Ichigo and Ikuno knew each other since they were young children living in the Garden. When Hiro started naming the children, other children began mimicking him. With Ikuno’s code number, 196, it read as ‘Ikuro’, causing her to get teased for receiving such a weird name. Ichigo, however, cheered her up by rotating the '6' 90 degrees clockwise, so it looked like the hiragana character の (no). This made her the name ‘Ikuno’. Since then, Ikuno developed a deep crush on Ichigo.
When they turned 14, they were assigned to the same FRANXX squad. When Hiro failed to show up for the pre-graduation briefing, Ikuno looks to Ichigo, who is irritated at Hiro for ignoring her messages.
During their squad's first mission, Chlorophytum is ordered to stay behind due to Ikuno and Mitsuru being unable to synchronize, which Nana contributes to Ikuno feeling unwell rather than the pair’s incompatibility. Ikuno’s feelings then were hurt by Mitsuru piloting Strelizia and saying Zero Two is a better partner. Following this incident, Ikuno became slightly depressed for failing to pilot. Upon noticing this, Ichigo put her hand on Ikuno's shoulder and assured her she can connect this time, adding that she needed to be there for Mitsuru as his partner. Ikuno agreed and supported Mitsuru when he walked to the FRANXX hangar, despite his coldness and initial rejection for her to help him. Later on, as she and Mitsuru prepared to connect for another battle, she touched her shoulder where Ichigo’s hand was and thought of her. This allowed her and Mitsuru to synchronize for the squad's second sortie.
During a vacation to the beach, Ikuno and Ichigo sat under an umbrella and chatted. Ikuno encouraged Ichigo to go swimming and then read a book while Ichigo went into the ocean. Later, Mitsuru told everyone he found an abandoned modern city and they all went to explore. While walking, Ikuno noticed Ichigo looked flushed and touched her check, which startled Ichigo who was thinking of Hiro. A few days later, during the Boys vs Girls conflict, Ikuno quickly joined along because, as she tells Ichigo and Miku, she preferred to keep the boys and girls separated forever.
.Due to Ikuno and Mitsuru’s incompatibility, Nana proposed the squad try a partner shuffle. Ikuno asked to do a pistil-pistil connection with Ichigo, who is surprised and hesitant but agreed when Ikuno politely asked her. During testing, Ikuno and Ichigo fail to connect and time out as their para sync revealed Ikuno’s numbers were in the minimum range whereas Ichigo’s were close to zero. While changing out of their suits, Ichigo said she knew it wouldn't work without a boy. Frustrated, Ikuno angrily retorted she was serious before storming out of the room.
A couple of months later, Nine Alpha showed the squad the baby book Kokoro had been hiding and berated her for wanting to have a baby. He explained humans have cast their gender aside for evolution and it’s a nuisance. This deeply offended Ikuno who slaps him across the face. This surprised everyone, including Ichigo, who jumped from her seat, not expecting this type of behavior from Ikuno.
A few days later, when Hiro announced Kokoro and Mitsuru have decided to get married before they leave for the Bird Nest, Ichigo noticed Ikuno looked sullen. In the dormitory, Ikuno lies on her bed. Ichigo came to check on her, as Ikuno had a fever recently. Ichigo thanked Ikuno for defending Kokoro and Mitsuru from Nine Alpha, but Ikuno said it wasn’t because of them. Ikuno sat up and asked Ichigo what she thought of her, then pushed Ichigo down on the bed while unclipping her hair. Ikuno said she hated the boy-girl pairing system and she wanted to keep Ichigo all to herself. She confessed she had loved Ichigo ever since the day Ichigo gave her her name. However, Ikuno admits she was confused by her feelings and that felt ashamed about it. She added that she hated herself for not being normal, and she felt like a pain.
Ichigo hugged Ikuno to comfort her, who started to cry. Ichigo said they all are a pain and it’s just part of life. Ikuno kept crying but seemed to take in Ichigo’s words, thanking her later for listening to her. Ichigo later brought Ikuno outside to pose for their group picture.
A couple of weeks later, during the second battle of the Gran Crevasse, the squad tried to help Zero Two reach Hiro. Unfortunately, the passage to where Strelizia was located was blocked off. Ikuno and Futoshi reached full power and blasted their way through. After this, Chlorophytum deactivated. In the cockpit, Futoshi saw Ikuno panting and her hair turned white. Ichigo was worried and reluctant to leave Ikuno behind due to Ikuno's weakened state. Following this, the squad resolved their strategy on how to help Zero Two save Hiro. Ichigo ordered Genista and Argentea to look after Chlorophytum while she and Goro took Zero Two to Hiro. As she left, she told them all that they better not die.
A few days later, while planting crops in the fields, Ichigo noticed how tired Ikuno looked and advised her not to push herself. Ironically, the next day, upon seeing the crops have died, Ichigo fainted from exhaustion, so Ikuno went to care for her. Upon putting Ichigo to bed, Ikuno told Goro that Ichigo had been so busy worrying and caring for everyone else that she had been neglecting herself.
72 days after Hiro and Zero Two left through a warp gate to find and eliminate VIRM for good, Ichigo helped move boxes of documents into Ikuno’s new office. She asked what they are for and Ikuno replied there was something she wanted to get done. A year later, as Goro prepared to leave on a journey to find missing children and gather supplies, he kissed Ichigo. Ikuno was jealous of the gesture but doesn’t do anything and smiled when Goro promised to bring back what she asked for. As he left, Ikuno told Ichigo how much Goro had changed.
Over the next eight years, Ikuno and Ichigo remained close friends. Ichigo married Goro and Ikuno developed a relationship with Naomi. When Ichigo became pregnant with her first child, she went to Ikuno, who became a doctor, for prenatal care. During a checkup, Ikuno assured Ichigo that the baby was growing fine and she wondered what the baby will be like. As the rest of the squad gathered for a reunion, Ichigo told Ikuno that Goro said he would be postponing his travelling to stay with her and take care of their baby. While the squad reunited at Zero Two's sakura tree, Ikuno stayed in her hospital bed with Naomi by her side.
When Ichigo decided to make a risky rescue mission after Delphinium and Goro are absorbed by a klaxosaur, Ikuno was the most worried about her but agree to help her. In the manga, it was Ichigo who was left in Delphinium and absorbed by the Klaxosaur, which served as a factor in Chlorophytum's disconnection (along with the embarrassment of the girls’ suits melting in front of the boys). When Mitsuru blamed Ikuno for causing Chlorophytum to disconnect and causing the mission to end in failure, she started crying and agrees
As she sees Mitsuru and Kokoro grow closer over their mutual desire to live to the fullest rather than living just to die fighting, Ikuno tells Futoshi that the desire to protect someone dear to them makes them want to act. She says this while thinking about Ichigo. A couple of days later, Ichigo and Ikuno are in the bath while they discuss Mitsuru’s illness and how he may not be able to pilot if he doesn’t improve. Ichigo says Ikuno will have no choice but to follow him if that happens. Ikuno replies she can’t follow Mitsuru because she is not interested in anyone but Ichigo. She pushes Ichigo to the floor and tearfully confesses that she is dissatisfied with the boy-girl pairing system and she loves Ichigo. This shocks Ichigo into speechlessness. However, as Ikuno says she feels ashamed for liking girls and doesn’t understand why she feels this way, Ichigo hugs her and comforts Ikuno that pain is part of life.
Having resolved her unreciprocated feelings, Ikuno and Ichigo remain good friends.
In the first Drama CD, after eating a mushroom that makes the eater fall asleep and have strange dreams, Ichigo dreams of being a student and Hiro as her teacher but she is seated next to Ikuno and both are happy to see each other. In Miku’s dream, Ikuno credits her friends for helping her get to where she is and asks Ichigo for her opinion. Ichigo agrees and credits her achievements to Ikuno being here with her. Ikuno decides to eat a mushroom because she wants to become the person who understands Ichigo the most by knowing things she doesn’t know about Ichigo. She then begins meticulously reciting how Ichigo bathes and sleeps.
In the second Drama CD, Ikuno and Ichigo hear a cat meows in the middle of the night but then hear Kokoro and Miku scream in the hallway. Suspecting a strange creature is in the house, Ikuno and Ichigo stay together as the squad is separated.
In the third Drama CD, Ikuno admits to Ichigo that she doesn’t mind Ichigo’s small breasts, much to Ichigo’s embarrassment.
This shipping is relatively popular, as it has been highly suspected Ikuno had feelings for Ichigo since as early as Episode 4. Some theorised that Ikuno and Mitsuru were incompatible due to one of them having a different orientation (Ikuno wanted to pilot with Ichigo, whereas Mitsuru prefered to pilot with anyone but Ikuno) Others noted how Ikuno only showed emotions around Ichigo, and how Ikuno immediately requested a pistil to pistil connection with Ichigo during the Partner Shuffle. The shipping gained popularity when a shadowy image of Ikuno kissing someone who looked like Ichigo in the third ending credits. It gained more popularity from Episode 18, when Ikuno finally confessed to Ichigo.
Even after Ichigo ended up with Goro and Ikuno paired up with Naomi in the final episode, the IchiKuno shipping remains popular among fans.
- Ikuno was the one parasite who wasn’t named by Hiro; Ichigo was the one who gave her her name.
- The only way Ikuno is able to synchronize with Mitsuru/Futoshi in Chlorophytum is by thinking of Ichigo.
|SHIPS||het||Delpha • FutoKoko • FutoKuno • HaNa • HiroIchi • HiroMi • HiroZero • IchiGoro • MitsuKoko • MitsuKuno • ZeroMitsu • ZoroMiku|
|femslash||IchiKuno • IkuNao|