't hit, 2 are happy while 1 isn't. The latter case has more happiness for the most amount of people, so it essentially justifies what I did(despite my intentions).

The same claim could be made for the happenings at the dome. Let's look at this from a basic view. There's the antagonist (Ulquiorra). There are three protagonists (Inoue, Ishida, Ichigo). Here, there are two possible, basic scenarios:

a) Ulquiorra kills Ichigo and wins.
b) Ichigo kills Ulqiorra and wins.

Now, situation b is more appealing. If a were to happen, 3 would be upset. And along with that, so would Rukia, Renji, and Chad. Then there's Ichigo's family, SS, etc. Many more would be upset, while in Ulquiorra's case, Ulquiorra would be happy (again, basic. In general, enemies want to beat the good guy.), as would be the remaining Espada (3-4), and the trio. B results in more being happy, so a utilarianist would say B is the more favorable outcome. Again, this is basic. But this is how I think the many Ichihimers see this scene. This does include a bias. Ichihimers see this scene as positive, because Ichigo did something for Inoue, which is pretty rare in Bleach. They see it as him reciprocating Inoue’s feelings by becoming the thing he hates in order to protect. But that's not the point I'm trying to make. I’d be here all night if I were to also talk about those things.

I think those who support this situation see that because Ichigo won, more lives are sparred. So this justifies everything that he did. This makes stabbing Ishida, terrifying his friends, turning into a monster all acceptable because, in the end, only one person died, whereas three are still alive. More people are happy, so it’s a good thing, despite the fact that it could have serious psychological effects on Ichigo.

LOL, sorry for that ramble on utilitarianism and all that. I hope it makes sense. Unlike the many very verbose English majors here, this sort of thing isn't my strong suit (is a Science major :p). I'm no Ethics major or anything like that. This is all based on two classes where we discussed utiltarianism and by reading some Mills.
(no subject) - pogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - escarboucle on September 16th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jaina on September 16th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Original Author - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pogo2468 on September 16th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC) (Expand)