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Manga / Mars (1996)
aka: Mars

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Kira Aso is a Shrinking Violet student in the art club with a reputation for disliking men, when she shows any emotion at all. Rei Kashino is her polar opposite, a Delinquent who races motorcycles instead of worrying about his grades and has a reputation for being a shameless playboy. They meet one day in a park when Rei is searching for a clinic and asks Kira for directions. Kira draws him a map on a page from her sketchbook, not knowing that there's an important (and beautiful) sketch on the other side of the sheet.

Rei becomes interested in the mysterious Kira and begins to half-heartedly pursue her. She resists at first, but after he comes to her aid against bullies and shows her he's not the Jerk Jock playboy she stereotyped him as, they tentatively become a couple. Not all is well in budding-teen-romance-land, however, for both Rei and Kira have skeletons in their closets. Rei is estranged from his only surviving family member and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder over his twin brother Sei's suicide; Kira has very good reasons for her pathological shyness and dislike of men, and her family is fragile at best. They have to work out their respective problems as well as face a series of romantic antagonists who seem hell-bent on destroying their relationship. The road to Happily Ever After is fraught with dangers on all sides, the likes of which normal Japanese teenagers only ever read about in manga.


MARS (マース, Maasu) is a shojo romance manga by Fuyumi Soryo. It was serialized from 1996 to 2000 in Bessatsu Friend. The series was compilied into fifteen volumes. It was originally released in English by Tokyopop. Kodansha would rescue the series, re-releasing it in its entirity in 2019 as ebooks.

A prequel volume called Mars: A Horse With No Name (MARS外伝 名前のない馬, MARS Gaiden Namae no Nai Uma) was released in 1999. Tokyopop translated this as well.

In 2004, the series was adapted into a Taiwanese live-action drama. The drama ran for twenty-one episodes. In 2016, a Japanese adaptation aired under the name Mars: Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru! ( MARS〜ただ、君を愛してる〜, "Mars: But, I Love You!"). A film of the same name that concluded the series ran in theaters later that same year.


See Eternal Sabbath for another work by Fuyumi Soryo.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Kira's step-dad raped her when she was in the 8th grade and Rei's biological mom isolated him and his brother and tried to kill him before he was even six.
  • Affair Letters: Between Rei's mom Shouko and the deceased brother of Takayuki, Rei and Sei's father. Discovering these and reading through them is how Rei finds out that he and Sei are not his dad's biological children.
  • Affair? Blame the Bastard: How Rei thinks his father Takayuki has acted towards him and Sei once he learns the truth about their parentage. While Takayuki can't say he never felt some resentment towards the kids, his supposed ill feelings towards Rei and Sei have been intentionally blown out of proportion by Shoko.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with. Rei is extremely popular in his high school and outside of it. However, his sometimes violent and borderline sociopathic tendencies scares Harumi away and becomes a major point of division between him and Kira.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Harumi argues this point (along with All Women Are Lustful) with Kira when she's attempting to convince Kira that she wasn't Defiled Forever by her rape.
    Harumi: If you're dirty, what in this world isn't?! All the men are skeevy, and all the girls are selling themselves to those skeevy men. Guys roam around town just waiting for girls to hit on them.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Happens to Kira and Rei several times throughout the story with Masao who is a sociopath obsessed with Rei. This proves to be a very bad idea when Masao attempts to kill them both after isolating them.
  • Alpha Bitch: Harumi is a particularly violent variation of this at first as she manipulates the female classmates to bully and ostracize Kira when Rei starts showing more attention to Kira.
  • Always Identical Twins: Rei and Sei are identical with only mannerisms being the thing that differentiates them.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Rei trying to get to the bottom of Kira's hostility and horror at being intimate with him past just a simple kiss asks the question that the story has heavily foreshadowed since it's start: "Who raped you?"
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Kira's response to the above question shocks the usually unflappable Rei: " father." Also serves as Dropping the Bombshell since there was zero indication before this moment that this would be her response given that her father had died before the story began, Kira seemed to have good memories of her father, and the step-father she is actually talking about had not yet been introduced or even mentioned in the story proper.
  • Art Shift: When the scenery becomes the focus of a page or panel, it's in a style that suggests silver-process photography with the contrast blown out, rather than conventional manga-style background.
  • A Shared Suffering: Kira believes that the reason why even when she didn't really know him, she couldn't bring herself to hate Rei is because she could see that he too had experienced true despair.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Saying Shoko and Takayuki's marriage was strained would be a severe understatement, given her infidelity with Takayuki's younger brother, her hatred of being married to Takayuki, and her mental instability after Akihiko dies.
  • Axes at School: Masao brings a knife to school with the intent of stabbing Kira to death. Rei jumps in and takes the hit for her.
  • Backstory: A lot of it, and of the angsty variety, revealed in flashbacks. Justified since dealing with unaddressed trauma is a major component of the story.
  • Bachelor Auction: For the School Festival, a date with Rei is put up as an auction item, despite Rei technically now dating Kira. He's not too pleased by it nor Kira's passive acceptance of it and the winner of the auction is Rei's former junior high classmate and ex, Shiori.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Downplayed. Rei picks up betting on billiards games after school as another source of income. Masao tracks him down and plays against him, with him getting 1 hour of Rei's time should Masao win. While Rei isn't an outright bad guy, Masao certainly is and the two playing against each other highlights the darkness they share. Notably, Masao wins.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: On their way to Rei's place, Kira and Masao come across a group of guys flinging rocks at a cat using a sling shot. When Kira intervenes, one of the guys slaps her across the face, leading to a fight breaking out.
  • Beta Couple: Harumi and Tatsuya, best friends of Kira and Rei respectively, who hook up later on in the series. Their relationship isn't focused on that much and is lampshaded in universe as being more casual than Kira and Rei's.
  • Big Fancy House: Rei's father's house is like this, to the point of awkwardness. Rei, on the other hand, lives in a crappy apartment in a bad side of town.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    • The Kashino family, which includes extramarital affairs with family members, attempted murder, multiple suicides, and a history of mental disorders. Provides fodder for most of the Reveals, Backstory, and Character Development.
    • The Aso family is much, much smaller but about as screwed up due to Kira's step-father being a pedophilic sexual assaulter and abusing her.
  • Break the Cutie: Inverted. Both Kira and Rei are already psychologically broken in their own ways due to their different sources of childhood and adolescent trauma. Part of the story is them learning how to cope and heal.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Happens twice:
    • The first time happens when Shiori shows up. Kira's the one who ends things as she feels that Rei's avoiding Shiori, and any potential feelings he still has for her, as a way to also avoid coming to terms with Sei's suicide. She just wants him to heal; whether that includes her is of lesser importance.
    • The second time occurs after Kira decides to accept moving back in with her abusive step-father and mother, this time initiated by Rei, who is frustrated by his inability to help or fix her situation. He thinks it'll be easier on both of them, rather than them struggling together.
  • Broken Tears: Kira cries the most throughout the story, usually if it's related to her and Rei breaking up or her trauma. Rei, uncharacteristically, also joins in later on as he struggles to deal with the obstacles to his and Kira's relationship.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Before being introduced in the story, Rei had actually saved Masao from being beaten to death by a gang he was a member of. He didn't remember this without being reminded by Masao because he was merely trying to blow off steam.
  • Chastity Couple: What Rei and Kira are for a large part of the series to the surprise of all other characters given Rei's reputation. It has everything to do with Kira's aversion to men.
  • Choke Holds:
    • Rei strangles Masao, first to just intimidate him, but he gets caught up in the act so much that he only stopped because a window nearby broke.
    • Masao also tries strangling Kira to death on the roof of the hospital Kira's mother is staying in. She fights back, forcing him to change tactics.
  • Cigarette Burns: As part of the bigger mind game they seem to be engaged in, Rei tests just how far gone Masao is by asking Masao for his hand to use as an ashtray. Masao emotionlessly complies without hesitation.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • Harumi, Rei's former hook up buddy who clearly wanted to be something more to him, who even threatens Kira at first. She gets better, and after working through her issues, ends up as Kira's best friend.
    • Rei's other first girlfriend, who claims she would rather die than be without him and then attempts to prove it.
  • Conveniently Seated: This is a shoujo manga so naturally Kira and Rei's seats in class are next to each other, which makes Rei remember Kira was the girl he met the other day.
  • Cry into Chest: Kira ends up doing this when finally explaining her trauma to Rei.
  • Cycle of Revenge: This is what Rei advocates to Kira when he first catches her being bullied by the other girls in school. Kira responds that if she kept retaliating, then they'd just end up killing each other. Rei's response? A bone chilling, "So what?"
  • A Deadly Affair: Averted in the case of Akihiko who dies in an unrelated racing accident and mostly played straight with Shoko, though it isn't the pain of the affair itself that makes her take her life as it is the pain of having to live on when Akihiko is dead.
  • Deceptive Legacy:
    • When asked, Takayuki tells Rei that his mother died from acute leukemia and even has Rei's psychiatrist help him mask the truth that Shoko hung herself after trying to kill both him and his brother Sei in a botched Murder-Suicide attempt and that Rei and Sei found her body. This is done to protect Rei and help him cope by making him forget the entire episode.
    • Overlapping with Insidious Rumor Mill, Rei comes to realize over the course of the story that his mom successfully convinced him that Takayuki was a cold man who didn't really love him. Talking to him, Takayuki's assistant, his psychiartrist, and just seeing the lengths the older man is wiling to go to help him and Kira helps him realize the truth.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Hamazaki, a thug upperclassman, tries to torture Rei after he storms into a senior classroom. This does not go as planned, with Rei easily thrashing Hamazaki and all of his friends. Once Rei returns from suspension, Hamazaki apologizes and becomes a friend to Rei and Kira, even going by personal nicknames like, "Hama," going to cheer Rei on in the Suzuka 8-hour endurance race, and giving Kira and her mother a discount when his family's company handles their move.
    • In a more symbolic example, Harumi and Kira become best friends after Kira finally stands up for herself and Rei makes it explicit that he has no interest in Harumi. This is later invoked when Shiori enters the picture, tries to get back with Rei, and Kira passively accepts it. In Harumi's words, she did not give up on Rei just so Shiori could have him.
  • Despair Gambit: Eventually what Masao ends up running with the hope that removing Kira from the picture permanently will make Rei revert back to his more violent and careless past self.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Rei learns the hard way that his typical impulsiveness and lack of care regarding consequences just isn't going to cut it anymore. In particular, Rei tries to protect Kira from her pedophilic step-father by single-handedly supporting her, even going so far as to drop out of school, moving in with Kira, and asking her to marry him to gain legal guardian status. However, after the step-father threatens to report him to the police for kidnapping a minor since Kira remains legally under his guardianship, Rei realizes as a 17 yr old he lacks the authority to actually help her and begs for his father's help, despite saying he'd never ask him for anything again and trying desperately to sever all familial ties with the older man up until this point.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Masao killed his childhood friend who abused him so much, his torso is riddled with scars.
    • When Kira believes her serial abuser step-father is planning to rape her again, she bashes his head in with a nearby table clock.
  • Double Date: Once Harumi and Tatsuya hook up, they sometimes join Rei and Kira on group dates
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Shiori plays with this; it is part cry for attention, part atonement. Also, Rei saves her before she's killed.
    • Sei also commits suicide for a complex set of reasons revealed later in the story.
    • Kurasawa attempts this by jumping off the roof after he fails to receive any absolution from Rei for stealing Kira's art.
    • Rei and Sei's mother Shoko is revealed to have committed suicide when her children were young. They were the ones to find her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Escalated to an absurd level in the final volume, when Masao knifes Rei in the gut on the way to the party celebrating his marriage to Kira. He survives with little or no permanent injury, they get married, and everyone works out their emotional issues.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • At the end of the first volume, Harumi takes her bullying of Kira to a ridiculous level by preparing to smash Kira's fingers with a small barbell. Even though she doesn't follow through, it's a little jarring when they become friends with no mention of this incident.
    • Kira's mother takes back the stepfather who raped her daughter, which is sadly Truth in Television, as it's not unheard of for this to happen in real life.
  • Energetic and Soft-Spoken Duo: What Kira and Rei become as Kira is the Shrinking Violet and Rei is a Boisterous Bruiser. Also what Rei and Sei were due to Sei's introversion.
  • Entitled to Have You: Touched on when Harumi thinks the issue of whether she or Kira gets together with Rei will be determined by which one of them "wins" rather than what Rei wants.
    Harumi: I won't ever let Kira have you!
    Rei: <to himself> Give this, take that. What am I, a gift?
  • Escapism: Kira explains to Rei that because of her history of sexual assault, whenever she doesn't like someone, she imagines killing them in her head. Over and over again.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The general attitude of Kira and Rei's classmates. The fact that Kira and Rei, who have been dating for less than a year, have yet to have sex is constantly brought up, partially because Rei was a known flirt. Compare them to Harumi and Tatsuya, whose sudden Relationship Upgrade is revealed to Rei and the audience by Tatsuya telling Rei they've already done it.
  • Every Scar Has a Story:
    • Rei has a scar on his collarbone from when he broke it after getting into an accident while racing. And yet despite the obvious danger, he loves racing too much to even think about giving it up over threat of injury.
    • Masao's body is covered in scars from the brutal beatings his childhood friend Yuji gave him.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Kira's stepfather gets this treatment often lampshading his shadiness as her former abuser.
  • Face Fault: Realistic example. When Rei promises to protect Kira, he also jokingly offers to "lend [her his] body" if she feels like fooling around. As he's going down the stairs, Kira calls after him and asks him to lend her his body (to use as a model for her painting), causing Rei to slip and fall down the stairs in shock.
  • A Family Affair: Two significant ones: the first involves twin brothers Rei and Sei, and outsider Shiori; the second involves brothers Takayuki and Akihiko and outsider Shouko. See Love Triangle below.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Rei and Sei find out when they're younger that their dad isn't actually their biological father and their real dad is a man their mom had an affair with. What Rei finds out much later is that his legal dad is actually his biological uncle because his mom's affair partner was her husband's younger brother.
  • Forgotten First Meeting:
    • Rei didn't realize he had met Masao before and had even saved his life, in part because at the time Masao was being beaten into a bloody pulp so his face was unrecognizable.
    • Kira later tells Rei that they actually met prior to the beginning of the manga when they first started high school. Kira dropped her keys in the gutter and Rei fished it out for her, asking only for 1000 yen as payment. This is a bit of a Retcon as Kira mentions that she just couldn't bring herself to hate Rei even though he was everything she tried to avoid. The first chapter has Kira say, in no uncertain terms, that she does not like Rei at all.
  • Freak Out: Trying to confirm his suspicions about why Kira violently refuses any physical intimacy with him, Rei intentionally triggers Kira's trauma by touching her and restraining her when she has already said no. Kira's rather predictable response is this.
  • Get Out!: Takayuki shouts this at Shoko after he stops her from killing Rei as a child.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Even after Masao knifes Rei, nearly killing him, the authorities can't put him behind bars because he's legally a minor.
  • Hanging Around: Towards the end of the manga, Rei finally recalls that his mother committed suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom when he was a child and he and Sei found the body. Up until then, he suffers from Trauma-Induced Amnesia, which his father and therapist took advantage of to tell him that she died from acute leukemia.
  • Hates Being Alone: After her mom collapses from overwork and has to stay in the hospital, Kira, who up until she started dating Rei was almost always alone, tells him that she's afraid of being alone in the house in case the hospital calls with bad news. Rei's response to Kira's fears as he spends the night by her side? You Are Not Alone.
  • Hereditary Suicide: The story reveals that Rei and Sei's mother Shoko killed herself, making Sei's suicide fall under this. The story also goes to great lengths in showing that both Sei and Shoko were not quite right mentally, with Sei being The Sociopath and Shoko being a Yandere version of My Beloved Smother who had tried to kill both Sei and Rei when she was told she was going to be separated from them. Since Rei's own struggles with his mental health are a major theme of the story, it is heavily implied that these tendencies run in the family.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To support Kira, Rei swallows his pride, gives up racing motorcycles, and begs his father for help.
  • Hope Is Scary: What Rei communicates to Masao, who accuses Rei of avoiding him out of fear. As much as realizing he loves Kira gives him something to live for and care about, he also now has something to be afraid of losing.
  • I Am Not Your Father: In junior high, Rei found out that the man he thinks is his father, Takayuki, is not. He finds out years later that he is actually Rei's biological uncle and Rei's real father died before he was born.
  • I Can't Sense Their Presence: Kira thinks this after Masao catches her off guard, appearing behind her.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: This is often invoked by Rei (and Sei in the past) in order to test to see how much a person actually cares about him. Kira has never gotten it wrong.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: What Kira tells Rei when Rei almost kills Masao for trying to kill Kira and the main reason why she often stops him when he's going on a rampage.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Subverted. Takayuki wants Rei to be the next president of his company when he decides to step down and Rei is anything but interested. However, after trying to force Rei into the role fails, Takayuki gets over his reasonable fears of Rei pursuing a professional racing career and let's go of this wish.
  • Incompatible Orientation: When Masao confesses that he has feelings for Rei, Rei cannot return them even if he wanted to because he is not into guys.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Not really a villain, but Rei's father Takayuki is initially set up as an antagonist until it is eventually revealed that he's The Woobie of the first order.
  • Informed Ability: Mostly averted. Kira's art looks beautiful, but her greatest painting as it appears on the cover of the last volume is done in conventional alcohol-based marker manga style, rather than oils as stated in the text.
  • Insidious Rumor Mill: For most of his life, Rei was convinced his father Takayuki was a cold, unloving, father who did not care about him. When Takayuki finally makes an appearance in the story, he's awkwardly distant with Rei only because he knows how much Rei dislikes him. In reality, he's very understanding and is stern out of reasonable concern for Rei, what with Sei's suicide, Rei's mom's attempt at killing him and Sei before killing herself when the twins were young, and Rei's self-destructive tendencies and love of competitive motorbike racing. Rei comes to realize later that he first began to think of his dad as mean and cold because his mother used to tell him and Sei that all of the time when they were kids all because she was still in love with Takayuki's deceased brother Akihiko and resented being married to Takayuki.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The relationship that develops between Rei and Masao is complicated to say the least, as Masao is actively trying to connect to Rei from one sociopath to another. Rei is put off by this and tries to use violence to intimidate Masao to back off, but Masao is all too willing to accept the violence, since Rei embracing his more violent tendencies is a sign that he is leaning into the sociopathic tendencies he's trying to repress. Since both Rei and Masao are sadists, with Masao also exhibiting some masochistic tendencies, it's hard to even tell the extent to which both parties are fully aware of and intentionally engaging in this interplay, let alone how much of it is platonic.
  • Intimate Artistry: Kira and Rei become close over her sketching and painting sessions of him. Her asking him to model for her shirtless and him agreeing is a huge step in their relationship since 1) Rei doesn't like posing in general and 2) Kira showing interest in his body even for art is a lot since she is normally fairly chaste.
  • I Owe You My Life: Part of the reason why Masao likes Rei, as Rei intervened when Masao was being brutally beaten by his former gang, likely saving his life.
  • I Want Grandkids: Rei's father goes off on a brief tangent and says this, much to Rei's dismay.
    Mr. Kashino: I don't care how many you have, just start making babies!
  • Jerkass Victim: Rei may be prone to disproportionate acts of violence, but it's usually done in retaliation to someone hurting him or a loved one. Usually.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Neither of the two most notable men who sexually assault Kira in the series, Mr. Yoshioka or her stepfather face any lasting consequences for their actions. Mr Yoshioka quits as a teacher after Rei threatens him, but escapes without any further punishment or even a spot on his reputation, despite attempting to murder Rei. Kira's stepfather gets mildly beaten up and the fear of death put in him when he's dangled off the edge of an apart block roof, but aside from that nothing happens to him; Rei's father even offers him a substantial bribe to make him back off pressing charges and ultimately the closest thing he ever faces to a "punishment" is the fact that he'll never get the chance to rape Kira again.
    • Masao Kirishima basically gets off scott-free as well, despite being a complete sociopath who murdered at least one person in the past and attempted to kill two others over the course of the story.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Despite absolutely terrorizing Kira and Rei for weeks on end, Masao claims to not even know who Rei is at the end of the manga. Whether this is true or not is left to interpretation.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: On the rebound, Rei tries to hook up with a random girl and finds that he is no longer able to.
  • Lonely Together: When Rei freaks out after Kira accepts living with her mother and abusive step-father, Tatsuya tries to get Rei to sympathize with Kira's plight by telling him that Kira's mom is all she has left and turning her back on her would leave Kira all alone. Rei shouts back "I'm alone, too!" all but saying that he expected their relationship to be this trope
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Given the amount of baggage Rei has, it would make sense for Kira to feel this way. But it's Rei who ends up (temporarily) feeling this way once he realizes the depth of Kira's trauma.
  • Love Redeems: Though the story is far more complex than just this trope, this is a significant part of Rei's and Kira's relationship, as Rei seeks to better himself in order to better protect Kira.
  • Love Triangle: Par for the genre.
    • Kira (eventually) likes Rei who (eventually) likes her back, but feels mild guilt because his best friend Tatsuya has liked Kira since middle school. Moreover, every girl loves Rei.
    • Rei and Sei's mother, Shoko, was really in love with Takayuki's younger brother Akihiko and had an affair with him leading to the conception of the twins, despite being married to Takayuki.
    • Rei's former junior high classmate Shiori makes an appearance, during which we learn that she's his ex, who was originally dating Sei, before Rei put the moves on her and she broke up with Sei for him.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Rei and Sei are legally Takayuki's children, but everyone except the kids themselves knows they're actually his brother Akihiko's.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Masao. Manipulates his way out of psychiatric care and close enough to Rei to put a knife between his ribs. The final scene in which he claims not to remember Rei is chilling.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Partially averted- Kira has her back to the reader to provide just enough cover while Rei is covered from the hips down after their first time.
  • More Experienced Chases the Innocent: Rei is the Big Man on Campus, a Chivalrous Pervert to his female classmates and a general playboy who goes from one sex friend to the other with little care. Kira on the other hand is a Shrinking Violet who is treated as the Creepy Loner Girl because of her blatant aversion to men. While Rei pursues Kira at first more out of friendly curiosity than genuine romantic interest, that slowly changes over time as does Kira's feelings towards him. This dynamic is later complicated with the reveal of Kira's extensive history of sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father. The trauma she suffers has bred a deep-rooted cynicism about the selfishness of people in Kira as well as a fear that she is Defiled Forever.
  • Murder by Suicide: What Masao tries to attempt with Kira by forcing her to jump off a building or risk beng stabbed to death. When she doesn't comply, he switches his plan and tries to kill her outright, only to be interrupted by Rei.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: If you take Masao's confession of love for Rei to be somewhat genuine, then his actions towards Kira are this.
  • Only Friend: After her Heel–Face Turn, Harumi becomes this to Kira because her Shrinking Violet personality left her isolated in school.
  • On the Rebound: What Rei tries to do after he abruptly ends things with Kira, but he realizes this no longer satisfies him as he is still deeply in love with Kira.
  • Pair the Spares: Harumi and Tatsuya, who have previously shown interest in Rei and Kira only to be rejected (in Tatsuya's case, it was without Kira even being aware) begin dating later on in the story.
  • Parents as People: One of the themes of the story is that the adults are just as mixed up and vulnerable as the teenage main cast.
    • Rei's father Takayuki admits that he was so jealous of how beloved his younger brother was that he almost let him drown as a kid. He's also awkward and unable to effectively communicate with Rei to the point that he has his secretary do most of the communication on his behalf.
    • Rei's mother Shoko was mentally unwell and in love with her brother in law, Akihiko.
    • Kira's mother is a single mom struggling to work enough to support her daughter's dreams of attending art college for her clear talent. She ends up taking back Kira's step-father who raped the young girl in order to ease her burden and potentially help Kira financially.
  • Parental Abandonment: What Rei and Takayuki believe to be behind the reason Shoko killed herself. Specifically, they believe that she decided she would rather be with her dead lover Akihiko than be alive and taking care of his children, who grow to look like him more and more each day.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Rei was always very active and prone to getting himself into trouble while Sei was quiet, artistic, and something of a crybaby. And then the real reason it turned out they were opposites was that while Rei had it in him to be well-adjusted, Sei was actually a sociopath who placed no value in human life aside from him and Rei.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Masao flashes these whenever he drops the innocent act, flashing one when Rei begins sadistically threatening a guy to choose between him blinding him or cutting his nose off and another when Rei calls out his Crocodile Tears.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Kira learns from her art teacher that Rei did not like having his picture taken, something that several interested female students tried to do in the past to keep as personal mementos. This is why the teacher is initially surprised that Rei even agreed to model for her once, let alone repeatedly.
  • Rape as Backstory: Why Kira Does Not Like Men, courtesy of her step-father.
  • Rejected Apology: Kurasawa receives one of these from Kira when he tries to talk to Kira to explain why he felt like he had no choice but to steal Kira's work. Rei is having none of Kurasawa's self-pity.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Harumi and Tatsuya eventually begin dating, having just been the closest friends of the Kira and Rei separately.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Masao does this when talking to Rei about how much he enjoyed watching Yuji bleed out and plead for his life.
  • The Reveal: Several. Most notably:
    • Kira's aversion to men comes from her step-father raping her multiple times when she was younger.
    • Rei and Sei's mother tried to kill them before killing herself when they were children.
    • Sei was insane and killed himself as a way to hurt Rei and hopefully drive Rei to kill himself, too.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Reading the manga again knowing The Reveal about how Sei died makes you wonder just how sincere he was when discussing his own frailty and how much of it was him manipulating Rei into becoming an aggressive over-protector.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Kira's sexually abusive step-dad says "The only adult thing about teens is their bodies" when he's confronted on the rooftop, he's only saying this to both, manipulate Kira to go back to him by saying teens aren't ready to live on their own, and to justify himself as technically not a pedophile but he's sadly right and the couple ends up depending on Rei's father.
  • Sadistic Choice: Both Rei and Masao are fond of offering these to their victims, highlighting their shared sociopathic tendencies. For example, Rei tells a guy to choose which he would prefer: having his nose cut off or his eye stabbed.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Eventually played straight. Kira initially wants nothing to do with Big Man on Campus Rei because of his reputation as The Casanova and Delinquent. But Rei shows that he's a lot more complicated than that, which makes Kira fall in love with him.
  • School Festival: Par for the genre, one is put on soon after Rei has his important motorbike race and includes a date auction.
  • Second-Act Breakup: Rei breaks up with Kira in frustration after she moves back in with her abusive step-father.
  • Sex Is Good: Discussed by Rei to Tatsuya when it becomes apparent that Kira is uncomfortable being physically intimate with him.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Inverted. Rei can have just about any girl he wants but the one person he's in love with justifiably Does Not Like Men and Hates Being Touched.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Masao stalks both Kira and Rei—Rei because he saved him in the past and Kira because of her personality. Of course, it doesn't stop him from trying to kill them both.
  • Suicidal Sadistic Choice: Masao offers one to Kira: jump off a building or get stabbed to death.
  • Suicide Is Painless: Sei throws himself off the roof with a wan smile on his face. Rei is left looking at a corpse that looks just like him.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: In a bit of a callback to the first time she asks for Rei's help as her model, Kira later asks Rei to model for her shirtless, however she phrases it more like she wants him to take it all off for her, to which Rei is stunned into silence, assuming she is uncharacteristically coming on to him, and Kira has to later clarify.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Definitely leans into this with just how much unsettling and violent behavior that some of the younger characters exhibit. Harumi, Rei, Sei, and Masao all do some pretty horrifying things despite being under 18.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Rei has to learn about both his father and mother, the latter being unusual for the trope.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, as Rei and Masao did get regular treatment, but it doesn't do anyone much good.
  • Their First Time: After Kira runs away from home thinking she may have killed her stepfather she and Rei have sex for the first time. Everyone is surprised it didn't happen a lot sooner, given Rei's reputation as The Casanova.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Rei and Sei.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Masao feels no empathy or remorse over the fact he killed his former bully, tries to kill Kira, almost kills Rei. He also skillfully lies to and manipulates his psychologists in order to be released sooner.
    • Part of Rei's character development is in him overcoming this tendency of his own personality. Masao becomes a main antagonist in the story because he wishes to bring this part of Rei's personality out more, not less. Both Masao and Sei act as foils to reflect the kind of person Rei could become without his friends and Kira.
    • And then there's Sei, who is revealed to have been one himself, going so far as to kill himself in order to get back at Rei.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The only characters who seem to be exempt seem to be Harumi and Tatsuya.
    • Kira's father dies when she is young, her new step-father rapes her for most of her adolescence giving her PTSD and an aversion to male physical contact as well as a Shrinking Violet personality, and she becomes a loner with no friends, which is exploited by a teacher who tries to molest her. When she finally starts connecting with someone, a guy no less, a jealous former partner tries to crush her fingers as Kira is also a talented artist. And this is all within the first volume.
    • Rei's mother dies when he was only a kid. Actually, she killed herself after failing to kill him and his twin brother out of a misguided attempt to protect them. He's later shipped off to America for a while with his brother where they are bullied by a racist kid. When they return to America, Rei finds out their father is actually their biological uncle and their mom killed herself all those years ago because her lover (Rei and Sei's actual father) died tragically in a racing accident. He tells this to Sei who promptly commits suicide in front of him. And that's all backstory to the plot of the main story.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Takayuki tells Kira that Rei is a lot like his biological father Akihiko, both in personality and in appearance. Rei's mom noticed this early on, which likely set her off on the dark turn she ended up taking. In the same conversation, Kira outright asks Takayuki if Sei was a lot like Rei and Sei's mother
  • Twins Are Special: Deconstructed. Rei and Sei were exceptionally close even from a young age, however this bond is rarely portrayed as healthy by other characters, since Sei openly treated Rei as a Living Emotional Crutch and in response Rei became a Knight Templar Big Brother who would go berserk on anyone that seemed to hurt him. As they get older, Rei begins to resent this dynamic and tries to create some distance between them by pettily revealing to Sei the nature of their parentage. Sei does not take it well and Rei spirals into destructive sociopathy blaming himself for Sei's death. It's only by meeting Kira that he even begins to get better and even then, it's an uphill battle.
  • Twin Test: Whenever an old photo featuring him and Sei pops up, Rei will ask Kira which one she thinks is him. Each time, Kira answers correctly and while doing so she is depicted with some form of Love Bubbles, indicating that her ability to pick him out is meaningful to Rei
  • Upper-Class Twit: Discussed, thought about, and averted. Takayuki wants Rei to work hard to be worthy of inheriting the family business, and Rei has a hard time schmoozing with successful businessmen, making him come off as this. In reality, he's more of a case of Brilliant, but Lazy, something those mocking him at the schmoozing events learn the hard way, when he deftly turns their insults back on them by declaring that, while he may be an idiot delinquent, at least he's not a sneering asshole.
  • Uptown Girl: Played with. Kira lives in a single parent household that appears to be towards the lower ends of middle class. Rei, however, lives in a sparsely furnished apartment and is constantly working odd jobs to make rent because he's estranged from his father. When he decides to finally reach out to his dad, we learn that refuses Rei is actually the son of a very wealthy CEO. His tour of his childhood home makes Kira a bit overwhelmed.]]
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Intentionally triggering what you believe to be your girlfriend's rape trauma by forcing yourself on her is a deeply messed up thing to do, Rei.
  • When She Smiles: Both Kira and Rei get this reaction. In Rei's case, it's because he's a version of a Stepford Smiler that mixes the empty and unstable types; when he begins to truly smile because of his relationship with Kira, he is likened to a little kid. In Kira's case, she was an Emotionless Girl, until being with Rei livened her up some.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Why does Takayuki disapprove of Rei racing motorcycles? Because Takayuki's brother Akihiko, incidentally the biological father of Rei and Sei, died in a particularly hideous car racing accident.
  • Yandere: The story offers several non-romantic examples that are crucial to the plot development and Rei's backstory and character development.
    • Rei and Sei's mother Shoko is so insane and so devoted to keeping her children safe that she tries to strangle them and commit suicide rather than be separated from them.
    • Masao, a young man who becomes obsessed with Rei as someone who can finally understand the depths of his sociopathy and disregard for human life, tries to kill Kira when he realizes her influence helps keep the darker aspects of Rei's personality at bay.
    • And arguably the most horrifying example, Rei's twin brother Sei, who committed suicide when the two were younger. Kira finds Sei's hidden suicide note in his old bedroom and learns that Sei was just as sociopathic as Masao; he just used his tears to manipulate Rei into doing his dirty work for him and therefore only valued Rei's life. When Rei "turned his maliciousness" to Sei by revealing to Sei they aren't their dad's biological sons, Sei decides to kill himself for the explicit purpose of psychologically scarring Rei, hoping it would force Rei into enough despair to commit suicide, too. Notably, Kira vows to never tell Rei about this and hides the note she found.
  • You Are Better Than You Think: What Kira is trying to get into Rei's head for the majority of the story. He doesn't agree because of his violent outbursts and lack of empathy for most people, but he tries for her
  • Younger than They Look: Rei's neighbor/landlord looks a scary man in his late twenties or thirties but is only nineteen, and really a very nice man.
  • You're Not My Father: How Rei feels about his own father due to feelings of estrangement and because Takayuki is legitimately not his biological father to the extent that he has moved out and lives on his own in a cheap apartment, working afterschool to afford rent
  • Your Worst Memory: Both Rei and Kira periodically have flashes back to some of the most traumatic moments they've experienced during the manga.

Alternative Title(s): Mars