If ih was always intended, then there were a lot of unnecessary moments between Ichigo and Rukia that Kubo shouldn't have shown in the manga. It now feels out of place since apparently their bond isn't meant to be seen as "romantic". Makes me feel like the ir bond was merely a ploy to bring in more readers.
I agree anon, and I wish that if IchiRuki wasn’t meant to be canon, he wouldn’t have romanticized the ship so strongly. But he did, and there’s no way all of this is just one big platonic bond or one big plot to keep people reading, given how starved for IchiRuki content we were during the Blood War arc.
I/H was never shown to be anything but romantically one-sided until the very end
Yet throughout the series IchiRuki got things such as:
there’s a reason Ichigo’s desing was altered to contrast Rukia’s
there’s a reason Rukia was named to be Ichigo’s ray of light
there’s a reason he made then BOTH protagonists to develop equally, something not done very often for a male and female character
there’s a reason Kubo gave them several titles, exclusive to them ~Death and the Strawberry (and by extension Deathberry) ~King and Queen ~Black Sun and White Moon
there’s a reason their entire characters contrast each other so much, from their palettes and personality, to their shinigami powers and zanpakuto,even down to their zodiacs that make them perfectly compatible
there’s a reason there are more IchiRuki spreads than any other set of characters or pairings, drawn by Kubo
there’s a reason he told people viewing the Fade to Black film to give special attention to Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship, and suggested one might take a romantic partner to see the film
there’s a reason only Ichigo and Rukia were given poetry to express their relationship
there’s a reason he was always so playful and ambiguous about the status of their relationship
there’s a reason he expressed having a hard time drawing Ichigo without Rukia, and would add her to art without even thinking about it
there’s a reason one of the above spreads is called the Honeymoon Spread, named by Kubo himself
there’s a reason why during the SS arc, Ichigo corrected anyone who mocked him for “wanting to save Rukia” He didn’t just want to save her. His exact words were “I have to save her!”
there’s a reason why during the HM arc, Ichigo was so determined to beat Grimmjow, and even pointed out that is wasn’t to save Orihime (the person they’d gone to HM in the first place for), but to get back at him for hurting Rukia.
there’s a reason why when he does save Rukia, the scene is paralleled to the time Isshin saves Masaki
there’s a reason why thoughts of his friends didn’t activate Fullbring, but the thought of Rukia alone (complete with the shojo-shading and possibly the most beautifully-drawn panel of Rukia in the series) gave him what he needed to activate it
there’s a reason why when he’s crying about his powers, Rukia showing up again and giving them back (something she expressed a promise to do) his tears ceased
there’s a reason Ichigo thanks Rukia for stopping his rain (a long running metaphor for his own sadness)
there’s a Rukia changed Ichigo’s destiny
there’s a reason their destiny is a shared one
there’s a reason the animation studio gave so many extra episodes that featured IchiRuki, and he complimented the episodes and noted the ice skating as being his favorite (you know, instead of maybe asking them to tone down the romance or making special note of a canon pairing’s episode etc)
there’s a reason he added several sexually suggestive puns between Ichigo and Rukia in the manga, including a very famous penetration joke.
there’s a reason why when during their goodbye scene from Farewell Swords as shown above, there’s shojo-style shading around both of them. Kubo has been very tactful in the use of shading. Ichigo is in scenes with other girls where they are shaded as they’re expressing something romantic/flirtatious toward him, but he isn’t shaded because he either isn’t getting the ~romantic~ vibe, or he’s exasperated by what they’re doing and doesn’t see it as something cute/flirty/what have you. But here, he’s saying goodbye to Rukia, and he’s shaded like her, indicating they’re expressing those same romantic emotions. Many fans took this scene to be Kubo signaling that IchiRuki actually would be moving to a romance
there’s a reason WSJ used IchiRuki content to promote the last chapter, instead of the canon pairings or just Ichigo alone, or Ichigo and Rukia content that wasn’t so shippy
there’s a reason IchiRuki is the most popular ship in the fandom by such a large margin
there’s a reason so many people, shippers and non-shippers alike, were expecting them to become canon and expressed outrage and confusion when they were not
it’s because Kubo wrote and drew them that way, Kubo added those nuances, Kubo dropped those hints. Everything in the series up until the final arc indicates Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship moving on to becoming romantic, but suddenly everything during the arc was focused on keeping them apart (pro tip, avoiding one pairing’s interactions and serious development does not suddenly build up another), despite Urahara alluding to a team up attack. Anticipation for their reunion was built up, and all signs pointed to Rukia getting to Ichigo to combine their powers being the deciding factor in this final fight. The lack of communication was startling for many readers. The sudden jump from that last blow, to Rukia being made a captain, to Ichigo and Rukia reuniting with their own separate families, was a shock and a disappointment, and it’s really telling that it’s only fans of the canon ship at all happy, and not even all of them are actually happy, because they know their canon was rushed and weak, and not what they deserved. Fans of all sorts of parings from the series have expressed wishing the ending would have been open if not IchiRuki, because as it stands the ending does not make sense and does not fit with the narrative.
IchiRuki had everything going for it to be canon, all dashed away in the last minute, and for what? An utterly unsatisfying end to their story.
Περπατώ και νυχτώνει. Αποφασίζω και νυχτώνει. Όχι δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Υπήρξα περίεργη και μελετηρή. Ξέρω απ’ όλα. Λίγο απ’ όλα. Τα ονόματα των λουλουδιών όταν μαραίνονται, πότε πρασινίζουν οι λέξεις και πότε κρυώνουμε. Πόσο εύκολα γυρίζει η κλειδαριά των αισθημάτων μ’ ένα οποιοδήποτε κλειδί της λησμονιάς. Όχι δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Πέρασα μέρες με βροχή, εντάθηκα πίσω απ΄αυτό το συρματόπλεγμα το υδάτινο υπομονετικά κι απαρατήρητα, όπως ο πόνος των δέντρων όταν το ύστατο φύλλο τους φεύγει κι όπως ο φόβος των γενναίων. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Πέρασα από κήπους, στάθηκα σε συντριβάνια και είδα πολλά αγαλματίδια να γελούν σε αθέατα αίτια χαράς. Και μικρούς ερωτιδείς, καυχησιάρηδες. Τα τεντωμένα τόξα τους βγήκανε μισοφέγγαρο σε νύχτες μου και ρέμβασα. Είδα πολλά και ωραία όνειρα και είδα να ξεχνιέμαι. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Περπάτησα πολύ στα αισθήματα, τα δικά μου και των άλλων, κι έμενε πάντα χώρος ανάμεσά τους να περάσει ο πλατύς χρόνος. Πέρασα από ταχυδρομεία και ξαναπέρασα. Έγραψα γράμματα και ξαναέγραψα και στο θεό της απαντήσεως προσευχήθηκα άκοπα. Έλαβα κάρτες σύντομες: εγκάρδιο αποχαιρετηστήριο από την Πάτρα και κα΄τι χαιρετίσματα από τον Πύργο της Πίζας που γέρνει. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη που γέρνει η μέρα.
Μίλησα πολύ. Στους ανθρώπους, στους φανοστάτες, στις φωτογραφίες. Και πολύ στις αλυσίδες. Έμαθα να διαβάζω χέρια και να χάνω χέρια. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Ταξίδεψα μάλιστα. Πήγα κι από ‘δω, πήγα κι από ‘κει… Παντού έτοιμος να γεράσει ο κόσμος. Έχασα κι από ‘δω, έχασα κι από ‘κει. Κι από την προσοχή μου μέσα έχασα κι απ’ την απροσεξία μου. Πήγα και στη θάλασσα. Μου οφειλόταν ένα πλάτος. Πες πως το πήρα. Φοβήθηκα τη μοναξιά και φαντάστηκα ανθρώπους. Τους είδα να πέφτουν απ’ το χέρι μιας ήσυχης σκόνης, που διέτρεχε μιαν ηλιαχτίδα κι άλλους από τον ήχο μιας καμπάνας ελάχιστης. Και ηχήθηκα σε κωδωνοκρουσίες ορθόδοξης ερημίας. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Έπιασα και φωτιά και σιγοκάηκα. Και δεν μου ‘λειψε ούτε των φεγγαριών η πείρα. Η χάση τους πάνω από θάλασσες κι από μάτια, σκοτεινή, με ακόνισε. Όχι, δεν είμαι λυπημένη.
Όσο μπόρεσα έφερ’ αντίσταση σ’ αυτό το ποτάμι όταν είχε νερό πολύ, να μη με πάρει, κι όσο ήταν δυνατόν φαντάστηκα νερό στα ξεροπόταμα και παρασύρθηκα’