How Bleach’s Strangest But Sweetest Romantic Ship Set Sail

Bleach was a wildly popular "big three" shonen series of its time due not only to its excellent combat system but also its heartfelt characters, and fans had, and still have, a lot of fun shipping them. Despite the series' age, its fandom is still active debating which ship is best, with Ichigo/Rukia being just the start. What about Ishida Uryu's love life?

Uryu Ishida is Ichigo's Quincy friend, and in the original Bleach story, Uryu didn't become seriously romantically involved with anyone. Uryu's had better luck in the shipping world though, and fans love to pair him with Lieutenant Kurotsuchi Nemu, providing insight into how strange but beloved ships like these take root.

How Ishida Uryu Crossed Paths With Kurotsuchi Nemu

Ishida Uryu nursed a crush on Inoue Orihime during the "Soul Society" story arc, but Orihime never returned his amorous feelings, and it seems Uryu didn't expect her to. Instead, he expressed his affection by being highly protective of Orihime and looking after her happiness, and then another kind young woman crossed paths with him. On paper, Lieutenant Kurotsuchi Nemu is Uryu's enemy, but she soon became an ally of his, and Uryu cared for her more than any other Quincy would have.

At first, Nemu helped her boss, Captain Kurotsuchi Mayuri, fight Uryu halfway through the "Soul Society" arc, but Uryu understood that Nemu was merely following orders, and he was horrified when Captain Kurotsuchi began abusing his Lieutenant. Uryu, who takes the honor of the Quincy tribe seriously, has a strong sense of chivalry and couldn't stand the sight of an innocent lady being beaten and taken for granted like that. Uryu soon won the battle, but Kurotsuchi's bankai had poisoned him, and Nemu offered her former enemy much-needed aid. Nemu gave Uryu the antidote, and Uryu was thankful. He couldn't believe that Nemu followed the orders of such an abusive Captain, and he and Nemu had a tender moment. Then Uryu moved on.

Uryu and Nemu crossed paths once again during the "Hueco Mundo" story arc after Captain Kurotsuchi defeated the 8th Espada, Szayelaporro Grantz. Once again, Uryu needed both Kurotsuchis' help, and Mayuri ordered Nemu to hold the Quincy boy down. Amusingly, Uryu got highly frustrated about this, especially since Nemu's ample chest was right in his face during a moment of fan service. By now, Uryu and Nemu were definitely allies who appreciated one another, and the Bleach fan community took over from there.

How Incidental Ships Take Root In Bleach & Elsewhere

uryu ishida

Many of the biggest anime ships are really just a continuation of a strong relationship found in the original story, from Naruto getting together with Hinata to Izuku and Ochaco having an obvious crush on one another. Other ships work very differently, with the ship being 10% canon material and 90% extrapolation and imagination. That is the case for Uryu/Nemu and similar anime ships.

Some ships, such as this one, are based on not a confirmed romance, but rather on the two characters sharing a difficult moment and bonding over it. In theory, two characters can become very close if they team up against a common threat and support one another, and this has happened many times before. My Hero Academia fans often ship Shoto with Momo, simply because they fought Eraserhead together in a mock battle and Shoto gave Momo some encouraging words. These characters have no confirmed romantic attraction, but that shared moment allows fans to extrapolate that Shoto and Momo's relationship can, and should, become something far more after that.

The same is true for Uryu and Nemu after they had a friendly moment in the "Soul Society" arc and again in the "Hueco Mundo" story arc. The original story of Bleach only gave fans a hint of what could have been, but those two scenes are still a sufficient springboard for dedicated shipping in the community. And given how Uryu never even got close to winning Orihime's heart, and how Uryu/Nemu feels like a passionate forbidden love, this ship makes much more sense than the two scenes alone would suggest.

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