So now that I'm here, I shall celebrate by answering a whole bunch of questions^^
Starting with...1. Rukia is so much older than Ichigo, and the problem between their relationship turning into romantic one is a question of maturity. Even 20 year old has problems with someone 16 year old, so over 100 years old would surely feel like 16 year old is too much of a boy to her. It's hard to get attracted on to someone who's practically a child compared to you. And after all, Rukia does time to time act condescendingly on Ichigo and it's commonly accepted thing in fandom that she's more mature. She's more likely to get interested in Renji, who is supposedly same age as her, or on Kaien, who was older than her.
Exhibit A:"That is the kind of man you are in my heart, Ichigo!"
There are plenty of moments in which it's clear to anyone who reads that Rukia does NOT see Ichigo like a child, or even a "boy", but I post these two because she is directly referring to him as a MAN. In the first one, she openly declares that to her
, he is a man. In the second, I simply can't get over the way she views him, with his back turned and head held up high- the image of a strong man if there ever was one.
I could go on forever explaining why the age difference doesn't matter here, but I'll just let Rukia do the talking on this one 2. While Ichigo was shown thinking about Rukia a few times during the recent arc, Rukia didn't show any hints of having missed him or thought about him during the time-skip. In fact, she has become a lieutenant and all, so it looks like she did quite well without Ichigo in her life. She did show how she believed in Ichigo, but that was something she has done before and something that others, like Byakuya, also show towards him. This argument further supports argument 1.
Going to go with another simple answer straight from the source (in this case, the source of the source, I guess...XD)-"When the two who share destiny part and reunite, beyond the frame of time, the ceased clock will awake and start to tick once again."
The poem, given to us by the very author of the series who, I'm just assuming, actually knows
what the heck is going on with his characters even off-panel (when we, the readers, do not) expresses a feeling that includes BOTH parties when it comes to how time seems to stop when they are separated. So while the demonstration may be different -partly due to their different personalities, partly due to Rukia barely getting any room to actually express much of anything on the manga-, here we have something that shows that the feelings are the same for the two who share destiny
Frankly, the mutuality of their relationship is the point that has the least amount of room for argument imo. Shippers of other pairings rarely, if ever, try to argue that there is a chance that maybe Ichigo has feelings for Rukia that she doesn't return (despite so much cheesiness on his part), or that Rukia could have feelings beyond friendship for Ichigo (despite recurring googly eyes and bordering-on-sappy inner monologues). I believe one of the main reasons for this is that Kubo has done such a fantastic job of showing time and time again how Ichigo and Rukia stand equally in each other's eyes- this includes the way they feel about each other. Whether those feelings are of friendship, romance, or whatever- at least we can be certain that it goes both ways.Kubo is obviously hinting about Ichigo being Yuki's mentor. Do you think this situation may be benefiting to our ship? If so, please explain how.
I don't think this would directly affect IchiRuki, like others said, it's more of an Ichigo thing. Even so, I do think that the new level of maturity that Ichigo will attain now is beneficial in the sense that it gives him a layer which he had lacked before: Rukia has already become a mentor, both to Ichigo and to whatever subordinates she trains now that she's a VC. If Ichigo himself also becomes a mentor, it would help to further the sense of equality between them, emotionally/mentally speaking. This way, Ichigo does not fall behind to a very accomplished and confident Rukia.Do you think Ichigo and Rukia's relationship has changed for good or for bad because of recent happenings (the separation of 17 months and Rukia's comeback?)
I don't think their relationship changed much at all, I think that it was their feelings for each other that strengthened further (if possible), or at least became more apparent during their prolonged separation. The relationship itself remains more or less the same (maybe Ichigo is a little bit more submissive now, but that's it XD)- they both showed how greatly they care for each other and to what lengths they will go to help each other; not to mention how strongly they react to one another's mere presence.
This arc, for me, was merely reinforcing the beauty of their bond and how important it is to both characters. I believe the changes (progress) will come in the next, and final, arc.In the coming chapters, do you think that Rukia's return to Ichigo and the team will be one with a big impact, or more like an everyday thing? (Because Ichigo can see her whenever now). Additionally, would you prefer that Ichigo to to S.S to see her and get information, or the other way around as usual, if so then why?
We didn't get any big separation, so I don't expect a huge reunion. I believe it will be more notable than just having her waltz into Ichigo's room along with all the nakama (or other shinigami) and have nothing but casual banter follow; but nothing so huge as a Deatberry Returns/ Death & Strawberry kind of thing XD
As for Ichigo going to SS instead, it would be a nice change of pace for sure, I would enjoy that. But I also enjoy seeing his dopey look and the little hearts in his eyes every time Rukia pops up, so I'm happy either way haha!Ichigo and Rukia, because they do not see each others often, interact seldomly, but when they do, it always seems that they are taking a new step in their relationship. What do you name and how do you define their feelings and statues at this point of time in the manga?
"Unbreakable bond", that's how I define them. Not to take the term lightly- many people can claim to have such a thing, but even married couples don't always last forever. With Ichigo and Rukia, what they have is something special and undefinable really, but it is definitely unbreakable no matter how much time passes, or what obstacles they have to overcome. And quite frankly, I take this over a mere five lifetimes any day And as a last question, What event do you think might trigger the epiphany -both to Ichigo and Rukia- that they love each other? This is left to your wondering imagination.
Actually, I like to consider the FB arc as the Confession (or maybe Revelation?) Arc.
See, we left off on the previous arc with the most blatant, in-your-face moment where Kubo made it quite clear to anyone with eyes that the feelings between Ichigo and Rukia have definitely gone past the friendzone and are entering the platonic stage:
Those faces do not lie.
Then we have Ichigo, who starts off with this little poem in his head:"I wonder if I can keep up with the speed of the world without you."
While it's not an "I love you", the point where you start to actively wonder if you could go on without one specific person in your life, that is the point where most people would start shopping for wedding rings.
And if that wasn't enough, we also had this:
The image alone is worth a thousand words. Ichigo's pained face, the beautiful image of Rukia that he keeps in his mind's eye... That's enough to show anyone that she is more than special to him. But when you look at the context, it actually gets even more obvious XD The way her memory stands out from that of everyone else, the fact that he had been desperately trying to suppress it, and how it was that one memory that managed what a plethora of others could NOT -to activate the power based on emotions-...Well, come on.
The way Ichigo set Rukia apart during this arc when it comes to how he feels about her is clear enough. Hell, the fact that Kubo showed all this when he could have just stuck to "he misses his powers" is pretty damn telling. I think if Ichigo hasn't realized he is in love with Rukia, he at least realizes that he needs her to be able to go on- and is that not a romantic revelation in itself?
As for Rukia...
The way she's looking at him, her eyes at the top of the first page and the smile on the last panel; plus the fact that she's standing in the middle of a battlefield, with Riruka missing somewhere inside her body, having just woken up in the arms of a very smexed-up Renji only minutes prior: and all she can think about is of Ichigo, all her memories of him and how much he has affected SS and herself
... Again, she's not saying "I love you", but she's setting him apart in a way that I don't think she has ever set anyone apart before. Maybe Kaien, but back then there was a lot of admiration and not so much understanding involved- here she is basically thinking of how wonderful this person is, despite knowing and understanding all his faults and weaknesses. If it's not a epiphany in itself, it's definitely a good build up for one.
All in all, I doubt there will be ONE moment in which Ichigo and Rukia realize how they feel for each other, no big epiphany. Judging by all that we've seen recently, they already realize or are slowly realizing it on their own. The real question would be how and when they will act upon their feelings...And I'll leave that one up to Kubo ^.^
...Phew, congrats to anyone who made it through the entire post XD