Manga: Stretch

Ran (seated) and Keiko engaged in stretching exercises

Ran Saeki lives with her Senpai, Keiko Komatsu. Having lost touch with one another after school, they accidentally meet a few years later and now share an apartment. Despite the frequent teasing, horseplay, and occasional fights, it's clear that the two women's feelings for each other run very deep.

Stretch is a Josei manga by Higashiyama Shou, the author of Prism, which explores the relationship between two women in a series of humorous Slice of Life chapters that usually include a set of stretching exercises. These are occasionally interspersed by more dramatic interludes that move the story forward.

Stretch contains examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Keiko is envious of the size of Ran's breasts, and is sometimes caught checking them out.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Keiko has had several boyfriends, at least one of whom was serious, but she's also prone to blushing and staring at Ran when they stretch together. As well, she was captivated by Ran—actually, by her hair—the first time they met. Then there's Keiko's friend, Saki, who points out how unusual it is for Keiko not to have a boyfriend, to which she responds by saying that being with Ran makes her just as happy and, besides, Ran is cute.
    • Ran can be a bit greedy for Keiko's attention, and hasn't shown any interest in men, something her old school friends comment on, making her more Ambiguously Gay. Certainly proven in chapter 41 when Ran has a dream about a date with Keiko for her birthday which ends with Keiko telling Ran she rented a room.
    • As of chapter 25 we can add Saki to the list of Ambiguously Bi characters, though it seems only when she's drunk.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: The manga, a comedic Slice of Life, is very different from Higashiyama Shou's usual work (which consist mostly of Hentai), even more so than was the case with Prism which had its fair share of Fanservice.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ran, especially when drunk. She even brings a party to a screeching halt when she decides to talk about working with cadavers.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Keiko. She had a miscarriage, which resulted in a break-up with her boyfriend.
    • There are also indications that Ran has had a tragedy in her life. In the second part to chapter 32, it's revealed that her father died during an earthquake, on the very same day that Ran and Keiko met again after high school.
  • Delinquent: Keiko had a bad reputation in high school. At first Ran didn't want to be associated with her because of it.
  • Edutainment: A Slice of Life manga that will show you proper stretching techniques, as well as the correct posture for lifting heavy objects.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ran. If girls get drunk around her, it won't be long before they're all over her.
  • Face Doodling: Both Ran and Keiko do this to one another at various times. Subverted on one occasion when Ran grabs a marker pen, giggling, to draw on the face of a drunk and sleeping Keiko, only to hold back when she sees tears on Keiko's face.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Ran.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Ran likes her alcohol and has trouble limiting her intake once she starts drinking. She tends to drag Keiko into her drinking binges as well.
  • Heroic BSOD: Keiko was quickly sinking into depression around the time she met with Ran again, after having lost contact with her post-graduation.
  • Lap Pillow: Ran does this at one point when drunk.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens frequently, as chapters that start off with jokes turn dramatic, ship teasing (see below) become jokes, and two rather dark chapters that focus on Keiko's past appear out of nowhere.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: In high school Ran and Keiko were friends, but didn't hang out much and lost contact after Keiko graduated. The emotional depth to their relationship really only grew once they became roommates, several years after.
  • Roommates Walk In At The Worst Time: The manga opens with Keiko walking in on Ran performing a head-stand in her underwear.
    • Reversed in chapter 13.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When they were in high school, Keiko accidentally knocked Ran down with a tennis ball to the head. Instead of seeing if she was okay, Keiko ran off. This is a flashback in the prologue chapter—they don't meet face-to-face until later.
  • Sempai/Kohai: Ran always addresses Keiko as "Senpai" or (very occasionally) "Keiko-Senpai".
  • Ship Tease: Ran and Keiko have quite a lot of this going on (although the author likes to subvert it), to the point that Keiko's friend, Saki, becomes suspicious of them. Special mention must go to chapters 25 and 29, which contain the most ship tease to date. Although the former ends in a joke, the latter doesn't—see Sleep Cute—and what's more, Ran and Keiko give each other chocolates. (Ran then mentions her gift was the kind one gives to one's "special person" and Keiko, embarrassed, mutters the same.)
  • Sick Episode: Chapter 12.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Ran is frequently punished by Keiko through violence. Keiko sometimes gets it back though.
  • Sleep Cute: In chapter 29, after Ran accidentally spills cookies and tea all over Keiko's bed, the two end up sharing a futon. The next morning they're shown sleeping in an embrace.
  • Slice of Life: Chapters are short, like a Yon Koma, and mostly light-hearted. Although they can get dark—see Mood Whiplash above.
  • Spank the Cutie: Implied in chapter 28.
  • Threesome Subtext: In chapter 25, both Saki and Keiko decide to grope Ran. It gets heavier and heavier until Ran smashes the two women's heads together, but only after they've called her fat.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Keiko is the Tomboy to Ran's Girly Girl.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Punishment from Keiko often seems to be Ran's goal when trolling her, plus there is the time she had Keiko over stretch her when she was sick, and when they where wresting in the park, both time Ran was shown to be turned on by the experience.
  • Troll: Ran's favorite pass time is trolling Keiko.
  • Workout Fanservice: A lot of Ran and Keiko's paired stretching can put them in rather fanservice-y positions.
  • Yuri Genre: Doesn't go much beyond subtext. The relationship between the two women is perhaps better described as a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship (see above).