For Fans of Rukia/Ichigo
UPDATED RENJI AND RUKIA ON POST 9
I hope this is in the right section. I think it is.
The following is part one of the results of a little study that I conducted to find out why particular fan pairings were more popular then others in Bleach. This first post is about Rukia and ichigo and subsequent posts will be about Ichigo and Inoue, Rukia and Renji and so on.
Note on methodology: There are two types of empirical studies; quantitative and qualitative. The first is quantitative. These studies are usually in the form of a survey or another type of point type system, and tend to be more causal in nature. These are the types of studies that you can do statistical analyses on, meaning that you can compare the mean, medium, mode and use other types of analyses tools such as standard deviance, and the bell curve. The second type of empirical study is qualitative . These types of studies, by their very nature, are quite a bit more subjective in content. Interviews is the most common type of qualitative study. My methodology was qualitative in nature. I used the forum and asked the posters for information. I also went through the various forums and looked for peoples personal reasons. This study by it’s very nature is subjective, i had to gather the information, put into a table and try to interpret the information that I gathered. This section is the result of an effort to effectively understand what is so appealing about the different character parings. We’ll start out with Ichigo seeing that he is the main character. In the the study i asked posters from different forums to tell me what they liked about Rukia and Ichigo. This is the result of that question.
I would also note that many fans though very willing to give their opinions in a Rukia vs. Inoue forum were very reluctant to share when directly asked. I think this was the most surprising thing I found.
Ichigo and Rukia.
According to most fans, the Ichigo and Rukia pairing, by far, seems to reflect the natural outcome of the story and the message that is trying to be conveyed. People that don’t instinctively (for whatever reason) latch on to another characters (Inoue or Taskui) seem to feel that this is the best and most natural couple in the series. These were the most common items brought in the anticipation of a romantic relationship between Rukia and Ichigo.
Their relationship is the driving force behind the story.
It was mentioned earlier that a desire of most fans for an Ichigo/Rukia pairing comes from the natural progression of the story. If Rukia hadn’t showed up the story wouldn’t exist. The bulk of the story (the Soul Society Arc) revolves around Ichigo’s desperate desire to save Rukia’s physical and mental well being. (though the second was inadvertent I think) It doesn’t matter what Ichigo’s reasons were because people don’t identify with his words. It’s his actions that matter. And many fans interpret Ichigo’s actions with someone that is in love but doesn’t recognize it.
Rukia’s and Ichigo’s situation has a reverse psychology kind of feel to it. Rukia is the main female lead (there are very few who would argue that) but unlike other anime’s like Naruto, or Inuyasha she is quite popular. (unlike Sakura for instances, Hinata for a long time was far more popular. I am not sure if that is still the case) Rukia is consistently third or higher in the character polls in Japan. This is very odd, one hypothesis is that Rukia’s and ichigo’s relationship have the classic anime mold, but not the classic anime characteristics.
Mold: Boy meets girl (or girl meets boy) girl (or boy) changes boy’s (or girl’s) life. Problems are presented; story ensues.
Characteristics: More often then not. This situation almost requires some type of affection if not romantic affection. In my Love Triangle essay (http://forums.narutofan.com/showthread.php?t=157104) the fourth rule discusses the importance of the Main female/Main Male relationship and that it is something that is so paramount to your understanding of anime as a whole that it’s a component that should always be examined. Never ignore the weight of the main heroine/main hero relationship
However though Rukia’s and ichigo’s situation fits the mold it doesn’t fit the characterization. For example, the two have little or no physical contact and don’t display the classic “blushing because he/she touchs me” act that is prevalent in so many anime today. The few times that Rukia and ichigo do come into contact are often violent in nature and even if they aren’t violent, they arent particularly romantic. (Ichigo carrying Rukia like a football comes to mind) This lack of initial forthrightness in establishing some sort of deeper romantic affection in view of their development as a potential couple has left something missing in a familiar pattern, or for lack of better metaphor, a link missing in the chain. This leaves people who would probably of picked INOUE picking Rukia, assuming the mangka had a established Rukia and Ichigo as soul mates from the get go. Essentially this phenonena causes people to route for the outcome that they deemed more natural, all while leaving their affection in place. (Often people try to fight against fate when it comes to couples Sakura and Naruto come to mind) Essentially Rukia’s and Ichigo’s relationship has become the under dog that everyone routes for. It would have been interesting to see how the fandom would spilt if ichigo and Rukia had the cliche instance attraction thing going on. (See Suzuka for example) In light of this analysis, it's really quite amazing the amount of supporters that ichigo and Rukia have especially since there is no CLEAR indication as to the state of their feelings. It’s not apparent if Kubo intended it to be like this or if he even intends to maintain this status quo, but he’s doing a bang up job nonetheless.
Their realistic emotional intimacy and growth (Relationship Dynamic)
This is probably the most popular answer that was given when it came to research conducted. Even though people may really like other pairings for Ichigo or rukia they just have a hard time getting pass the depth of Ichigo’s and Rukia’s relationship. Their ability to see into each other hearts and the almost force progression that results is something that can’t be easily ignored by fans that don’t have a fixation on another character. Fans see this depth and progression and then look at ichigo’s other potential interest and they just can’t see Ichigo “loving” someone that is not Rukia. (Or loving someone else while Rukia is still around) Furthermore most fans see the realistic development provided and just grow more and more attached as time goes by and as Ichigo’s and Rukia’s perceived affection becomes more apparent.
Fans see that Ichigo and Rukia aren’t people who are shallow when it comes to their emotional complexity. In not so many words Ichigo’s and Rukia’s relationship is so dynamic and so complex that it breaks down people’s emotions to see two people with such obvious attraction ignore their rightful place at each other’s side. Furthermore the perceived, though not often commented on, reasons as why they would be terrible for one another seems to just further the fire of fan’s desire adding oil to the flame as fans try to envision Rukia telling Soul Society that she is staying in the human world to be with Ichigo, forsaking her status as a nobel, her duty as a squad member of the 13th division and her relationship with her brother and Renji. Simply put. Reasons. The fans can see the reasons that these two would fall in love.
An interesting phenomena that should be commented on in connection with this variable is the tendencies of Inoue’s fans who understand ichigo’s and Rukia’s relationship. Many times in forum it seems that those fans who are not blinded by their fanboyism and at least recognize that rukia is very important to Ichigo will often make claims to the true nature of Ichigo’s and Inoue’s relationship placing Rukia in a category with Ichigo’s sisters. This is a very interesting idea which effectively displaces Rukia from Ichigo’s side and opens the path to him. Which of course would be filled with none other then Inoue the only other real contender for Ichigo’s heart. This phenomena comes out of a recognition that a strong emotional bond exists but an unwillingness to confirm the most likely path the bond will lead to. It is not conclusive as to why they do this but it’s probably because of their deep affection for inoue.
People identify with Ichigo, Rukia, or paring itself
This is the most universal of the answers, meaning that it applies to every couple that will be discussed. People like Ichigo, or identify with him and want him to succeed in life and love. They think that Ichigo wants Rukia, therefore Ichigo should get Rukia. The same argument goes for Rukia and the pairing. While VERY unique in some ways, Rukia and Ichigo relationship isn’t that unique in others, especially if you look at the boarder spectrum of anime. Full Metal Panic and Naruto have similar relationships in that the couples are violent to the point of humorous. Many people have this type of relationship in real life. The playful banner, the hitting, the flirting Etc. Many people can identify with this behavior (having a problem expressing their real emotion) and can see themselves in that relationship. They relate to Ichigo or Rukia and want them to be happy, and by extension want themselves to be happy.
The reasons people don’t like Ichigo/Rukia
1) Predictability: people don’t like it when something is set up as a possibility when it really isn’t. Inoue likes Ichigo but as of right now many fans think that everything points towards Rukia/Ichigo (its not really, like i explained earlier the fact that Ichigo and Rukia isn’t a foregone conclusion is what makes them so likable) They don’t think it’s fair for Ichigo/Rukia to be a forgone conclusion. (Which is the way that fans of the Ichigo/Rukia pairing talk about it) These are the people that go for the underdog. (Which is confusing I know many people think that rukia is the underdog) People want the gym teacher from Canvas 2 to win not the stupid little blonde chick. They fight against the norm because the norm sucks.
2) The nature of their relationship
The people that don’t like this paring feel that the nature of Ichigo’s and Rukia’s relationship is brother/sister. These fans feel that Ichigo’s actions towards Rukia couldn’t constitute romance but a deep platonic bond. These arguments tend to stem from missed opportunity then something that would conclusively point towards a brotherly affection, however as it is often said in the forums. That is a matter of interpretation.
Well there you have that’s the Ichigo/Rukia Section I will update this as soon as Inoue/Ichigo section is done. Later
I agree with you on that....Their relationship seems like a very close friendship bond not a girl/boyfriend relationship..
Originally Posted by Sinta
Thanks, but that's not my personal opinion its just want people in the study seem to believe.
Originally Posted by SSJKakashi
Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting.
Ichigo and Inoue
Inoue and ichigo is probably the relationship that has had the most foreplay. Inoue is the main rival in fan-dom for Rukia and their forums and debates are often the most heated. This paring tends to be centered on either a hatred of Rukia or just an over abundance of love for Inoue. This paring is based more on individual character development and the emotional bonds those fans make through that development, then something that develops through the natural progression of the story, or Inoue/Ichigo specific relationship dynamic. The fans in this fandom can be especially outrageous in there claims, causing fans of the other paring or people that don’t have a preference just to ignore them. However many of them are very intelligent and quite good at their arguments employing things like structural parallelism, psychoanalysis and other types of tools that emboldens their points in a clear manner. The debates between these people and the Rukia fans who don’t fall back to bashing are some of the more enjoyable exchanges I have read on anime forums. Here are the most common items brought up.
1) Same age, good chemistry etc; she is the logical choice.
These are the ideas of fans that are hoped for and not seen in the manga, and really they have a point. Fans of this paring say that no one in their right mind would choose Rukia over Inoue. The idea is difficult to understand in unless you have a overall grasp of Inoue’s place within the Bleach world. Let’s use Shuffle as an example. Shuffle is a Harem anime about a boy who has a choice to marry the daughters of both the king of the gods and the king of the demons. He is also taken care of a childhood friend who by common consent is “all that”. In the world of Shuffle it is really hard to determine who would and who wouldn’t be “popular” based on their appearances alone. This is because the characters are so much alike in their appearance. The author handles this for us however by giving us a external source of information. We gain insight to the desirable nature of the other characters by the reactions of the main’s characters male classmates. This is a common tool used in Harem anime. (Naruto exhibits some of this as well) The author shows just how big a deal it is that all these girls like this one guy all while keeping the main character aloof. In the case of Shuffle, Kaede (the childhood friend), Nerine (Daughter of the lord of demons) , Shia (Daughter of the lord of the gods) have actual fan clubs at their school. Which incidentally provides for much of the humor in the series. There is less dramatic but equally obvious showing in Bleach. Inoue is shown to be the Diva in her school by Keigo, Kon, and even Karen. Within this scope of understanding we see that Inoue is beautiful, popular and by common consent just an all around good person. Fans compare this to Rukia’s rather abrasive manner and just can’t understand why any male would pick Rukia over Inoue.
Another point that should be looked at, is that realistically two people that have an amble amount of emotional baggage don’t tend to work well in a long term relationships. Fans point out that Ichigo and Rukia are messed up emotionally and that two people with this kind of cripple can’t communicate and change effectively. Fans point to Rukia recent out break in the current arc as an example. The fans comment that Rukia was scared to talk about the status of their relationship within the realm of a companionship. They say that if it was that difficult for Rukia to talk to Ichigo about their partnership/companionship, then how on earth can people plausibly believe that she would be able to talk about her real feelings? (If indeed she has them) In connection with this idea fans also point out that as the development of a character becomes more complex the harder it is to change the very nature of that character. In truth the more development that ichigo and Rukia’s relationship receives as a “friendship” the harder it will be to make that step into a romantic relationship. Giving Inoue’s fan all the more the hope that they won’t.
Another thing that fans really like about Ichigo and Inoue is how Inoue seems to bring out Ichigo’s gentle side. Ichigo is a badass known for kicking butt and taking no prisoners. The gentleness that Ichigo seems to exhibits when in Inoue’s presence coupled with the person’s understanding of Inoue’s affection seems to tell fans of this paring that Inoue’s love may not be as one side as people intend to imply. The fans often look to the now famous quote of Mammsuto (to Inoue) which says, “With out his (Ichigo’s) bond with you Ichigo can’t remain who he is” This on the outside may look like something that is just flippant however if one thinks about Ichigo’s ability especially his grown rate. Ichigo may be faced with the possiblity of giving in to his own power, or his inner hollow. Inoue’s ability to bring out his gentle side maybe just exactly what he needs to continue on the path of righteous.
2) Inoue has big boobs.
I know that this sounds idiotic; I know this, but I had to put this in for the sheer volume of people who had this response. Though sad when you think about it, it makes sense. Simca of Air Gear in a conversation with Ringo, of the same manga, said this “it is the natural for men to fondle large breasts” Ringo asks if she was implying that Ikki (the main male character who was passed out at the time) had by default picked her implying the girl with the bigger breasts would win. Simca doesn’t answer and whether this is what Simca was implying or not is not really known but the argument still has merit. Men far more then women are carnal creatures. It is also a well know fact that most guys like bigger breasts. Inoue has large breasts so of course when guys who read this manga are presented with the choice they are going to pick Inoue over Rukia. This has nothing to do with Ichigo, the story, or even with emotion. The mere fact is if that same guy was in a similar situation in real life; they would pick the girl with the bigger boobs. Plain and simple. I could go on but I have insulted your intelligence enough this evening.
3) Inoue loves ichigo
This is actually alot more straight forward then many people think. In chapter 237 (spoiler) Inoue is leaving in the hopes of keeping her friends alive because Aizen has taken an interest in her powers. She is allowed to say good bye to one person. Now after five years of hints Inoue says, “If i just had 5 lives to live, then I could be born in 5 different cities, and eat until my stomach is full 5 times and work at 5 different jobs, and 5 times........fall in love with the same person.” Now say what you want about inoue but from that point she went from a quirky comic relief to a force to be reckon with. It was noted many times and in many post that this was the true moment of realization for many fans. That confession, which is probably one of the most tender moments in Bleach, was what really cemented the fan’s affection for Inoue. She loves Ichigo. She truly does. In a situation like that fans just can’t understand why the author would go through so much trouble to develop a character if her affection was just going to be thrown by the way side. In the minds of fans, Inoue who was ever present but never acknowledged deserves Ichigo, and nothing less will due.
It should be noted that this is the type situation that tugs on the heart. Inoue showed people in that chapter that she was truly in love and truly vulnerable. Fans can relate to inoue in this aspect which probably accounts for her die hard following. Who hasn’t had a situation of anticipated unrequited love? No one likes to see someone suffering in a situation like that. This goes to the very core of the human condition. It’s human nature to sympathize and Inoue seems to embody many of the fans of bleach who may have suffered from something similar.
4) I really relate to Ichigo/Inoue
(See first post)
Reason people don’t like Inoue/Ichigo
1) Inoue’s pinning after ichigo
Ironically, the very thing that draws many people to Inoue also repulses others. This response is a very dominate few of the female fans of Bleach. The fans who don’t like this pairing feel that Inoue’s character revolves alittle too much around her love of Ichigo and her jealousy of Rukia. Fans feel that for Inoue to be a truly 3-d character that she needs some self reflection focusing on what makes her tick outside of Ichigo, because at this point we don’t know what makes her tick outside Ichigo. Inoue isn’t a strong character so people who are strong (especially women) don’t understand her pinning and depression when it comes to Ichigo. Strong women (the fans) if they liked a guy would take steps to make him theirs. Period. No, if, ands, buts, about it. These type of women (Jenn I’m referring to you) are the type of people who get up and go after what they want. They don’t support INoue because they can’t relate to her.
2) Ichigo doesn’t want Inoue
This is also a very simple reason. Fans point out that in almost 300 chapters ichigo has never shown any type of romantic affection for Inoue, and he should have a say in it. simple.
There you have guys. Tell me what you think. I will update when Renji/Rukia is done.
Hmmm... at the beginning of the series I was torn. Luckily, the author didn't really focus on that aspect at all which allowed me not to think about it too much. The anime startup for the early seasons focuses on a love/hate relationship between Rukia and Ichigo - which is often a breeding ground of romantic interest. But now that we know Inoue comes into her own in later episodes, it is just as likely that the relationship locus will shift from Rukia to Inoue (as it already has in the manga).
That and everyone knows that anime Ops change like 9 times over the course of the series. So it could be Inoue later on. Who knows?
So good thing we have the anime openings to tell us what'll happen.
And I always thought the manga does that. (pretty stupid I know) ;)
how about just wait abd find out, instead of writing a book :p
my unnecessary 2 cents
Renji and Rukia
I just wanted to tell you all that I am on a mountain in Canada overlooking a snow covered forest setting while I am sitting next to a fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Life is good.
I know this suppose to be totally objective when it comes to sharing but itís my post so Iím going to change the rules a bit. If you have problem with that. Well thats your own damn problem. Anyways, I gotta tell that i just love Renji I think heís just cool. Heís seriously just chill you know what Iím saying. I have to tell you though even though I like the U.S dub his voice in english is SERIOUSLY gay I was very disappointed.
Ok back to the study, Renji out of these core five has probably had the second least amount of development when it comes to his character as a whole. (and itís probably a toss up between him and Ishida) Which of course is to be expected. It should be noted that as the story gets father away from the main characters within the main story line that fans affections for a certain character or paring is going to be based more and more on the individual character development and the bonds fans create through that development. Renji is no different. What seems to attract people to Renji as a individual is both his appearance, heís defiantly one of the more unique characters in Bleach, and his laid back disposition. People also like the way that he and Ichigo interact, their relationship has a very Gai/Kakashi feel to it. Best-friends and Rivals. Renji can also be very acute when it comes to understanding both Rukia, Ichigo and his othe friends. For example, while Renji is carrying Rukia away from the execution site during the Soul Society arc though separated for longest time Renji is instantly able to pick up on how Rukia is feeling. He does this again right after Inoue is captured. Renji knows exactly what Ichigo is thinking with a mere glance. Renji also shows emotional maturity and further established his understanding by acknowledging how deep Rukiaís bond with Ichigo is. Again while caring her, he doesnít say ďhey if you have problems lean on me focus on me....love meĒ (ok he wouldn't say that I just added that last part) He says ďichigo and I are here for youĒ it is very apparent that Renji is very adapt at reading and understanding Rukia.
Alas, arguments for Renji as a potential love interest for Rukia are few and far between these most common items brought in regards to Renji/Rukia
1) History, there is just so much.
This is the most common item brought up when discussing Renji and Rukia they just have so much history together. Most fans of this pairing do recognize the problem with this argument however. Fans understand having a very extensive history with one person can be both a blessing and a curse. The more time oneís relationship spends in one state. The harder it is to change it. That doesnít necessarily mean that friends turned lovers canít work. It can. I wrote a couple of another empirical papers while I was still an undergrad, one was on relationship prerequisites and indicators of future longevity in which I actually studied this exact topic. In short, these marriages/relationships tend to be the best type. Best friends who become involved appear to have a better initial understanding of one another, are more susceptible to change, and are more willing to work on it. All in all, Renji and Rukia if they decided to make that plunge would be great together.
There is common argument that is used both against Renji (and Ichigo) that Rukiaís and Renji (Ichigoís) relationship is strictly platonic that there is nothing that could be considered romantic. What these fan donít understand is that often the line between platonic and romantic love is very, very thin. Romantic love is merely a platonic love with a sexual component; the parties involved have to see each other as sexual beings. Furthermore this line that is drawn between romantic and platonic can be toppled with the simplest gesture. (though in anime itís often dramatic like the classic ďtripping and falling into a kissĒ seriously who does that?) A platonic love can develop into romantic love with something as simple as cuddling on the couch, who hasnít personally experienced this people? This is not a good reason for keeping Renji and Rukia apart.
Like every other paring however, Renji and Rukia have their ďproblems.Ē Critics and fans alike narrow it down to the time when Renji didnít act when he needed to. He didnít step up to the plate twice in fact which account for the reasons that people donít really like this pairing.
Reasons that people donít like Rukia/Renji
1) There isnít anything in the way of sexual tension
Critics of this paring say that Renji and Rukia just donít carry the sense of sexual tension that some of the other relationships have. (Rukia and Ichigo) For example, when Renji was carrying Rukia in his arms during the SS Arc there wasnít a sense that he was protecting a lover but he was carrying out Ichigoís order. (This is actually heavily debated) Furthermore then Rukia wanted to stay in Ichigoís closest. He displayed either concern nor jealousy at the prospect. He left Rukia with Ichigo and didnít seem to think twice about it.
2) No girl in Rukiaís situation would choose Renji over Ichigo (Renji didnít act when he needed too)
This i probably the most convincing of the arguments against a relationship consisting of Rukia and Renji. Renji just didnít act when Rukia needed him to. Rukia and Renji were together for the better part of 100 years. !00 Years is a damn long time to be with someone. One would think that if Rukia and Renji had real feelings for another then they might have acted upon them during one those cold nights in the outer districts. they didnít however or at least donít appear to and fans ask why. Another time when Renji needed to say something and didnít is when Rukia was first inducted in the House of Kuckiki. Fans say that he wanted to tell her he loved her. Fans of this pairing also think that she wanted him to tell her he loved. But alas the exact argument to establish is the exact argument to destroy. The fact that Renji didnít say anything when he should may have single handedly destroyed his chances of getting to that next stage.
Renji has a another problem when it comes to a romantic relationship with Rukia. His problem is in the form of Ichigo. Ichigo acted when no one else would. Not her brother, not Renji not any of the soul society goons. Though in his defense Renji did get it figured out. We donít exactly know how long Rukia was suffering but itís known that she lost her relationship with Renji when she was inducted as a noble and that she never had a relationship with her brother. She found relief in her love of Kaien but that was a double edge sword because he was married and she actually had to kill him. So when the story finally started Rukia was scarred emotionally to the point that she actually didnít believe she was worth saving. Thereís a lot of great things about Renji, heís a great character, steady and reliable, but it was Ichigo that saved Rukia both physically and mentally. Ichigo and Ichigo alone.
3) Rukia hasnít shown anything for Renji
Ultimately Renji suffers from the same fate as Inoue (as of this point in the manga) that Rukia just hasnít shown any sort of romantic affection for him. In the Rukia/Ichigo post the fans argue that Ichigo and Rukia have a deep but platonic relationship. Critics of the Renji/Rukia relationship say that there is no way that a successful argument can be made a for romantic Renji/Rukia while trying to maintain that Rukiaís and ichigoís is brotherly. structurally parallelism is again used to paint this point. Like in the case of Ichigo, most people couldnít really see Rukia confessing her love for Renji while ichigo was still around. (same problem inoue has)
Well guys there you have it. Sorry for the wait. My next post with be Ishida/Inoue. And remember to give feed back on the actual posts. i want to see the feedback for my research. Whether you hate or not. Just let me know.
Wow. You must have taken a lot of time to conduct that survey - and it seems very accurate; I can't think of anything that doesn't seem to be true, from the fan's point of view (as I have observed). Good analysis and it's well-written. ^_^ May I ask what your personal opinion on the best and/or most-likely relationships is, though?