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Manga / Kare wa Tomodachi

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Kare wa Tomodachi is a shoujo manga series by Ririko Yoshioka, which was serialized in Bessatsu Friend from 2007 to 2010.

The series revolves around third year middle school student Hiyori Fujisaki, who has a crush on the most popular boy in school, Yuuma Mizuno. During the classroom seating change, she ends up sitting next to Karen "Ren" Sasamoto and in front of Kotone Kanbara, both of whom are childhood friends of Mizuno, and befriends them.

Though Sasamoto is reluctant to at first, he agrees to help Hiyori out with Mizuno, but things grow complicated between the four when it turns out Mizuno has feelings for Kotone, Sasamoto is revealed to have feelings for Hiyori all along, and Kotone—who has always been protected by Sasamoto—doesn't take kindly to Hiyori's and Sasamoto's growing closeness and seeks to sabotage them. Hiyori eventually reciprocates Sasamoto's feelings and they start dating, while Kotone starts dating Mizuno.

However, in high school, everything changes. Kotone dumps Mizuno with the intention of stealing Sasamoto away from Hiyori through manipulative means. Can Hiyori overcome these trials, or will Kotone's schemes take a toll on her relationship with Sasamoto?

This series provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Kotone Kanbara.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Sasamoto and Hiyori in Chapter 2.
  • Art Evolution: Lampshaded by Word of God, who mentioned in an author note that readers were actually divided between her old style and new style.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Masamichi is one to Sasamoto and Kotone.
  • Book Ends: The series ends with a girl sitting next to Sasamoto's brother mistakenly calling him "Sasaki" and him correcting her, just as Hiyori did the same to Sasamoto in the first chapter.
  • Boy Meets Girl
  • Break the Cutie: Hiyori especially when she finds out she's pregnant and gets a miscarriage and Kotone in her back story as her mother's admittance that she should have never gave birth to her and Mizuno ignoring Kotone during middle school drove Kotone to online dating websites.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Between Mizuno, Kotone, and Sasamoto. The rumors are that Kotone dated Mizuno and Sasamoto at the same time in the sixth grade. In reality, Kotone was bullied by girls because Mizuno liked her. Mizuno defending her himself made things worse, so he asked Sasamoto to protect her in his stead. Kotone returns Mizuno's feelings but refuses to date him, and she claims to not have any feelings for Sasamoto but she is his first love and doesn't want any other girl to get between them. Sasamoto, however, currently has feelings for Hiyori and they start dating. Kotone eventually starts dating Mizuno, but she would later decide that she likes Sasamoto more than Mizuno and dumps him and tries to steal Sasamoto away from Hiyori.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Sasamoto.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Kotone, who dislikes it when Sasamoto is "taken" away from her. She nearly goes through yandere levels by bullying Hiyori through constant phone call messages that cause Hiyori to become literally scared of phones. Hiyori has her moments too.
  • Declaration of Protection:
    • Sasamoto towards Kotone. Mizuno eventually develops this for Hiyori.
    • When Hiyori is pregnant with Mizuno's child, Sasamoto takes full responsibility for it and promises to protect them.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Sasamoto towards Hiyori. Hiyori and Kotone are gender-flipped versions towards Sasamoto. Mizuno towards Hiyori.
  • Chick Magnet: Mizuno.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: The result of Hiyori's pregnancy.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Mizuno kisses Hiyori in her sleep in Chapter 11 when he incorrectly jumps to the conclusion that it's him that Hiyori is confessing her love to in her sleep. In the middle of it, he realizes that she's talking about Sasamoto. To make matters worse, Mizuno, feeling frustrated and spiteful over this, purposely takes Hiyori into her room, strips some of her clothes off, and falls asleep with her on her bed to give Hiyori the implication that they had sex when they didn't. Naturally, Hiyori wakes up and is freaked out and pissed.
  • Fate Drives Us Together: In the beginning of the manga, Hiyori strongly believes in fate and is convinced that being able to sit next to Sasamoto must be fate. Sasamoto later admits to Hiyori that it wasn't fate. He purposely asked someone to switch seat numbers with him so he could sit next to her and tells Hiyori that a person needs to create his or her own fate.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Yes, "Karen" is Sasamoto's first name. He even got picked on in elementary for it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Mainly the main girls go through this because of their heated competition over Sasamoto, but both of the male leads have their moments too [[spoiler:once Mizuno develops feelings for Hiyori and starts going out with her.
    • This is also the reason why Mizuno and Hiyori ultimately don't end up together—Mizuno is convinced that something happened between Sasamoto and Hiyori when they accidentally were left behind during a group trip and had to stay at a hotel together. When Hiyori later discovers she's pregnant, Mizuno incorrectly believes he might not even be the father of the baby.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Mizuno gets jealous when he sees Nao Masamichi, a guy from Sasamoto's advanced class, talking to Hiyori (and calling her by her first name) and when Hiyori agrees with her friend that Masamichi is handsome. It is only later that he has to come to terms with his feelings or fears another guy might ask Hiyori out before him.
  • Happily Married: In the end of the last chapter, some years in the future, Sasamoto and Hiyori get married.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • When Hiyori finds out Mizuno has feelings for Kotone, she quickly cheers him on and hopes that they get together.
    • Sasamoto breaks up with Hiyori because he knows he can't stop looking after Kotone and knows it'll only make Hiyori sad, and he wants her to be happy.
    • Both Mizuno and Kotone eventually let Hiyori and Sasamoto be together, especially when a pregnancy and a miscarriage forces Hiyori to switch school and nearly forces Sasamoto to get expelled.
  • Long-Distance Relationship:
    • Subverted by Masamichi, who tells Sasamoto that he is in a long distance relationship but later admits to Hiyori that his girlfriend left him and never returned after he found her cheating on him, and he's been waiting for her ever since.
    • Sasamoto and Hiyori for eight months in Chapter 28 Extra.
  • Love Dodecahedron
  • Love at First Sight: It's implied that this is how Sasamoto met and started liking Hiyori, having returned her cell phone when she dropped it in the hallway during middle school.
  • Love Hurts
  • Match Maker Crush:
    • Subverted. Sasamoto liked Hiyori about a year before he started helping her with Mizuno.
    • In the time that Hiyori still had feelings for Mizuno, Mizuno assumed Sasamoto and Hiyori liked each other and left them alone in the amusement park so they could spend some time together. In Chapter 11, Mizuno starts developing feelings for Hiyori.
  • Moment Killer: Kotone is often one when it comes to Sasamoto and Hiyori.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Masamichi with his girlfriend. Sasamoto and Hiyori subvert this in the end.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A feverish Sasamoto and Hiyori nearly share an almost kiss in Chapter 3 when Mizuno and Kotone walk in the room to visit him. Mizuno naturally is convinced they had interrupted them kissing.
  • Official Couple: Sasamoto and Hiyori. Shiro no Eden, Yoshioka Ririko's other manga, indicate that Masamichi and Kotone are dating as well.
  • Red Herring: Double subverted. Masamichi is very concerned for Kotone and often looks after her, and one would think the author plans to Pair the Spares. Sasamoto even lampshaded this when he thought Masamichi liked Kotone and thought he would have been good for her. Masamichi claims to have a long-distance relationship, but it turns out he had a clingy, needy girlfriend that acted similarly to Kotone, and when he caught her cheating on him, he yelled at her and left. When he returned to apologize, she was gone and never came back, and since then he had regretted not being able to apologize to her or to tell her goodbye. In Shiro no Eden, a recent manga of Yoshioka Ririko, Masamichi is a recurring character and it's hinted that Kotone and he are dating.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Kotone towards Sasamoto/Hiyori.
  • School Idol: Mizuno was this in middle school. During high school, he starts ditching classes and his attitude sours because his relationship with Kotone is on the rocks.
  • Second Love: Sasamoto for both Hiyori and Kotone, Hiyori for both Sasamoto and Mizuno.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mizuno for Sasamoto/Hiyori. Hiyori for Mizuno/Kotone. In Chapter 11, Hiyori's and Mizuno's friends ship Mizuno/Hiyori and purposely set up a group hangout at the pool and later Hiyori's house to get them together.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: How the plot kicks off with Hiyori's initial crush on Mizuno.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Hiyori gets pregnant by Mizuno and suffers a miscarriage.
  • Three Amigos: Mizuno, Sasamoto, and Kotone. Sasamoto, Masamichi, and Kotone.
  • Time Skip: The series goes through the characters' third year of middle school to their first year of high school. In the end of Chapter 28, several years have passed and Sasamoto and Hiyori are said to be nearing their wedding. In the extra chapter following this, it instead skips to eight months after Sasamoto and Hiyori are reunited.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Mizuno develops into this during high school.
  • Unwanted Harem: Kotone. Whenever she goes anywhere, guys always crowd her and ask her out.
  • Yandere: Kotone. Just Kotone. She gets better.