I recently found out that Bleach ended and so I decided to read the rest of it (I stopped after the Fullbring arc).
A lot of the western fandom really dislikes the last chapter.
We find out that after a 10 year time jump, Rukia isn’t with Ichigo. She’s with Renji and he’s with Orihime. Personally I liked this ending. Kubo planned from the beginning for Ichigo’s kid and Rukia’s kid to meet at the end. Meaning they wouldn’t be together. I mean it was rushed, lacking in development, and there were many questions left unanswered (some of which are answered in We Do knot Always Love You - a light novel), but considering Ichigo didn’t have any room for romance during the actual series, it still made sense. It makes sense to me that he and Rukia have a really close and wonderful relationship that doesn’t need to be romantic. To be fair I did ship Ichihime, but it was more of a light “it could be nice if they got together, but I don’t think it’ll happen and he doesn’t seem to have feelings for anyone, and I think she needs to grow more herself anyway”. I also found they were interesting as foil characters.
What upsets me is that a lot of the fans hate Orihime or (in much lesser numbers) Rukia cuz of shipping wars or other misguided reasons. A lot of people dislike Orihime cuz she was used as fan service, or she didn’t always know exactly what to do, or she had human flaws as a normal 15 year old. But I love her. So much. She was one of the few main characters who really embodied what it might be like to be a kid in those situations. Chad was nearly inhuman in terms of resilience and strength, similar with Ichigo, and Ishida was never typical even without the ingrained Quincy training and ideology. She was like a tether to the reality of the events that unfolded. I was disappointed in how her development panned out, but I feel that she overcame a lot and grew emotionally even if not as much in terms of OP magic powers.
Hime was what most of us would be like in similar situations at that age - unsure, short on confidence, trying her best, making mistakes, trying to be useful, making some not so great choices in love, and getting upset when traumatic things are happening. But she also had incredible empathy, compassion, resolve, perception, and determination. A lot of people compare her to Rukia, but she was hundreds of years older with a much different life and much different expectations and training. I’ve read a couple rants where someone said they hate Orihime, wanted her to die, cuz she has low self esteem, makes bad choices, and isn’t a good role model for young girls. That somehow she makes it seem like it’s ok to not have confidence or that it’s ok to devote yourself to someone for 5 lifetimes when you’re 15. But I think they miss the point. It’s not good that she has low self esteem, but even with it she accomplishes a lot, grows, becomes happy and learns a lot as she gains confidence. Even without confidence she still moves forward and it begins to grow with her. When she has very low confidence, she is much less happy, and as it grows she is able to become stronger and more content. When she puts Ichigo on a pedestal, she isn’t seeing all of his sides - later she does and it scares her. She accepts him anyway, accepts his flaws. This isn’t a perfect message, since it’s not our job to accept all flaws, like abuse. But we do have to accept some flaws in every person we keep in our lives. A lot of people also hated that she healed Menoly and Loly saying it was unrealistic. But I’m sure there are lots of medical professionals who would do what they could in similar situations. Ichigo also fights for and with people who were enemies and protects them but no one says anything about that.
People also overlook her and Rukia’s friendship often. But I feel it’s an incredibly important part of Bleach, and who these girls are. Yes, Orihime gets jealous of Rukia at one point during the arrancar arc, but she doesn’t let those feelings take over her opinion of Rukia. She feels bad about being jealous, recognizing that it was irrational and affirming that she really likes Rukia as a person. People forget that you can’t control your emotions, just how you react to them. And the fact that these 2 don’t let things like jealousy overtake their mutual support and trust is amazing and beautiful. There is no girl on girl hate here. That is powerful and important. And it truly saddens me that people ignore this aspect of their interactions and that people go so far as to hate either of them.
“It answers. Your loneliness. I think that it reverberates into more than you realise.”
Ichigo sits in jinzen and listens to his Hollow’s heart crack for the thousandth time. The dig beneath his breastbone is painless, but itching.
The sky aches above him; spills clouds to flood an ocean-sky, and snaps open like a great, looming maw.
He remains, and lets it drench him.
This is how it begins, this dream.
He stills before sleep with the pang of old battle wounds migrating from kneecap to junction to spine, and lets it drown him in nostalgia. A whisper of his bedsheets becomes a whisper of something lovelier, lean and lithe and supernatural - a permanent bookmark between his ribs. She visits only on the brink of nothing, only in that boundary between reality and dreams, and it becomes fleeting enough that he feels he must have transcended. From that boy. From that world. From her side. Sleep takes him as easily as she took a sword through his chest.
Some dreams are thick enough to suffocate him, some where she lies and carves into him eyes from a time where they had been speaking of nothing- and everything all at once.
This one does not suffocate, this dream. This one is a slip-knot.
He is reminded of this as Zangetsu morphs in front of him, gnarled by huge, crashing waves of water, and he screams, something that Ichigo can never quite catch but clings to his insides like ink. His throat closes. That roar is always guttural.
He thinks he can place, in the horrendous workings of his jaw. Too wide and malformed and dark, chalky white turning dusty blue and then deep metal. He always feels this would be a moment best-captured in oils. Thick, and cloying, with the way his skin is struck by polar seas that penetrate his bones and lungs until he is breathless (and with the way he thinks of her ice regardless of how heavy it becomes).
As a teenage boy he will sit and gladly be drowned.
As an ageing man he will lie broken on the seabed.
Without fail, he will wake with a mask of panic and fear worming from his mouth and up his nose and clogging his airways until he can’t breathe- can’t breathe- can’t breathe-
Too soft hands and too soft words always bring him back, back, through searing coughs, (but only because she wouldn’t).
She is a ghost.
(If ghosts can echo into cartilage each night, that is. If an echo is closest to a ghost after all. If ghosts even ever existed past the imitations of his mind).
Between the breathlessness and the air, he always sees her, standing above him, a tide behind her eyes twisted into pity and sadness and grief… He wonders how much rain has muddied her seas.
It has been a century, and ten days, and ten minutes all at once.
Do you ever find that when you’re talking to someone about a series for the first time, you really need to downplay your ship?
So on the outside you’re just like “Yeah, I like these characters. I think they’re pretty cool”.
While on the inside you’re just like “OMG I love them sooooo much! They are my babies! They must be protected and are totally MEANT TO BE! And I can name a bunch of reasons why! But, I don’t want to freak you out, so I’ll just play it cool…“