Orihime Inoue is the classmate and friend of Ichigo Kurosaki. Like many other friends of Ichigo, she quickly develops spiritual powers of her own after Ichigo becomes a Shinigami. Later, she is abducted and forced to leave for Hueco Mundo by the Arrancar, the enemies of Soul Society, as their leader has set his eyes on her unusual and potent powers. Ichigo and her other friends set out to rescue her, despite going against Soul Society's orders by doing so.
Orihime Inoue has long orange-brown hair which she wears in bangs behind her ears and with hairpins. She does not remove her hairpins, except to sleep, as they are worn in memory of her brother, while her hair is worn long in honor of the promise Tatsuki Arisawa once made to protect her. Her most noticeable physical trait is the surprisingly developed figure she has for a teenager, especially in terms of her breasts. Her large breasts are occasionally made the subject of jokes in the series. In one anime episode, while eating lunch with Rukia, Tatsuki, and some other school girls, they wondered why she isn't the size of a blimp. One girl commented that "her boobs absorb most of the calories". She also has an amazingly hard head, which has injured Uryū, Chad, and Ichigo. The only people who have been able to damage her head are Yoruichi Shihōin and Yachiru Kusajishi in a comical moment when she is riding on Kenpachi Zaraki's shoulders. Orihime has brown eyes in color pictures of the manga, but purple-tinted gray eyes in the anime.
Orihime is friendly, humorous in her own way, sensitive, and kind. She comes off as naive and rather clueless, which is at odds with her exceptionally high marks in school. Apparently, she is hopeless when it comes to technology. One of the members of the Handicrafts' Club remarks that she is not smart enough to use a cell phone, which is why she does not have one. Additionally, according to Tatsuki, Orihime has the fighting skill of a black belt. She also seems very caring towards people like Yuzu Kurosaki, due to her taking sick people to the school nurse. She also likes Asian flower print clothes.
Orihime cooks and eats strange food at home, although she also likes some normal food. Aside from Rangiku Matsumoto and possibly Tessai Tsukabishi, no one shares Orihime's tastes. Her favorite food is red bean paste, and she likes putting butter on sweet potatoes. She enjoys cheese and butter most of the time, especially butter on baked potatoes. She tends to zone out with her mouth open and loses track of what she was thinking or dreaming about. This could be seen when thinking about dreaming of a date with Ichigo, then switching to her and him and an athlete running in a race, to her winning a boxing match and gunman in the audience about to shoot her.
Orihime has a tendency to rush into situations without thinking, sometimes leading to embarrassing consequences. At one point, the schoolgirls ask Rukia if she has feelings for Ichigo. When Rukia denies any such thing, Orihime is disappointed that Rukia does not share her sentiments, because if she had, then it would be two girls against one boy and therefore the girls "team" would win, which makes no sense. She also tends to have an overactive imagination and gets carried away thinking of implausible scenarios, such as portraying herself as a futuristic and apparently highly destructive robot in an assignment asking a student "How do you see yourself in the future?", when the question refers to what occupation one wishes or believes they will have.
Orihime has also demonstrated that she is perceptive, mostly when it comes to Ichigo Kurosaki. She has a crush on Ichigo,and later falls in love with him, and in both the manga and anime her feelings only become more evident as time goes on. She has revealed these feelings both to Rangiku Matsumoto and to Ichigo himself, though he was asleep at the time. She has exhibited traits that appears to have some connection with Ichigo, such as the uncanny ability to detect Ichigo by scent and sense his Spiritual Pressure, even when masked by the Vizard, she is aware of what mood Ichigo is in, knowing at the best sense his feelings of anguish, disappointment, or worry, and even feels pain herself when she sees getting Ichigo hurt.
Through her expanding role in the manga, Orihime has become a more complex character than her earlier archetype suggested. Where Orihime was more happy and goofy at the start of the series, later arcs deal with her feelings of inadequacy and inner turmoils. She also functions as a second female lead after the Soul Society arc, which was recognized when her character was featured along with female leads from other Weekly Shonen Jump series on a special Shonen Jump cover.