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Warning: This article is full of spoilers and shinigamis. Keep your katana close while you read or choose another article instead.
Here we go to make a visit to the death realm, where the souls of the departed dwell and sometimes become a menace for the living. Who would tell Santeria concepts of the afterlife would find a comfortable home with Shinto in the Japanese anime world? Add action scenes, rock, multicultural roots and an interesting design, and you get a memorable anime.
Bleach was originally prized by no other than Akira Toriyama, when its creator, Tite Kubo, was trying to publish it. It was eventually serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump. The adventures of the Shinigami Ichigo Kurosaki were quickly followed by an anime, OAVs, movies, rock musicals and video games.
Tite Kubo has stated that the characters of Bleach are central to the story. It is well known that he created Rukia first, and that her characteristics influenced the other Shinigami’s appearances. Ichigo was created specifically to make a contrast with Rukia, from the roots of his orange hair to his manly demeanor. Yet, both characters have strong personalities which interweave during their adventures in the Human world and in the Soul society, where they team up to confront powerful spirits. Thus, they have had their share of epic moments, sad moments and happy moments together.
In sum, Ichigo and Rukia have an interesting relationship going on, which we can not wait to explore in this article. So, would you like to come with us to the world of Bleach and its most famous Shinigami couple: Ichigo and Rukia? Let’s go!
1. Because Ichigo is a natural born protector.
This is a shounen manga, so a guy is expected to be the lead here. The first thing we notice about Ichigo is his stern look. Is he always angry? It could look like it, as Ichigo is impulsive and short-tempered. Oh yes, this guy bursts into orange flames easily, but there is another central characteristic in him.
It turns out that Ichigo had a strong, warm and positive relationship with his mother. Now, everyone here should say “Aw!” Young Ichigo was always holding his mother’s hand and smiling whenever he saw her regardless of the situation. His father once told him that Ichigo’s name meant “to protect one thing”, so he chose to protect his mother. After the family grew with two sisters, Ichigo decided to join a dojo to protect them too. Told you, Ichigo is sweet despite his looks.
Perhaps one of the reasons Ichigo is capable of seeing spirits is because he is way too empathic. As he grows, Ichigo keeps expanding his circle of protégées. Ichigo might look like trouble, but he truly cares for other people and thus does not think it twice to risk his life for the sake of others when he becomes a Shinigami. Of course he also goes the extra mile to protect Rukia! Ichigo is a real natural born protector!
2. Because Rukia is not your average girl.
Nope. Rukia is not your average girl, not even your average Shinigami girl. It is true that Rukia is reserved and thus isn’t the most popular girl in the Bleach world, but she surely is in our world. Bleach polls always top her high in the popular character rankings.
Rukia had a leading personality since she was very young, as she was abandoned by her mother in the realm of the dead, but Rukia found some boys to live with. As their natural leader, Rukia also had thought that all of them would become Shinigami and enter the Shino Academy. There, Rukia worked hard to proof that she was talented despite being an orphan.
Hard work paid off, and some years later, Rukia was the lieutenant of the 13th Division under Captain Jushiro Ukitake. Although, Rukia also has a comical side, which manifests when she is in the Human world with Ichigo. Rukia likes rabbits, so she decorates her reports about Ichigo’s Shinigami performance with them. Rukia’s name means cosmos, a flower which in Latin signifies “light”. With her original bubbly personality hidden behind her anti-social demeanor, Rukia has been described as “a ray of light for Ichigo”.
3. Because they had to learn how to team up.
Although Bleach´s adventures deal with serious battles and how to guide the spirits of the deceased, the way Ichigo and Rukia talked for the first time is simply hilarious. Ichigo even kicked Rukia because he thought she was going to steal from him, but Rukia explained who she was and her purpose of coming to the Human world to train. How did the Ichigo react? By not believing Rukia, propelling insults, and ending up spell bounded by her. xp
After that, Rukia rushes to find the Hollow she was pursuing in the first place. Ichigo breaks the spell and manages to find her, but she is wounded in the middle of the battle. Noticing Ichigo´s strong determination of protecting his family from the Hollow, she transfers her power to him.
And, that´s the confusing way in which Ichigo became a Shinigami! But, because Rukia was left weak, she had to stay in the Human world. The girl is a good actress, thus she convinces everyone that she is a new transfer student. Rukia also has to make Ichigo perform her duties as Shinigami, so she moves in with him (how convenient :p). Thus the funny pair had to overcome their effervescent personalities to become a legendary Shinigami warrior couple. Which leads us to the following reason...
4. Because they understand each other very well
Ichigo and Rukia might not have had much of a start, but the Hollows appeared one after the other, not giving them much room to relax. In consequence, they quickly became a well coordinated pair, as shown with the case of Sora Inoue in episode 2. Sora, transformed into a Hollow, attacking them by surprise, but Ichigo and Rukia managed to remove part of his mask, making him retreat.
Thus, our couple, Ichigo and Rukia, learns how to trust each other. They also know their feelings well, as shown in episode 342. Ichigo and Rukia are shown enjoying a couple of “days off” where they engage in completely normal festivals and activities for a chance. Ichigo´s powers are disappearing in this episode, so he engages in some Shinigami fights helped by Rukia. None of them gets offended when they realize Ichigo will not be able to see her anymore. Ichigo sends his regards to their friends in the other world and Rukia assures him that he will always count on her before disappearing. Yes, this is one of those epic sad scenes of the anime world which show us how well these two understand each other, like two sides of the same coin.
5. Because they keep their relationship alive between worlds
But wait a moment! That was not the end of Ichigo´s and Rukia´s adventures. This pair has been separated due to external circumstances several times, but they always get back together.
The first time was when Rukia was arrested in the Spiritual world for giving her powers to a human. Let´s remember that Ichigo went straight to the rescue, kicking lots of asses and almost dying in the process. But, Ichigo succeeded in both rescuing Rukia and being acknowledged as Shinigami!
How about episodes 63 and 64, where we can see how Rukia decides to stay in the Spiritual world and Ichigo stays in the Human world to become “normal” again? However, Ichigo keeps watching the empty seat by his side at school (sniff). Also in episode 343, Ichigo keeps thinking about the disappeared Rukia. Let´s not forget that Ichigo does everything that it takes to recover his Shinigami powers, so that he can confront Hollows, Arrancar and the like again… and meet Rukia, of course! So, no problem, Rukia and Ichigo always find a way to work on their Shinigami duties together again.
The paranormal world of Bleach has brought us unforgettable moments of action and fun. It also has an interesting background on how the deceased are easily forgotten, thus they become Hollows in retaliation. Therefore, the job of the Shinigamis becomes important in terms of showing us what is not so obvious about the Human world and beyond. The cycle of life and death becomes relevant for a society that is always worried about its immediate satisfaction, overlooking the long term consequences of its actions.
Living in the boundaries between the worlds, Ichigo and Rukia show us how a strong relationship can overcome any obstacle in order to accomplish their mission, as long as they have a noble intent: protect the ones they care about. Although Bleach’s author has stated that there is no romance there… well, we cannot help but wonder if they could eventually become something else. The signs are all there, right? We can always keep dreaming 🙂
We wish you enjoyed our humble tribute to this Bleach couple. Which are your favorite moments with Ichigo and Rukia? Which other Bleach couples would you like us to revise? We are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you soon!