What are your thoughts about Ichigo and Rukia as a platonic friendship now that Bleach is over?
To me it’s two people who are so very close to each other and would give their life for each other and they trust each other with their life but it never went into the romance department .
When they meet each other rukia is over 100 year old when ichigo is 15 . I’ve never been part of the crowd that said ichigo and rukia couldn’t be together because of the age gap because an age gap is a bad thing only when there is a inbalance of powers in the relationship . This was never the case for ichigo and rukia except in the very first few chapters .
But still the fact remains that when ichigo and rukia first met ichigo is like a child in rukia’s eyes . For the better part of the first arc they have a mentor / student dynamic . Rukia explains to him the world of the shinigamis , the hollows , she shows him how to use his powers and why he should use his powers . Rukia is much more mature in the way she sees the world and it shows when she aks ichigo not to go after her when she’s taken to SS by Byakuya and Renji .
Rukia gives to Ichigo the power to protect which was something he always needed to become the person he truly is inside . Like on the bleach wikipedia someone wrote that ichigo refused to use his powers at first because of his cynicism and that’s like the most inacurrate thing I’ve ever read in my life . When ichigo lost his mother he went from a sheltered mama’s boy to a brash ,loudmouth , scowling person . He did that to protect himself because he did not want to ever be hurt again the way he hurt when his mother died . Ichigo distanced himself from people in a way because he did not want to get attached to people like he was to his mother when there was a risk he would loose them again . But Rukia gave him a way to overcome this distance . She gave him the power to protect . Ichigo was now able to fully love people , to let them get close to him because he knew he would have the power to protect them , he wouldn’t be powerless if they were in danger . Thanks to Rukia Ichigo became who he truly is : a protector .
And this is why Ichigo thanks rukia ‘ thanks to you the rain has stopped’ . I know a lot of people mistook this as a romantic thing but no , clearly no . The rain hasn’t stop because of who rukia is but because of what she did for him .
Ichigo and rukia are very close , they understand the other perfectly , they don’t need words to communicate . But the thing is , contrary to the fanon version of them , they are totally fine living into 2 different dimensions and only seeing each other once in awhile . They know the bond they have is unbreakable and they also know that they do not look for the same thing in their lives . Rukia wanted the recognition of byakuya and to not be alone anymore like she was after her separation with renji . When they part at the end of the SS arc Rukia announce to Ichigo she’ll stay in soul society because she mended the bond with her brother and renji . And ichigo is fine with that . He knew rukia’s world was soul society and he’s fine going back to the human world without her because he knows she’s happy and safe there . As for him he goes back to the human world because that’s where he belongs .
After in the vizards arc rukia comes back and take her role as ichigo’s mentor back . She punch him in the gut and reminds him of who he is “ that’s the kind of man you are in my heart” . Ichigo is reminded of who he is and what he can do and is able to get out of his depressed state after orihime chad and tatsuki were hurt by the espadas .
Ichigo and rukia are totally at ease and confortable with each other and their interactions are always really funny and entertaining . I’ve seen that used a lot as an anti ichihime argument because ichigo and orihime “ tip toe around each other” . And that’s very true but that’s not an anti ichihime argument at all quite the contrary . If ichigo and orihime tip toe around each other it’s because there is a latent romantic / sexual tensions to their interactions . They want to reach out for the other but do not allow themselves to ( I made a really long post about it back in the day just ask for the link and I’ll find it for you ) but with rukia and ichigo there was never this kind of tension . She lived in his closet for months and yet there was never any discomfort /awkward tension between them . Just like when you share a room with your best friend you’re at ease and confortable .
The thing that is amazing with their friendship is that they can go on for very long periods without speaking / seeing each other and yet as soon as they see each other it’s like time hasn’t passed . Their bond is the same , it will always be the same . But even better being separated is not a problem to them . They know that they belong in different dimensions yet it’s okay because they know the other live belong there and they’re both fine with it .
During the fullbringer arc , a lot of fans said ichigo’s depression was due to rukia’s absence . That’s ridiculous . Ichigo and rukia had been separated plenty of times before and after the fullbring arc and every time both ichigo and rukia proved to be fine during those periods . Ichigo was obviously depressed because he lost the ability to protect the people he loves . He does not know who he is anymore if he’s not a protector .
The absence of Rukia obviously hurt ichigo . He said that rukia hadn’t come to visit during those 17 months when he knows that she could have taken a gigai and come visit him . And this hurts him . I think that at some levels he even feels betrayed and her absence reinforce his feeling of not being worth anything without his powers . When he awakens his fullbring powers chad tells ichigo to think about what made him proud of being a shinigami and ichigo with a pained expression on his face thinks of rukia .
I’ve seen so many edits of this scene with the word pride replaced by the word love I think the ichiruki fandom managed to convince themselves it was love . But no it was pride . Chad when he awakened his fullbring thought of his abuelo who taught him how to use his fist but more importantly WHY he should use his fists and chad constructed his whole identity around it .
It was the same for ichigo , Rukia taught him how to use his powers and WHY he should use them ( protecting people ) . If ichigo’s face is so pained here it’s because he must have forbade himself to think about rukia and all of soul society during those 17 months being powerless . He must have forced himself to move on and not allowed himself to feel hurt over the ‘ abandonment ‘ of rukia and renji .
I think that one of the reason Ichigo was so devastated when Tsukishima changed the past of his friends and family is because he already knows the pain of severed bonds because he thinks his bond with rukia was severed when he lost his powers and she did not come to visit him even though she had the possibility . But in the end she gives him his powers back once again and Ichigo , this time does not need to be reminded of who he is because he now knows perfectly that he is indeed a protector . She only tells him what he is capable of doing ( re creating the bonds he has with his friends and family despite what tsukishima did to them ) . And now Ichigo knows he can do it because as soon as he saw rukia he knew that her absence during those 17 months weren’t due as he thought to his worthlessness but because everybody was preparing for him to regain his powers . He saw her and he understood that the bond they share is indeed unbreakable . And same goes with his other nakamas . So he now knows he can get them back ( and he was right because we saw orihime beginning to break through tsukihima’s ability because of her love for ichigo )
After the end of the fullbring arc ichigo and rukia part again and this time no need for dramatic farewell because they both know the bond they share is unbreakable and will always be .
After that they do not interract much but it doesn’t matter because we know where they stand , we know how strong their bond is . Their relationship doesn’t need to evolve into something else . They are each other eternal nakama and the reader doesn’t need constant reassurance of that .
TL ; DR : Ichigo and Rukia have an unbreakable bond . In the first two arcs their friendship helped them both make peace with themselves . Ichigo because he had the power to protect and rukia because she understood thanks to ichigo that she could change the world around her and change the state of her relationship with Byakuya and renji . After that their friendship was a constant , eternal thing . They did not need to be always together to remain close . No matter how long they’re separated they know that as soon as they’ll see the other again their interactions would be the same as before .