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"Men are horrible. Things to be feared. But, why is it? Why is my heart beating so fast?!"
Tsubaki
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In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki (Kunoichi Tsubaki no Mune no Uchi) is an ongoing comedic Slice of Life manga series written by Sōichirō Yamamoto (creator of Teasing Master Takagi-san and When Will Ayumu Make His Move?). It began serialization in Shogakukan's Monthly Shonen Sunday in 2018.

The story follows Tsubaki, a young kunoichi and the top student of the Akane Class, an isolationist group of kunoichi who forbid any sort of interaction with men. Unbeknownst to anyone else, she harbors a deep curiosity about them that she must keep hidden. Will she adhere to the rules of her class or will her curiosity get the better of her?

An anime adaptation directed by Takudai Kakuchi was announced on November 8, 2021 with production being handled by CloverWorks. The series was licensed by Crunchyroll, and aired from April 10 to July 3, 2022. The series can be watched here.

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Beware of unmarked spoilers.


In The Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Subverted. Chapter 13 deals with Benisumomo growing suspicious of Tsubaki after a game of tag in Chapters 7 and 8 have the latter easily beating Hana while she couldn't, despite their equal skill. These events make her suspect the two of them are hiding something, which ends up going unresolved until Chapter 56, where Benisumomo is proven correct, though she doesn't learn what Tsubaki and Hana are hiding.
  • The Ace: Tsubaki is the top student amongst the other students. What few students can rival her usually have some flaw that gives Tsubaki the edge. For example, Benisumomo is at least on par with Tsubaki. However, she's Brilliant, but Lazy and is unwilling to put in the work, whereas Tsubaki is much more studious.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
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    • Rindou starts going maskless a bit earlier in the anime than in the manga, due to the shuffling of chapters being adapted. In the manga, she wears her mask from Chapters 11-17. In the anime, Chapter 17 is adapted before Chapters 14-16, which the anime modifies to show her maskless.
    • A few of the teams were introduced earlier in the anime than they were in the manga:
      • Team Ox - introduced in Chapter 23note  - is introduced in Episode 5note 
      • Team Rooster - the last team to be introduced in the manga in Chapter 41 - is introduced in Episode 9, making them the eighth team to be introduced.
  • Adaptation Expansion: While the anime does follow the source material closely for the most part, at times it has deviated in favor of anime-original content:
    • The post-credits scenes for Episodes 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 12 were all anime-original.
    • Episode 13 was mostly anime-exclusive, with only snippets of various chapters being adapted.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Unlike its two sister series, which both establish themselves in the modern-day, In The Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki does not hint at nor give any indication as to when the series takes place. The characters' style of dress could place them in the Edo or Meiji periods, but their speech and behavior could place them in the Taisho period or even modern-day.
  • Anachronic Order: With the exception of a few, most of the chapters in In The Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki are stand-alone and self-contained stories, as is common in most Slice of Life anime and manga titles, though they are still easy to follow and understand.
  • Art Evolution: The art progressively improves as the chapters go on, particularly with the extended cast, as the first few chapters only have rough designs of them that either vaguely resemble their final designs or not at all. As more and more characters are introduced, the art becomes more refined to give each of them a stylized and distinct silhouette unique to one another.
  • Bit Character: Due to the sheer volume of characters featured in the series, most of them are shown as this, being presented with at least one defining character trait and not much else, such as Higuruma's optimism, Hagi's pessimism, Uikyou and Kikyou's twin personalities, Azami and Tanpopo's Gyaru-like whimsicalness, etc. However, some characters do get the chance to be fleshed out further in their spotlight chapters.
  • Cast Herd: The students are split into twelve teams, normally in teams of three. Each team is named after an animal on the Chinese Zodiac:
    • Rat: Tachiaoi, Higuruma, Hagi
    • Ox: Shion, Suzuran, Ajisai
    • Tiger: Fuki, Itadori, Ume
    • Rabbit: Kagetsu, Mukuge, Hototogisu
    • Dragon: Higiri, Suzushiro, Hasu
    • Snake: Uikyou and Kikyou
    • Horse: Hinagiku, Kibushi, Oniyuri
    • Sheep: Benisumomo, Mizubashou, Touwata
    • Monkey: Mokuren, Housenka, Tsuwabuki
    • Rooster: Sumire, Azami, Tanpopo
    • Dog: Tsubaki, Sazanka, Asagao, Rindou
    • Boar: Dokudami, Aogiri, Shakuyaku
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Despite having a cast of a whopping thirty-eight characters right off the bat, each and every one of them has their own unique design, ensuring no two characters are the same. Even Uikyou and Kikyou, who are twins, do this with their color-scheme and legwear.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Chapter 10 shows that Asagao marks wild fruit with her initial to stake a claim on them for later. When she discovers Hinagiku stole her fruit, Oniyuri disputes that it's just the letter 'A' with no further indication of what it stands for. In Episode 6 of the anime, this is followed up in a Funny Background Event, showing that Asagao learned her lesson and has taken to writing out her full name rather than just her initial to avoid a repeat.
    • Chapter 21 has Tsubaki falling ill, and her owing Benisumomo a favor for looking after Sazanka and Asagao. Chapter 33 has Benisumomo cashing in on said favor after Touwata falls ill.
    • Chapters 25 and 26 introduce the Attractiveness Jutsu and Tsubaki's inability to perform it. It makes its return in Chapter 48 with Tsubaki finally managing to pull it off.
  • Demonization: Justified. The Akane and Aoi Classes teach their students that the opposite gender is dangerous and forbid interaction between them. This is actually a lie enforced by the two classes when they used to live together, after an alarming number of students began coupling off and leaving the village, risking the waning and possible disappearance of the lifestyle and customs of the shinobi discipline, resulting in their present-day isolationism.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Both Played Straight and inverted. In the character art, nine of the thirty-eight characters are wearing sandals while the rest wear stirrups, bandages, or go barefoot. However, in the anime proper, twenty-six of the thirty-eight are wearing sandals, while the remaining twelvenote  continue to play this straight.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: With the exception being the opening, each song in the anime was sung by members of the cast:
    • Coupled with Evolving Credits and Image Song. The ED, "Akane-gumi Katsudou Nisshi",note  is a series of ending songs, with each episode concluding with a different rendition of the song being performed by each team, while the final episode's ending was sung by the entire cast sans Hana and Konoha.
    • The Episode 11 insert song, "Itsumo Tonari de", was sung by Saya Aizawa (Kagetsu), Konomi Kohara (Rindou), and Yuko Natsuyoshi (Tsubaki).
    • The character song, "Akane-gumi Katsudou Nisshi ~Sensei~" was sung by Yumi Uchiyama (Hana) and Mao Ichimichi (Konoha).
  • Ensemble Cast: While Tsubaki and Team Dog are the main focus, the manga takes the effort to give every team a chapter or two in the spotlight, focusing on their team dynamic or interactions with the main cast and/or other characters.
  • Evolving Credits: After her introduction in Episode 6, every episode afterward includes Rindou to the title card in the opening.
  • Forehead of Doom: Both literally and figuratively. A prominent aspect of Yamamoto's art style consists of drawing his characters with this. This is also Played Straight with Tsubaki in particular, as her role as The Leader of Team Dog, combined with her Teacher's Pet tendencies as the Akane Class's top student makes her a bit hard-headed at times, even though it sometimes goes against her own wishes.
  • Freudian Trio: Most of the teams of three have a mischievous take-charge Id, a coolheaded and unabated Superego, and an Ego who leads the other two.
  • Iyashikei: Despite the romantic subtext of the series, its main focus is on CGDCT,note  as well as the comedic and playful interactions amongst characters in the main and extended cast.
  • Lady Land: The Akane Class is an all-female clan of kunoichi. This is enforced by the women of the village, who tell the girls that men are dangerous beasts to be avoided at all costs.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Contrary to what may be implied in the opening credits and the first episode of the anime, the series doesn't focus on romance, but rather on Slice of Life / Iyashikei. In the manga, this aspect is just as circumstantial, and it's nearly negligible as well.
  • New Transfer Student: Rindou transfers from another village to the Akane Class in Episode 6.
  • Ninja School: The village the Akane Class resides in also serves as a school for the young ninja-in-training.
  • Only One Name: Everyone in the series is known only by their given name and honorific if applicable.
  • Origins Episode: Episode 8 establishes how Team Dog and the other teams formed, as well as establishes the moment Tsubaki and Sazanka became friends.
  • Sempai/Kōhai: Most of the teams are mixed of upper and lowerclassmen, which in turn makes way for such a relationship amongst teammates. For example, Team Ox upperclassmen Shion and Suzuran act like older sister figures to their underclassman, Ajisai.
  • Show Within a Show: In the Teasing Master Takagi-san spinoff, Karakai Jōzu no (Moto) Takagi-san, In The Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki is a TV series that Takagi's daughter, Chi, becomes obsessed with. This is touched upon in the Volume 6 omake of Kunoichi Tsubaki as well as in Chapter 208 of Moto when Nishikata and Takagi have to intervene after Chi starts to mimic the show.
  • Story Arc: Despite the stand-alone nature of the manga's chapters, there have been brief moments in which multiple consecutive chapters have contributed to a larger story:
    • Chapters 7-9 deal with Tsubaki learning the truth of the Akane and Aoi Classes during a game of tag.
    • Chapters 11-13, and 15-19 revolve around Rindou transferring to the Akane Class and seeing her acclimating to her new environment and classmates.
    • Chapters 25-27 introduce the Attractiveness Jutsu and it quickly becoming widespread amongst the Akane Class.
  • Wham Line: Hana unwittingly delivers a major one to Tsubaki (disguised as Konoha) in Episode 3:
    Hana: There's no other choice. We can't have things go back to how they were then. We must keep lying about men being scary.

Alternative Title(s): Inside Tsubaki Kunoichis Heart, Kunoichi Tsubaki No Mune No Uchi, In The Heart Of Kunoichi Tsubaki

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