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"A boy met a boy. They were in the flush of youth. They were in love that felt like a dream, like sparkling soda pop."
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In an all-boys high school, a class is preparing for an upcoming chorus festival. As the boys sing, Hikaru Kusakabe notices that one of his classmates, Rihito Sajou, is not making any noise. Kusakabe is a sleepy-eyed, carefree slacker who plays guitar in a band, Sajou is a straight-laced and serious honor student who got perfect scores on every subject on his entrance exam. Kusabake concludes that the two come from completely different worlds, so there's no reason the two would have any reason to talk, and as such, he'll never know why Sajou doesn't sing.

But by a twist of fate, Kusakabe and Sajou have a strange, quiet encounter alone in their empty classroom, and on the spur of the moment, Kusakabe offers to teach Sajou the song. In that moment, everything changes.

Doukyusei ("Classmates") is a manga by Asumiko Nakamura with several sequels and Spin-Offs. In 2016, the first work was adapted in an animated film produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Shoko Nakamura.

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Not to be confused with the classic Dating Sim of the same name.

List of works in chronological order:

  • Doukyuusei
  • Sotsugyousei
  • Sora To Hara
  • O.B.
  • Blanc
  • Futarigurashi

Tropes:

  • Adapted Out: While the movie is incredibly faithful to the first volume it was based on, "His First", the third chapter between "Autumn" and " A Complex Fool and a Simple Fool" which Hara-Sen recounts his faithful meeting with Sajou in first year, was cut out entirely. This left him with significantly less screen time and without the reason why he fell in love with Sajou in the first place.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Kinosaki's sexuality is unconfirmed and the only one out of his friend group who isn't seeing anybody but is able to relate to two straight girls and a gay guy's relationship with their respective boyfriends. And then there's that time where he Almost Kissed Sajou during a power outage and became incredibly flustered over what he had done, leading to Miyamura thinking he initially had a crush on Sajou like she did.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Blanc ends with the Sajou and Kusakabe reconciling and Happily Married with a wedding ceremony attended by their friends, family and about every significant character in the series. However, it doesn't change the fact that the former's mother succumb to her cancer as well as being unable to fix his rocky relationship with his father, especially after he found out Sajou was gay. However, they're starting to repair their relationship by the time Futarigurashi rolls around.
  • Blanket Fort: Kusakabe makes one in "Home", as it's cold in their new apartment and they have yet to unpack any furniture.
  • Bridal Carry: Kusakabe performs one on Sajou in one of the bonus chapters in "Sora to Hara" saying he always wanted to try it. However, he's clearly struggling from the weight of a full-grown man his size and only manages a few steps before collapsing onto the hotel bed.
  • Brutal Honesty: Kusukabe isn't afraid to express his feelings for Sajou and thoughts about getting married.
  • Cake Toppers: There are chibi ones of Kusakakabe and Sajou holding hands on their wedding cake.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Doukyusei didn't have much tension, so its sequel Sotsugyousei upped the angst by having Sajou's mother diagnosed with terminal cancer and the couple's fear of separation because of Sajou attending university at Kyoto while Kusakabe wants to stay in Tokyo. Blanc then intensifies it when Sajou interprets Kusakabe saying they don't have to rush getting married as him forgetting the promise they made in Sotsugyousei, and asks to take a break from their relationship, which Kusakabe in turn misinterprets as Sajou wanting to end it. If that's not enough, Sajou's mother is back in the hospital after her cancer becomes severe and tragically dies from it.
  • Character Death: Sajou's mother dies from pneumonia because of the cancer weakening her immune system.
  • Character Tic: Sajou has a habit of pushing up his glasses with his pointer or middle finger.
  • Cry into Chest: Sajou cries into Kusakabe's chest in Blanc chapter 9, after reaching his breaking point and letting out the feelings he's been holding back.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sajou has shades of this.
    Kusakabe, after trying to run out under a rainstorm: I'm drenched!!!
    Sajou, applauding: Oooh. Good job.
  • Dreary Half-Lidded Eyes: Kusakabe is drawn with sleepy eyes all the time.
  • Dude Magnet: Over the course of the series, Sajou manages to attract three guys consisting of his boyfriend-turned-husband Kusakabe, his former teacher Hara-Sen (Who still didn't completely get over him despite having Sorano) and (very briefly) his university friend Kinosaki.
  • Double Entendre: In a bonus comic for Blanc.
    Kusakabe: "We've already experienced the first bite!"
    Sajou: "Huh?"
    Kusakabe: "Ages ago, when I put my finger in from behind, and you bit me."
    Kusakabe: "In your mouth, I mean."
    Sajou: "Right... in my mouth..."
  • The Faceless: You can tell who are the background characters by their lack of eyes and other obscure or less-detailed facial features.
    • Sajou's mother is initially drawn as this to illustrate how Sajou is couldn't look straight in her eyes without feeling guilty. This later becomes subverted when he comes out and introduces Kusakabe to her.
  • First Kiss: Kusakabe impulsively kisses Sajou on the lips when they both reached out for the former's spilled drink at the same time, impacting both their lives forever and beginning their blossoming relationship.
  • First Love: Sajou is this for Kusakabe as well as his only love.
  • First-Name Basis: Starting from O.B., Kusakabe and Sajou decided to call each other Hikaru and Rihito since they would eventually share a last name after marrying.
  • Foreshadowing: Sajou's dream after passing out in the train station involves Kusakabe cutting the yellow ribbon between them (representing their relationship) but promising to re-tie it later after they sort things out. This becomes the plot of Blanc where both characters were going through a low point in their lives, Sajou requests a break from their relationship but Kusakabe misinterpreted as ending it and returns the former's ring, spent several chapters regretting and missing one another, dealing with Sajou's mother dying before finally making up and marrying.
  • Forgets to Eat: Sajou is this, particularly when he's overworked or dealing with his mother's sickness. His lack of nutrition is a source of worry for Kusakabe, who decides to learn how to cook because of this.
  • Gayngst: Sajou is more uncomfortable with his sexuality since unlike Kusakabe, Sajou always knew he was attracted to the same sex since young but hides it in fear of his parents' disapproval as opposed to experiencing romantic interest for the first time and not being afraid to act on it (He does get better over time the more time he spends with Kusakabe). It's noted Kusakabe was the one to initiate the kissing in the first volume until the last chapter.
  • Gay Groom in a White Tux: Both Sajou and Kusakabe wear white tuxedos for their wedding in Blanc complete with matching white-rose veils gifted by Koma.
  • The Glomp: Kusakabe does this to Sajou multiple times, usually after Sajou does something particularly romantic.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: As another parallel to Opposites Attract, Sajou's hair is straight and black while Kusakabe has his dyed-blond and is naturally curly (Described as "fluffy" by others).
  • High-School Sweethearts: Sajou and Kusakabe began dating during high school which continues well after graduation and into Sajou's university years before finally marrying and living together. While not showing much affection in public, their relationship is very lovey-dovey and intimate in private.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Hara-Sen harbored a burning yet hopeless crush on Sajou ever since his first day of high school and had planned on asking him out after graduation but Kusakabe beat him to it. For the first two books, he tried making advances that never got anywhere due to Kusakabe intervening and Sajou having only eyes for his boyfriend. Eventually, he gave up upon realizing this pining had never amounted to anything and found a Second Love in Sorano.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The last time we saw Sajou's mother alive is telling Sajou she's fine after a minor coughing fit.
  • In-Series Nickname: Kusakabe has a few. "Beyan" by his friends, "Brokaru" ("Okaru" in Japanese) by his sister, and "Job John" in elementary school.
    • Kusakabe gives Hara an insulting one in the form of "Chin Pubes" in the official English translation. ("Hige" in Japanese). Also, Hara is generally called Hara-sen, a Portmanteau of "Hara" and "Sensei", by his current and former students alike.
  • Insult of Endearment: Sajou calls Kusakabe "Idiot"note  whenever the latter says something romantic that embarrassed him.
  • Irony: Considering Sajou was his First Love but was taken by Kusakabe, which he considered his (one-sided) romantic rival, Hara-sen's Second Love turns out to be Sorano whose cheerful, free-spirited personality is more like Kusakabe's than the reserved Sajou's.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Being from Kyoto, all of Sajou's university friends have this.
    • Sajou eventually picks up some of the dialect from his time in university there, though to a much lesser extent. It's noticeable enough that Kusakabe comments on it a couple of times.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Sajou and Kusakabe have their first time in the classroom where they met... while skipping their graduation ceremony.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Hara-Sen had initially wanted to be in one with Sajou but thought it would be wise to wait until graduation to ask him out (Too bad Kusakabe came into the picture before he even had the chance). Years later, Hara-Sen is 37 years old and single in "Sora to Hara". Still reeling from his former crush, he kisses a guy in a nightclub who is later revealed to be Sorano, one of his first-year students and 15 years of age. Unsurprisingly, Hara was shocked to realize the twenty-two year difference between them but over the course of the manga, Sorano became his Second Love and agreed to date him after his graduation (though Hara refuses to have sex with him until he turned twenty).
    • Kusakabe's parents turn out to be this in Blanc. His father can easily pass off as his grandfather and gets a lot of flak for remarrying one of his employees nearly half his age but nonetheless are Happily Married.
  • Meaningful Name: Hara's last name is Manabu which means "learn". Very on point with his career as a music teacher.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Chapter 10 of Blanc is pretty much dedicated to this with Sajou (And the audience) properly meeting Kusakabe's parents and sister for the first time.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: Sajou tells Kusakabe to not look at him while he's getting undressed and washed for the onsen in Futarigurashi. Ironic, as Kusakabe has seen him naked plenty of times with how frequently they have sex.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted on a meta-level, in that Asumiko Nakamura is the original mangaka, Shoko Nakamura directed the anime adaption, and Chieko Nakamura was the art director. None of these women are related.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Sajou never swears so when his father finally shows up in the manga to his mother's death bed only to berate him for dating Kusakabe instead, you know he's beyond pissed off.
    Sajou: "SHUT THE FUCK UP! I WISHED YOU HAD DIED INSTEAD!!"
  • Opposites Attract: Basically the premise. Sajou is straight-laced, studious and emotionally reserved whereas Kusakabe is laid-back, directionless and very honest about his feelings, yet they are madly in love with each other. The two complement and bring out the best in one another with Sajou being more open to his feelings overtime and Kusakabe finding purpose in life.
    • This is also reflected by their upbringing, Sajou is expected to excel in grades and follow his family's steps in becoming a doctor but is extremely distanced and close-off as a result. Kusakabe's family is close-knit and very accepting considering his parents are a May–December Romance while his sister is pregnant and gonna be a single parent, hence his easy-going nature.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: In order to prevent Sajou from backing out going into the hot springs with him in Futari Gurashi, Kusakabe performed this maneuver to convinced him otherwise (which is a more successful attempt compared to the last time he tried carrying him).
  • Precision F-Strike: The only time Sajou properly swears in the series is directed at his father after not being there for his mother when she passed away and instead trivially and homophobically focusing on Sajou's relationship with Kusakabe.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: After holding in his emotions from breaking up with Kusakabe and dealing with the grief of his mother's death (not to mention his lifelong fear of homophobia), what finally sends Sajou over the edge is his father's violent and homophobic response to his coming out, to the point where Kusakabe has to physically restrain Sajou. It gets uglier when his father switches targets to insult the love of his life.
  • Retcon: In a timeline of Kusakabe's life first released in 2010, it's stated his parents were a Childhood Friend Romance. This was eventually changed to a May–December Romance with them having met at their place of work by the time blanc came out 10 years later.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: While having a drink after work, Hara's co-worker Hashimoto shares an anecdote about how him and one of his student used to stare at each other but nothing came out of it. Hashimoto brought it up since he correctly sensed Hara was going through the same thing...too bad the moment was ruined due to an incorrect assumption.
    Hashimoto: "I didn't make it clear how I felt then, and that... I do regret that, I suppose."
    Hara-sen: ... [Sips drink]
    Hashimoto: "Hara-Sensei. It's Hikaru Kusakabe, yes?"
    Hara-sen: [Spit Take] "ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! NO WAY! NOT IN A BAJILLION YEARS!!"
  • Second Love: Sorano is this to Hara-Sen.
  • Share Phrase: Kusakabe's hair being described as "fluffy" by various people in their inner monologue or thoughts.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kinosaki, Kawanishi and Miyamura are all fully on board and adore Sajou's relationship with Kusakabe much like the fans of the series.
  • Shout-Out: The name and logo of Kusakabe's band, Z'GOK, is a reference to Mobile Suit Gundam.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: In spite of Sajou and Kusakabe not displaying much public affection, the off-handed comments about their relationship is enough to make people envious and/or embarrassed, especially for Sajou's friends.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Kusakabe didn't have any romantic interest for anyone until Sajou, even calling him his First Love and in one bonus chapter when rifling through his sister's Yaoi manga, he specifically picks one that has a boy on the cover with similar glasses, haircut and body type like Sajou. Tani even thought he was the type of guy who couldn't love anyone back which could mean Sajou was more than just his Closet Key.
  • Spin-Off: Sora to Hara focuses on Hara-sen and his love life or rather lack thereof until Sorano came into the picture. The story also introduces more characters such as Koma (A fashion designer and Hara Sen's drinking buddy), Satoshi (A former teacher of Hara-Sen's) and Hibiki (Satoshi's lover).
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The other two official couples with Hara-sen and Satoshi as the teachers to their students Sarano and Hibiki respectively though it's subverted as they only started dating after graduation.
  • Theme Naming: Hikaru and Rihito (Licht) both mean "light" in Japanese and German, respectively.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Sajou's university friends, Miyamura, Kawanishi and Kinosaki, form this dynamic and collectively act as an Audience Surrogate.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: In the second chapter of Doukyusei.
  • Verbal Tic: Kusakabe tends to say "Jeez" in exasperation or shock, especially in the first volume.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: How they portray people who are especially shocked that they are stunned speechless.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Kusakabe's older sister secretly is one and has several containers worth of Boys Love manga all carefully organized underneath her bed. He tried using the manga for sex research but found it confusing and ridiculous then got in deep trouble once she found out. During Sajou and Kusakabe's wedding, she was blushing so hard despite her stoic nature as it were a dream come true.

Alternative Title(s): Doukyuusei

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