But hey, this is my journal, I already ship IchiHime anyway, and I can do whatever the hell I want. And I want to make a post about this comic! Hooray!
First off, I mention I ship IchiHime already (for those of you who might not have noticed for some reason) because let's face it - it's not a popular ship in Bleach fandom. And really, who wants to read a post about a story that spends all its time blaming every characterization problem in the comic on a pairing the poster doesn't like? This comic has lots and lots and lots of characterization problems, the least of which come from the pairing. So I'm not gonna focus on the pairings (and believe me, it's hard to bite my tongue on HitsuKarin, but I'm gonna do my best) as much as the story, characterization, and crazy-ass 'artwork'. Because really, that's where the lulz are.
So let's begin at the beginning. I first heard about this comic when it came out about eight months ago through my Avatar: The Last Airbender friends. See, what a lot of IchiHime fans don't seem to realize is that J. Diaz is pretty (in)famous in the Avatar fandom for her fancomics. So famous, in fact, that she not only has a TV Tropes page, but she also takes up a FULL THIRD of the Avatar page on Encyclopedia Dramatica (make sure your antivirus is up to date for this link) for her fancomic How I Became Yours.
For those who have never heard of it, How I Became Yours (or HIBY) is a dramatic and moving romantic story about Zuko and Katara's epic epic love (and Disney dresses)... and Mai's miscarriage-inducing fruit basket of death (now with extra cameo by Grimmjow's face!). Sadly, it is not best known for its *ahem* wonderful love story, but for the very-obviously traced artwork (which the artist claims was not traced at all!), which borders on Lovecraftian levels of crazy at points. There's also an amazing inattention to grammar, spelling, and anything resembling common sense in the giant walls of text the artist likes to place over badly shopped stock photos, so reading it may actually cause your eyes to cross.
Sadly, for those of us in Bleach fandom, What Dreams May Come pales in comparison to the glory that is HIBY. Diaz seems to have ironed out some of the more obvious bad artwork and bizarre spelling and grammar problems from her Avatar effort, much to my chagrin, as that brings the comic that much closer to simply 'mediocre' as opposed to 'mind-blastingly AWESOME'. But for all that polishing, the 'plot' (for lack of a better term) is still patently insane, so we'll focus mostly on that.
As a note, I usually eschew in-lined images in my posts since I think you should be able to make a point without using pictures, but in this case... well, they're entirely necessary. As you'll soon see.
Our story begins with Orihime dreaming about chasing ducks with Ichigo - or 'Kurosaki-sun', as she calls him - when they were both five years old in the rain. It mostly consists of the same three panels over and over and over again. I don't even begin to understand where she got that they were friends at this point, if this is an actual flashback, if Orihime is having some bizarre hallucination, or what.
Diaz has a weird obsession with ducks. At least they're not TURTLEDUCKS.
So then she wakes up and then cries a little about Why Won't Ichigo Love Me. She seems to focus on that a lot in this comic. Meanwhile, Ichigo (who appears to have fallen asleep in chapter 237 and woken up here) is greeted to this sight first thing in the morning:
Ichigo has an appropriate response:
Now with wavy word bubbles!
Personally, I'm still trying to figure out why he has a framed picture of Orihime and of him fighting someone in his shinigami form above his bed. Seriously, it's shit like this that just bugs me.
Anyway, a gremlin that look suspiciously like Rukia magically appears in Ichigo's room to inform him of a very important fact:
Get this woman a cake, god DAMN.
No, it hasn't come for his immortal soul, it's just Rukia's birthday (I never did figure out if Diaz knows that Rukia's birthday is in January, but considering the clothes... probably not), and she wants to go out for a day of shopping and eating black walnut ice cream (this is a plot point or something) and watching a movie and going to a bar. Never mind that at this point we're assuming Ichigo and Orihime are still 16, or that this is horribly out of character for everyone in this scene except MAYBE Renji, Rukia wants to go to a bar for her birthday. So now, Ichigo is somehow nominated to call Orihime and invite her out for the day.
We're then treated to several consecutive pages of Orihime and Ichigo talking in exactly the same poses with slightly varying degrees of blush on their faces while she informs him that she's not wearing much of anything and had just gotten out of the shower. I'm still not quite sure why Orihime felt the need to inform him of this, other than to generate random UST, but Ichigo acts like he can see her through the phone.
So once Ichigo's hard on goes down, the Three Musketeers go on over to Orihime's place:
It looks very January-ish!
The weird part is, these outfits look relatively normal for these three. Yes, even Rukia - the scary part is, this outfit vaguely resembles something in one of the promos for the new movie. I kind of wonder if she didn't just copy them from the anime or something.
Anyway, they go to Orihime's... American/English townhouse? Where we find that she has dressed to the occasion:
Okay, where do you even begin with this ensemble? Super-short skirt? Boobs popping out everywhere? Photoshopped boots? This looks like pretty much nothing Orihime has ever worn before, and it's not long before this clearly foreign clothing causes the inevitable to happen:
Which naturally causes Orihime to fall on top of Ichigo in the Standard Sex Position, where they spend the next several pages, listening to Renji and Rukia mock them with increasingly bizarre expressions pasted onto their faces.
We are then treated to a photoshop montage of eating ice cream, going to the movies, and shopping at Sephora for hair care products, all while Orihime dumps huge blocks of text over everyone about how depressed she is because Why Won't Ichigo Love Her and how dark and depressing and lonely her life is whenever she's at home.
I note that Ichigo and his tiny head seem to be contemplating the bottle of Bed Head with much the same expression as the ice cream cone. No, Ichigo, it's not that kind of mousse. Orihime and the rest then emo their way to the bar where this is waiting for them:
Apparently the thing under all that weave is Matsumoto, and she's brought Shuuhei/Shuhei/Shuuney and Ikkaku along with her! Why any of these people would be at Rukia's birthday party is beyond my comprehension, but we're treated to the fact that quiet, shy, derpy Shuuhei has (randomly) uncrossed Matsumoto's legs for her:
Teach us, Shuuhei-sensei!
Gee, that sounds just like him!
Anyway, both Orihime and Ichigo try that "I HAVE A FRIEND WHO HAS A STRIKINGLY SIMILAR SITUATION TO ME, WHO THIS STORY IS OBVIOUSLY NOT ABOUT" crap, which leads to more Manly Man Advice:
Apparently, according to Ikkaku, sex makes you PSYCHIC. You may be wondering how he knows this, since his Hetero Life Partner Yumichika is conspicuously absent here and most of Ikkaku's canon appearances are spent fucking things up as opposed to just fucking. Sadly, the comic answers this question - just not right now.
Meanwhile, Rukia rants about the injustice of stupiddd men and their stupiddd Renji-ness for no apparent reason:
Get a little liquor in her and she's hurling Cluster F Bombs!
Then, Orihime makes a brilliant analogy while making the Six Hearts As One face:
Ichigo continues to make horrible excuses for his lack of testicular fortitude while Shuuhei makes the same face over and over again. And then he speech dumps:
Do it in the MIDDLE OF THE BAR, Ichigo!
Well, of course nothing happens because Ichigo is a loser and Orihime has the self-esteem of a rock. So instead of anything interesting, Orihime just decides to go home, brush her hair in her ridiculously flowery mirror, cry that Ichigo doesn't love her, and call it a day. Ichigo, meanwhile, decides for reasons I cannot explain that he is going to run over to her house to tell her he loves her once and for all. Really and for real this time.
Now, up until this point, this has been pretty standard (if badly photoshopped) fanfic fare. Ichigo and Orihime unable to communicate their emotions? Check. Renji and Rukia are already a couple? Check. Rangiku showing up to be Orihime's mother figure? Check. Inexplicable shinigami cameos? Random pairings? Frank sex talk? Bar scene? Check, check, check, check. And it's all downhill from here.
Because something resembling a gawth Hot Topic reject with hollow eyes shows up in Orihime's flowery mirror! O NOES! Ichigo, hurry to her rescue!
Uh oh, looks like Ichigo is stuck running in slow motion! Therefore, it is understandable why he runs into her house like a madman, screaming and beating down doors to get to her to... tell her he really, really likes her? I don't know, but he comes into her bedroom just in time to see Crazy Goth Orihime dragging her back into her flowery fairy mirror. Before he can follow them, however, it shatters into a million pieces... of ice?
Understandably, Ichigo is quite overwrought with this, so he does what any sane person would do. He goes to bed and then goes to see Urahara first thing in the morning! Sadly, Urahara is stumped over this ice mirror gawth hollow Orihime, which is probably the first time he's ever been stumped over anything in his life. Luckily for him, someone arrives out of thin air to save the day!
Naturally, Hitsugaya has all the answers, via Mayuri, who has finally one-upped Urahara by researching something called 'Christian Mythology'. I knew there was a reason he liked dressing up as Baphomet!
See, according to Christian Mythology, DEMONS lurk in mirrors and live in a world that ISN'T hell called the 'In-Between', which sounds an awful lot like Purgatory. My guess is that word was a bit too hard for the author.
Meanwhile, Ichigo starts remembering a time when he and Orihime were in a manga called 'Bleach':
Seriously, did the author just get so lazy she just pasted normal manga panels in? That's not jarring at ALL.
So Ichigo, Renji, Rukia and... Hitsugaya? WTF? go to see a person who appears to be Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Azulon's love child to learn more about this 'Christianity'.
"If it was Ozai, tell him I'm still going to
kill his bitch-ass son."
Strangely enough, Fire Avatar Rozulon has something vaguely resembling the Necronomicon, which requires 'pure' blood to open it. Since Ichigo is a virgin (never mind that he's also part hollow and god only knows what else at this point), apparently that's good enough. The pages begin to fill in with various pictures of naked demons having orgies, statues from Devil May Cry, Baphomet, and Arabic writing, which apparently tells us that in order to get through the mirror, you have to fight demons made from your 'darkest feelings' or some other goth crap. Lucky for Ichigo he already has something like that, amirite?
Meanwhile, Orihime is being a whiny bitch and crying that Ichigo will come save her because that's just what he does, right?
This is soooooooooooooooo in character!
And then Renji and Rukia make out in a field full of flowers. Sadly, Rukia is still too young to truly enjoy such adult pursuits.
Ichigo then goes to catch a nap on a park bench because he is a hobo and decides that he can't sleep because Hichi will eat him.
Sadly, Hichi just seems interested in eating Orihime and/or certain parts of her anatomy. Ichigo looks very disappointed in this turn of events. :'( As an aside, this particular take on Hichi seems fairly popular in IchiHime fics ever since the Lust chapters came out - never mind that he... has never really said anything perverted ever. He seems much more content to make cryptic speeches about swords, laugh maniacally, and scare the piss out of Ichigo.
Next, we are treated to the REAL reason Hitsugaya is even in this comic:
THEY SURE GROW UP FAST, HUH?
Believe it or not, that is Kurosaki Karin, although she resembles Brittany Spears with Azula's face there more than anything. There is lots of wangst about Hitsugaya leaving her for four years (thus making the ensuing sex scene 'okay' because she's sixteen now!) and how Karin means the world to Hitsugaya, blah blah blah, Hitsugaya is the only one getting laid before they all die in not!Hell. Think about that.
The next morning, they all assemble in some vaguely dojo-ish place to chant the dark gawth darkness version of the Dragon Slave and enter not!Hell.
"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand!"
Which of course causes Ichigo to make new and interesting faces...
And then we meet Hitsugaya's evil twin/demon clone/inner hollow. Naturally, he lives with the Southern Water Tribe, in a snow storm. And of course, he looks like a cross between Grimmjow, the Joker, and some Avatar character that always shows exactly one nipple.
Then we meet Renji's evil clone, who has the most bizarre hair I've ever seen and apparently lives in the desert of the Earth Kingdom.
Rukia's inner demon lives in a totally-not-symbolic cave and looks like something from a Yu-Gi-Oh card deck, complete with horns and VISIBLE SLIT, oh my word.
Nothing interesting really happens in any of these fights except that Rukia's demon has multiple grabby hands which you'd THINK would portend some kind of hentai exploits, but mostly just hold her up and choke her with weird photoshop. There is lots of talking about the characters' love lives - each of the demons talks about nothing BUT their characters' love life, actually. Renji's demon wants to bang Rukia, Hitsugaya's demon babbles about Karin, and Rukia's is... okay, that one is mostly just naked and has a bunch of hands, but she still talks about Renji. I think. Anyway, it doesn't matter because all three of them get their asses beaten pretty badly.
Ichigo, meanwhile, is having the most boring inner hollow battle the world has ever seen. In fact, they don't even fight - they just stand around talking with Zangetsu for several pages while Hichi reminds him that they're all the same person and they all want to
For no reason whatsoever (other than that apparently he just really wants to get laid), Hichi gives Ichigo his body back and tells him to go get Orihime. He then somehow stumbles into a cathedral from Devil May Cry, complete with bizarre sound effects of :demonic laughter: and weird gawthick crap about doves and wings and shit.
Rukia, meanwhile, becomes An Hero by inventing a new type of Kido with a suitably impressive name:
Meanwhile, Ichigo fights Orihime, who has been consumed by her inner emo and turned into the Dark Phoenix Firebender Soul Calibur or whatever.
Sadly, much like Dark Phoenix before her, Orihime begs Ichigo to kill her so that she may die as a human or... something. DO IT, SCOTT! We are then treated to tears of blood and :soundless screaming: everywhere.
Wait a second, this looks familiar...
Oh GODDAMMIT Katara! What'd we tell you about bloodbending in the cathedral!
Anyway, Ichigo then does his best impersonation of Naoe Nagi from Weiß Kreuz and screams and glows until Orihime is healed through the Power of Love or telekinesis or lightening or what the hell ever.
Naturally, the next thing you know, Ichigo is waking up in a daze about a week later to Hitsugaya and Renji, who are somehow not dead. All Ichigo has to show for his amazing display of telekinesis is a few magical bandages, yet his heart is oh-so-heavy because he could not save Orihime. When he asks Renji who drug them all out of not!Hell, however, he is told that an angel did it.
I'm still not sure if that means Yoruichi came and bailed their asses out, or if this is like a gameshow where he gets to pick between bachelorettes, or if he's just high on cactus juice or what the hell is going on. Actually, neither is the comic, because none of this is EVER EXPLAINED EVER. They all died, except Ichigo who just screamed and cried a lot, and then Orihime, who was dead, brought them all back to Soul Society. Either way, we don't care about that. We're here for the Lifetime movie scenes!
You're going the wrong way!
Oh yes she did.
We are then treated to Hitsugaya giving up his entire life up till now as head of the Tenth Division Squad for a hot piece of jailbait ass.
Even weirder is the fact that the captains no longer seem able to count or line up according to division and that apparently Hitsugaya is randomly... Yamamoto's son? I also don't think I'd be wrong in assuming Kenpachi is banging Unohana from this page.
Meanwhile, Ichigo and Orihime have mastered the art of falling up and not down. Strangely enough, this looks better than her Zutara effort by miles:
And since this wouldn't be a Jackie Diaz comic without weird flowy dresses appearing on female characters for no reason...
How did she climb that tree in that dress?
WE ARE NOT DONE YET, THOUGH! Because there is one more thing we have to take care of! Hitsugaya must tell Ichigo that he's banging his little sister. In one of the most IC (yet strangely shopped) moments of anyone in this comic at all, Ichigo reacts accordingly.
Sadly for Hitsugaya, he has not been banging Karin, but Fire Princess Azula this entire time.
That's one hell of a morning after.
What follows are things you never wanted to hear any of the Kurosaki family say, as well as inexplicable clip art with electrical sockets and wall outlets.
I'm real happy for ya and I'ma let you finish Karin, but I just wanted to say that Orihime has the prettiest vagina of all time!
OF ALL TIME!
Which means it's time for the end, I guess. We randomly flash forward a year, where everyone goes to the beach to get drunk and watch ridiculous amounts of fireworks. Oh, and we finally figure out why Ikkaku is in this comic.
What is this I don't even. For those of you who've forgotten, that's Keigo's sister, Mizuho, who has a thing for shaved heads.
The saddest part about this whole debacle (aside from the really awkward copy/past artwork) is that you're left with a feeling that this could've been... well, not exactly decent, but at least not bad with a little more work. Had this been a regular fic, it wouldn't have even qualified for a regular Fanfic Hell post - the story is just sort of mediocre bad, nothing special at all. You could go on Fanfiction.net and probably dig up ten fics just like this.
We're left with several pressing questions, though. Why do none of the characters have a personality outside of who they're banging? Why does everyone drink suddenly? What the hell happened to Orihime's clothes? Where are Ishida, Chad, Tatsuki, and Yumichika? Was there not enough room? Was Diaz somehow threatened by Ishida, yet couldn't find someone to pair him off with? How is Ishida threatening to IchiHime when Rukia obviously isn't? Why does Soul Society have no clothes outside of white bedsheets to dress their women in? Why didn't this comic get a Babies Ever After ending when How I Became Yours did? Why was Zangetsu standing on that sword? WHY THE HELL IS YAMAMOTO HITSUGAYA'S FATHER?
Really, I get the feeling the answers to these questions would horrify me more than the questions themselves.