Prior to investigating the fandom, I never really saw anything romantic here. Byakuya, angsty older brother caught between duty and family; Rukia, little sister who desperately wants to be what Byakuya expects of her.
Well, that's a simplification, but still.
Looking back at it, though, I can see how Byakuya would have feelings for Rukia. She does, after all, look a hell of a lot like the wife he absolutely adored and who was never able to quite return his feelings fully. The idea of mutual feeling there, though, squicks the hell out of me, mostly because Rukia would be the one being controlled and dominated in the relationship, whether or not Byakuya intended it that way--she still worships him too much--and I don't like the idea of Rukia as submissive in a relationship.
Ganju/Hanatarou is rather adorable in its own way. Hanatarou needs a big strong hero, and Ganju needs a tiny lovable hero!
I never really got much of a "slash them!" vibe off these two, but then I don't get "slash them!" vibes off the males all that often anyway. However, it is super cute how the tiny nurse and the big tough guy wound up getting along and showing each other so much strength and courage. ♥ So while I don't really ship these two, I certainly can't see why anyone would have something against this pairing. Also, it is essentially canon in the ridiculous anime fillers now.
OH GOD NO. XD Admittedly, it is hilarious (it's an OT3, not an OTP!), but more as a joke than as anything else, because even if Matsumoto were interested in Hitsugaya that way, he'd be way too into his paperwork to ever notice.
...maybe when he's older, she can pursue him relentlessly while he is utterly oblivious. XD
In development, this pairing reminds me a lot of Naruto/Hinata, but more developed in most ways. While Orihime does connect with Ichigo in ways that nobody else does, it seems almost unwilling on his part. As things stand, it's a pairing of stolen moments--of her running to him after his fights are already over, of them reaching for each other as they're pulled away from each other as they fall into Seireitei. On his side, the bond he has with her seems almost unconscious. It's there, but he doesn't even realize it. On her side, there's an almost spiritual longing to connect with him, but she can never quite touch him the way she wants to. It feels to me like that's why she's jealous of Rukia in recent chapters--not because omg Orihime has figured out that RUKIA IS ICHIGO'S GIRLFRIEND, but because Rukia can connect with Ichigo in a way that seems effortless, while Orihime has been struggling to do just that for so long, and it makes her worry that there's no room in Ichigo's heart for her. I find it telling, though, that someone as sensible as Rangiku informs Orihime that Ichigo needs both her and Rukia.
IchiHime isn't my favorite Orihime pairing (that's TatsuHime) or my favorite Ichigo pairing (that's IchiRuki), but it's one that I feel is very well-developed in subtle ways, and I'll be happy to see it become canon as the manga goes on.
I think what does it for me is the quiet, awkward, almost stolen moments they have. Reaching for each other's hands as they fall into Seireitei. Orihime running to Ichigo just as he finishes fighting Byakuya. There's always a sense of missed connection there, of something they could almost have, and it creates a really interesting tension to me.
There's a lot of talk about how Orihime can never be the girl for Ichigo because blah blah blah he relates to Rukia so much better whatever, but what these arguments miss is that Ichigo is still growing and changing. Ichigo is still damaged. Ichigo still has a long way to go. And one of his prime issues is the way he needs to protect people, and how this prevents him from truly relating to them.
If I don't wield the sword, I can't protect you.
If I keep wielding the sword, I can't embrace you.
Rukia is the one he connects to on an instinctual level, and that's one of the reasons I adore IchiRuki despite the lack of a romantic aspect to their relationship in canon--that kind of deep, raw connection is my bulletproof kink--but Orihime is the one he has to learn how to connect to, and that's just as fulfilling in the end.
So I guess that for me, IchiRuki and TatsuHime are my fanon ships, but I'm perfectly content with them remaining fanon, because IchiHime is such a lovely thing in canon.
Ishida/Rukia vs. Orihime/Rukia [03/16/06]
Ishida/Rukia might be made to work as some form of crack, but they lack any interesting bond in the canon, so I'd definitely go for Orihime/Rukia instead. Orihime's crush on Ichigo makes her notice Rukia and her effects in a way that few other people do, and she does try to reach out to Rukia in a way and make her feel welcome. It's a sweet, subtle bond they grow to have during the pre-SS-arc canon, and a romance growing out of it could be an interesting concept if written well.
This is a sweet one, and given the right circumstances it could be possible. Izuru definitely cares for Momo, and she does seem to have thought of him as a friend at least at one point. Overall, though, I think I prefer them as friends--although with Renji in the mix they'd make a pretty sweet threesome.
This is one of those pairings that I've never quite...gotten. There's something about Gin...he sees everyone (except probably Aizen) as a plaything. Rangiku is his favorite plaything, to be sure, but that doesn't really make for a relationship that interests me. Although I'll admit his little admission of "I wouldn't have minded being bound by you for a while longer" did interest me more in the pairing than anything in the previous chapters.
While I find their relationship intriguing, I just...can't see it as romantic. The closest I came was when Gin commented that he wouldn't have minded being bound by her a while longer. I see a very interesting mutual fascination between the two of them, and in Gin's case, I think Rangiku is his very favorite toy, but I just can't see a romantic relationship emerging from that.
I got the impression that Hanatarou has a bit of a crush on Rukia--he certainly admires her. More to the point, though, this would be freaking adorable. Come on, you know it would be.
I admit, I fell in love with this pairing in the first chapter. There was just something about the way they connected that made me adore it. But the lack of canon support for any romance between the two of them, and Kubotite's obvious contempt for the pairing, have made me feel rather bad about actually shipping them. I still really like the idea, though, and I'm convinced that, KT's looming distaste aside, it can be done right in the hands of a good enough writer.
Shunsui/Nanao = SO VERY OBVIOUS LOVE;; but I've never really seen Ukitake/either of them (certainly not Nanao; I dunno, she just doesn't seem to relate to him that way), so I can't comment so much on that. Nanao is probably capable of keeping Shunsui from getting too rough and hurting Jyuushirou, though. D:
The way these two love each other still makes me wibble, but as things stand I find more canon support for Ichigo/Orihime and even Chizuru/Tatsuki, and seeing a pairing get demolished by canon is enough to turn me off to it, alas.
Yeah, I admit it, I do ship HitsuHina, although it's not an ultimate OTP or anything. (Oddly enough, it is one of the most popular pairings in J-fandom--more popular than a het pairing usually is.) The intensity of the emotions that fly between them, the way he cares for her, how broken she is after Aizen's betrayal--all of that makes it potentially a fascinating pairing. The addition of their bickering, their childishness, and their cuteness makes it a funny and adorable pairing as well. But the fluff the fandom piles on it is painful. Dammit, people, Momo is way too in love with Aizen to immediately turn around and toss herself at Toushirou, and for his part, Toushirou can't even admit to himself that he's in love with her even if he is in love with her already. He is not a fluffy type. Neither of them really is.
This is one of my favorite crackpairings in Bleach. I usually pair Aizen up with Gin, because I'm sick like that, but Unohana strikes me as the only "good" captain who could measure up to him in combined deviousness and friendliness. She's so very sweet, and she is a healer, but she's terrifying when she wants to get something done. Likewise, Aizen is the nicest guy ever until he's ready to launch his Scheme Of World Domination. They would have very polite, friendly, pretty dates with all this canny darkness beneath the surface.
Yoruichi/anyone (and she will always top) is Fucking Hot. I haven't read the most recent chapters, and I'm told there was big evidence for this one in there, but all the same I still see it. She dropped everything in her old life to go with him. She's all he's got left. That's pretty hot.
They'd be cute together, I guess, but they're just too obviously kids (although admittedly, we don't know their actual ages--but then, we don't know Yachiru's actual age, and she's still obviously a kid in one way or another) for me to really think of them in a romantic sense.
Yoruichi/Soi Fong [09/22/05]
Happy birthday to me.
Yoruichi/Soi Fong [02/15/06]
Okay, I admit it. At first I was only in this one because it was hot. It was obvious that Soi Fong was hot for kitten, but I didn't really see Yoruichi as returning her feelings. But then I reread their fight, and I started to notice the little things, like how Yoruichi went out of her way to protect Soi Fong, and how tenderly she looked at her. There was just so much depth there, and it was all so incredibly intense. Intensity is one of my buttons, and man, does this pairing push it.
I actually like them as a pairing. The only thing I don't like is the bizarre idea that Yoruichi should somehow be exclusive to him. Because seriously, pimpkitton. As far as canon goes, though, I don't think there's any evidence that they're doing it, aside from the general aura of pure sex that Yoruichi radiates. Hell, for her looking at someone is tantamount to having sex with them; I imagine that unless Urahara is really really really gay, he's had to have tried it with her a few times. Still, I prefer them first and foremost as partners-in-crime. I just think that, Yoruichi being Yoruichi, there should be some sex involved as well.
Well, IkkaYumi is one of those pairings that you have to be blind not to see at this point in canon. One of the interesting points is that it's not really specifically Ikkaku/Yumichika or Yumichika/Ikkaku (I only say IkkaYumi because it sounds less awkward than YumiIkka and less contrived than YumIkkaku). They are absolutely partners, equals fighting together who also happen to be fucking. And the subtext of violence, the fact that both of them are as much fighters as they are
The way I see it, the Kanda-Allen dynamic is sort of Hoshino's rejection of the typical rivals-who-push-each-other shounen cliche. In most other series, they would have turned out to be key figures in each other's lives, pushing and pulling on the other. In this one...it just doesn't work out. They have nothing to offer each other. Allen dislikes Kanda's coldness and ruthlessness too much to learn practicality from him, and Kanda is too dismissive of Allen's philosophy to learn kindness from him. So they go their separate ways.
Now, if forced to interact some more they might be able to learn things from each other eventually, but it would be awkward, inconvenient, and probably more trouble than it's worth. If people like that, fine, but I can't quite shake the feeling that most people who ship Kanda/Allen do it because it is omgsopretty and they could TEACH EACH OTHER SO MUCH THROUGH THEIR RIVALRY!! rather than because it is a failed relationship that would take a lot of work to become anything else.
The first thing that got me about these two, of course, is the tension. It's way hot. He tells her off like the condescending asshole he is; she sasses back indignantly; he continues to be an asshole; she flips the fuck out and binds him to be nice to her. XD And even though the anime didn't show that scene, it manages to get in the sort of uneasy but deeply hot tension that exists between them. It's all about the UST. :D
That was prior to my seeing episode 14, and that was how I felt about the pairing for a good long while--it was hot and I had a thing for Master/Servant pairings, so hey, I'd go for it. But I wasn't rabid over it.
Then there was episode 14, and I had Archer explained to me, and I started to see the little things about their interaction.
There is, for one, the way they match up to each other. I like pairings where while the characters are ultimately equals, there is a certain amount of powerplay involved rather than a bland "la la partners and best friends la la" thing. Rin and Archer have that in spades. True, she literally dominates him--but he's still constantly seeking ways to one-up her. Sure, he's the one with all the combat power and timeless experience, but she's the one with the drive to fight. And sometimes, just sometimes, they have to drop all the bickering and toying with each other and acknowledge that they get each other. Their last conversation in 14? Where Rin understood what he meant even before the viewers
And then, since I'm primarily an Archer fan (although Rin is definitely my second-favorite character in the series, omg), I have to look at it through the lens of how it helps develop his character. And more and more, I come to the conclusion that Rin is the only one he could really be happy with, if only for a little while. She's the one who can give him a chance at a sane, if not exactly normal, relationship. I even think that in an ideal world, she might be able to teach him to live with himself. (I'm not so thrilled with the summary I read that said that in UBW, he becomes magically healed of all his issues by acknowledging "Oh, I used to be such a hero! I'd forgotten that! Now I'm happy! Goodbye!" Blah. More Rin please.) And since I like to envision him as still sort of in love with Saber, there's a delicious irony in that.
On Rin's side of the equation, of course, there's the fact that being with him would present a challenge, and Rin loves challenges more than anything. :D And maybe that's the best part of the pairing--the challenge each represents to the other.
I once read a post about how Edge/Rydia is, essentially, worse than rape because Rydia never shows the slightest interest in Edge, ever, and always completely means it whenever she shoots him down. Putting aside the stupidity of trying to read that kind of emotion into 16-bit pixels, this is flat-out wrong: at the end, she actually approaches him, and he is the one too awkward to reply to her. Sure, it's not much, but this was an era when side characters were lucky if they got five lines of dialogue. In that time, Edge and Rydia both somehow managed to be unusually fleshed out as characters--two potentially strong but immature people with a peculiar connection. I adore the thought of how a relationship would make them both grow. Plus, they're just so damn cute with each other, from what little we do see. They will always be my Final Fantasy OTP.
Sadly, the only response to that one that I can muster up is kind of 'meh.' I never really saw any pairings in FFVI aside from the explicitly canon ones (Locke/Rachel, Shadow/deadwifey, Cyan/deadwifey, any others I may have forgotten) and Locke/Celes. I know that Edgar hit on Terra once, but he hits on everyone, and he never followed up on it, so it never occurred to me to pair them up until I saw fandom. Terra doesn't seem to really need romance from my perspective; she's more about mothering.
That said, though, there isn't really anything wrong with it as a pairing so long as it's properly developed. And it's better than "he's the hero and she's the heroine therefore they belong together!" Locke/Terra.
Pairings in FFVII generally fail to excite me. When I finally get around to watching AC, I may have a change of heart, but I doubt it. It's not a particularly bad pairing, though. Cloud's nuts, Tifa's not (although she is damaged), it works out.
I just can't ever see this working out. Throughout the time Seifer was Edea's Knight, he was actually Ultimecia's--and while that might have progressed to a romantic level, it would have been a shallow one. Seifer was essentially in thrall to Ultimecia, bound by the way she appealed to all his vainglorious dreams; all he could see in her was someone regal and powerful for him to protect. As for her, she seemed to see him as a lost child to be granted the great opportunity of being her servant.
Without Ultimecia in the picture, Seifer/Edea works even less. He may not consciously remember much of it, but on some level he's always going to think of her as his mother, and she's going to think of him as a child under her care. Even if Cid weren't there, it'd take a hell of a lot of breaking out of roles for anything romantic to work between them.
You know, I sort of have mixed feelings on this one. I've just never felt that any of the other characters in FFVIII were quite right for a romantic relationship with Quistis. Squall? Her feelings for him are too sisterly, and the two of them are damaged in too similar a way. Irvine? He might be able to do it, but I can't see him ever pulling himself away from Selphie. Zell? ...No. Oh God just no.
Which leaves Seifer, but I think on the whole I can't see him maintaining a lasting relationship with anyone, much less Quistis, who he's always clashed with. I could see the two of them having a fling, or occasionally sleeping with each other, but in the long run I see the relationship falling apart over two issues: one is that they simply don't get along very well (outside of combat, anyway; I'd love to speculate about how they get along on the battlefield), and two is that I think Quistis sees herself as more of a big sister than anything else to both Squall and Seifer. They're her boys, but she wouldn't necessarily do well in a romantic relationship with them.
But it's easy to have differing opinions on this one, given how much potential FFVIII gave both these characters and then how little they were developed.
I love the potential that these two had, and I wish the game had developed it more, but I just can't conceive of them without Squall winding up in the mix as well. These days I'm more about the Seifer/Rinoa/Squall triangle.
Seifer/Squall is not a pairing I'm interested in on its own simply because the relationship is, to me, quite complex enough as a platonic rivalry/mutual need for challenge. I adore the way they fight--the way Seifer pushes at Squall--and yet still come together to fight side by side. (Also, I don't get a particularly sexual vibe off it, so. YMMV.) Other people want to ship it, fine, so long as they remember to keep that richness in the relationship even once it becomes romantic. Just because they've become attracted to each other doesn't mean they're not rivals anymore. But then, I seem to have a problem getting this across to the fandoms of most rival ships. SasuNaru fandom, I'm looking at you.
Also? Rinoa will always be there. Even if you insist that Seifer never actually loved her, he certainly cared for her, and Squall does love her, no ifs ands or buts about it. And she herself, with her incessant need to Get In There And Fix Things, would certainly want to be involved in their lives in some fashion even if their feelings for her somehow became totally platonic (not my thing, but if you write it that way, at least try to make it make sense instead of having Squall wake up one day and suddenly realize he's gay). Yeah, yeah, I know, she's a horrible no-good Mary Sue/selfish bitch/useless ho. Find an angle or characterization for her that makes you hate her less and write that, or at least come up with a plausible reason that she's suddenly vanished from her boys' lives--something about her being involved in politics and called away for long stretches of time. Whatever. You may think she's a horrible bitch, but if you're going to attempt to write fanfiction (beyond short ficlets or smut) in the FFVIII universe that focuses on Seifer and Squall, if you want anybody to be in character you have to acknowledge Rinoa as part of the story.
My final issue with Seifer/Squall is that often its fans forget that Squall and Seifer are two very fucked up kids. Squall more than Seifer, mind you, if only because he took Ellone's loss particularly hard, and Seifer had the posse. But Seifer, too, has issues--he's a bully, as I stated earlier; he seeks fame and glory to an unhealthy degree; he probably thrives on conflict a little too much. I'd venture to say that if it weren't for Fuujin and Raijin, he'd be little better off than Squall. Prior to the events of the game, Squall is not ready for a romantic relationship at all (see joiedecombat's comments), and Seifer is not ready for a healthy one (admittedly, this is speculation, but for all the intensity of feeling his and Rinoa's fling evoked in them both, I highly doubt it was a stable, loving relationship). After the events of the game? Yeah, then we can talk. But remember Rinoa--and for the love of Moombas, don't idealize the characters. Even post-game, Squall is a broken kid--he's opened up a lot, but he's added obsession to his list of mental flaws. Seifer is less easily manipulated, but he's got all-new scars yet to be revealed when he finishes pulling the tattered shreds of delusion from his mind.
I don't hate Seifer/Squall as much as I used to (and that was largely due to a very irritating Rinoa-bashing fan who caused me a lot of grief in unrelated matters), but I remain exceedingly skeptical of it as something separate of each boy's relationship with Rinoa.
Seifer/Rinoa/Squall, now, I'm all over that, even if I don't always see Seifer and Squall's relationship becoming sexual or romantic even there. Even if they won't admit it, they do need each other on some level.
I actually like Squall/Rinoa. It's endearing how both of them are flawed--Squall emotionally stunted and terrified of other people, Rinoa self-centered and needy but at the same time wanting to help and fix people--and yet they connect through these flaws and form a bond. The way the coma freed Squall from worrying about what she'd think and instead made him worry about her, and realize he cared, was touching despite its corniness. The pairing wasn't perfectly developed, because a lot of things in FFVIII weren't, but I really do see it and appreciate it.
That said, I much prefer it with Seifer in the mix (although not necessarily having sex with Squall), because he fascinates me, and I really wanted to know more about him and his motivations and his relationship with both Squall and Rinoa. Plus, everything gets messier and more complicated when you get up to three people, and that just makes it more interesting!
Ugh. I admit, I still don't care for this pairing in and of itself, but as a part of the Seifer/Rinoa/Squall triangle, which I adore, it can be interesting. And so long as there's no Rinoa-bashing, which there usually is, I imagine a good author can do something interesting with this pairing. I just don't like seeing Rinoa chopped out of their lives, since she's so important to both of them.
It's been years since I first played Final Fantasy X, and this pairing is still stupid. Auron is as asexual as they come, and Rikku shows not even the remotest interest in him. At least Vincent/Yuffie, which comes from exactly the same moronic "let's pair up the leftover perky teenage girl who tweeny idiots identify with with the leftover brooding older guy who tweeny idiots crush on" urge, could work if authors put actual effort into it. Auron/Rikku is flat-out impossible.
To be honest, I don't really care enough about FFX-2-era Rikku to say much about this pairing. I am, however, thrilled that it exists to shut up the damned Aurikku idiots. Not that it actually will shut them up.
I admit, I kind of prefer Al/Winry to Ed/Winry, simply because Al seems to be a more romantic personality than Ed. It's...cute. But since I don't really care one way or the other for Al or Winry (aside from occasional moments of Cool) apart from Ed, I don't have a strong opinion one way or another.
Ed and Al's brotherly relationship is the cornerstone of Fullmetal Alchemist, and even when it's kind of dysfunctional, it is the sanest and most normal thing in their life. Yet most Elricest writers insist that introducing sex into this relationship is natural, healthy, and even fluffy. NO. Save incest for relationships that aren't inherently healthy and familial.
Greed/Martel I don't think about much, although I like it. I think, in a way, that Martel was deeply in love with him--not warm fuzzy romantic love, because the capability for that had been lost to her, but the intensity of her devotion, the passion in her vengeance--oh hell, I just realized, the two of them are shadows of Mustang and Hawkeye.
But, uh, aside from that. Greed gave Martel an acceptance she'd never had elsewhere. For all that he was supposed to be a horrible forbidden creature, he treated her with respect. He didn't love her, simply because homunculi don't really know love (although it's fascinating the way Lust attempts to understand it, but that's another story), but he valued her, and that was more than she'd ever gotten from another person before.
Roy needs him some Riza. :(
But really, nimriye understands this pairing better than I do. It's cute, and the mutual support/Hawkeye totally topping the hell out of Havoc/quiet understanding is nice, but the massive UST OF DOOM between Roy and Riza is too integral a part of my conception of the show for me to be really into this pairing.
Gluttony obviously cares Very Deeply about Lust.... He's kind of the most pathetic Sin, but he may well be the one most capable of caring about someone else. Lust, on the other hand, just uses him while she searches for The Meaning Of Love in pretty young doctors and angst-ridden Ishbalans. Awww, poor Gluttony.
Of course, his only basic urge is hunger, so it's not like he could have sex anyway. I mean, except with a vore, sort of.
I can't completely say why I like this pairing, but there's something intriguing about the idea of Havoc, in all his fake suaveness and total inability to make it with the ladies, having to deal with Lust of all people.
Roy/Maes is, to me, a relationship that doesn't need to be romantic, because it works so well as a deep friendship. Hughes, with Hawkeye, forms the Mustang Sanity Preservation Society. I can see how that could be romantic; I can picture them as amicable exes who still care very deeply about each other. It just...you know. Works too well the way it is for me to feel right messing with it.
I used to be all omfgWRONG to this, but nowadays it's just that I don't really see it. It comes down to how asexual Ed seems to be, for me. If he'd been five years older and a lot more aware of his libido, then yeah, there could be a whole hell of a lot to be done with that pairing. As it is? Even Psiren, deliberately hitting on him, completely failed to trigger any sexual awakening. And on Roy's part, I just can't see him being attracted to a teenage boy--but it's mostly an issue of my inner Ed going "...me? Do that? With the Colonel? That's just disgusting. Al! Let's get back to looking for the Stone!"
On the rare occasion when I do read Roy/Ed stuff, I look for the twisty, disturbing things rather than the freakish OOC fluff, and I think of it as an AU-ish sort of version of the characters.
Again, just didn't see it. Still don't. There's nothing sexual there--Roy is not interested in little boys, and Ed has all the sexuality of a toaster. Possibly less. Still, some authors can spin something interesting out of it.
These two are still one of my few genuine OTPs--I can't see either of them with anyone else, ever. But my interest in FMA in general has waned a lot, and with it my passion for this pairing.