Why People Put Too Much Stock In Orihime's Powers
Because Aizen said so? Aizen the troll of all trolls? I’ve said before that Aizen has been known to play with facts, but he isn’t exactly a liar. I actually do take him on his word that Orihime’s powers trespass on the territory of GOD. In other words, when Aizen bullshits, I pay attention. When Bleach fandom bullshits, I tend to tune out—unless it’s one of those situations like this week when I think people are getting super carried away with prematurely announcing Orihime as the new main character of the series. They honestly expect her to have the perfect counter to Yhwach’s amazing over-poweredness. What? Can she time-travel into Yhwach’s future now? Can she reject his google eyes?
Oh Orihime’s special all right–but her specialness isn’t going to reject Yhwach out of existence or even do very much in helping Ichigo counteract the Big Bad in the upcoming chapter; for her to do so would deviate from the standard script of “here is where the dark gets darker and the odds seem insurmountable.” I don’t mean to discount Orihime at all; this appears to be her redemption arc in which she is given characterization growth; if she just tries her best and doesn’t lose her mind like she did in the Lust arc, she’s miles ahead with much of the Bleach audience that maligned her back in those years. Her specialness won’t be just sitting there and not failing, though; the narrative itself demands that it be more—by that I mean she’ll do SOMETHING, just not something along the lines of what a main character does (defeat the Big Bad with a previously unheard of power).
As I mentioned in response to a Tumblr ask earlier last week, even without Aizen’s pronouncement of Orihime’s godlike ability, we’ve had plenty foreshadowing about Orihime’s specialness. From Hacchi who hinted that her powers were like his own (think about boundaries) and dependent on her will. And from Loli and Menoli in the scene when Orihime basically performed a resurrection from the dead. So do I think Orihime has yet to show us what she’s capable of besides throwing up a big ass shield to protect Ichigo? Absolutely. I absolutely think she’s going to do something else.
Not to be a broken record, but one of those things is show off her offensive—Tsubaki has been misfired since SS twice ever since Orihime began to doubt her ability to be useful on the battle. And she also hasn’t had the opportunity to revive someone important to the plot back from the dead—her ability to do that has been hinted at but never shown. There’s a simple reason why Orihime, as I’ve said before, is a mess of insecurities. Yeah, yeah, she’s a teenage girl and being insecure goes with the territory, but from a narrative standpoint, if she were a confident fully-realized character she’d basically be Bleach’s dragonballs and she could do a whole lot that would take away from the tension of the plot. This is where Kubo went astray in writing her. He had her fuck up big time in the Lust Arc, be afraid of her beloved in his hollow form, not use her rikka to attempt to save Ichigo when he was being tortured by Nnoitra, not use any means of negotiation with Ulquiorra, not heal Ishida who sat next to her without a hand for the duration of a whole fight and then for GOD knows how long with a sword impaled in his belly–the list goes on. I don’t know how many haters Orihime earned that year. And then the next year when she got giggly and fun again and it appeared her personality hadn’t deepened from her experiences in Hueco Mundo (I for one was glad to see her smile; I just didn’t like her used for fanservice, eating hot dogs in mushroom pajamas etc) Unlike plenty people I didn’t hate Orihime ever and unlike a lot of her fans I didn’t apologize for her at any time either—I knew Kubo was up to something and I always said a revisit to the Lust arc themes was likely…. and looky, here we are. Orihime fulfilled her vow to fight alongside Ichigo and yes, she protected him. Beautifully.
I also said things would get darker in Lust Redux and they are dark now. Because if you’ll recall, the Lust arc was a miasma of blackness for chapters and chapters. Ulquiorra, like Yhwach is telling Ichigo now, commanded those before him to despair. Ulquiorra had his reasons–he was a nihilist by nature who didn’t understand the human heart. Yhwach is the worst villain–he sees everything, like some overpowered Santa Claus (he knows if you’ve been nice or naughty, can bestow you a shrift or taketh away your powers). By all accounts, he simply HAS to be the biggest bad of all bads because this is the final arc. Yhwach now, as was revealed this week, is not only omniscient–so far, we understand that to be all-seeing, but he is also omnipotent and so far we understand that his ALMIGHTY can change the future.
Can Orihime heal things that were broken in the past and restore them to their original state? Yes. We’ve seen evidence of that. Can she go into the future? No evidence of that at all. In fact in this past chapter 378, we saw Yhwach cheat Orihime’s future when he landed a blow on Ichigo; he did not break her shield or slide his black goo under or over it as he had been doing; he cut Ichigo by going into the future and changing Orihime’s protecting him with her santen kesshun. Can Orihime pass through boundaries no one else can pass? Absolutely. But is the future a boundary she can pass? I don’t think so. There ARE limits to Orihime’s powers. She is a human, as Yhwach has noted, time and time again, and some human fans keep missing this fact (I myself was one of those once clinging to the hope that Orihime would be revealed to have some otherworldly, maybe Quincy origin). She is not one of the five war potentials that the Almighty with his power of seeing and knowing everything has identified. Nope. She is human, a special human, a miraculous healer but even in that capacity, she has limits. Right now we are in a realm that is reiatsu-rich, and Orihime has difficulty healing reiatsu (http://www.mangareader.net/bleach/382/7) as Unohana once noted. Orihime can heal physical wounds easily; she had great difficulty healing Ichigo in the Arrancar arc when Ulquiorra’s reiatsu was interferring, and at the end of the Lust arc, Ichigo’s form healed himself. So yes, Orihime is NOT that godlike. There are limits to her powers.
All that said, there are a few things she needs to do to complete her coming-of-age story in Bleach and resolve her character. I have predictions. The worst I can be is wrong. Of the first I’m fairly certain 1) she’ll shoot Tsubaki in defense of a friend. My bet is this will be Ishida because she’s already fulfilled her vow in protecting Ichigo. Kubo teased us with her standing up for Ishida against Tsukishima in the Fullbringer arc and yeah, I say she needs to make it up to Ishida for letting him bleed his guts out all over everywhere in the Lust Arc. Since I don’t think Tsubaki can do crap against Yhwach, maybe she’ll take down Hashwalth. This would make me sad because I love Juugram but other than some crazy scenario where maybe she has to shoot at a crazed monster-form Ichigo, I don’t know how else Tsubaki will make his glorious offensive appearance. All I know is I can’t wait. 2) She will revive someone from death or near-death to clarify her resurrection abilities. Maybe she will revive a bunch of people at the end–who knows? I actually don’t want her to be a handy dandy Shenron and if she does revive someone, I want it to be a personal, intimate moment. Like I said, it’s not a snap of her fingers for her to wipe out the slaughter of millions and restore lost reiatsu. She has to work at things. I imagine that her reviving someone she cares for would take emotional investment. 3) She has to resolve her feelings for Ichigo She already knows of Rukia’s importance to Ichigo. She said as much in the SS arc when she said Rukia was the one who changed his world, but when Rukia was gone for 17 months, Orihime was putting the moves on Ichigo, blushing in his room, holding out hope. Shipper territory here but I believe that her witnessing an Ichigo and Rukia reunion will maybe allow her to understand where Ichigo’s heart belongs. She’s always known, but like all lessons that are best understood when illustrated, she needs a moment where “I’ve always known this and now I can accept Ichigo as my true friend” can happen. Because she’s fought with him—and as Bleach teaches, anyone who fights with Ichigo is his blessed nakama forever.Lastly, I want to note something that has been said before by Orihime fans in the past. She hasn’t trained much. Yoruichi trained her briefly in the Soul Society arc; Hacchi, who could’ve been her mentor, wasn’t, and Urahara coldly turned her away. Orihime, unlike other characters in the manga who have had the best teachers, has been figuring things out by herself. Sometimes people who do that hit upon revelations with great sudden clarity—in stories anyway. Maybe that will happen with Orihime. I want the best for her; I’ve always loved her character. I just don’t, like so many right now, expect her to usurp Ichigo as the MC and beat Yhwach.