1. Inoue Orihime is a character that I LIKE, but I do not think she's perfect. Perfect is boring and impossible. Not one single character in that manga is perfect.
2. Shounen manga is full of fighting, and Kubo's BLEACH does not deviate from that norm.
3. Kubo has not written one single "weak" female character in BLEACH so far.
Orihime's fans know all about her history and childhood trials. Ichigo, Chad, and Ishida also have dealt with their own obstacles as kids: losing loved ones, having to deal with loneliness, etc. Orihime's only difference is in her chromosomes (biological sex) and gender. In BLEACH though, when it comes to fighting, if one has the abilities, gender does not matter. So please, if you're going to tell me that Orihime deserves more slack because she's a girl, allow me to introduce you to Arisawa Tatsuki, and Kurosaki Karin. Or if you're going for the "with super-powers" angle: Shihouin Yoruichi, for crying out loud. BLEACH is a story that has proven time and time again to be full of equality among fighters of different genders.
Orihime has amazing powers! Powers that have been touted as defying GOD. She has used them all effectively at least once, and has learned to use two of the three types with great success. Her offensive power is one she's had some trouble with, because her resolve wasn't as strong as the time she used it successfully to rescue her best friend. And then one time, that power got smashed completely. And it was like a part of her own fighting spirit was smashed. Because that's exactly what happened.
I'm going to talk a lot about Tsubaki here, because it seems that many Orihime fans don't quite understand exactly what he IS, and what he is not. And since some people are loath to click links to manga evidence, and like to poke fun at inline image proof, I'm going to type it out. Everything I say here (unless stated otherwise) is a manga FACT and is not my opinion. Wanna challenge any of it? You'll have to click on those asterisks and read those pages first, sorry.
Orihime's powers are all a type of event-rejection.* These include defensive*, "healing"*, and offensive.* Each part, from the very beginning, was described as being part of her own soul.* Including offensive. When she met Hacchi, he told her these powers were manifested in her hairpins much like a zanpakutou.* Well, what does that mean, exactly? We saw that Hacchi restored Tsubaki effortlessly, and even said SHE HERSELF could do the same, and Hacchi had never even seen Tsubaki before.* Obviously the big guy was not lying when he told her she has the ability to restore Tsubaki, or ANY of her Shun Shun Rikka at will. He did it right in front of her, after all. Keeping this in mind, let's shift to what he said about her flowers being "like a zanpakutou".
If you don't want to use Ichigo as an example (understandable, as he's the Hero and is outside the Shinigami mold), then let's look at other Shinigami and their zanpakutou. I'm not talking about anime filler. I'm talking about the actual manga.
- Kenpachi: He fought Ichigo full-strength, and his as-yet nameless zanpakutou was broken.* But a few days later, there it was again, slicing up Komamura and Tousen.*
- Renji: We saw Zabimaru (in bankai!) shredded by Byakuya's bankai. And yet, Renji kept going even when Zabimaru was finally broken.* But a few hours later, he was using it against Aizen, not completely healed but still there.* And a few weeks later, there it was again, whole and one, beating up Il Forte.*
Rukia: Sode no Shirayuki was broken during the fight with Aaronierro.* But she willingly re-formed it to defeat him.* It then returned to its broken state, but was fully re-formed when she fought against Rudobon soon after that.*
I could give other examples, but the point is: Zanpakutou can be fixed at least temporarily by a Shinigami's resolve. And by healing the shinigami who wield them, they're back to normal completely. Each zanpakutou is part of a Shinigami's spirit. And Hacchi plainly said Orihime's hairpins are like a Shinigami's Zanpakutou, then proved as much by bringing back Tsubaki, and claiming she could have done the same on her own. She was physically healthy and up to speed then. No reason to believe that as long as she's not wounded, she can't revive her flowers if they are destroyed.
Granted, she was pretty badly wounded after Tsubaki was destroyed. Nobody would have expected her to revive him when she was lying on the ground with a broken arm and a face half covered in blood.* And, before Hacchi, she didn't KNOW she could revive her obnoxious little fighting Camellia at will.
But she had this knowledge, as well as her health, all throughout the HM arc. I'm not leaving out the possibility that something was done to her or that something about her was "different" as both Grimmjow* and Ulquiorra mentioned to Ichigo.* But until those remarks are explained, the only real reason Orihime has for not acting more and using her powers more is LACK OF RESOLVE, i.e. insecurity. And that is all I'm going to say about the events on the dome, specifically. Others have debated those scenes over and over, and I can't add anything more to them. Orihime admitted she screwed up,* and she's coming to terms with that.* Current storyline-wise, she is still in possession of her full range of powers.
So why is it that some people claim she shouldn't ever have to use Tsubaki? Why does he exist, as part of her own spirit, if he's supposed to be wrapped up in a cotton-filled box like a bloody Christmas tree ornament? He can be revived at will, as can (theoretically) her other flowers. Orihime herself has said REPEATEDLY that she wants* to* fight.* She can STILL fight. I would think being a fan of a character would mean one would want her to realize her full potential because she wants to, and in this case, Hacchi told her "It's not about how your power should be, it's about how you WANT it to be."* If she truly WANTS to fight, she CAN, because she has the power, and it does what she wants.
It's because of the above that I hang on to hope that Orihime will prove herself to be an equal among her friends. Kubo didn't give her these powers for no reason, and he doesn't drop a stitch. She wants to fight, she can, so she should be allowed to.
BLEACH chapters 43, 114, 121, 139, 144, 173, 194, 211, 228, 233, 240, 267, 268, 269, 280, 340, 352