Darkshaunz isn’t “Shippy”, but “Rukia-ey”
What is it about people going too far when it comes to fictional aspects about characters in a certain show? I don’t particularly understand the rabid “shipping” mechanic. So I decided, since I know jack shit about the topic, to do some research this phenomenon. I did not even know that “OTP” meant “One True Pair” (or even existed as a term) until a long time reader, wickedliz, informed me of the abbreviation. One True Pair? Is it the pair to rule them all? The One Pair which fell into the hands of an obssessive and compulsive hobbit in the darkness of the fanfiction dimension? Judging by the militant “shipping” movements (I’m looking at you, Bleachtards) on the internets, they may as well be evil Bilbos, salivating and gnawing on woodwork. Join me, as we explore the cruel and pulsating depths of a romance phenomenon.
What’s wrong with Shipping, Shaunz?
Absolutely nothing, in fact, it is things like this which forms part of an anime/manga’s extended community. They need stuff like this in order for the show to be successful. Some ships are actually amusing, when you come across it in certain anime forums. I’ll take Bleach as an example for this entry, because it is the only thing I am watching at the moment, and happen to lurk within some of the forums myself. You’ll find some rather odd pairings like Ulquiorra and Orihime, and even stuff like Zaraki and Yachiru (Which is actually kind of fucking creepy in a way). Then you’ll get the nightmare-inducing Yaoi ships which I tend to avoid like the plague. Which brings me to the question - why is it that only the fangirls give a damn about same sex shipping? Where are you, fellow men? Where were you when I needed a Yoruichi x Soi Fon x Rukia x Rangiku x Nemu orgy ship? Seriously guys, we think about that kind of situation in great, wet, and orgasmic detail (I know you do). Haruhi’s sake guys, stop stroking your salami for ten minutes and flood the gates with the most delicious pictures from your doujin folders (show the yaoi fangirls that we’ll fight fire with fire). Then again, I don’t blame the rabid fangirls, after all, even I find the occasional Byakuya to be a bit sexy and charming. Stupid bishie asshole, fuck him and his suave (It’s the hair and scarf, probably)
Canon and Non-Canon shipping
So from my understanding after asking some questions about it (mostly wickedliz, she seems to be a shipping expert) and lurking like a sad and uninformed shadow, I finally understand that there are generally two forms of shipping. One, Non-Canon is obviously fanfiction based, or “fantasy shipping”. Thankfully, all Yaoi ships are Non-Canon, and would serve as to an excellent reason why guys are still watching Bleach. The problem doesn’t lie with those who support or ship Non-Canon pairs. Those guys and girls (mostly girls), actually happen to be creative, colourful and down-to-earth kind of characters, at the very least, these guys definitely use their powers of imagination positively. After all, it’s a bit obvious that since the source material doesn’t lend itself well to a fantasy ship within any series, you are going to have to utilize everything you have in a contextual manner to justify a scenario or even come up with one from basically nothing. Also, fanfiction is a whole other huge bucket of fish, there are a crapload of fiction writers, easily more than anime bloggers. If there was ever a war between us, we’d be roach food. So if you support Non-Canon pairs and you write fanfiction, I hate you for the Yaoi shit that you float BUT I think you guys are actually pretty creative people, and nice too. For those of you that support strange odd heterosexual pairings, uh, carry on I guess.
There is no “Lovey-Dovey Romance” in Bleach
Now, to the actual people that I have a bone to pick with. After you sort through the Non-Canon categories, it’s a weird environment, and I think the people are slightly eccentric (basically, people I’d get along with). But the other category is obviously the Canon ship - which you all know is a pairing acknowledged by the creator, or made terribly obvious by the creator (usually via a steamy sex scene or cliche’d manly tears love confession, etc.). Okay, so we have people who love Rukia (hey, I’m one of them), and people who love Ichigo (even though he is a clueless dolt), and a whole sortie of people who like the idea of the two of them being together. Then there’s also another group of people who love Orihime (hey, she isn’t so useless now) and Ichigo, you get the idea. You know what? that’s absolutely fine, I can see and I can understand how people can be supporting either of those two pairings. It’s nothing far-fetched, it’s nothing super-fantastical, but something any Bleach viewer can grasp. Right then, the next thing is that if you are a supporter of either pairing are you:
a) A shipper which has come to accept that this pair is Non-Canon
b) A shipper that has convinced him/herself that the pair is Canon
c) A shipper who isn’t actually a shipper, but thinks he or she is one because they downloaded a Bleach H-Doujin
So after making your choice, the reality is that option “a” is the preferred answer. This is because there is no “love love paradise” in Bleach, it’s a Shounen where guys and girls fight evil spirits and save the world. If you are looking for romance, this genre isn’t really fantastic for that - Hell, the chances that Revy from Black Lagoon sexes Rock is infinitely higher than get-a-fucking-clue Kurosaki. However, if you chose option “a”, I have no beef against you, you guys can continue to do what you are doing, enjoy yourselves and keep up the racy and warming fanfictions that I’ve come across (generally, you can be a bit of a strange kind, but at least you are moderate and well-behaved, mostly). If you chose option “b”, then I am sure you’ve been in a lot of misunderstandings, arguments and generally pointless shit you did not have to subject both yourself and the other party to. My problem, ladies and gentlemen, lay with the boys and girls that have actually convinced themselves that their Non-Canon ship is actually Canon. Uh oh! Because I am generally known to be a frank and blunt son of a bitch, I’ll just go ahead and say it now. Ichigo x Rukia (IchiRuki) is a fanfiction ship. Ichigo x Orihime (IchiOri) is a fanfiction ship. Ichigo x Anyfuckingone (He’s an idiot) is a fanfiction ship. It’s as Non-Canon as Doraemon x TETSUOOO (sorry).
“Darkshaunz, I feel sorry for you, because you are ignorant to the truth”
By now, I am assuming some of you are miffed, angered and possibly even homicidal. Isn’t it funny that somebody like me, a regular Bleach viewer and non-shipper can manage to ruffle some of your feathers? Guys and Gals, if what I have said has irked and annoyed you, then imagine what happens when you meet a fan which supports the ship that opposes yours? Oh wait, you guys already know the infinite rage and frustration don’t you? You’ve been there before. It may be imageboards, it may be forums or it may even be when conversing with another person in real life, but ultimately, you guys have rubbed soldiers with the opposing faction. It wasn’t pretty, it was a battlefield, where the arguments always boil down to the same old, sad and unnecessary tactics that form part of my amusement and disdain for this section of Bleach fandom. Don’t let me mislead you though, I am talking about intelligent and passionate fans. These guys and girls write essays and perfectly capable of micro-analysis on whatever debating environment they are “forced” to take part in. I’ve literally read one response which was so long, it pretty much made my end-of-semester financial analysis paper for university look like a joke. I don’t have a problem with intelligent debate, I have a problem when all that effort and thought it being poured into what actually is, a lost cause.
Imagine you encounter a really tall shelf with a delicious cookie jar at the very top. That cookie jar represents what both IchiRuki and IchiOri shippers want - the taste of whatever magical romantic situation they wish to see their respective ships in. Unfortunately they can’t quite reach it, because the only thing Kubo has given them is a modest stool, it’s something, but not quite there. All shipping spats can be likened to this delicious analogy of mine. It first starts with what opposing shipping sides know to be true - the stool. The stool represents the character events and interactions which are acknowledged by the creator. Now, most Non-Canon fans are content with the stool, and like well-behaved children, they sit on the stool and wait for mother to take the cookies down for them. But I’m talking about rash and naughty children now. These guys and girls, realizing that the stool isn’t good enough, will then try to propel themselves to the cookie jar anyway they can. Usually, by micro-analyzing every single moment of character interaction - to citing manga chapters where the guy or girl looks at each other a certain way (resulting in whatever message the author intended to be bastardized and over-interpreted), or even how the background changes etc. etc. It’s almost as if they need to find something to convince themselves with, a certain idea which can make them go, “Yeah that’s why I am right!”. However, because we know that the thing they are trying to reach is actually unreachable, the rest of us watch in writhing agony as both sides jump and strain obsessively, like a train wreck in slow motion.
The Jar’s broken, pick up the pieces
At the end of disastrous battle, both sides are worn down now. The cookie jar is still unreached, but it’s probably cracked from all that bouncing and jumping. The hilarious thing is, both sides actually realize this, and before they feel they will lose “credibility” from ideas and arguments which were mostly based around fictional evidence and misinterpreted manga dialogue/scenes, they resort to becoming personal. There’s a chance that a small number, a very tiny number of you reading this were probably thinking about how clueless I am when it comes to the concept of “love” and “romance”, or maybe some of you may have even thought of insulting me. Not surprisingly, this is how it usually ends in forum debates. They get personal, and when you get personal, all the good-intention and intellect is thrown out the window like a bad DBZ episode rerun. The whole thing ends with more hate and animosity generated between both sides of the trench, or if it discussed in a forum where the moderators have some spare time from fellating the admin, it is locked faster than you can say, “Halibel lost her underboob”. Most of you regulars know that I like to overdramatize and exaggerate things, and sadly folks, I wish I could say the same for what I have described in the above passage. It’s pretty much the five by five of what happens. When something isn’t real and occurring, it’s okay to want to fill in the blanks, but do it in a way where you are being realistic about it. Don’t convince yourselves that the filler you have plugged the whole in is the absolute truth, because when you do that, you will sink into the great gaping hole when the filler cracks and breaks apart.
“….O’ how sweet the tenderness, how cruel the retribution of love”
The beauty of Bleach right now, is actually the one thing that IchiRuki and IchiOri fans have been fighting tooth and nail to fill in. It’s this gap, between two parting cliffsides, which isn’t actually something the completionists of both sides should persecute me for admiring, for desiring. This gap represents Bleach’s absolute potential, it is the symbol of journey and adventure. The testament to the fact that, the bridge was never there, but will be in the future. In essence as well, that large ominous hole which the warring factions want to plug, represents strong sexual tension. It is actually the very thing that keeps them and us to watch the series in anime form, and read the series in manga serialization. Bleach is all about great irony, that is relevant to our discussion at hand. There’s a lot of love to pass around, yet there is also no love at the very same time. Despite these overtures, what I am getting at is - Bleach’s great potential for love itself is what makes it something to look forward to, something to enjoy together as a community. Ichigo’s cluelessness, ambiguity and complete absence to realization of affection to and fro his person is the embodiment of what I am trying to convey. Speaking of irony, the people that I have hammered the shit out of of with this piece, are actually all my fellow Bleach fans. Doing what passionate fans do by voicing their desires, yet I have to question - why is it that my estranged brothers and sisters do so much harm to each other? Can’t we admire, You and I, Us and Them, the great potential in the void we can’t quite make out in the distance? There’s so much room for exploration and growth in the storyline - let us not be weighed down by false lies and big ideals, just take in the moment. The moment of a wreckless young man and his loyal friends and big, firm, boobs.
Ichigo x ________
The blank never was meant to be filled in a Non-Canon context (It was a Trap, in Ackbar terms). However, I will say that Ichigo cares deeply about both Rukia and Orihime. He is oblivious, stupid, frustrating and childish, he is all of that. However, there is a sense of admiration that both shippers and non-shippers can acknowledge about him. Like his fellow Shounen hero brothers-in-arms, be it Goku, Luffy or Naruto, it is his inherent spirit and atrociously stubborn loyalty and devotion to his comrades and friends which lends his character well to the full appreciation of the audience. Perhaps he is amicable material to Rukia and Orihime, we don’t quite know how Kubo Tite will shape his interaction with the two, there is only speculation. Speculation isn’t worth fighting over. Fellow Bleach fans of the shipping factions, don’t convince yourselves of a lie which you have perpetuated amongst yourselves. You don’t have to prove anything, you don’t have to preach anything, and by God, no amount of virtual bloodshed and flames are worth something like this. The obvious and blunt “truth” is shared by all already. Ichigo would go to the depths of Hell, to the heights of Heaven, he will fight all odds, and he will overcome the greatest foe; he would do it all for not only Rukia or Orihime, but also for Renji, Chad, and Ishida. The magic behind this is not just this revelation, rather, is the realization that what Ichigo, Rukia and Orihime possess for each other, vastly overpowers and towers over the Parisian definition of love, it is the love of one’s ‘family’ and the bond of comrades. One which breeds not hate or doubt, but rather nurtures and strengthens in time. Henceforth, stop beating each other to a fucking pulp with your virtual ammunition, take a fiver and go say hello to those nice people in the Non-Canon room.
“Studio Perriot / Anime Series / Bleach Movie(s) clearly ships/supports IchiRuki”
Yes I know, I am not blind and not completely oblivious to this. That’s perfectly up to the anime studio, obviously though, it does not make it official or canon in any sense (but people will no doubt inevitably try and use this fact as argument material!). I may have even noted several times that Ichigo and Rukia do look good together myself, but that’s purely because of the fact that they behave like an old married couple, and I am naturally predisposed to have a soft spot for anything Rukia is in. To be perfectly honest, Kubo Tite allows this to happen because he himself may be a fan of the ship, but he never really shows us how he will play his hand up until the very end. Kubo may be expressing a tendency towards the pair to throw us off with a plot-trump-card, hey, don’t act surprised - Those who have seen a truckload of anime and read stacks of manga will tell you that it would not be the first time that it has happened, especially in such a popular series. Despite the constant barrage of the IchiRuki message, I appreciate only that the two share a deep platonic bond, and hope that it never transforms into a wonderland-romance. As I have said in a previous entry, I am content with how the two are interacting and it is because Kubo never took the relationship one step further is why their chemistry is amusing and immersive. Let’s be honest though, I don’t care what you ship or believe to be the “OTP” (really, I don’t mean that in a condescending way, I respect whatever floats your boat), just don’t try to convince me or anyone else that it is fact - because harbouring such hope, may lead to a great disappointment. A sensation I do not wish upon any shipping and non-shipping Bleach fan.
Let’s mark today, a grizzled day of April, where a Bleach fan got tired of the whole shipping war bullshit. I have seen with these eyes, and have felt, with my heart, a great sorrow of two passionate and evoked peoples. Their intentions good, their will infinite, but their retribution, horrifying. In a great storm of irony, two warring factions, both supporting the beautiful idealogy of love, behaving in the exact opposite of that ideal. Nobody’s mother was spared from being called a whore, nobody’s essay-argument was spared from overexhaustive counter-mico-analysis, nobody’s dignity and self-worth was spared from those who would cry, “ignorance! ignorance!”, and ultimately, the Gods of the realm failed to silence the cries of hate of pain eminating from the surface. IchiRuki and IchiOri fans, I plead to you, Bleach fan to Bleach fan, stop this madness. Even the lords of Sparta would weep a crimson river for this futile war which has been raging on for too long.
When you see this, think not “IchiRuki Lovey Dovey”. Think of two souls who have been touched by the other.
PS: I have a new ship - Rukia x Orihime, because Ichigo’s a fucking retard.
PPS: Ichigo is Rukia’s bitch. Apparently this is “Shippy”. Fuck no, it’s just Rukia being bloody awesome.