Does Ichigo Love Rukia?

Ichigo and Rukia

While fans love action and adventure in a shonen series, I mean- that’s what shonen is; more fighting and adventure, they still look for that small or even a little hint of romance in the series.

Well, actually who doesn’t like shipping their favorite characters together and even dream about them getting married and having kids in the future?

After seeing many of the anime characters getting married, fans in the Otaku community needed nothing more than to see their ships sail.

From such dreams and fantasies, even the 2001 hit series, Bleach was not left out as the main characters of the series Ichigo and Rukia were often shipped together.

We can’t really blame them though, it was only natural for the fans to ship them together as they were very close to each other, got along very well, and were the main protagonists of the series.

So, does Ichigo really love Rukia, or are we just sailing the wrong ship? Well, to find out you must read until the very end of this article.

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Ichigo and Rukia’s First Encounter

The main protagonist of the Bleach series, Ichigo Kurosaki was a teenage boy who had the ability to see spirits. Aside from this, he was a pretty normal high school kid. He lived with his family of four, his father and two younger sisters Karin and Yuzu.

Life was pretty normal for him until one day his spirit-seeing ability enabled him to meet a supernatural trespasser, Rukia Kuchiki, who had entered the town in search of a Hollow.

Hollow was the kind of lost soul who harmed both humans and ghosts by devouring them. 

Rukia was one of the Soul Reapers (死神Shinigami, literally ‘Death Gods’), a soldier, who was entrusted with guiding the souls of the dead from the World of the Living to a place called the Soul Society (尸魂界 (ソウル・ソサエティ), lit. “Dead Spirit World”).

In search of the Hollow that was revoking havoc in the town, Rukia entered the human realm but things didn’t go as she planned as the hollow was far stronger than she imagined it to be.

While defending Ichigo from the Hollow, she ended up getting severely wounded. However, she knew that she wouldn’t have been able to defeat the hollow in her current state. So, at that moment Rukia suggested Ichigo take her place.

Shocked by Rukia’s words, Ichigo hesitated at first but seeing his own family in danger he agreed with the plan. Taking Rukia’s sword right through his chest, Ichigo finally became a Soul Reaper, a substitute Soul Reaper.

After defeating the hollow, Rukia was trapped in a human body. So, until she recovered and helped Ichigo in his Substitute Soul Reaper duties, Rukia stayed with him in his house.

This is when they got close and the fans were quick enough to start shipping them together. So, the real question arises, did he really love Rukia? or was it just a friendly affection thing?

Did Ichigo Love Rukia?

We hate to break it to you, especially the fans of the IchiRuki ship but Ichigo didn’t really have any romantic attachment to Rukia and neither did Rukia.

IchiRuki (イチルキ) was the name of the relationship between Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki.

Rukia was the one to give Ichigo his powers as a Substitute Soul Reaper. So, to aid him in his new duties, Rukia stayed behind and even joined his school as his fellow classmate.

Over time due to the series of events where they had to work together, they formed a bond even greater than lovers. They got closer and even became great friends.

They were so close that when Ichigo felt weak or was unable to perform his duties, Rukia was the one he would turn to.

Furthermore, he was very protective of Rukia just like he was with his loved ones and Rukia was certainly at top of his list.

Since Ichigo and Rukia both developed such a deep bond that they were always there for each other.

Furthermore, because Ichigo’s father himself was a Shinigami and his mother was a Quincy, fans wanting to see such a relationship between Ichigo and Rukia did seem understandable.

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What was their relationship?

Now that you know, that they weren’t exactly what you would call Lovebirds, so what exactly were they, and what was their relationship?

So, as we all know that Ichigo was a very caring and protective person. He was ready to go to any length for the ones he loved and Rukia was also one of them.

Losing his mother at a very small age, Ichigo matured quickly and wanted to protect his family more than anything else. He always blamed himself for his mother’s death and felt that it was his duty to protect the ones around him.

Carrying such heavy responsibilities from an early age, Ichigo found the guidance and support of Rukia when he was in a pit.

Similarly, Rukia also depended a lot on Ichigo and she even stated that he reminded her of her late superior- Kaien Shiba in many ways.

So, Rukia was a person who valued beliefs and fellowship over a romantic relationship. This could be the reason why she always had good relationships around her.

Furthermore, the bond that Ichigo and Rukia was one of a kind. It was true that Ichigo shared a special bond with all his friends and Rukia was no exception.

I mean- she was the one who gave him the powers and helped him save his precious family. As much indebted Ichigo felt towards Rukia he had equal respect for her.

As when he hit rock bottom, Rukia was the one who followed him on his journey to become a strong warrior and made him push his limits.

So, Ichigo had always considered Rukia as a superior who with time turned into a mentor, a classmate, a friend, and more than anything else; a true friend.

Their bond was something else. Not to be compared to any couples in love, they were in love with the friendly behavior one had with the other.

Athey always had each other’s back, pushed each other so both of them could become stronger, and were there for each other. This proved that they indeed had a very close friendship. Be it in times of sadness, happiness, or even struggles, they would always be there for each other.

Once, when Rukia was taken back to the Soul Society to face the punishment for her crime of giving her powers to a human.

However, Ichigo was not the one to see his loved ones suffer, so along with his friends he went to the Soul Society and saved Rukia from being executed. Talk about some true Friendship!

Did they get married?

Sadly, even though the ship never really existed in the first place, fans did enjoy their little fantasies with Ichigo and Rukia as lovers.

However, Ichigo and Rukia never really got married- at least not with each other. The series ended in early 2016 with Ichigo married to Inoue Orihime and Rukia married to Renji Abarai.

Later on in the final chapter of the manga, it was revealed that Ichigo and Orihime had a son named Kazui Kurosaki, and Rukia and Renji had a daughter named Ichika Abarai. 

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Why didn’t Ichigo and Rukia end up together?

Now the question arises, why didn’t they end up together? Turns out there were some things that could be pointed out to support why they didn’t end up together.

So, first and foremost could be that the author of the manga didn’t want them together. I know a harsh thing to do but what can we do?

Fans believed that from the very first arc, Kubo pushed Ichigo and Rukia’s bond but suddenly he decided to separate them despite knowing how well he created that deep bond between them.

Later on, he just made them remain friends throughout the series and somewhat pushed them apart from each other.

Kubo did not only push them apart but rather made them close and focused their relationships with other characters such as Orihime and Renji.

We could feel him switching the focus from Ichigo and Rukia to Ichigo and Orihime and Rukia and Renji.

in the first Arc, Kubo cemented Ichigo and Rukia’s bond and we all came across thinking they deeply cared for one another(not that they ever stopped caring).

Many did find it strange but, to be honest, these couples did turn out to be great and fans soon loved them.

Another reason could be that Rukia was not in a romantic relationship with Ichigo because he had a very high resemblance to her former captain, who she looked up to as a brother.

So, even though she had no romantic feelings for Ichigo, she was there for him as a friend as she was the initial reason why Ichigo and Orihime got closer.

Similarly, Ichigo played the role of a catalyst between Rukia and Renji and helped them to realize they had for each other after avoiding each other for almost ten years.

Taking Orihime’s long time crushing on Ichigo from the very first chapters, it was very evident that she had always had feelings for him, and showing her crushing over Ichigo from the very start cemented the fact that Ichigo was sure to end up with her.

The way that these couples had shown love to each other could be very much proof of how much they belonged to each other.

Just as Orihime and Ichigo were ready to die for each other by saving each other from powerful foes, Renji and Rukia were not far behind them.

As in one part, Renji stated that he would protect Rukia at all costs even if it meant losing his life! Such devotion!

So, considering these all it should have been very evident that they were likely not going to end up together. Furthermore, Ichigo, even though was a soul reaper, he was still a human whereas Rukia was a dead soul, a part of the Soul Society, and probably over the age of a hundred fifty plus.

Who did Ichigo Love?

Ichigo and Orihime

Being the mutual friend of Tatsuki Arisawa, Ichigo and Orihime was in the same year at high school. During many events, they encountered each other’s presence.

Even though they were in the same class, they never really had any direct interaction. However, Ichigo first noticed her when she came to Ichigo’s family clinic to save her brother, who sadly passed away right in front of them.

After that, Orihime was attacked by the Hollowfied version of her own brother who couldn’t move on from the human world as he was too worried for Orihime.

Luckily, Ichigo and Rukia were successful in helping him cross over and Orihime even assured him that she was with people who loved her and made her happy.

After the incident, a swarm of hollows appeared and Orihime and  Tatsuki were trapped in the deadly situation. This was when Orihime discovered her spiritual powers and saved the day. Soon she decided to join Ichigo in his missions as an aid.

This was believed to be the time when they started to get close and bonded really well. Although it was a one-sided love from Orihime, Ichigo also developed mutual feelings toward her.

Furthermore, when Ichigo found out that  Orihime was abducted by the Arrancar, he gathered up his allies, even Rukia, and launched an attack to retrieve her back.

He put up a good fight against the powerful Arrancars such as Tesla and Grimmjow and was successful in saving Orihime.

So, the main protagonist of the series, Ichigo Kurosaki was actually in love with Inoue Orihime. From the very start of the series, fans were quick to notice that he was indeed her love interest and a long-time crush of Orihime.

Not only he was a lifelong crush but eventually, he even became her husband. So, even though the author himself was an IchiRuki fan, he just shifted the whole limelight to IchiHime (Japanese: 一織, IchiOri).

IchiHime (Japanese: 一織, IchiOri) was the name of the canon relationship between Ichigo Kurosaki and Orihime Inoue.

Towards the end of the Bleach manga, Ichigo chose Orihime to help him during his battle against Yhwach. They lost, unfortunately, but they did put up a good fight. 10 years after the battle, the two of them got married and had a son which they named Kazui.

What episode did Ichigo confess his love?

Although it was not shown directly, throughout the series Ichigo didn’t really confess his feelings for her- not directly that is.

Even though he didn’t show his feelings much, it was evident that he did care and treasured Orihime and of course he did love her.

Even in the series, there were times when Ichigo was asked about his feelings for Orihime to which he simply used to hesitate to answer but eventually his face showed it all, even if he tried to hide them.

However, it was Orihime who took the initiative and finally confessed her feelings for Ichigo. In chapter 237, “Goodbye, Halcyon Days”, before she was taken to Hueco Mundo, she was given a chance to bid her farewell to her friends.

Orihime went to the human world where she said goodbye to her dear friends. During this time, she went to Ichigo’s place and found him sleeping. She tried to kiss him but refrained from doing so as she was too happy just being in his room.

So as a final goodbye, Orihime confessed her feelings for him and even stated that even if she was given five chances to live her life, she would live five different lives yet she would still fall in love with the same person in all those lives.

This just indicated Orihimes’s true and loyal love towards Ichigo. In the chapter “Hatred and Jealousy, Orihime’s Dilemma”, Ichigo saved Orihime fromSōsuke Aizen and Ulquiorra, and 10 years later, Ichigo and Orihime were happily married with a son named Kazui.

So, Ichigo did get his happy ending, and what about Rukia you ask? Well, she also had a very happy ending.

Rukia’s Relationship with Renji

Renji and rukia

Rukia and Renji’s relationship dated way back to the time when Rukia met Ichigo. They were a part o the Soul Society, a place where people’s souls went after they died.

Rukia and Renji both grew up together as Soul Children in Soul Society. With no one to look over them, Renji was an orphan and with Tukia’s sister abandoning her, she too was orphaned.

Since they grew up together, they were able to share the same experiences and struggles. When Rukia was adopted by the Kuchiki Clan, Renji showed he was very happy for her and he truly was happy but he feared that they would grow apart.

He did his best to suppress his sadness and bid Rukia happily, believing that he was not that important to her. With time, they soon discovered the gift of Reiatsu to be accepted in the Shin’ō Academy.

They did share a mutual goal to become a Soul Reaper, grow stronger, and gain higher ranks but they wanted to do it together.

Throughout the series, there were times when Rukia and Renji showed their love and devotion toward each other. There was a time when Renji, a man with high dignity, swallowed his pride and begged Ichigo to save Rukia.

Similarly, Rukia was also very much in love with Renji as she was even ready to give up and follow Aizen just so that Renji would be spared.

Renji even sacrificed everything he had to save Rukia. Now we know that Ichigo might have gone to the Soul Society to save Rukia from the execution but let us remind you that it was because Ichigo had a very close friendship and gratitude towards Rukia as she was the one who helped him to save his family.

Yet, Renji almost lost his life while saving her as he had put everything on the line for her because it was just a theory but if Ichigo hadn’t been able to save Rukia, he still had an escape route and a home and family to return to.

Nevertheless, it was not the same case for Renji if he would not save Rukia, not only he would have lost her but his position as a Soul Reaper too would have been taken from him and he would have to live the rest of his life in shame and guilt.

The major hint of their relationship was confirmed when Renji showed extreme reaction upon Szayelaporro telling him that Rukia and Aaroniero had killed each other. He was surely devasted and didn’t want to believe it.

At some point, Renji did confess to Ichigo that he was very thankful to him as he helped Rukia and Renji to become close again and for that, he would always be by Ichigo’s side.

Renji’s extreme reaction upon  And finally when Renji confessed to Ichigo that he helped Rukia and himself become close again and he would always be by Ichigo’s side for it.

So, although Ichigo and Rukia had no romantic feelings for each other they were still very good friends and were there for each other during times of need. Not only did they help each other grow stronger they also brought each other close to their significant others.

Hence, Tite Kubo brought the supernatural shonen to an end with Ichigo smitten with his wife Orihime and Rukia getting together with her childhood friend Renji. Many fans marked the epilogue romance as a moment of victory; however many were displeased with the ending.

Well, whatever the outcome, we certainly got some good memories of these lovely couples and with Kubo announcing the return of the Bleach anime series, based on the Thousand Year Blood War Manga, we hope that we get to see more of them.

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