The term “ship” in terms of anime is actually a shortened version of the word “relationship” and represents fan-based relationships between the characters in the series. So, if you think that two characters would be great as a couple, you’re “shipping” them together. As far as Bleach is concerned, well, the two most popular ships in the series included Ichigo and Rukia on the one side and Ichigo and Orihime on the other. In this article, we will talk about the other one, as you will find out whether Ichigo and Orihime were in love.
And while Orihime was in love with Ichigo from the start, it wasn’t clear whether Ichigo was in love with her too or whether he simply just cared for her as a friend; Ichigo was simply portrayed as such a character at the time. But, as the plot progressed, it became obvious how much Ichigo cared for Orihime and how important she was to him, so it also became clear that the two of them are actually in love, which is why it was natural to see them getting married later in the story.
The rest of this article will further explore the relationship that Ichigo had with Orihime, especially its nature and its evolution, as we will bring you all the relevant narrative details, as well as how they ended up after the main narrative had been concluded. Be careful, as this article will contain several spoilers from the unofficially titled “Hell Arc.”
Ichigo and Orihime were, ineed, in love
And while the Ichigo × Orihime ship is one of the most famous in the world of anime in general, the two of them actually had a very clumsy start. Initially, the two of them have almost no contact whatsoever, even though they are in the same class and both are old friends of Tatsuki. However, from the moment of her introduction, Orihime’s great interest in Ichigo is sensed, which continues to increase as the plot of the series progresses.
Tatsuki appears to be aware of this and even shares some information about Ichigo’s history, which causes her friend to grow more attached to him. Her admiration for him increases until Orihime acquires spiritual abilities and informs her of the existence of the Shinigami, Rukia’s true identity, and the replacement labor that Ichigo is performing. Since she then chooses to go with him to Soul Society, their destinies become intertwined.
It should be mentioned that Orihime frequently visualizes Ichigo wearing various outfits, including a princely or tuxedo, etc. According to Orihime in the Lost Agent Saga, Ichigo’s tears cause her great suffering. Regarding Ichigo, Orihime has proven to be incredibly insightful because she can determine what kind of force is propelling him ahead.
She has shown characteristics that appear to be related to Ichigo, including the uncanny ability to smell Ichigo and feel his spiritual pressure, even when he is disguised as a Visored. She is also aware of what is happening to him and feels pain when she witnesses him being hurt. These several illustrations highlight how close they are to one another.
But, regarding Ichigo’s side of the story, we also had to account for Rukia. Sure, she was a centuries-old Soul, but she looked like someone of Ichigo’s age, and from that perspective, it wasn’t unthinkable that the two of them would be a couple, despite how wrong it might have been from one point of view.
There was some chemistry between them, and it was obvious that Ichigo cared for Rukia, and that Rukia cared for Ichigo, but despite Rukia × Ichigo being one of the most popular ships, the two of them were always just friends, and there was never any chance for a romance between them. But, this is a fact that we must consider when discussing the relationship between Orihime and Ichigo.
Orihime herself even doubted that Ichigo liked her and pondered whether he might like Rukia more since the two of them shared more than Orihime and Ichigo. She was willing to let them be happy together at one point, but it was then made clear to her by Rukia that the two of them were actually friends and nothing more.
Later on, Rangiku would give some advice to the clumsy Orihime on how to approach Ichigo and use her feminine charms to attract him, although Orihime never really listened to her, opting to remain true to herself, which was a great thing in the end, as it proved that the Orihime Ichigo liked was the real Orihime.
The first open confirmation of their emotions happened just before Ulquiorra took Orihime to Hueco Mundo when she decided that Ichigo would be the one person she was allowed to say goodbye to. She healed him and wanted to kiss him while he was asleep, crying above him as she knew she was about to leave for Hueco Mundo.
After waking up, Ichigo showed how much he cared for her when he decided to rush into Hueco Mundo to save her, despite Yamamoto forbidding him to do so. This was when it became clear that he also liked her and was ready to do what was necessary to save her and take care of her well-being.
Later on, the two of them, of course, became a couple, and they married. The epilogue of the story reveals their family and the fact that they had a child together, a son named Kazui Kurosaki.
Their marriage was portrayed as a happy one in the special one-shot manga chapter, which doesn’t surprise us, as the two cared for each other and loved each other throughout the story. This was actually the best and most natural evolution of their relationship, and Kubo did a great thing portraying the two of them and their bond.