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Manga / Last Game

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Last Game is a shoujo manga by Shinobu Amano, which was serialized in LaLa from 2011 to 2016 and compiled into 11 volumes.

Naoto Yanagi has it all. He's smart, handsome, rich, and popular with everyone around him. He's the king of his world, and it's all his for the taking. However, his world becomes completely dominated by the quiet and plain Mikoto Kujou, who turns out to be better than him at everything from grades to sports. From then on a serious - that is to say, seriously one-sided - rivalry erupts between Yanagi and Kujou as he becomes obsessed with beating her.

From their elementary school years to high school, they play this game. Well, he plays it, she never notices, to Yanagi's lasting frustration, which eventually leads to him concocting a diabolical plan—he'll beat her by making her fall in love with him only to reject her when she confesses. This works about as well as everything else he tries. By the time they enter college, he's still following her and eventually decides to play a "last game" with her: if he can put a ring on her right ring finger, then he wins. As the game goes on, though, he realizes that he may actually feel something more for Kujou and slowly starts to fall in love with her.

It's too bad that Kujou is Oblivious to Love and Yanagi Cannot Spit It Out.

The series is licensed in English by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the first volume scheduled for a May 2023 release.

Tropes from this Manga:

  • The Ace: Yanagi was smart, handsome, rich, and popular with everyone around him during his elementary school years (and he still kind of is as an adult). Kujou is able to outdo him, in nearly every contest.
  • Always Second Best: Souma's resentment towards Yanagi early on is a result of him resenting Yanagi's upbringing and wealth, feeling that he's coasting off of an easy life. Kujou ends up shutting down this belief. Later on, his resentment transitions to them both having feelings Kujou and Souma's realization that he is destined to be the Romantic Runner-Up.
  • Bait-and-Switch Sentiment: Kujou's answer when Tachibana probes her on her feelings for Yanagi at the end of Chapter 17. Kujou bluntly states that she likes him, only to follow up with how she likes the rest of their college circle, too. Tachibana, on the other hand, is in disbelief that someone would say such a thing in "real life."
  • Berserk Button: Damaging any of the the Astronomy Club's material makes nice club president Miyabe rather scary.
  • Betty and Veronica: Interestingly, Yanagi and Souma think the other is the Betty to Kujou. Yanagi and Kujou are childhood friends and Yanagi knows everything about Kujou and is an integral part of her life. Shouma and Kujou are similar economic status, they're on a first name basis and Kujou tends to go to Souma for advice. This is the major source of jealousy and tension between the two.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Souma acts like an all around Nice Guy but is actually quite petty and a jerk underneath it all.
    • At first glance Tachibana is the ideal pretty, polite, and charming young woman straight out of a dude's dreams. The key words there being "ideal" and "dream", as Shiori points out since nobody is that perfect unless they're putting up an act. Sure enough, Tachibana quickly proves to be petty, scheming, jealous, and vain when behind closed doors.
  • Break the Haughty: His entire childhood with Kujou was this for Yanagi. From a mix of her just dominating him in everything and seeing her living conditions changed from him from a brat that would happily throw around his family's name and money to solve his problems to someone that plays down his money and happily uses it for his friends.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Yanagi has trouble admitting his feelings for Kujou, who in turn takes one confession as a proclamation of friendship instead.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: After Yanagi starts avoiding her due to mistakenly thinking she was hooking him up with her classmate, Kujou tries to brush it off by thinking to herself that's she's glad Yanagi isn't around to bug her anymore. Seeing them together though makes her realize how much she'd come to depend on Yanagi and expect his company. He was her only friend and the though of not having him around anymore threw her into a funk.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Kujou. Her strength at times has hit superhuman levels.
  • Chick Magnet: Both Yanagi and Souma count.
  • Childhood Friends: Kujou and everyone else thinks she and Yanagi have been close friends ever since they were kids because he was the only one to ever hang out with her, to the point that he has her mom's phone number in his cell and automatically knows what drink she'll order at a cafe. Yanagi disagrees, maintaining that it was all part of his ruse for revenge until hit by his love epiphany.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kujou who slowly opens up to more people as she learns to interact and make friends.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kujou's father died in an accident when she was a toddler.
  • Everyone Can See It: As far as everyone they know are concerned, it's an open secret that Yanagi and Kujou are practically dating and just haven't realized it.
  • Glory Seeker: Yanagi kept seeking praise and rewards for his displays in his childhood and teenage years, but spending several years with Kujou has calmed that down considerably.
  • Good Parents: Every set shown, though Yanagi's can be Amazingly Embarrassing Parents.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: While out and out love doesn't develop right away, seeing Yanagi with another girl does spark jealous emotions in Kujou that she didn't realize were there. Too bad she misidentifies romantic affection with friendship. Happens again when she catches Yanagi and Tachibana in an awkward situation, but again she fails to realize just what it is she's feeling.
  • I Hate Past Me: Don't remind Yanagi of his Spoiled Brat days. A grade school time capsule that contained a rant he wrote about beating Kujou makes him realize he was such a little prick back in his younger days.
  • Intentional Heartbreaker: This was the titular "Last Game" Yanagi planned to play with Kujou. Win at love: Get her to confess her love only to mercilessly rip her heart out. Fortunately for everyone involved it went as well as every other one-sided competition between them ever went.
  • Holding Hands: The most common way Yanagi and Kujou show affection, dating back to when they were in high school
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Even after Kujou realizes her feelings she refuses to confess to Yanagi due to this trope. Justified due to a hilarious bit of Laser-Guided Karma. Yanagi used to flaunt his girlfriends to Kujou to make her jealous and when the relationship would eventually deteriorate, he and his girlfriend would never speak again. This left Kujou with the impression that that's how he would treat her and she didn't want to be abandoned.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Yanagi is often incredibly insecure about dating Kujou, before and after they start dating. Part of it is that Kujou is ruthlessly practical to the point of being insensitive, part of it is that Kujou is bad at communicating so Yanagi doesn't know what she's thinking.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Zigzagged with Souma. He wants Kujou to be happy and knows that Yanagi is the one that will eventually win the Love Triangle, so he helps set them together. Then he realizes that he at least wants to try and confesses to Kujou despite knowing it won't work. When he's properly rejected, he falls back into this trope and is simply happy to see her happy.
  • Last-Name Basis: Kujou and Yanagi. It's more out of habit, as seen when they try to call each other by their first names for the first time, they promptly go back to addressing each other by their surnames (mainly because Kujou forgot).
  • Lemony Narrator: The captions can get very snarky especially when dealing with Kujou and Yanagi
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Kujou and Yanagi. Part of how Everyone Can See It.
  • Moment Killer: Take a shot every time Kujou and Yanagi almost kiss or confess, only to be interrupted. In the later chapters, Yanagi has come to expect this.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Downplayed and Played for Laughs, but Kujou's mother, Miwa, who is a Shipper on Deck for both her daughter and Yanagi, also makes several cracks that she wishes she was younger so that she could be the one to hook up with him. Also, humorously enough, Yanagi ends up on First-Name Basis with Miwa before he even does with Kujou.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Yanagi is Kujou's love interest, but he'll always be second to her mother. Unusual for this trope, the relationship is treated as unhealthy as Kujou sacrificed her school years for filial duty, something that left her without friends or social skills.
  • No Social Skills: Kujou's Oblivious to Love nature is part of a larger problem of being unable to correctly interpret or react to social situations due to a lifetime of simply not caring to make relationships.
  • Oblivious to Love: All of Yanagi's early attempts to seduce Kujou fall flat because absolutely nothing registers as romantic with her. In fact, romance in general among all people is something she fails to comprehend since, until recently, she just didn't get people at all. Unless it's blatantly spelled out for her, Kujou interprets all non-familial relationships as filial since it's thus far the only other type of human connection she has learned to identify.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Both Yanagi and Kujou are terrible at communicating. Kujou does not get subtext and is often confused by Yanagi being Tsundere. Yanagi can't always read Kujou because she's so stoic and lets his insecurities get to him. It often takes a 3rd party to explain what's going on.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Both Souma and Tachibana enter a Love Triangle with Yanagi and Kujou knowing from the get-go that they're at a disadvantage. In Souma's case, he even acknowledges that he is kind of doomed from the start.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: When pissed, Miyabe's glasses become this.
  • Sexy Man, Instant Harem: Invoked by Fujimoto and the Tennis circle to gather a large amount of people for sales during festivals or to gain club members.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Kujou never really cared about romance or boys before realizing that she was in love with Yanagi.
    • Yanagi towards Kujou too. He only dated other girls to deny his feelings for her, but eventually admits it can't be anyone but her.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A Played for Laughs example. It takes Yanagi ten whole years to realize that this is basically what his following Kujou all their lives amounts to. Fortunately, his fake/repressed behavior kept anyone from realizing it. To Yanagi's credit, he's disgusted with his own actions after coming to terms with his feelings. And even after he realizes his feelings, he still has a tendency of following Kujou around if he feels some boy is getting too close to her.
  • The Stoic: Kujou is usually reserved and unflappable. But...
    • Not So Stoic: There are times when even she can't keep calm and assess the situation. When she received news that her mother was in a non-fatal accident her usual composure crumbled and allowed Yanagi to see that she wasn't truly an ice queen without feelings.
  • Tsundere:
    • Yanagi is generally laidback and nice to everyone, but whenever he's around Kujou (and later Souma), he loses his cool. Becomes a source of embarrassment for him after reading a letter he placed in a time capsule during grade school, which causes Yanagi to realize he's been a Tsundere for ten freaking years without realizing it.
    • Souma is one too. Rather hilariously, his father is one too.
  • Twice Shy: Especially in later chapters, Yanagi and Kujou would be thinking the same thing, but too shy to say anything.
  • Unknowingly in Love
  • Unknown Rival: Yanagi's childhood rivalry is entirely on his end. A rare positive example as Yanagi's obsession meant that he became her friend when she would have otherwise been alone.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Yanagi and Souma, eventually.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Tachibana finds out the hard way that Souma is perfectly willing to strike the opposite sex when he punches her over the head to keep her from interfering in Kujou and Yanagi's relationship via using him as a third wheel.