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28 February 2010 @ 04:33 pm
Did Orihime Really Lack Volition?  
I think most all of us remember the infamous scene where Orihime attempts to use Tsubaki against Yammy, only for things to go not quite as planned.  A majority of fandom chalks it up to lack of volition once more, as does Urahara (albiet indirectly) when he tells her to stay out of the battle in ch. 227.  However, looking back at her brief skirmish with Kamaitachi , we see that Tsubaki was injured once before, and never fully recovered.  It being her first fight outside of the impromptu conflict with Numb Chandelier, Orihime had yet to find the constant mindset that she could draw upon in battle. 

Everyone else going in to protect Rukia had some experience with fighting- even Hanatarou, as a Shinigami, would have had basic combat training in the Academy.  Orihime has had a few fun karate lessons with Tatsuki.  Ichigo had been training in various fighting styles, from karate, to raw fist fighting, to the ways of a Shinigami since he was a small child, all with the deep-set goal of protecting somebody.  Chad brawled as a child, and then used his massive bulk and strength to defend others.  Uryuu was tought by Souken from age 8, and his reason for carrying out the Quincy ways was, again, to protect something.  Granted, he deviated from this, but that deviation made him weaker.  Only when he fought Mayuri for the sake of the Quincy, his grandfather, and Orihime's safety, do we see his true strength.  Going from protagonist to protagonist, the same theme crops up- the will to protect makes one stronger.  When Orihime fought Kamaitachi, she had no clear aim in what she was going to defend, thus rendering Tsubaki useless.  But looking again at her battle with Numb Chandelier, we see that her reason for winning- indeed, the source of her power, is the will to protect.  Here, we see a strong, confident Orihime who throws down the heroic lines as good as any of the other nakama, and then delivers on them.

Now, let's compare her fights with Numb Chandelier (link 1) and Yammy (link 2).  They proceed in almost the exact same fashion- a friend, Tatsuki in case one, and Chad in case two, attempts to ward off the enemy (1, 2), and initially looks successful  (1, 2).  Then, things start to go very wrong  (1, 2).  The sequences of events that follow are almost formulaic in their similarity.  Orihime defends herself and the injured party with Santen Kesshun  (1, 2), then proceeds to heal the one who tried to defend her  (1, 2).  Finally, she delivers a stunning finish with Tsubaki...  At least against Numb Chandelier.  So what made this attack different?

Most will say it was her lack of volition.  But she shows us she has that in plenty- not only is she directly protecting both Chad and Tatsuki, but she feels that in fighting Yammy, she will be defending Ichigo, and indeed, all her friends.  Next is the idea that she is weakened because she is fighiting for Ichigo, rather than for herself.  I'm not at all an IchiHime shipper- indeed, I believe that 99% of the time, her feelings for him inhibit her power.  This is the 1% where I feel they do just the opposite.  Orihime has never fought for herself, even when it was letting her brother's vengeful Hollow take a nice chunk out of her.  She's fought, like all the other siccessful protagonists, to protect others.  Though he wasn't present, Orihime was taking on a monster who had just crushed the indomitable Chad so as to protect Ichigo.  And again, it wasn't just him- Chad and Tatsuki were present as well, and it was also for their sake that she was willing to raise Tsubaki at Yammy.  Orihime had will aplenty, and she looked just as majestic as she did against Numb Chandelier- the chapter in which her powers are revealed is even subtitled "The Majestic".

In other words, this was an instance where Orihime's will was not at fault for the failure of her attack.  What she did was essentially the same as going up against a enemy with nothing but the hilt of your sword in your hand- the willpower and the courage are all there, but there's only so much one can do with a broken weapon.  This is not at all to say Orihime is perfect- she has many flaws to overcome, just as all the other nakama do.  However, this is one instance where we cannot say that she is to blame for not succeeding in her objective.
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Grenat: virgoescarboucle on February 28th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Orihime has had a few fun karate lessons with Tatsuki.

Right. Black belt karate is "a few fun karate lessons". And she already lived through the SS arc, fighting when needed. Do not underestimate her, please. I think it's quite disturbing to see her own fans underestimating Inoue - and I say that as someone who doesn't think her powers are that God-like.

I personally think that her fairies reflect her core pretty well:
- 1 fairy for attack - she's weak in that department and lacks the will to attack
- 2 fairies for a shield - her will to "protect"
- 3 fairies for healing - where she shines the most

This is why I never expect the girl to be a killing machine, but heck. In Bleach, will is superior in many occurrence. Attack is a tiny part of Inoue, but it's still a part of it. I think that even if her attacks fail, she should try.

What irks people is not that her attacks are weak, is that she forgot that part of herself - she doesn't even try. When you see her against Tesla, who basically gives her the choice to attack and protect Ichigo but maybe lose her powers, and the choice to just stay put... she chose her powers. That is not what she was supposed to do.

Compare this to Rukia in ch01, when she gives her powers to Ichigo: she doesn't hesitate to step in just to save Ichigo, whom she just met, and she doesn't hesitate to give him HER powers, even though there's a chance that it won't work.

See, that's precisely why people are angry with Inoue: she seems to have turned into a blob, when usually you expect BETTER from her. She already was better up until the end of the SS arc, so seeing her going "I will protect, I will fight!" and go down like this is just making us want to tell her "stop blowing off, where's your brain, where're your guts? YOU CAN DO BETTER!"

Frustating, in short. XD
Ryu!Say!nudrive on February 28th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
IA with everything you said.
If she tried I probably wouldn't want to kill her as much XD
kohi_no_torakohi_no_tora on February 28th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
- 1 fairy for attack - she's weak in that department and lacks the will to attack
- 2 fairies for a shield - her will to "protect"
- 3 fairies for healing - where she shines the most

Except you got it wrong. It's 3 for defence, 2 for healing.
Grenatescarboucle on February 28th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)

I always thought it was that way, haha XD Scratch that part then - yeah, yeah, made a mistake, what can I say? I've always hated her fairies, so I brushed them off the most I could XD
n a o k o || want your rad bromance: Neliel- Body Image Failnendo_chan on March 1st, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
I'll admit, that bit is based on how I view martial arts- I'm going for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do this spring, and I consider it incredibly fun.

I'm not at all trying to underestimate her- my point is that compared to the others, she's had relatively little combat experience, yet still kicks ass. The whole point of this little write-up was to defend her.
_debbiechan_: Orihime by senbonzakura77_debbiechan_ on March 1st, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)

I think it's really impossible to defend Orihime against those who will insist on disliking her character no matter what.

It's been said enough by fandom that Orihime isn't as much of a fighter as the other nakama. That's understood, I believe, by her fans and also by people who want to excuse her for not fighting at all--which I know you're not trying to do. Orihime makes sense to me--her drama makes sense to me--it's understandable. It's frustrating to me only because it's taken this entire arc to tell this story and still there's been little growth for her--well, until the dome and now Kubo is still being coy about keeping Orihime from us yet again. *sigh*

But like I've always said, Tsubaki is 1/6 who Orihime is even if she's mostly a healer and protector. She's GOT to fight sometime. It's just a matter of when.

I trust Kubo-sensei to make us care for and understand characters in their worst moments, but a lot of people have failed to feel compassion for Orihime and they may never feel it--even if she redeems herself. I don't know how to explain that. Some people will always see Ulquiorra as a villain, Yamamoto as a stubborn old man (ah, he broke my heart last week with his intent to go down with Aizen!) and other characters as one dimensional and dull.

I suppose it's a matter of preference in the end, but I do wonder if Kubo hasn't take too long with Orihime to develop her character. I've seen some of her greatest fans grow horribly impatient with her actions. My only hope is that this is Kubo's way of setting her up for her big moment. SIGH. I waited five years for the Koma and Tousen encounter so I guess I can wait a little longer for Orihime's big moment....

Sorry I'm writing so much. I have to whenever people mention Orihime. Forum threads about her get locked and people get shushed in her FCs because she's so controversial. I just want to talk about Hime.
n a o k o || want your rad bromancenendo_chan on March 1st, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
Oh, I know how you feel. I could ramble forever, but I'm not eloquent enough to do it. xD
descrimedescrime on March 1st, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
I think the amount of time this arc has gone on has been a real problem for Orihime. While it's only been days for her, it's been years for us, and I'm sorry, but that's just too long to leave a character at their lowest point if you want the majority of the audience to still sympathize and like her. I don't hate her, but Orihime has definitely sunk from the middle of the pack, favorite character-wise, to near the bottom.

I remember when the SS arc was going on, some people liked Rukia less because she wasn't doing anything. Of course, Rukia had much better reasons for her inaction, and the SS plot more often revolved around people who knew Rukia, so she was kept more in the forefront of the story, even when she was off-stage, than Orihime has been.
_debbiechan_: orihime 341_debbiechan_ on February 28th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)

You're forgetting another time that Tsubaki failed. He failed against the projectiles expert Shinigami (forget his name--brother of the gatekeeper!) when she was on the roof with Ishida.

Tsubaki told her very clearly that time what she did wrong--she did not fire with deadly intent.

In other words, her attack would've been successful had she had the proper concentration and will. Remember, this is ORIHIME, whose powers trepass the realm of G-D.

This is Orihime, who was told by Hacchi that it was "how" she wanted things to be that made the difference.

In other words, her will mattered.

So what happened when she went up against Yammy the first time?

She was waiting for Kurosaki-kun to get there.

She said so herself. Someone find the page for me because I'm about to go out the door again, but she said she was determined to make a stand until Kurosaki came.

I believe the Arrancar arc is a story of Orihime's will as much as anything else--that's why I believe she may fire Tsubaki successfully against Yammy when she does fire him again.

At least I hope so.

I can't take any more of this Orihime in doubt and pain. And I miss Tsubaki. A LOT.
n a o k o || want your rad bromance: Orihime- Derp!nendo_chan on March 1st, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
That's the part in the beginning- that Shinigami's nickname was Kamaitachi. There're a couple of links in the first paragraph. ^^;;
_debbiechan_: Orihime_debbiechan_ on March 1st, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)

Eh, I'm so sorry, I skimmed over that. So sorry.

But yes, it's interesting that you bring up the fact that Tsubaki himself wasn't fully healed. If we consider what Orihime's healing powers are capable of, that very little telling event (and thank you, I had forgotten about Orihime saying to Ishida that healing Tsubaki was harder than she though), then it seems to follow that something about Orihime (since the fairies represent herself--they said so "we are your true self) isn't healed.

In other words, her killing intent that was demonstrated when she protected Tatsuki has never recovered ...

I know Ichigo gets a lot of flak for not telling Orihime to stand back, etc, and while Ishida has been unfairly criticized in fandom for not recognizing Orihime's powers (he does so right there in the page you link), he's always been the first to rush to her defense. And it was right there, on that roof, that Orihime started showing doubt about herself--she marveled at Ishida's training with the sanrei glove and asked herself what she herself had done in that time....

Orihime's self doubt has long roots. It probably goes back waaaay before SS
but I'm hoping that in true shounen fashion it's going to be taken care of in a battle somehow. Orihime may be kind and loving and all that but all martial arts stories tell how there's always a situation in which the most compassionate have to fight.

Orihime is going to have to find herself again and that time again. Like others have said, it's a matter of will, the heart, her own conviction.
n a o k o || want your rad bromancenendo_chan on March 1st, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
This this this!

...Is not only so very true, but why I leave the Bleach essays to everyone else and stay in the Shakespeare sandbox. xD
_debbiechan_: Orihime the next time we meet_debbiechan_ on March 1st, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)

LOL, but I disagree with the conclusion of your essay. I think a broken weapon and Orihime's will are essentially the same.

And yes, against a stronger opponent (Yammy that first time) she fell because it was good story-telling--the story itself needed everyone to fail against opponents at that time. Her lack of will wasn't so evident.

But Tsubaki was still "broken" and her self-doubt was still there and she had yet to train with Rukia in SS or go through all those necessary experiences of coming-of-age heroes.

In HM her doubts became stronger even though we'd heard her proclaim her intent and show us her amazing leaps in healing and shielding abilities. And maybe it's a matter of semantics, but yes, I do fault her. I fault her for not trying at crucial moments. I fault Kubo for putting her character through such trials. But ultimately I believe in the both of them because in shounen stories, will means a helluva lot.
nehalenia: chad interp dancenehalenia on March 1st, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
And it was right there, on that roof, that Orihime started showing doubt about herself--she marveled at Ishida's training with the sanrei glove and asked herself what she herself had done in that time....

This! I meant to mention this in my post below, but then it would have been even longer. :P While that scene on the roof is definitely there to show how much stronger Ishida is and set us up for his fight with Mayuri, as much is being said about Orihime there. It's subtle, too, because that's where she resolves to practice more, and so is able to save herself, Uryuu and Maki-Maki from Mayuri's human bombs. That positive development, however, distracts us from the fact that she failed with Tsubaki until the Orihime v Yammi fight brings it back front and center.
nehalenia: chad interp dancenehalenia on March 1st, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
I really like your investigation of this and how you wrote it. I've always wondered why it was that she failed when she fired Tsubaki at Yammi because, as you showed with the images, she looks pretty serious in her attack. I think _debbiechan_'s got the right of it in this case, though. You did mention her failure against Kamaitachi (the nickname of Jirobou of the 7th Div, whom they fought on that rooftop) and both Tsubaki and Jirobou told her what she'd done wrong: fired him 'half-assed' (per Tsubaki) and with no killing intent (Jirobou).

While it's possible to separate 'intent' and 'volition' semantically, I think in this case they are linked. Yes, Orihime wants to protect her friends -- that is her will -- but she doesn't have the intent to back it up.

When I look at the three instances you presented, here's what stands out to me:

Orihime vs Numb Chandelier -- Tatsuki's (and everyone else) is down, there is no one else around, Orihime is their only hope. She not only wants to protect Tatsuki, but no one else is coming to help them.

Orihime vs Jidanbou Kamaitachi -- she's not defending anyone but herself, and Uryuu has already saved her once. So, if she fired Tsubaki 'half-assed', maybe it's because she knew nothing was really riding on it?

Orihime vs Yammi -- this situation is even more desperate than the first one. Both Chad and Tatsuki are down and she is the only one there who can do anything. The only difference is that this time she knows about Ichigo's power and even though he's not there, she relies on him. Like _debbiechan_ said, Orihime's intent is not to destroy the threat to her friends, but to hold the bad guys off till Ichigo gets there: http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/192/09/

On the next page, however, she decides that no, she shouldn't 'trouble' Ichigo, she should just do this herself -- http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/192/10/ -- and this is the part that's always sat rather oddly with me. Chad and Tatsuki are severely wounded, and yet her will to attack with Tsubaki seems to be based on her desire not to 'trouble' Ichigo. In other words, there are two people there whose physical well-being depends upon her actions, but what seems to fuel her attack is the desire to protect Ichigo emotionally. She doesn't want to be a burden to him.

I think it goes further than that, though. It isn't just that she doesn't want to be a burden; she wants to fight beside Ichigo. Basically, she wants to be with him, and the only way to do that is to be able to fight in his league. I believe that when she throws Tsubaki here, Orihime's real intent -- just like when she runs back into the fray and gets torn up by Yammi -- is to prove her strength/worth to Ichigo; to prove she deserves a place beside him. And while I think that's a worthy goal (and she's certainly not the only nakama who has that goal, as we'll see with Chad), it means that her I will protect everyone isn't the real desire that's fueling Tsubaki. She says it, just like she says she will protect Tatsuki against Numb Chandelier, but I deep down, that's not why she's firing her attack.

I think you've brought up an interesting talking point with this, because in the Orihime vs Yammi fight, you do have to look under the surface for why she fails. Unlike with Jirobou Kamaitachi, no one tells her why she blows it this time, so apparently Kubo wants us to peer deeper. This being shounen, however, I can't imagine that -- as you've pointed out -- these three Tsubaki attacks are not related.

Kubo's definitely trying to tell us something here. Ultimately though it's Orihime who's going to have to figure out what her problem is.

Edited at 2010-03-01 01:03 am (UTC)
_debbiechan_: Orihime the next time we meet_debbiechan_ on March 1st, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)

Thanks for finding that page I was referring to about when Hime said she was waiting for Kurosaki-kun AND thanks for organizing your thoughts so well when I'm in la-la land. Have I told you lately that I love you, Neha?

Orihime's real intent -- just like when she runs back into the fray and gets torn up by Yammi -- is to prove her strength/worth to Ichigo; to prove she deserves a place beside him. And while I think that's a worthy goal (and she's certainly not the only nakama who has that goal, as we'll see with Chad), it means that her I will protect everyone isn't the real desire that's fueling Tsubaki. She says it, just like she says she will protect Tatsuki against Numb Chandelier, but I deep down, that's not why she's firing her attack.

New interpretation to me. Thanks for the insight.
Adam Eppadam_epp on March 1st, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
So what made this attack different?

This sort of thing, I like to keep the explanations simple: Yammy is, what, a hundred times stronger than the lame Hollow she first defeated? Well, of course, she's going to lose; everyone else did, too. The scene was clearly intended to hype up the new cast of villains after Ichigo and co. were feeling high and mighty after crusining throuh Soul Society.

What she really lacked was strength and seeing as how willpower = strength in the Bleach world, I'd have to say that she did lack enough will to defeat Yammy (everyone did). Like Nehalenia mentioned, Orihime didn't quite have the right mindset, as she thought about Ichigo's peace of mind over a dying Chad right before her. I do think Orihime can be forgiven for not being good enough, at the time. Where I fault Orihime is how she handles things after the Ulquiorra-Yammy disaster, but I feel I don't need to provide a lot of details to explain how she fails hard at protecting any of her friends in the Hueco Mundo arc.
ashes_to_ashes1ashes_to_ashes1 on June 7th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I believe that everyone up there has raised wonderful points. Orihime certainly did lack that certain will that would have let her damage--not defeat, she wasn't strong enough--Yammi, but I believe that it is because of her life even before she gained her powers.

Orihime had been protected her entire life. First by Sora; then by Tatsuki; then by Uryuu, Ichigo, and Sado; and then even Ulquiorra and Grimmjow protected her. The only time in Orihime's entire life that she had no expectations of anyone coming to her rescue and had the ability to fight was the fight against Numb Chandelier. And then, she was rescued, but not until she had defeated the Hollow.

I believe that when push comes to shove, Orihime rises to the occasion. But because no one--except for Uryuu and Tatsuki (we can assume)--has ever believed that Orihime could protect herself, Orihime, thus, does not believe she could protect herself either. And before she can protect others, Orihime needs to learn how to protect herself. But she will never learn to do that when whenever she's in danger, her knight in shining armor--Ichigo--comes to her rescue.

But I also think that it is unfair to say that Hueco Mundo is Orihime's lowest point. No. She is not at her best. But everything she was doing was to protect her friends. She did not expect them to rescue her. Quite the opposite, in fact. She willingly gave herself over to the enemy to prevent her friend's deaths. Even after she was taken, imprisoned, insulted, and forced against her will to be loyal to the enemy; Orihime still fights in a quiet, not a battle to the death kind of way. She says, outright, (not sure which chapter and page) that since she knows where the Hogyouku is, that she doesn't want to be rescued--by this time, Ichigo is on his way--she has
something that she can do there. She was going to destroy the Hogyouku. Then Ichigo made the possibility of his dying to rescue her real, and Aizen took the Hogyouku before she could go through with her plan.

It doesn't seem to me that Ichigo has ever recognized his nakama's powers; Orihime especially. Granted, Orihime is easy to dismiss as being powerless, but that is because she is a healer, not necessarily a fighter. Think of the way that the Fourth Company is treated by the Eleventh Company; as though they aren't needed, as though they couldn't fight if they wanted too. Then think about Unohana--who is the oldest captain aside from Yamamoto and one of the most powerful--who chose to heal rather than fight; but is also widely regarded as on of the most scary captains. Ichigo may not be as bad as the Eleventh Company, but he seems to regard Orihime's lack of will to fight as a lack of ability. According to what I remember, there have only been once, outright, in the manga that someone LET Orihime fight rather than protect her.

Uryuu, in the fight against Kamaitachi, was fast enough to have both saved Orihime and then killed Kamaitachi himself. Instead, he let Orihime take her time to launch an unsuccessful attack against the enemy. He was willing to see if Orihime could do it, rather than just him constantly saving her. Tatsuki, too, believed that Orihime could fight enough for Tatsuki to train Orihime for long enough to make black belt. That too means that Orihime is SKILLED enough to make black belt.

Sorry for talking so much.