Oh, IchiRuki is just fanservice, is it? You know what, while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about fanservice, shall we?
Riddle me this, detractors, if IchiRuki is merely fanservice, then why does he only service the IchiRuki fans? Why, when non-canon IchiHime moments, like so:
…has our dear Kubo not commented in favor of it? Wouldn’t he want to service all his fans if he favors fanservice so much?
Isn’t that a mite suspicious?
Now, instead of looking at canon moments in the manga (because if you think that’s fanservice, then I can’t help but believe there is absolutely no hope for you and you will remain delusional until your dying day), let’s look at non-canon, actual fanservice in the anime and other media. Specifically, what he has commented on/been involved with.
To keep ourselves honest, let’s try to ignore little things like really shippy anime endings, image songs, or anything else Kubo wasn’t in- or directly involved in, and stick to the things he has had a hand in creating or word on the creation thereof.
Speaking of shippy anime endings, let’s cut to the chase, and start with tweets (special thanks to mojave-green, for providing the link to Deathberry’s list of Kubo’s IchiRuki-related tweets, the source for all these tweets and translations! You’re a life-saver!): Mask by Aqua Timez, the thirtieth ending. Not only does it have Ichigo in a depressed state and the “rain” drying, a Rukia cameo (see: And The Rain Left Off, “Thank you, Rukia. Thanks to you…I think the rain…has stopped.” As well as SOULs. and VIBEs.), but Kubo also tweeted about it:
"I just watched this week’s ending. The story and the images were beautiful and it was really good. I keep re watching it over and over." (Translated by Melodymix.)
We could shrug it off and say that maybe it’s just a coincidence, but while we’re on the subject of anime, there’s also this:
(gif by Amy_core)
which Kubo managed to comment on:
"I recorded and watched the new Bleach episode. This episode had a beautiful picture huh? Even though in the original animation Rukia had the last word, it was good as it was. The scene seemed to coincide with the pages nicely, [not to mention] especially Rukia." (Translated by Mai Tsukishiro.)
Do I really need to say anything more on the matter?
My personal favorite of Kubo’s tweets concerning the anime (fillers, specifically, since that’s what we’re looking at here), however, is what he says about episode 342:
”The conclusion of invading army arc is done very well by the anime team, this topic is also connected with the transition between invading army arc and original work (arrancar arc) conclusion. Those who find themselves shocked with the lack of Ichigo and Rukia scene from back then please enjoy it. I think we can agree that this is a good way (satisfactory) to tie things together.” (Translated by Nacchan.)
Let me remind you that before the manga-canon Farewell Swords/Bleach My Soul at the end, the episode held such added, filler (fanservice-y) scenes as these:
"…Good way to tie things together" indeed.
While we’re still on the subject of anime, let’s step away from what Kubo has commented on/approved of, and focus on what he’s been directly involved with the creative process: namely, Fade to Black, I Call Your Name, the third movie and only project Kubo has ever collaborated with Studio Pierrot on. Not only is the main focus of the entire movie Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship, but it also contains:
(Yeah, real smooth, Ichigo.)
And much, much more. You don’t really get any more fanservice-y than a non-canon anime movie.
Well. The only exception being musicals. Although not involved in the creative process, once the first Burimyu was performed, Kubo Tite drew Isaka Tatsuya as Ichigo, in the book jacket sleeve of volume 20:
For The All, he wrote/drew:
(Unfortunately, my Japanese is not nearly good enough to translate this, so if someone wants to, that’d be fantastic.)
He also met with the cast:
(gif by skyreading)
This particular scene is from Live Ban Kai Show Code 002 backstage, which means that Dark of the Bleeding Moon had already been out, famous among IchiRuki fans as having possibly the most fanservice-packed Ichigo and Rukia duet ever: Te wo Tsunagou, which means “hand in hand.”
And, well, it’s how you would expect it to be.
In regards to Dark of the Bleeding Moon, he also wrote and drew this:
This also means that No Clouds in the Blue Heavens had already played as well, which if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll know it’s notorious the amount of musical-form fanservice. Especially, but not limited to, the ending song:
This, as well, was written/drawn about:
(Again, translations would be much appreciated!)
So. IchiRuki-fanservice-filled-to-the-brim musical? On a list of things Kubo really likes, I’d say.
Now, my intention here was never to reinforce the idea that IchiRuki is fanservice, nor to argue that is isn’t (though I will say this: by fanservice’s very definition, IchiRuki does not qualify as such—fanservice is something that does not pertain to the plot/arc, does not move the plot/arc along in any way, shape, or form, and is unnecessary to the aforementioned plot/arc; fanservice is written/drawn exclusively for the sake of the fans. It is an extra, an accessory to canon, not canon itself. Just because certain fans happen to enjoy a detail or piece of canon more than other parts, does not make it fanservice.)
(To put it plainly, things like this:
…not fanservice, thank you for playing.)
AND NOW THAT WE’VE GOTTEN PAST THAT NECESSARY TANGENT, what I’m saying is that even when something is actually fanservice, that means nothing in terms of an argument against IchiRuki. Since Kubo Tite has obviously and openly expressed that he favors IchiRuki fanservice over any other kind, isn’t that a lot more telling of Kubo rather than the fans who are being “serviced”?
In fact, it seems more appropriate to call it Kuboservice, don’t you think?