When I think of Bleach I do not find myself feeling anything of real value when it comes to its female characters. Seeing as either its biggest powerhouse or most significant characters of the series were males Bleach was really lacking in its female representation department. That could have easily been corrected if Yoruichi appeared more often, at the very least.
In any case it probably comes as no surprise to you, dear reader, that my favourite girl from Bleach is its most divisive leading lady. You know, not Rukia. It’s time for Orihime to shine.
Minor spoilers mentioned.
Who is Orihime Inoue?
Good girl Orihime is a lot of things – she’s most definitely one of the biggest, long-running annoyances to Bleach’s audience for having little to no lines (that aren’t just her muttering ‘Ichigo’), but I’d argue that she’s still much more than what fans tend to give her credit for. Harmless Orihime is the healer of Ichigo’s group as well as his love interest for all eternity. Orihime’s mentioned that even if she was reincarnated numerous times that she would still fall for Ichigo. That’s adorable. Sure, we all love an action girl but a woman driven to win over the love of her life is just as valid and nice to see sometimes.
She’s also a fellow Karakura High School student whose spiritual power comes from her Shun Shun Rikka, a Fullbring technique that is activated via her hairpins that was gifted to her from her late brother.
Why we love her
That’s already one major reason as to why I appreciate Orihime and it’s how much of a strong person she is despite not being typically so. It’s actually really grounded, making her overall attitude all the more impressive. Orihime is strong because of how she is the voice of hope and positivity in not only keeping her own spirit intact despite the tragedies she has faced in her past and future but also in encouraging Ichigo and company to keep going, regardless of the situation.
For how much of a goofy, clumsy airhead she tends to be during the quieter moments of the series – which often results in her daydreaming about certain scenarios involving Ichigo of course – Orihime’s hidden depths tend to go underappreciated. She’s suffered a great deal during her past as mentioned in the early days of the series, such as having been raised by abusive parents until her older brother started caring for her on his own. Then she loses him too. She’s certainly a troubled soul and that fact is heightened by the time the Hueco Mundo arc happens. Orihime suffers a lot, yet she never lets go of her compassionate and positive nature.
Why you will love her
The world would be a better place if more people were like her. When I think of a do-gooder as unproblematic and well intending as Orihime no one comes close to the feats that her character reaches. She has no desire to hurt others, regardless of if they are friend or foe. Orihime instead favours being compassionate, going as far as to heal the opposition numerous times despite the prior harm they have inflicted upon her.
Her bonds with other key characters of the series also makes for some of the most emotionally stirring scenes of the entire series. Her everlasting friendship with Tatsuki is the first to hit since it is incredibly sweet as represented with Orihime donning lengthy hair because Tatsuki protected her from bullies who targeted her ginger locks specifically. And don’t get me started on her bond with Ulquiorra which is a historic relationship and send-off for a character that still gets to me to this very day.
Orihime is still not without faults however, but she holds herself to them. She is always actively wanting to do and be better. Her constant internalised turmoil is her struggle with her self-esteem, as seen early on when she feels jealous of Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship because she’s comparing herself to her. Orihime not only learns to better defend those closest to her, but to fully realise and accept what she brings to Ichigo and co by growing and maturing over time.
She gets her happy ending, and I’m all the more happy for it. Seeing her break the cycle of parental abuse by being an incredibly loving mother is the cherry on top of an already wonderfully loveable character. She can do no wrong so don’t be so hard on her!
Check out the anime series which has seen a reboot more recently over on Disney+.