Inoue Orihime. Oy, don’t get me started. I believe it’s safe to say she’s Bleach’s most controversial (i.e. wank-inducing) character. All over the Internet, she’s vilified and glorified to extremes. Moderators of forums are so fed up with the outcry to any talk about her that threads about her are short-lived, and some Orihime fans are so sensitive to any criticism of their princess that even forum comments stating outright facts like Inoue Orihime was designated the “beloved airhead type” at Jump Festa 2011 will be deleted due to complaints. By the same token, Orihime can’t appear in a single manga panel without her every syllable being over-analyzed as yet another symptom of her emotional wallowing and inability to succeed at any of the vows she’s made to herself.
A popular topic in Orihime controversies is whether or not Kubo himself is writing her badly or developing her too slowly. Does he exploit her for comedy or are audiences just not getting the cute that is Orihime? Are some feminist audiences just making too much of the groaner of the hot dog joke in the Mario mushroom pajamas? Does Kubo love Orihime too much or does he torture her, nerf her development, and shouldn’t the poor character have shot Tsukabi successfully again after seven years? Does Kubo intend for us to see a beauty whose very looks can knock an opponent to the ground and we must all love her, a girl so stuck in an obsession with a boy that she can’t develop her own offensive power because she has a need to be saved (“Save me!” she called out at the DOME--a place fraught with fandom’s wrath) or is it a little of all of the above?
No need to tread on tiptoe here but know you speak among Orihime fans. It’s not easy going being a fan of Inoue Orihime. My own fanblog is accused of being an “Orihime hate site” (read that on One Manga just this week of Nov 17) even though she’s my favorite female character. When I mentioned here and there that if people REALLY wanted to see Orihime bashing they need go no further than 4chan, the same Bleach fans who campaign on TVTropes and Fandom_Wank against IchiRuki and me and bleachness etc attempted to spread the lie that bleachness was behind all the Orihime hate on 4chan. As if. ;D That place was misogynist long before my fanblog ever existed. Trust me that you’re doing ok here if you can discuss Orihime’s character without posting animated gifs of her swallowing a veiny cock or referring to her as a whore…. speaking of which, I’ve read her a couple of her self-proclaimed fans say that she’d be a whore if she ever fell out of love with Ichigo. I chalk that up to immature posters and a certain naivete about how love works.
So, topic? Inoue Orihime’s character development. It’s like Chinese water torture for this fan, but I remain optimistic.
I’ll quote from my last post in her fanclub at another forum. Someone was complaining (in a comment that was eventually deleted) that Orihime is constantly failing at her vows to protect and heal, is always being rejected by Ichigo, and seems to be suffering a good bit. I honestly believe what I wrote here:
No one likes to see her suffer but that's what makes a story and a plot. Bleach is a coming-of-age story. All shounen are, and I for one am glad that Orihime gets a big chunk of character emphasis and attention and it's not just the main character in Bleach who gets all the angst and reasons to grow and develop.
Like all important characters in a fighting manga, Orihime needs to learn to understand herself and how to use her powers--unlike most standard healing characters, she also has an offensive part of her, Tsubaki, and in this arc she's already shown that she's learned to use him along with her shield. I hope to see her use him solo one day.
Romance-wise, yes, Orihime's story IS important and I do expect it to be resolved one way or another in Bleach. I believe that Kubo has shown us an important disparity between Orihime's vision of Ichigo in this arc and who Ichigo really is--he labeled it "Orihime vision" vs "Reality" and then when Tsukishima had Orihime under his spell, the irony was that Orihime's feelings for Ichigo were real and she felt them even through the fake Tsukishima implantations. Those disparities have to be dealt with--but Kubo's said he's got 10 years of Bleach left, and I'm in no hurry. Orihime can do lots of growing up in that time--all the Bleach kids can. I'll just sit back and enjoy the ride.