Author: chuuni A.K.A. Cezaria
Pairing: Ulquiorra Schiffer x Inoue Orihime (Abbr. UO)
Spoilers: Up to chapter 284
Notice: (April 21, 2009)
Part 2 can be found here.
Red text on pictures should never be taken seriously. I will laugh if you take it seriously.
This started as a long, biased, fangirl rant that was intended as something fun to read for UO fans while we sit and wait for Kubo to release the Espada from his matchbox. Then misora suggested I post this here. But I figured it was too informal to throw out to the open and it might annoy people who ship Ulquiorra or Orihime with anyone else. This called for a lot of rewriting and reorganizing. But anything is worth it for my OTP <3
Most of the Scanlations come from Ju-Ni, with the exception of chapters 192-194, for which I used Manga-Rain.
Big thank-yous go to the lovely peeps over at the UlquiHime FC at Bleach Asylum, the UlquiHime LJ Community, and UlquiHime Baidu Boards (Chinese).
I am aware that some people find this pairing pure crack, and it does not have an inkling of a chance to become canon (even though we insist it is!). One is an enemy, the other is a main protagonist. One is a hollow, the other is a human. One serves Aizen, the other fights against Aizen. There is -no chance- these two can ever be together, right? EDIT (April 18, 2009) No, it's not pure crack. For the sake of PC-ness I won't say it's canon, but no sane person will agree that this pairing is crack anymore.
Introduction - The fascination that began
Before the Arrancar arc, it was always assumed that any hetero pairing concerning Inoue Orihime would be with either Ichigo, Ishida, or Chad (even though he's a good person, I may have to kill you for that). It is often taken for granted that in a manga like Bleach, the good go with the good, and the bad stay with the bad. Perhaps up until when the two Espada-ranked Arrancar appeared in Karakura, few would have guessed how frequently the paths of that black-haired melacholy-faced hollow Ulquiorra and the gentle girl Orihime would cross. And that 80-odd chapters later, the relationship between the two would become an intriguing aspect of Bleach. Ulquiorra Schiffer, the hound of Aizen, a top-ranked Arrancar with no emotions to speak of. Orihime Inoue, that kind-hearted, orange-haired girl we have gotten so familiar with during the past arcs of Bleach, whose unrequited love for Ichigo is yet a problem to be resolved. Can this be a twist in fate?
Arrancar and 4th Espada in Aizen's army. Best noted for his melancholic appearance and two prominent tear streaks down his face. Elegant and aloof, Ulquiorra almost never shows any emotion whatsoever, but can be rather snide and condescending when speaking. Has a habit of referring to people as "trash". Unlike most arrancar, he does not like to indulge in violence and unnecessary killing. Is very likely a Vasto Lorde class.
The next time Orihime and Ulquiorra are together in the same chapter was when Aizen called for her abduction. Ulquiorra appeared as Orihime was on her way back to Karakura from Soul Society, expressing his dislike to to hurry but has something to say to her. One of the shinigami escorts interrupted him and was ripped apart. Orihime, unfazed, instantly commanded Shun'o and Ayame to start healing, while telling the other escort to run. However, Ulquiorra didn't seem to like being ignored as the second shinigami was also blown to pieces. The Espada expressed his surprise at her ability, suggesting that he had injured the two shinigami just to see her use it (which means he's at least interested in her). Getting straight to the point, Ulquiorra said, "Come with me, woman." and threatened to kill her friends if she didn't oblige. This was probably the phrase that created the first generation of UO fans, so forceful yet can be taken in so many ways XD. When Orihime did not answer, Ulquiorra gave her one more chance. Later on he appeared just in time to recall the other Arrancar from the mission. Of course, being the ruthless enemy, he could have allowed the others to kill Ichigo and co. to save the trouble they'd surely stir up later. But Ulquiorra chose not to...because he promised her.
One of the main protagonists. A cheerful, optimistic girl. Has a rather active imagination and comes off as a bit air-headed and clueless. Orihime in fact cares deeply for her friends and tries her best to help. But due to her lack of combat ability, she is always the one getting protected in the end. Secretly has a crush on Ichigo. Her ability "Souten Kisshun", previously only seen as a healing technique, is in fact a power violating the realm of God.
Relevant Manga Chapters
192-194 - The arrancar's first visit to Karakura Town. First meeting between Ulquiorra and Orihime.
234 - Ulquiorra abducts Orihime
245 - Espada's meeting
247 - "It suits you"
249 - Discussion between Ulquiorra and Noitora
262 - The ever-so-famous bitchslap
270 - Ulquiorra vs Ichigo
272 - "Ul..."
277 - Ulquiorra's great hurry
278 - Interesting eye contact...
To start, I will walk you through the manga chapters relevant to their rather interesting relationship.
We start with chapter 192, which was when Ulquiorra and Yammy arrived at Karakura and created a large crater on the mountainside. Sensing the Arrancars' reiatsu, Chad and Orihime arrived on the scene just in time to rescue Tatsuki. Telling Orihime to run for it, Chad took on Yammy by himself and was defeated. Orihime turned back to help Chad, and this was when Ulquiorra first noticed her. He closes his eyes as if disappointed, and pronounced her "trash".
When Orihime used Souten Kisshun to heal Chad. Ulquiorra noticed that it was a power he had never seen before, a small, cold smile floats to his face as he commented that she was a strange human. Orihime tried to use Tsubaki to attack Yammy, but failed. Ulquiorra then ordered his comrade to kill her.
But isn't this a little strange? Ulquiorra had specifically said that except for Ichigo, there is no need to harm others. Furthermore, it was Yammy who had suggested Orihime be taken to Aizen because she's interesting. Perhaps Ulquiorra was disappointed at her lack of combat ability, or perhaps he ordered Yammy to kill her just to see what might happen...?
Then Ichigo came to
try to save the day, but was defeated when Shirosaki interfered. Orihime was also injured. Urahara and Yoruichi then appeared to really save the day as Ulquiorra stood there and watched Yammy get trashed. At any point after the two shinigami showed up, Ulquiorra could have taken Yammy and retreated, since he considered his mission complete. Why stay and let his comrade get his ass kicked...?
And even stranger still, Ulquiorra only resolved to do something after Yoruichi went to help Orihime. And it wasn't exactly a pat on the back for hard-working Yammy either... How odd for someone who is against unnecessary violence...
First appearance and already so many contradictions...Emospada-kun, you should learn to be more discreet...
It should also be noted that he has no qualms about killing people he deems as trash, so why had he not killed Orihime back then himself, but instead ordered Yammy to do it...?
After the abduction, Ichigo and co. broke into Hueco Mundo to rescue Orihime. At the Espada meeting, Ulquiorra sat with his eyes closed and gave no comments until the Big Guy asked why there were only 3 people. Her name was the only thing he said. From the perspective of a UO fan, I'd say he's only interested in matters that concern her XDD
I should also say here that when Ulquiorra told her "do not make a ruckus, it's annoying", it was not meant to sound as bad as it does in English. In Japanese the tone in which he said it can be likened to lighthearted bickering. It didn't exactly mean he found her annoying. He was just saying it for the sake of saying, which as a UO fan, I found quite adorable. XD
Coming out from her room after making her swear loyalty to Aizen, we can gather from Ulquiorra's thoughts that what Orihime had said was against her true will. But she still obliged without flinching, which made him conclude that she was a strong woman. Noitora then appeared to ask him how he was treating Pet-sama (being very suggestive at that too), making Ulquiorra angry. Rather protective, I would say. Then the 4th Espada, who didn't like to talk, started rambling about the psychological prison on Orihime and Aizen's game. Noitora probably didn't catch half of it until Ulquiorra concluded with Orihime's lack of will and power to escape...
Strange...he had just then admitted she was strong in his mind...but suddenly dismissing it just like that? Contradiction again? Or was he trying to shield her from unwanted attention?
After Chad was cut down by Noitora, we arrive at the classic scene regarding UO. Ahh yes, the slap. Ulquiorra entered Orihime's room again, bringing food (he remembered to say something this time, because he scared her that last time, how sensitive XDD). The Espada explained to her that Noitora didn't follow Aizen's orders to stay put, which, reading deeper, would mean that Chad's defeat was not anyone else's responsibility but Noitora's.
Orihime refused. Frustrated, Ulquiorra started to ramble (again, what's the matter with you when you're with her?). Telling her how he doesn't understand why she's upset since eventually, all her friends will be defeated. He also told her why she should at least laugh at their stupidity and how he himself would feel in a situation like this when...
She slapped him across the face.
The Vasto Lorde didn't dodge, didn't catch her hand, and was stunned. Then he gave her a rather complicated look (for someone who rarely shows facial expression). Seeing that his presence was unwelcomed, the Espada turned to leave, but not before trying to salvage some of his male pride by threatening to force-feed her if she didn't eat. Orihime breaks down and cries afterwards, and Ulquiorra is seen outside her room, listening.
Now, taking away the unsavoury contents of his speech. We can see that Ulquiorra was trying to comfort Orihime (the phrase "I am not here to comfort you" made it so obvious XDD)...except he handled it quite badly, so it seemed like taunting than anything else. But nevertheless, he was trying to make her see things from his point of view, and that she shouldn't be upset. But alas, it backfired on him, hence the rather hurt and indignant look he gave her...
And why is he so uptight about feeding her? She's not going to die without a meal or two. Emospada really is taking her well-being into much consideration XDD
The strangest act Ulquiorra had committed so far was when, having called Noitora an idiot because he didn't stay in the palace, the 4th Espada himself strolled off to hunt down Ichigo. Hypocrite much? Or was there something else that egged Ulquiorra to act in this way? After finding Ichigo, the Espada told him straight off that Rukia is dead and not bothering to euphemise it either. Such a large difference in attitude compared with Orihime (remember? He refused to comment at first). Ulquiorra provoked Ichigo into attacking by admitting to Orihime's abduction, then he was surprised at Ichigo's doubt on Orihime's integrity.
Ulquiorra was perhaps trying to see why Orihime was so loyal to her friends, thus going off to find one of them and Ichigo was, conveniently, the only who wasn't down or taken. It also explains why he mentioned Orihime to see what would happen instead of attacking Ichigo outright. A speculation I have is that Ulquiorra knows Ichigo is someone important to Orihime and specifically chose him. That time when she was severely injured by Yammy yet was so concerned over Ichigo, Ulquiorra was there. And during her 12-hour grace period when she went to say goodbye to strawberry...well, someone had to stalk her to make sure she wasn't breaking the rules of their agreement, right? Jealous already, No.4-sama?
Sensing Ichigo's defeat, Orihime's first response to the opening of her door was to call Ulquiorra's name. To an extent, this means she's more or less familiarised herself with him. But it wasn't the Emospada that time (oh how I wished it was!).
At first she was surprised, then she lowered her head and looked away, as if feeling guilty. Why wasn't she angry? At the arrancar who poked a hole in the chest of her favourite Kurosaki-kun? And Ulquiorra, who was previously scowling, softened his expression upon seeing Hime. What was even more interesting was that he brushed away the fact that Grimmjow was breaking the rules like it didn't matter (amazing for someone who's so loyal towards Aizen), and made it clear that his only concern was to take back Orihime. Again, Ulquiorra's possessiveness towards her just makes us UO fans swoon in delight. XDD
Of course Grimmjow put up a fight, and fought cheaply at that, trapping Ulquiorra in a caja negacion. When he explained it could hold lesser arrancar there forever, Orihime looked...worried?
Why would she worry if she saw Ulquiorra plainly as an enemy? Shouldn't she be happy? When Grimmjow demanded that she continue helping him, she became defiant and refused. Perhaps holding a grudge for trapping up her babysitter? XDD
In conclusion, Kubo has shown us that Ulquiorra is indeed interested in Orihime, perhaps in ways he is still confused about. We have seen him act out of character on many an occasion due to Hime. If she held no place in his conscious, he shouldn't act any differently. Orihime on the other hand is perhaps most familiar with Ulquiorra out of all the arrancars, she doesn't fear him, which is a good thing. And her reactions towards him in 278 also demonstrates that she doesn't plainly see him as a foe. UO fans now just pray that Kubo will be merciful and give us more moments of these two in the future XD.
Hime's resolve, Espada's contradiction
What I absolutely love about this pairing is that their interactions often bring out the best in them. Ulquiorra stimulates Orihime to show her determination and inner strength, while dealing with Orihime accentuates Ulquiorra's (perhaps latent) sensitivity and kindness (I can't find a better word...).
We see Orihime's strength in her will to protect the weak (the two shinigami escorts), her resolve (decision to destroy Hougyoku), and her fierce loyalty to friends (the slap), even that confession to Ichigo she probably would never have made if it weren't for the fact that she was about to be taken away. Nearly all of this has been brought about by some contact with Ulquiorra. After Ulquiorra is gone (damn you Grimmjow), we see her revert back into the glass-doll state because her automatic reaction to Ichigo being there is to depend on him. No no no, we don't want to see Orihime like this. =.= Please come back and stimulate her into the strong self she was, Emospada!
The Espada, on the other hand, displays some interesting behaviour. I have analysed most of it in the manga run-through. But most prominent acts being disregarding Aizen's orders and going to fight Ichigo, hurrying to her side against his 'nature', and...talking too much or saying something that gives him away instantly (the Espada meeting XD). Whether romantically or not, he is fascinated by this human girl.
Refuting Popular Anti-arguments
Hollow and Human do not mix:
If it were to be put that way, shinigami and human weren't meant to mix, yet we having Ichigo who's father is a captain-level shinigami. Perhaps before the appearance of Isshin, this argument would have had more impact... Though one might argue that shinigami and humans are not at odds with each other, but hollows prey on human souls. However, we are not talking about low-levelled hollows here, it was stated in chapter 284 that Menos evolve through cannabalism. Ulquiorra is at least of Adjucas level (though very very likely a Vasto Lorde), which means he does not need to devour human spirits, and therefore does not pose a danger to Orihime.
Also, as aubreywitch pointed out to me. Nell and her brothers are friendly hollows (even though they're considered somewhat 'abnormal'), so the notion of humans/shinigami becoming friends with hollows is not completely unfeasible.
Hollows have no emotions:
When people say Hollows aren't supposed to have emotions, they fail to realise that Grimmjow and many others have shown emotion constantly throughout the series. Grimmjow and his anger, arrogance, love for battle. Lolly and Menoly with their jealousy and adoration for Aizen. Are we suggesting that Ulquiorra is incapable of something the lower-ranked arrancars are? If anything, he should be more capable of hiding emotions.
Then we have Orihime's brother Sora, who realised in the end that what he was doing is hurting Orihime, and chose to purify himself. Can we honestly say Hollows have no feelings?
Ulquiorra is only carrying out Aizen's orders:
This is a game to Aizen, and frankly, I don't think Aizen would care how she was treated as long as she wasn't dead. If it was any other Arrancar in charge of her, who knows what could happen to poor Orihime? She could be neglected, beaten, or worse (ahem, Noitora?). Ulquiorra has no obligation to be as kind to her as he was, he has no obligation to see her every hour, to let her know about recent happenings, to make sure she eats well. Why going through so much trouble for a human girl who is their prisoner?
Why I love UxO (Personal Opinions)
This pairing holds more chemistry than any other in Bleach. Where else have you seen so much sexual tension? XD Where else have you seen Orihime physically strike out at someone? Not to say these two fit together so well aesthetically too, especially in their Arrancar outfits. The happy princess and emo demon, I can't ask for better. What I love most about them though, is that they bring out the best in each other, whether consciously or not. Orihime is no longer timid, Ulquiorra shows inner struggle. It might not be romance, but their influence on each other is enough to make me fangirl like mad...
====================== Copy pasta from old essay because I can't put it any better ======================
The characters Ulquiorra and Orihime are actually quite bland by themselves. Ulquiorra the cold, stoic Espada, who is a loyal hound in Aizen's army. Orihime the kind, cheerful girl who, like any other, has a secret crush, can cry, and tries her best to help her friends. Throw these two together and see sparks fly like no other pair in Bleach.
Being with Ulquiorra brings out the strength in Orihime, she had come to realise that there is no one she could rely on Hueco Mundo. She learned to be strong, and to stand up for herself. Orihime Inoue, who had never been seen attacking anyone physically, slapped the arrancar across the face to shut him up.
When Hime is involved, Ulquiorra displays actions that are not in accordance with his character, including hurry-hurrying, disobeying Aizen's orders to stay put, disregarding Grimmjow's apparently traitorous behaviour, talking too much, etc. Did the human girl bring about this drastic change? I certainly think so. And whenever there is change, it means something has to being going on inside. XD
Kubo had already shown conspicuously that Orihime becomes reliant on her friends such as Ichigo and Ishida. Therefore being with them would only make her weaker, not stronger. Ichigo and co. never saw her as anyone special other than a good healer. They also always assumed she needs protection, never giving her a chance to prove her worth. A friend of mine pointed out aptly:
If Orihime trips and falls, Ichigo and Ishida would rush to help her get up. However, Ulquiorra would not do so. "Get up, Inoue Orihime." He would say. He trusts her, and she will.
This is the kind of love Orihime needs. Tough, but all for a better her.
Though it is hard to argue whether Ulquiorra *needs* a girlfriend per se. It has become an indisputable fact that he cares for Orihime more than any other person, whether romantically or not. He is the only person...hollow...being to admit that she is special, and she is mentally strong. If romance was to happen (and it will!!), it can only be with her.
Lastly, to quote a Chinese fic I read:
"Inoue Orihime, you are my woman. Not for five lifetimes, but every lifetime!"
If you look back on all the scenes with Ulquiorra visiting Orihime in her room, he doesn't wear a Zanpakutou.
234 - There's something fishy about this scene...
249 - Ulquiorra's leer
Anime Episode 127 - How did you "film" this angle, Emospada-kun?
Links to the Fandom
Communities (Fanarts are usually included)
UlquiHime LJ Community
UlqxOri (Japanese fanlisting) (Click on member list, and the little house icons to go to websites)
Twisted Emotions (Official FL)
Bleach Asylum UlquiHime FC
Narutofan Forums UlquiHime FC
UruOri Baidu Boards (Chinese)
Fanfiction.net (Ulquiorra/Orihime related)
The Twisted Tales of Two Strangers by stereotype_vamp