This is sort of a holiday scolding but also an appeal for ... peace and goodwill.
You guys know the rule about character bashing in this community—I’m easy on it because for me it’s not as big a deal as REAL LIFE PEOPLE bashing, and we should note the difference in these days where fantasy worlds and real life become harder to distinguish on the Internet and elsewhere. Let’s just recall the recent chapter where Sensei had to distinguish between the two Ichigos on one page with “Warning: Orihime Vision” and “Reality.” And a couple pages later Kubo-sensei again makes the distinction between two Ichigos by cleverly contrasting Yuzu’s idealization of him and Karin’s cynical version. “He’s not an anime character,” Karin says—but of course, he is. Way to layer the poetry, Sensei.
In the end, these characters, as real as they may feel to us, are Kubo’s children, not ours.
I know I’m as emotional as they come but when it comes to character-bashing, I’ve often felt like the Asperger’s kid at the ballgame who doesn’t get the clue when everyone else is bemoaning the team’s losing score; my emotional responses to people telling me my favorite character is a fag or any one of my beloved ships is boring, sick, or (horror) “hopeless treacle” is to feel bemused. The other day, though, after a particularly rough week in Real Life, a random, rather mild comment about Ishida being “rude” in this past week’s chapter struck my heart like a flaming arrow. Maybe I was incensed because I thought the reader misread the chapter to read Ishida’s rudeness directed at Orihime (it was directed at Ryuuken) or maybe it was because Ishida’s rudeness to me seemed so very in character, but when my heart was done smoldering (and I’d finished typing my curt response on the forum), I poked at the embers of my rage and thought, “wow, so this is what it feels like.”
How do you stand it?
How do you stand this sort of anguish over what other people think about your favorite fictional people? I mean, I understand the anxiety that comes from the text itself—I’ve been fretting over Orihime’s characterization for years, and for months I was worried if Ishida would ever be healed of injuries suffered on the dome (I wasn’t alone—his own seiyuu said on Bleach B station that he thought Ishida wouldn’t be!). I’m rather lucky in that while I have my favorites, I can easily be distracted from fretting over them because short of very few characters (and Kubo made me love Nnoitra eventually) I like what’s going on in Bleach all the time. Hell, I even enjoyed the Hueco Mundo arc (even though I sweated the pacing XD)—
But I’ll take the Hueco Mundo arc twice over for four more years to one more week of the way fandom has been behaving lately. Yeah, some of the usual nutcases campaigning for the Darwin Awards. Someone tells a fellow fan to die and fuck her whole family because of a shipping disagreement. There’s the usual skewing of facts and nobody listening to genuine discourse and only advertising the garbage. There’s Orihime hate which makes me twitch (look, I criticize the character plenty and am impatient with her characterization but I adore her—I truly adore her), there’s “Kubo he writes bad” stuff which has ALWAYS made me twitch (I don’t think he’s perfect by any means but his strength isn’t linear plot, it’s poetry and characterization and he takes his fucking time). There’s fussing and chiding and inordinate nonsense that I suppose is only to be expected when a new arc starts that's so full of mysteries but please, people, if there was ever a time called for patience—
The arc has only begun.
Bleach is Kubo’s baby—not ours. We’re free to speculate and hope, but when our hopes and speculations don’t align with the text, then don’t flame the author. Really, he’s doing what he wants to do. Just admit that we can be wrong sometimes about our speculations (I do freely—I never understood the big deal about not predicting before more info was in—that takes a lot of fun out of predicting and the emotional payoffs when you’re right are just DANDY). Be careful to not, like Orihime in the last chapter, confuse your own fanon with Kubo’s reality.
Shippers, shippers, shippers, pleaaaase. To those of you who feel like Orihime’s current in-love-ness with Ichigo negates the lessons of the whole Hueco Mundo arc and makes Ulquiorra’s death meaningless, remember that Kubo said that he planned to touch upon subplots of that very arc in this one. To those of you who are fed up with Orihime still being in love with Ichigo and falling on the floor while in the throes of that love, remember that this is Bleach redux and Orihime was in love with Ichigo in the beginning of Bleach and she’ll be in love with him now—only now things seem to have a darker tone for every resonance this time around. Why the hell isn’t Orihime wearing her hairpins? Why didn’t she heal Ishida in the last chapter? Things will be explained in due time. To those of you celebrating Ichigo and Orihime canon because of the pair’s apparent new closeness, I celebrate with you that they do seem to be closer friends but I wouldn’t buy dresses for the wedding just yet. The ghost of those looks Ichigo and Rukia gave one another at the conclusion of the previous arc hovers over this one like that repeated panel of the moooooon.
It’s the holidays. Bleach will be off for a while. When it returns, we may get some answers about the Kurosaki family, Isshin’s past, maybe Orihime’s hairpins, maybe RYUUKEN (omg), so why can’t we all just be happy for the sake of the winter vacation time and in the spirit of good cheer not get all into one another’s hair over stupid shit? I know the holidays are stressful. G-D KNOWS my Hanukah time just about killed me and I have a bar mitzvah on the 25th. But I still look forward to my Bleach. Excuse me, Kubo-sensei’s Bleach. It’s mine only insofar in that he writes it and my imagination steals it.
Send your cards and letters not to me but to HIM at
c/o Weekly Shounen Jump
He's not a bad guy. I have nothing but respect and affection for him, and I always get so sad when I hear people dissing him for not writing the story they want him to write. His story rarely disappoints me, only frustrates me with how long it takes but then again I suspect I will be heartbroken when it is finally over. I've seen people come and go in this fandom, and it's funny how much I still miss some of you from years ago. Maybe my faithfulness is that of a basset hound's but I'll never quit Bleach--especially not now when it's so interesting. Anyway, Happy Holidays. I won't be on much this weekend. I'm picking up a new kitten at the airport today actually. His name is Ichigo. ^^
(eta--ARRGH, to top off my bad week, Ichigo's driver person was in a wreck on the way to the airport so my kitty will be delayed... He's fine, Rhiannon is fine, but it seems my kitty has his namesake's bad luck this year.... I'm sad--please fandom, do NOT make me sadder!)