It’s very good and organized, and while I’m not IchiHime, I sure do believe she’s grown out of that crush state she used to feel for him. However, there are some things I want to address:
Your fourth example of her ready to risk her life isn’t that. Her life isn’t in danger. It’s her protecting his life, but she isn’t in any danger at all, seeing as Ulquiorra already stated that he would not kill Orihime unless given an order by Aizen. However, not moments ago, Aizen said he had no use for her, so really it shouldn’t have mattered what happened to her. Ulquiorra seems to be hiding behind Aizen as an excuse to not kill Orihime. So that doesn’t really count, she’s not risking anything.
Yes, you are right. She wasn’t risking her life in that scene but since she was protecting Ichigo there I just decided to add it for the hell of it. Though while that scene doesn’t exactly show it, the point stands that Orihime would risk her life to protect Ichigo.
However, I see you left out the fact that she won’t put her body in front of him to protect him when worst comes to worst. You justify her actions in the Lust Arc. And I don’t want to escalate this into a huge argument, because I know IchiHime fans see this moment as one where she had no other options, and Tsubaki wouldn’t work (which I don’t doubt). Yet you are the one saying she’ll risk her life for his…except for when she doesn’t. Her life wasn’t even in danger seeing as Ulquiorra already said he wouldn’t kill her (refer to above) and has already had many chances to kill her while Ichigo was dead and Ishida was out of the way. She has no reason to fear Ulquiorra and doesn’t as shown by her moment with him in later chapters, so why she doesn’t even try reasoning with him is beyond me.
Why would she put her body in front of him when she has a shield?! XD Oh, *the Lust arc*. So what you are saying is that she should have talked to Ulquiorra and made him stop with words? Ulquiorra’s goal was to kill Ichigo and whoever was a threat to Las Noches. He didn’t give two shits about what Orihime had to say. He only followed Aizen’s orders.
Also, we’ve seen her protector fall before. Orihime witnessed Tatsuki get brutally beaten and even was beaten by her when the hollow took control of Tatsuki. Yet she stood up to protect her. And she can’t do this for the person she loves. If she’s so driven insane by Ichigo falling before her, it shows she will never get the character development she wants since she cannot stand to protect him when he falls. You say she wants to become strong for him, yet she can’t even do this when he is unable.
But is it that hard to understand? The love of her life was killed in front of her eyes. There was nothing to protect anymore; he was dead. She can’t protect someone who’s dead. You are saying that because she didn’t protect him when he was dead, her character development failed. What. Was she not allowed to cry and dispair because the love of her life was hopelessly dead and she couldn’t bring him back to life? How is it “fail” to cry when someone you care about dies? The only thing she could do for a dead Ichigo was to heal him; which she tried to do, but it didn’t work. She also caught him with her shield when Ulquiorra let him fall. She did everything she could for a dead Ichigo. What happened with Tatsuki is another thing entirely. Don’t compare two situations that are so different.
About her worshipping an idealized image of him, no, having faith in his victory is not what we’re talking about (however this supposed faith is something she seems to lack as she trembles while telling Nel to believe in Ichigo and while she clutches her chest seeing Ichigo being beaten by Grimmjow). Having faith in his victory is fine (yet has evolved into something bad as she admits that she “turned a blind eye to the fact that he could fall”, also contradicting how you say she knows his weaknesses and flaws).
So, because Orihime was trembling after she told Nel to have faith in Ichigo she didn’t really have faith in him? Having faith in Ichigo’s victory does not stop her from worrying about him. Also: Just because she blindly believed that Ichigo would win that fight doesn’t mean that she thinks he is perfect. I see no connection in that. Having a lot of faith in someone=/=thinking they’re perfect. She was simply convinced that Ichigo would be able to win that fight. Later, when shit got real, she asked Ishida to bring her on the dome because she was starting to worry too much and probably wanted to make sure that everything was fine.
What we’re talking about is how she idealizes him as a prince after he takes down Jidanbo. Then in recent chapters, she envisions him inviting her in very charmingly. However cute, it shows that she does, in fact, idealize him unrealistically. When would he every be prince-like, dressing in poofy, goofy prince clothing? Is that an Ichigo image? And when would Ichigo ever be so charming when inviting someone in? While her daydreaming isn’t bad, it does show she does think of him unrealistically sometimes.
But… but she was daydreaming!!! XDDD Do you not know how silly Orihime is? Why are you taking those moments of comic relief so seriously? It’s like saying, “Orihime seriously sees herself as a boxing champion or a robot”. These scenes are silly and rare and I just don’t understand why people would think that they’re meant to be taken seriously or to show that Orihime “idealizes” Ichigo. I can’t find it on the internet right now, but at the end of one of the first Bleach volumes, her character profile states that she daydreams a lot. This is Orihime.
And last, you talk about Orihime’s understanding of Ichigo. The moments you pointed out did show how perceptive she is of him, yet you leave out the moment most fans have reason to say she doesn’t understand him: wanting to be the rain. It was in her third volume poem, she wishes to be the rain so she can unite two heart. We see on the Souls databook cover that the rain drags him down. And while I’m not saying Orihime wants to drag Ichigo down, it shows that while she can perceive little things about him, she doesn’t even understand his biggest issues, his sadness, and unknowingly wants to be something that causes it. That’s why most fans say she doesn’t understand him.
No, I completely disagree. Orihime has never said “I want to be the rain”. She wondered if she would be able to connect hearts if she were the rain. And even if she did say “I want to be the rain” I fail to understand how that means that she doesn’t understand Ichigo. Nobody, except Zangetsu, knows what meaning the rain has to Ichigo. It’s like saying, “your best friend hates chocolate yet you wonder what it would be like to live as a chocolate bar so you obviously don’t understand nor truly know your best friend”. Besides, a volume poem really doesn’t have anything to do with Orihime’s understanding of Ichigo.