Shiramine Ayaka is perfect. Beautiful, brilliant, kind and a hard worker: she is the model student of Seiran Academy, and her sole ambition when she arrives in the high-school section is to remain her perfect self. But to her shock, another girl named Kurosawa Yurine steals the top seat from her effortlessly—literally effortlessly.
At first Ayaka is only mildly annoyed, but after she shows her trademark kindness to the aloof Yurine, the latter falls head-over-heels for her and starts clinging to her at every occasion. After which Ayaka becomes obsessed with taking back her title of top student, while desperately trying not to fall for her new rival, who shows her no end of affection. Because Yurine sees Ayaka as the girl who can defeat her and make her feel "normal".
Okay, it is, but while the above summary is the starting point, it quickly becomes only a part of an ensemble story, where the character focuses and points of view regularly change. Most chapters are actually focused on other girls of Seiran Academy, with Ayaka and/or Yurine being in a supporting role.
Starting from volume 2, the structure becomes "one volume = one new couple", with Ayaka and Yurine's story arc serving as a sort of vague connecting thread between those self-contained arcs. Thus, while there is a sense of continuity and the protagonists' relationship gradually evolves, it is also possible to read each volume more or less independently. The tone switches between humoristic and melancholic, but remains light and sweet. No gayngst or earth-shattering drama here.
Ano Ko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo ("A Kiss and a White Lily for Her"), or AnoKiss for short, is a girls' romance series by Canno, an artist from the doujin circle "Hyper Kettle Yesterday" (with the artists Kawauchi and Nega). It was launched in November 2013 in the Monthly Comic Alive, the same magazine that published Sasameki Koto − making it one the very few yuri series published in a mainstream magazine at the time.note It is published in English by Yen Press since 2017. You could say that the series is a sort of crash course through the various types of yuri couples, while putting a little unique spin on them at the same time. The series concluded in 2019 with a total of 10 volumes.
In 2015, some of Canno's doujin works from 2012 and 2013 were released in a volume titled Cider to Nakimushi, full with an updated art, published by Yuri Hime.
Compare Comprehensive Tovarisch by Arata Iri, which has a similar premise, but is much more hectic.
The character focuses in each volume are as such:
- Ayaka & Yurine + Mizuki & Moe
- Chiharu & Maya + Chiharu & Izumi
- Ayaka & Yurine + Yukina & Towako
- Mizuki & Moe + Kaoru
- Ayaka & Yurine + Sawa & Itsuki
- Chiharu & Izumi + Amane, Ryou & Nina
- Ayaka & Yurine + Haine & Aika
- Ayaka & Yurine + Hikari & Nagisa
- Ayaka & Yurine + Asuka & Mikaze
- Ayaka & Yurine
Ano Ko ni Kiss to Shirayuri wo contains examples of:
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Aside from the immensely powerful student council there are multiple other councils and committees all managed by the students, to the point we barely see any teachers in the story. Seiran seems less like a school and more like a small, self-governed country.
- All There in the Manual: Some extra material is available only if you live in Japan and follow the author closely. There are also exclusive bonus short stories in every volume.
- Almost Kiss: When Mizuki puts a strand of Moe's hair to her lips in chapter 4, two bystanding girls mistake that for a kiss. It's not, though the symbolic is probably there.
- Art Evolution: It starts to become noticeable around volume 3. The overall shadow/reflection work becomes a bit more detailed and the facial features more rounded compared to the early chapters. The panel layout and angles also have more "cinematography" to them in the later volumes.
- Audio Adaptation: As is usual for this kind of work, four Drama CDs were made, containing side stories about Ayaka and Yurine, Mizuki and Moe, Izumi and Chiharu (filling a gap at the end of volume 2) and Yukina and Towako.
- Big Damn Kiss: Two notable instances.
- In chapter 20, Mizuki asks Moe to live together - i.e. the closest possible thing to a marriage proposal - which is followed by three full pages of the two kissing each other under romantic fireworks. Quite intense for a series where actual kisses are few and far between.
- In chapter 43, after Ayaka finally beats Yurine and becomes no. 1, she can no longer hold back her feelings and decides to actively kiss Yurine for the first time. There are two full pages of them almost kissing, backing off for a second, then Yurine grabbing and moving Ayaka's hand as if to take control, before their share one big, deep kiss. When Ayaka tries to go for another round Yurine stops her as the bell rings, leaving Ayaka completely embarrassed.
- Birds of a Feather: Non-romantic example between Izumi and Ai, who befriend each other by making fun of Chiharu and being called out by her.
- Book-Ends: The first and penultimate chapters both begin with some students praising Ayaka as a model student while she fixes someone's tie.
- Cast Full of Gay: Seiran is what some would call a "yuritopia." The only odd one out is Ai, who is just the "good friend" and doesn't seem romantically involved with any girl. Yet.
- Cast Herd: Characters are usually focused on by groups of 2 or 3 − Ayaka and Yurine; Moe and Mizuki; Ai, Chiharu and Maya (later Izumi); Yukina, Towako and Yurine; Kaoru, Kohagi and Momiji; Sawa and Itsuki.
- Chucking Chalk: Yurine's introduction has her sleeping on her desk with the teacher yelling at her. She wakes her up with a precise chalk shot on the head and makes her solve a very hard math problem at the blackboard. Yurine wakes up, solves the problem effortlessly, and goes back to sleep.
- Downplayed Trope: A general writing trait − when this series uses a trope, it tends to use it moderately. Not always, but often. It's part of what gives it such a quiet atmosphere at times.
- Finger-Suck Healing: Used by Yurine when Ayaka gets a paper cut. She is dead embarrassed and protests, but lets her do it anyway.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Volume 1 mostly serves as an introduction for the main couple and a few other characters, but it doesn't have any arc conclusion, unlike the others.
- Flowers of Romance: White lilies, what else? You're gonna see them quite often, one way or another. Yukina and Towako's arc focuses on roses instead.
- Gratuitous English: Sometimes an english word will be splashed on a panel, with no rhyme or reason.
- Hair-Contrast Duo:
- Hate at First Sight: Hikari and Nagisa in volume 8 describe an almost physical incompatibility with each other, right from the moment they met. Of course, they end up forced to live with each other - and are happier with it than they want to admit.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most chapter titles are rather obscure or metaphorical, and often seemingly unrelated to the events of said chapters. Seemingly being the key word.
- Implausible Hair Color: Most characters have dark or brown hair, but Yurine and Izumi are blonde and Towako is platinum, which isn't awfully common in Japan to say the least.
- Incest Subtext: The ambiguity of the Japanese "suki" is used in full effect between Haine and her aunt/big sister Aika. They never kiss and whether their relationship is outright romantic is left unclear, but it at least seems to go deeper than ordinary sisterly love.
- Invisible Parents: Ayaka's mother is seen briefly once in a flashback (although faceless), but otherwise the girls' parents are never seen, even when they are at home.
- Last-Name Basis: Both Ayaka and Yurine call each other by their last name with a "-san" honorific. While Ayaka obviously wants (but fails) to "keep her distance" with her "enemy", Yurine seems to make a point of saying "Shiramine-san" as often as possible.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: This is no One Piece of course, but since each volume introduces a new couple and there are also some minor but recurring characters, the cast rapidly gets pretty crowded. In fact, you could say there isn't really a "main character" − even Ayaka and Yurine are only focused on sporadically.
- Love Triangle: The series has three, though only the last one is played for drama.
- Chiharu has feelings for her Senpai Maya and Izumi has feelings for her Senpai Chiharu, but after Maya graduates and Izumi enters high school, Chiharu hangs out more often with the latter. In the volume 2 omake, Chiharu has started going out with Izumi, which is elaborated more in the second Drama CD, and then in chapter 26 and 27, where Chiharu definitively gets over her crush for Maya.
- Yurine and her sister are both in love with Ayaka (but the latter only appears in a couple of omake), and Ayaka clearly has unadmitted feelings for Yurine... which becomes a Love Square when Kaoru is introduced and shown to have crush on Yurine.
- Chapter 28 introduces one between Amane, who's into Polyamory, Ryou, a shy girl who falls for her, and Nina, Amane's girlfriend who's not too enthusiastic about those two suddenly getting along.
- Moment Killer: Mizuki totally ruins Ayaka's first attempt to exert some control over her relationship with Yurine.
- Motherly Side Plait: In the chapter 18 extra, a character named Kokoro has a braid on her shoulder. She is described as being "family-oriented".
- Noodle Incident: Some accident involving the uniform's long skirt apparently made it forbidden for the students to come to Seiran by bicycle. Izumi couldn't care less though.
- Not What It Looks Like: In chapter 2, Mizuki finds Ayaka visibly about to kiss Yurine, leaving her to find a lame excuse about how this was all an accident. The problem is that it was what it looked like (she wanted to "get back" at Yurine when the latter was getting total control over her).
- Omake: Every chapter is followed by a one-page extra, usually involving two girls seen in the background during said chapter. Said characters don't directly intervene in the story proper − with the exception of Kaoru, who is introduced in the chapter 6 extra and gets A Day in the Limelight in chapter 18-19.
- Once per Episode: Every single chapter has a character kissing someone or something one way or another. It's sometimes a mouth-to-mouth kiss, of course, but often more subtle (and sometimes very blink-and-you'll-miss-it). Canno joked in an interview that she was running out of body parts to kiss for the characters.
- One-Gender School: Seiran Academy is girls-only. Canno has made it clear that she doesn't intend to introduce any male characters in the story.
- Opposites Attract:
- Ayaka and Yurine strangely mix this with Birds of a Feather, as they are both top students and Yurine wants Ayaka to try and best her, but their characters couldn't be more different. Ayaka has a kind and graceful façade hiding an aggressive and occasionally hypocritical personality; Yurine is usually cold and indifferent, but can switch to The Tease and become oddly joyful in the presence of Ayaka, who is annoyed yet can't reject her.
- Mizuki and Moe play this in a different way, with Mizuki being shy and hesitant while Moe is often a bit blunt and forceful. Both know very well how the other works, though.
- Ai and Chiharu are a non-romantic example. The former is hyperactive, cheerful and girly, the latter is strait-laced, grumpy and not overly emotional. Yet they get along, somehow.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Chiharu and Ai are among the few duos in the series that are Just Friends. The former is lesbian, just not for Ai.
- Polyamory: Explored in volume 6 with the character of Amane, who isn't afraid to confess to several girls. One of them, Ryou, ends up accepting her, but Nina, Amane's "first" girlfriend, isn't quite as enthusiastic. They do end up in a triangle relationship, however.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Pretty much all the pairings so far have some variation of this dichotomy, one side being more passionate, irritable, lively or extravert (Ayaka, Moe, Izumi, Yukina, Sawa) while the other is colder, shier, more introvert or more composed (Yurine, Mizuki, Chiharu, Towako, Itsuki). And deliberately or not, the "blue oni" girl is always the taller one. Despite that though, no two couples quite ressemble each other in their interactions.
- Rotating Protagonist: While Ayaka and Yurine are the only pairing whose arc spreads over several volumes, the brief focuses on them come between longer arcs where they stay in the background. In volume 1, 3, 5, and 7 they take half of the spotlight, but in volume 2, 4 and 6 they barely appear. Each volume focuses on the couple featured on the cover, who might be new characters or already known but not yet developped ones. Another particularity is that the focus tends to "hop" from a group of character to another after they interact − for example, Ayaka being interviewed by Sawa and Itsuki in volume 5 or Izumi meeting Amane in volume 6. This allows for smooth transitions between the arcs despite the constant shifts.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: While some of the girls' feelings are explicitly romantic, others rather skirt the line between outright love and this. The romantic aspect remains relatively subdued, all in all: the stories are more focused on what bonds the characters together and what they don't want to lose, than the romantic side of the relationships. It somewhat evolves as the sory goes on though − the first actual kiss only occurs at the end of volume 3, but after that the romances are increasingly explicit and the kisses increasingly frequent.
- Sacred First Kiss: Yurine gives hers to Ayaka without any warning at the end of chapter 1, much to the latter's shock.
- Senpai Kouhai: Ai and Chiharu's relationship with Maya, whom Ai sees as a Cool Big Sis. Chiharu, however, rather acts as Maya's mom despite being 2 years younger.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: You might think it's a prerequisite to enter Seiran academy. Although only Chiharu and the volume 6 characters are shown to like girls in general. The others are very much focused on one partner.
- Serious Business: The arcs' drama usually centers around things that seem relatively mundane from an outside perspective (a senior leaving the school, a track race performance, a rose garden ), but are extremely important to the girls, as it's an integral part of their bond.
- Show, Don't Tell: Sort of. The series is rather minimalistic in its narration, and interestingly the girls rarely directly say that they love each other (not in conventional ways, at least), they just demonstrate it through acts and gestures. Chapter 41 − 9 volumes in! − is the first chapter to have a "conventional" confession and ironically, also the first one that features a couple breaking up.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Whether it's true or not, this is apparently how Ayaka views Mizuki's private interactions with her girlfriend. When asked to imitate Moe to cheer Mizuki up in chapter 16, Ayaka puts a lot of sugar in her performance.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Izumi is the most frequent victim, but it occasionally happens to Ai or Yurine. Of course, since the cast is all-female, it's kind of inevitable
- Sprouting Ears: Happens mostly to Yurine, who occasionally grows dog ears and a tail when Ayaka is around.
- Subverted Trope: While the series seems to feature every yuri trope imaginable, it also likes to turn them on their head a wee bit.
- The Onee-sama type (Ayaka) turns out to be quite agressive, egocentric and hypocritical, while the lonely newcoming girl who falls in Love at First Sight with her (Yurine) turns out to be a genius and a very forward tease.
- The Tomboy and Girly Girl duo (Mizuki and Moe) is the opposite of what it looks, with the "tomboy" being shy and insecure while the longer-haired cute girl clearly wears the pants and has rather dubious hobbies. Also, one likes romantic movies, the other would like "something with more explosions".
- Senpai Kohai relationships? Chiharu has to deal with her slightly incompetent senpai Maya (whom she likes) and her rather rude kouhai Izumi (who likes her).
- Itsuki towers over her senpai Sawa, is gorgeous, graceful, and seemingly more mature and determined but she turns out to be far more childish and dreamy, as well as hopelessly in love, while Sawa is more down-to-earth and thinks matters through more than her apparent silliness might suggest.
- Theme Naming: The two main characters are named Shiramine (shira meaning "white") and Kurosawa (kuro meaning "black"), which highlights their contrasting personalities—although ironically, despite their names Ayaka is black-haired while Yurine is blonde. Their names also have the exact same number of syllables, with the first name written in Hiragana. And if you push even further (but it might be coincidental there), Ayaka has a last name ending in [ine] and a first name with two [a]; Yurine has a last name ending with two [a] and a first name ending in [ine]. So you could say their very names highlight their dynamic (see Opposites Attract above).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Played with in the case of Mizuki and Moe. Mizuki cut her hair to give this effect when she is seen with Moe, but the latter is actually much more assertive and shameless, while Mizuki is quite shy and easily embarrassed.
- Played with in a different way with Amane, Nina and Ryou; the first two are a classic take on the trope, but then Ryou comes as a sort of balancing element between the two.
- Suicide Watch: Kurosawa runs into Shiramine who is obviously in considerable distress after a difficult talk with her overly demanding parents. When Shiramine then declares that she is gonna skip school for the first time in her life to go "to the sea", Kurosawa starts quietly following her at a short distance, despite Shiramine's insistence that she not be followed. It turns out that Shiramine didn't really have any suicidal thoughts she just was so hurt by her mother's words that she needed to get away for a night, and afterwards, she thanks Kurosawa for not leaving her alone.
- Unsound Effect: Used and abused by the author at every occasion, especially in the early volumes.
- Valentine's Day Episode: Chapter 15.5 follows the Valentine's day of all the main couples. It notably has Ayaka trying to bake the best damn chocolate she can, to not lose to Yurine. The latter, having entirely anticipated that, gives her chocolate bought in a shop, making Ayaka's efforts totally pointless. She can be a bit of a Troll when she wants.
- Visual Pun: Possibly in chapter 3. When Ayaka tells her that her almost kissing Yurine was totally an accident, Mizuki's only reaction is to silently close the closet's door and leave.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Due to Ayaka's character when not at school, she and Mizuki are often taking shots at each other. Nevertheless, Mizuki cares a great deal about Ayaka's well-being, while Ayaka encourages Mizuki to be more confident in her relationship with Moe.
- Wall of Blather: What does Yurine do when she is asked to read an English text but forgot her textbook? Well, she just recites the entire text that she has memorized in one casual reading when she was bored, putting this trope in effect. A variant is also sometimes used out of bubbles, when one character complains longly to herself but the other doesn't care.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Seiran Academy is located... somewhere in Japan.