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aka: Nana To Kaoru

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Aren't they cute?
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Nana Chigusa and Kaoru Sugimura have been neighbors and childhood friends for years, but they've started to drift apart in high school. Nana is an ace student and member of the student council, while Kaoru is a Beady-Eyed Loser and a slacker. But one day, an... incident occurs to shake up their relationship.

See, Kaoru, as it happens, has a... thing for BDSM. One day, his mother, fed up with the weird toys that Kaoru has been wasting his money on, steals all of them to get her son to study instead of spending his evenings jacking off. But since she can't keep them in their apartment (where he'll find them), she asks Nana to keep an eye on them. Nana, wondering what Kaoru has bought, looks through his stuff... and immediately pulls out a leather one-piece, which looks suspiciously close to her size. Intrigued, Nana tries on the suit... and locks it in the heat of the moment. Even worse, she doesn't have the key, so it must be in Kaoru's room...

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This is the beginning of Nana & Kaoru (ナナとカオル Nana to Kaoru), an Ecchi manga by Ryuta Amazume which ran from 2008 to 2016. It chronicles Nana and Kaoru's adventures in BDSM, from erotic posing and leash-wearing to bondage and blindfold play, and more. It isn't subtitled Nana and Kaoru's S&M Diary for nothing.

Interestingly, a sequel of sorts called Black Label chronicles Nana and Kaoru's experience during their summer vacation after graduating. Though it's set 8 months from the comic proper, was published side by side with the original manga. An interquel subtitled An oath written between S and M was released on November 11, 2018 for the same magazine, though really it's just the main story continuing under a fresh title for publication sakes.

Noteworthy for portraying BDSM as something complicated and careful if done willingly, requiring not only trust between the people involved but also preparations and care. Also notable in that it does this without sex ever happening or even being implied with the main romances (outside of the Black Label story there's not even any nudity). There is a break in the narrative at one point for depicting the sex life of an adult couple tangentially related to the main story, but despite the subject matter, it's a relationship/romance manga for the most part and not hentai.

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Later entries take place in slight Anachronic Order. To avoid Remember the New Guy?, Nana & Kaoru is best enjoyed in the following chronological order:

Nana & Kaoru (156 Chapters)
Nana & Kaoru: A Written Oath Between S & M (Chapter 1 to Chapter 7)
Nana & Kaoru: Black Label (45 Chapters)
Nana & Kaoru: A Written Oath Between S & M (Chapter 8 - ongoing)

The manga received an official release in English by Fakku beginning October 2022.

An OVA and a Live-Action Adaptation have been released, the trailer for the live action adaptation is up on the website.

Now with a shiny Character Page, please contribute.


This series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: Probably. Even Nana and Kaoru aren't sure if it happened or not. It's not actually shown whether or not it actually happened, but according to his following actions in the play, Kaoru seems quite sure that it has; Nana is only shown to touch lips afterwards. But as the end of chapter notes pointed out, the potential kiss wasn't the big movement in their relationship, it was Nana realizing she wouldn't have minded kissing Kaoru.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The live-action adaptation features a much more attractive Kaoru. By contrast, Nana is much less...curvy than she is in the manga, presumably because her body type isn't exactly common among Japanese women.
  • And Call Him "George": A very mild example. Nana anxiously hugs the puppy she's pet sitting to comfort herself when she hears what she believes to be Ryoko receiving a breather from Kaoru while she's been left by herself. Nana immediately lets go and apologizes when the puppy yelps in protest.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Double Subverted. Kaoru is cast to play the part of a woman in the school play, for which he has to wear a Playboy Bunny costume and a wig, solely because he'll make for a humorously dumpy and unattractive woman, and he does. But Nana ends up being called in to do his makeup, and that's not exactly how she ends up seeing it...
  • A Glass of Chianti: Part of Kaoru's dream in the first chapter is that he's cradling a glass of red wine.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: The emotions during their breather in chapters 57 to 61 finally get to Kaoru, causing him to face his feelings for Nana head on. Unfortunately, at the time, she had earplugs and a blindfold on.
    • Then in chapter Chapter 117: Ryoko nearly lets one out, and in chapter 118 discovers Kaoru will never be with her because he loves Nana too much.
  • Animal Motifs: Ryoko plays mischievous, disobedient kitty cat to Nana's obedient and loyal puppy dog. This gets rather explicit in chapters 68-70.
  • Ass Shove: One volume is dedicated to Nana and a suppository.
  • Author Appeal:
    • BDSM
    • Girls sticking their tongues out, usually as a sign that they're turned on or being mischievous.
    • There is not a panel, not a chapter, but an entire volume dedicated to asses. More specifically, Nana's ass.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Genitalia are blanked, except in excerpts from dirty magazines. Largely averted in Arashi.
  • Batman Gambit: Ryoko knows that Nana very badly wants to be given an important breather Kaoru has planned and ready, but also knows she's too proud and too shy to ask, especially in front of Ryoko herself. To lure her in, Ryoko first makes a show of arriving at Kaoru's apartment and entering when Nana can see her, and then begins to groan and bang on the walls loudly enough for Nana to hear. Sure enough, Nana is overcome by jealousy and anxious curiosity and quietly enters Kaoru's unlocked apartment to see what's going on, only to inevitably be caught by a waiting Kaoru and Ryoko as she enters the bedroom.
  • Beta Couple: Black Labels' Shuutarou Sarashina and Mitsuko Tachibana, to the point that they are foils to Kaoru and Nana. Both in temperment and in terms of their relationship
  • The Bet: Nana and Ryoko are about to race against each other at a major track and field event. Having spoken to Kaoru beforehand and knowing he is preparing a very big breather, Ryoko proposes a wager to Nana: The winner of the race gets to receive the breather from Kaoru. When the two fiercely run shoulder to shoulder to claim the inner lane, Ryoko slips and collides into Nana, causing both of them to fall and leaving the winner of the two indeterminate. Kaoru ends up giving the breather to both of them together.
  • The B Grade: Nana suffers this. Low-key though.
  • Betty and Veronica: Although there's never any question that Nana is Kaoru's true love, Nana and Ryoko nevertheless fulfull the dynamic, with Nana as the extremely feminine, demure, and kind Girl Next Door Betty and Ryoko as the confident, outgoing, and playful Veronica.
  • Bifauxnen: Ryoko starts out this way. Though later chapters make it more clearly she is in fact, a girl.
  • Big Damn Hero: Kaoru at the start of chapter 38/YA 16 saves Ryoko from a nasty fall... by using his own body to cushion the impact.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Nana and Kaoru share their first kiss near the end of Black Label while Nana is bound and suspended from the ceiling.
  • Big "NO!": Nana does this often to Kaouru's BDSM related requests. Just as often, she goes along with them anyway.
  • Blackmail: Ryoko gets a second "breather" from Kaoru by threatening to tell Nana how much work he puts into their sessions, which would show Nana how deeply Kaoru really feels for her.
  • Bland-Name Product: The "Moogle" search engine and a "Ricon" camera.
  • Blank White Eyes: Kaoru has some after drinking Nana's egg sake.
  • Bound and Gagged: Well, this is about BDSM after all...
  • Brains and Bondage:
    • Kaoru is this combined with Brilliant, but Lazy. While his grades are poor, he's surprisingly knowledgeable when it comes to BDSM, best shown when he gives his friends an analysis on the mechanics of anal play in Chapter 42. It speaks volumes that he was once Nana's academic rival before he started slacking off.
    • Nana, though she'd never admit the second part...in public.
    • Mitsuko, too. She graduated from Tokyo University, arguably the most prestigious school in Asia, and just happens to also run a sex store and is a confirmed, lifelong submissive.
  • Breast Attack: In Black Label when Kaoru and Nana go to a nearby river they find a girl catching fish with her bare hands and give it a go themselves. Nana succeeds only for the fish to escape and land in her cleavage. After failing to get it out herself, the girl slaps Nana's breasts together which causes the fish to fall through back into the river.
  • Buxom Is Better: In chapter one of the first volume Kaoru notes that Nana has very large breasts and calls her "a total knockout"; her breast size is commented upon by Those Two Guys as well.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Kaoru is afraid a confession would end the breathers. He's also absolutely terrified of any progress in his and Nana's relationship for the same reason. And he's initially convinced that she's going to leave him behind, so any progress would be useless.
    • As much as it is blatant, Nana's fascination with BDSM is something that she has a hard time putting into words. The last time Kaoru pressed the issue, all he got was a Luminescent Blush for the inquiry.
  • Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: In a contest of sorts to see who can make the other admit that they want a "breather" first, Nana eventually caves and does this when Kaouru gets up to leave, making a very elated Kaouru.
  • Cat Smile: During the major storm in Black Label, Kaoru cooks both her and himself some dinner with whatever was lying around. Nana compliments him while Kaoru tells her, "Stop" and hides his smiling face.
  • Character Development: Yes, BDSM can make for some absolutely adorable character development.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Volume 9 Chapter 64 before the 3000m race we see Nana's main opponent staring and thinking to herself "damn her and her huge breasts", at the end of the race it would have been a dead heat except for Nana's larger bust getting to the tape first
  • Chekhov's Skill: Kaoru's running becomes really important later on when he has to take a Diving Save to protect Ryoko, long after everyone's forgotten about it. He's not even winded by the run (although his shoulder is pretty banged up from the fall) while his unknown rival, the student council president, is openly exhausted and couldn't keep up. Considering the president is an all around perfect bishonen, and Kaoru is, well, not... character isn't the only thing that Kaoru is developing.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mitsuko Tachibana is introduced as just some porn shop manager, whom we later find out has an extensive knowledge of BDSM technique. In Black Label, she is introduced as Sarashima's sweetheart.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Played with for the Unlucky kind. Kaoru feels this way about Nana in general, but the breathers have given him a chance to connect with her, and the growing attraction each feels for the other could lead to an actual relationship down the road.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Kaoru. He tries to be as nice as possible to Nana as he eases her into more and more erotic territory.
    • One example involved Kaoru acting as if he left Nana and Ryoko, bound up alone in his room for hours. But he carefully watched the whole scene from a window ready to jump into action if anything went wrong. It's worth noting that he was waiting outside in winter weather, which was cold enough to make him sick.
    • He also starts working out and running after Nana has a scary run-in with a couple of shoplifters, just so he'll be better able to handle such situations.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Kaoru reluctantly participates in one in preparation for attending the summer festival in the countryside with Nana. Since Kaoru is too short for any available yukatas and didn't bring any dress clothes himself, he's forced to rely on childhood costumes from his host Sarashina. Kaoru tries on a full formal tuxedo, a loose open robe with only a fundoshi as pants, and a black school uniform with a gothic black cape coat, before finally deciding on a simple dress shirt and pants with sandals and a formal white cap.
  • Covers Always Lie: While there are plenty that are accurate, a number of covers seem to show Nana as the top.
  • Covert Pervert: Nana. Having Kaoru draw this side of her out is more or less the driving focus of the story.
  • Creator Cameo: Ryuuta Amazume can be heard in the OVA.
  • Crosscast Role: As part of Class 2-F's skit in the farewell party, Kaoru is made to wear a swimsuit and wig. Nana helps with his makeup. Alone, in a classroom, with him tied to a chair by the other students to keep him from running away. The role reversal is noted by Kaoru's narration.
    • Man in a Bikini: Well, it's a Playboy bunny-girl swimsuit (including ears), but the effect is the same. Kaoru gives not a single crap.
  • Cross-Popping Veins
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Averted, except for Ryoko's initial outburst; she complains about her limbs being numb after Kaoru unties her.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied when Kaoru moves the kotatsu into his room... and there's a box of tissues beside it.
  • Decompressed Comic: To the point where one twenty-page issue started at the beginning of a "breather" and ended after the first spank - out of ten. But it's mostly build-up for the massive amounts of fanservice.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Much of the bondage equipment Kaoru uses is designed to uncomfortably restrict the submissive, forcing them to feel a constant awareness of their body and giving them a sensation of great relief when removed. 'Rope dresses' are tied to press tightly against the submissive's breasts and vulva, gags force their mouths open or their tongues to hang out, 'pet clothing' locks their arms and legs in a folded position, forcing them to sit and move only on their knees and elbows. Kaoru is extremely careful to ensure that Nana and Ryoko only wear such clothing for short periods at a time, and only under his constant and direct supervision.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: In Chapter 18 Kaoru brings out a ball gag and then does an Info Dump about the different types of gag used in S&M including images which makes it seem to be directed only to the reader, then we get a Beat Panel of Nana giving him an odd look.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Played with — Nana isn't quite certain if she accidentally kissed Kaoru, but she does realize that she wouldn't have minded if she had, which was a far bigger realization overall.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • The reason Kaoru can't concentrate on his revision with Nana. At first, until the nipple clips are introduced.
    • A variation in Chapter 54, Nana keeps getting distracted by thinking about what Kaoru has in store for their next "Breather". At one point she's apparently been standing in the middle of the girls changing room with a big grin on her face for several minutes. At another, she misses a race starting without her.
  • Diving Save: In Chapter 37, Ryoko accidentally falls down a ledge but lucky for her Kaoru was there to break her fall. And we really do mean break her fall.
  • Double Subversion: The final arc double subverts the series' own premise of showing BDSM lovers as normal, well-adjusted human beings who practice Safe, Sane and Consensual sex for romantic purposes by finally introducing us to someone who is every bit the idea of the sociopathic, genuinely sadistic madman who will drug and kidnap someone in order to sexually torture them for his own pleasure. What makes this particularly poignant is that Nana falls for him precisely because, by then, she has already internalized the series' "message" and wasn't willing to believe him to be anything but a misunderstood loner.
  • Dragged into Drag: Nana has fun helping Kaoru dress up as a girl in a bunny outfit for a school play.
  • Dutch Angle: Used as emphasis when something's off or characters are disturbed. One chapter, after a visit from her deadbeat father, Nana's panels begin to tilt till the viewpoint's almost at right angles to the rest of the page, matching her current turmoil at being compared to her mother.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Between Nana, Ryoko and Kaoru; We find a host of personal issues that cause them all to be alone and isolated. With Kaoru, it's a massive inferiority complex and lack of self-esteem. With Nana and Ryoko, it comes from their motivation to over-achieve which is, in part, a product of their environment.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: When he had to conceal Nana, who was in full-body bondage gear at the time, from some of her friends and a teacher that walked into his apartment, Kaoru got her and himself into his bed and pretended to be watching a porno. Then, when her grunts were about to give them away, Kaoru made... er... context-appropriate noises to drown out her sounds and gross out their uninvited guests out of his place. It works magnificently and Kaoru thinks nothing of it.
  • Erotic Dream:
    • Kaoru starts off the series having a wet dream about Nana as his personal slave.
    • A couple of chapters later, we're treated to another scene where Nana is being toyed with by Kaoru. When the scene ends, it's revealed that it was Nana that had that dream.
  • Erotic Eating: Nana and a chocolate-coated banana at the summer festival in Black Label. Kaoru, and several other guys in the vicinity immediately stop and stare.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt
  • Face Palm: Several.
  • Fanboy: Kaoru.
  • Face Your Fears: The central theme of the Black Label arc. Nana and Kaoru are invited to spend four summer days in the countryside with Tachibana and Sarashina, who for 10 years have enjoyed a devoted and loving relationship as submissive and dominant, full of happiness, affection, and plenty of bondage - the ideal of what Kaoru and Nana both secretly desire for their own future together. Yet despite their success, Tachibana and Sarashina both privately confess to their respective mentee to still having feelings of inadequacy and still being afraid that their partner might not truly love them, and both understand and fear the possibility that one of them may die, leaving the other alone. Yet despite that, Tachibana and Sarashina choose to accept their fear and be happy together anyway. Seeing this allows Kaoru to understand that he may never be rid of his fear of losing Nana, but also that he is able to accept and live with his fear, and experience love together with Nana regardless.
  • Fanservice: Ryuta Amazume has started making a career out of taking various fetishes and putting them into romantic comedies: BDSM this time. Nearly all of the fanservice is justified by schoolboy ogling or the 'breathers', out in the open.
  • Fan Disservice: Kaoru in a girl's swimsuit. 'nuff said. (Unless you're Nana, who perceives him in this outfit...differently.)
  • Farce: "The Crepe Truck On The Hill" arc, where a single misunderstanding leads to Ryoko and Kaoru chasing after Nana to protect her modesty.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • The Black Label timeskip series has Nana and Kaoru still together and still having breathers (and playing Footsie Under the Table). Instant drama kill for any worries 'bout the Student Council President stealing Nana away from him, at least permanently.
    • However, it also kills the possible eventual development of Kaoru and Nana admittedly becoming boyfriend and girlfriend in during the 8 months the main series must fill to reach the Black Label timeline, so it's safe to say the main series must surpass Black Label's timeline for Nana and Kaoru to truly become a couple.
      • Subverted somewhat by the ending. In light of what is essentially Nana and Kaoru admitting their feelings to each other, the awkwardness around each other at the start of Black Label takes on a completely different meaning.
  • Friends with Benefits:
    • Nana and Kaoru have BDSM sessions with Kaoru as the dom and Nana as the sub, but it's a non-sexual versions or at least they tell themselves that they are just friends.
    • Nana and Kaoru actually are FWB with Ryoko. Still non-sexual.
  • Funbag Airbag:
    • Ryoko to the well endowed President's sister.
    • Kaoru (dressed as a girl) plows into Nana as well at one point, though she doesn't realize this until his classmates chase him down.
  • Funny Background Event: In Chapter 119 when Taichi and Mitsuko are getting changed, we see Kaoru run away from Nana and fall flat on his face.
  • Furo Scene: Several with Nana and Mitsuko in Black Label.
  • Genki Girl: Mitsuko Tachibana, the porn shop manager. Never has anybody been so "enthusiastic'' about leather, gags, and whips!
    • She even takes over Kaoru's position of Mr. Exposition about the finer points of BDSM in NtK Black Label!
    • Ryoko as well, with her sporty attitude.
  • Generation Xerox: In-Universe Nana is afraid of being so much like her mother, that she might end up with someone ...less than stellar, like her father. It doesn't help Kaoru seems to be similar to him, with his issues with studying and all
  • Genre Savvy: Nana eventually remarks upon the fact that, despite her initial refusals, she ends up doing the things anyway.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Nana discovers the leather one-piece, she thinks about trying it on, but:
    Nana: N-No, never. Never! Never!!
    cut to Kaoru contemplating his loss
    cut back to Nana wearing the one-piece
  • Going Commando: Very much Played for Drama at the climax of Black Label. Nana bathes and dresses in a loose robe in preparation to be tied and suspended by robes by from ceiling, and after a few minutes of quiet reflection, decides not to wear panties. This is not a mischievous act of flirtation, but rather a deliberate and thoughtful decision to completely surrender control of her body over to Kaoru. Kaoru quickly notices, but decides that seeing Nana naked wouldn't give them the intimacy they want, and refuses to look.
  • Gonk: Both Kaoru and his mother at first, although this is more of a Generic Cuteness failure on her part. Both are moving away from this, especially since Kaoru started running and putting some effort into studying.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Nana upon seeing Ryoko tied up (tighter than she had been).
    Nana: "God please, somehow...
    help me to make it look...
    as though...
    I'm still smiling."
  • Guilty Pleasures: Nana originally just went over to get the key, but the bondage session was a great form of stress relief for her, to the point that it saved her rapidly falling apart school performance. She used that as justification to keep going. Now, she genuinely enjoys and looks forward to her sessions with Kaoru.
    • Probably a meta example for some readers.
  • Harsh Word Impact: The speech bubbles containing Kaoru's lambasting of the class president nearly crowd him out of the panel.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Subverted with Nana. Yes, she's gorgeous (in line with the trope), but her imperious manner scares people off.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Kaoru really plays up his sleazy domination role with Nana, although she knows he isn't really like that.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • The class president to Nana.
    • Kaoru to Nana... at least in his own mind.
  • Hotter and Sexier: A very sinusoidal example. The series was originally in Young Animal Arashi, a softcore pornography magazine. When it became a runaway success, they moved it to the more mainstream Young Animal series, and toned the content down. It was still wildly successful, so they have a second concurrent series — something that's almost unheard of outside of spinoffs — Nana & Kaoru Black Label, which takes place after a minor timeskip and has definitely taken the series back to hotter and sexier territory.
  • How We Got Here: Black Label opens with Kaoru and Nana watching a topless and nearly naked Tachibana being suspended by ropes from the ceiling - a significantly more intense and sexual breather than anything Kaoru and Nana have experienced thus far - and Nana clutching Kaoru's hand in a combination of excitement, terror, and fascination. The story immediately rewinds to several days beforehand and the two receiving invitations from their mentors in bondage to visit them in the countryside.
  • Indirect Kiss:
    • Kaoru and Ryoko, though Kaoru only becomes distressed about it after finding out that Ryoko's a girl.
    • A Defied Trope with Kaoru and Nana using the dental gag. When Kaoru teases Nana about tasting her saliva from his hand, it's another boot to the head before he can.
  • Iconic Item: Nana's hair bow.
  • The Internet Is for Porn:
    • Nana's research. Step 1: enter search term for [BDSM term]. Step 2: receive torrents of porn. Step 3: get entirely the wrong idea about what Kaoru's going to do.
    • Miyu Kawakami (Nana's homeroom teacher) does the same thing when her boyfriend convinces her of trying out S&M for the first time.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Chapter 3. She reacted badly. Very badly.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Many of the story's more adorable and heartwarming moments aren't so much so out of context.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kaoru again. He is generally unpleasant with everyone, and it's baffling that Nana can even stand his company. He feels the same way.
  • Kinky Spanking: Not a mere panel, but two entire chapters are devoted to Nana getting a spanking, plus half of the next chapter just to rub lotion on her sore bottom. And it's clearly an erotic spanking, which is meant to titillate Nana rather than hurt.
  • Large Ham: When Kaoru and his favorite BDSM author are discussing the books, Kaoru begins ranting and raving about how much they moved him emotionally. The author says, "But after all, they're only porn books." Kaoru: "IS IT WRONG TO BE MOVED BY PORN BOOKS?!"
    • Even more funny are his constant facefaults 'bout just how moved he is that Kaoru is that moved. Kaoru is oblivious, the author is barely keeping himself from screaming out yes and dancing.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Hiroshi angrily thinking to himself that Kaoru's "got a secondary character's face!"
    • Sarashina Suutaro is described as being "like a literary master out of some manga". Apparently it's part of his writing process.
  • Lethal Chef: Nana tries her hand at Valentine's Day chocolate in a side story. Key word: tries. The intended recipient actually trembles in his sleep as the trainwreck progresses.
    • Her 'extra-healthy' cold remedy makes Kaoru pass out, begin hallucinating, then throw up.
    • She also tries to cook an egg in a microwave in one chapter. Cue her shock when it inevitably explodes.
  • Locked Up and Left Behind: For Ryoko's very first breather, Kaoru has her and Nana change into swimsuits and ties them both up in a room that is deliberately slightly too hot to be comfortable. Kaoru claims he needs to run some errands and leaves the two alone, promising to return in two and a half hours. While Nana is at least able to see and speak, Ryoko is bound, gagged, blindfolded, and completely helpless to do anything but wait for Kaoru to return. The two are left in a hot, sticky room with no way for Ryoko to wipe away her drool and no proper way for her to relieve her gradually increasing need to pee. In reality, Kaoru merely moves to the balcony so he can secretly keep an eye on the two for the entire duration in order to ensure their safety.
  • Love You and Everybody: Ryoko says she loves Kaoru to Nana, who, while she wouldn't recognise love if it whacked her upside the head with a rose-covered hammer, still blushes like mad or becomes jealous whenever anyone else trespasses on her feelings towards Kaoru. Ryoko backsteps quickly to add "as a friend!"
  • Luminescent Blush: This plus sticking her tongue out is Nana's sign that she's intensely turned on.
  • Male Gaze: Apart from the specific instances (see Fanservice), Nana almost always takes center stage with a three-quarters or full-body shot during the 'breathers'. Ryoko too.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Prez's (Yagami Hiroshi) sister Kikuko Yagami
  • Married to the Job: Nana's mother. Kaoru's mother is almost always at work, too.
  • Marshmallow Hell: When Kaoru is hugged by the Porn Shop Manager.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Played with but ultimately averted. Kaoru is short, uninterested in sports and academics, has no real professional aspirations, prefers to blend into the crowd in public, but is an excellent cook and very skilled at sewing and other craftwork. Nana is tall, athletic, an outstanding student with very high career prospects and plenty of public leadership positions, yet is a hopeless cook and despite (or perhaps because of) her incredible beauty, knows almost nothing about cosmetics and make-up. But beneath these traits, Kaoru and Nana share an intense longing to respectively fulfill the masculine and feminine roles, and to be loved by a partner who recognizes and values them respectively as a man and a woman. The most prominent conflict of the story is Kaoru's struggle to overcome his self-doubt and self-hatred and accept his worthiness to stand by Nana's side as a man and a dom.
  • Megaton Punch: Nana's usual method of telling Kaoru he's gone too far with his teasing... unless her arms are tied up; then, it's a Megaton Kick. Kaoru gets smart in a later breather and ties up both her arms and legs.
  • Mood Whiplash: Nana is tending to Kaoru who's sick with a bad cold, passed out, and hallucinating due to a home-made cold remedy. He starts to mumble about Tokyo U and Nana finds a study guide, finally giving Nana a hint about Kaoru's desire to be with her after they graduate. She clasps him to her chest to reassure him that she's not going anywhere and he looks into her eyes. It's a wonderful, tender moment... and then Kaoru throws up in her lap.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Nana.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The good kind. Kaoru tends to hang out with the underachievers, but Nana doesn't lump him together with them when she finds them misbehaving in school. Mostly she just blushes and mumbles his name.
  • Mysterious Animal Senses: Hoshino's dog seems to bark whenever it hears the voice of a sexually aroused woman. Kaoru, Doumoto and Hoshino try to use the dog to find out which porn actress fakes her orgasm by watching porn movies all night long. As soon as the dog hears Nana's voice, it starts to bark like crazy.
  • Nipple and Dimed
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In Chapter 11 when the guys are putting the faces of various girls from their class on the bodies of fetish models, some of the names are similar to real Japanese glamor models.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Nana finds Kaoru alone in his room wearing finger-cuffs and holding a dog on a leash, and it isn't a setup for a breather.
  • No Social Skills: The only excuse Nana has for not figuring out Kaoru's feelings towards her. Thanks to her studying, she doesn't consciously recognize attraction outside of blatant horndog-ism.
  • Oblivious to Love: Nana hasn't quite picked up on the fact that Kaoru loves her. Somehow. Nor has she put 2 and 2 together and realized she's in love with him.
    • Meanwhile, both their friends pick up on things fairly quickly. Ryoko appears to be wavering between wanting to steal Kaoru for herself and wanting to help get them together; Nana's friend in the student council immediately warns her brother about the deeper meaning of her words.
  • Oh, Crap!: "Oh crap" faces are frequent. Kaoru's and Nana's are especially amusing.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The track day. Excuse me, I ordered a BDSM romance manga; this is highschool sports manga.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kaoru's father is deceased and his mother is a nurse, while Nana's mother is almost never home.
  • Parents as People: Kaoru's mother is rather well meaning, but being a nurse simply doesn't offer her a lot of time with Kaoru. And the origins to Nana's Parental Issues can be found with this trope at work.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nana mistakes Ryoko as being her Rival in a love triangle when in reality she's Kaoru's Secret-Keeper. What secret? He's in love with Nana. Understandably, it's a bit hard to explain this to Nana... But Ryoko also is a bit sweet on Kaoru, too, and is starting to hesitate when doing things that might bring them closer together.
    • Specifically, the entire track day is one long string of misunderstandings on the three's parts. Nana keeps seeing Ryoko with Kaoru, not realizing Ryoko is basically dragging him along to cheer Nana (and herself) on, sees the lunchbox he brought, not realizing it was for Ryoko and Nana (mostly Nana), not just Ryoko, Kaoru mistakenly thinks that Ryoko is the one at his door harassing him for a lunchbox when it was really Nana (and he's too embarrassed to apologize), etc etc.
  • Porn Stash
  • Porn with Plot: Only without most of the defining aspects of porn (no explicit nudity, no actual sex)...until the canon-sidestory/Time Skip chapters of Nana & Kaoru: Black Label.
  • Pose of Supplication: Tachibana presents herself to Kaoru at the start of a supervised breather to demonstrate her acceptance of him as her temporary master, although both Kaoru and Tachibana are mostly acting. She does so by kneeling before him with her forehead to the floor, her hands clasped behind her and her hair flowing over her naked shoulders and back to show that she is ready to be bound. Two nights later, Nana presents herself to Kaoru with the same pose, but this time her submission and the emotions behind it are completely real.
  • Potty Emergency: Ryoko during her first "breather," leading to...
  • Potty Failure: ...Ryoko at the end of her first "breather."
  • Power of Trust: A central theme of the story. The fulfillment and joy that Nana, Ryoko and other submissives find in bondage is ultimately not from any physical sensation, but the joy of being able to implicitly trust another person, and to have that trust affirmed. These women are not plastic idols, but human beings who sweat, and drool, and cry, and pee. Human beings who - no matter how perfect their lives may appear from the outside - struggle with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, frustration, and shame, as well as feelings of sexual desire and an incredible longing to be loved. Through bondage, their bodies and behavior are controlled and restricted, so that they are forced to expose "shameful" parts of themselves to their dominant. The dominant, in turn, receives those "shameful" pieces of a person - the submissive's true self - not with anger or disgust, but with praise, and affection, and love. Bondage is thus a validation of the submissive's true self - something that gives Nana and others tremendous strength and happiness.
  • Precious Puppy: Nana is asked to pet-sit Kikuko Yagami's puppy, who naturally as a puppy is unashamed to bark, eat, play, show affection, and go to the bathroom like a puppy does. Kaoru takes advantage of the situation by bringing the puppy along with Nana and Ryoko into his own apartment for the weekend and using him as a model for Nana and Ryoko to copy in a breather where they are instructed to be dogs themselves.
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away: Inverted at the climax of Black Label. As a serious storm approaches, Nana and Kaoru both silently pray for it to blow as hard and long as possible. Not only because it gives them more time to be alone together, but because the violent summer storm and accompanying nightfall bring an aura of magic and freedom, allowing the two to shed their daytime 'roles' and anxieties and embrace each other as dominant and submissive.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kaoru gives a spectacular one to Nana's teacher, club kohais, and fellow council members, telling them they're pushing too much on Nana, and only thinking about themselves. Cue everyone picking up the slack and falling over themselves to say they're sorry to Nana.
  • Red String of Fate: Mentioned in the end-of-chapter comment, at the end of their totally-not-a-date visit to the shrine.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Kaoru leaves Tokyo to live in Okinawa, Nana and Ryoko attempt a breather together with Ryoko as the dom simply because they have nobody else to do it with. It doesn't really work. While the experience isn't exactly unpleasant, Nana notes that it lacks the emotional warmth and fulfillment of Kaoru's breathers, and the two aren't shown attempting it again.
  • Right Behind Me: Kaoru angrily corrects his friends on the appearance of Nana's breasts...while she's leaning in the doorway.
    • Then Kaoru comes home that very same day to find Nana in his room, excitedly looking at her picture which she pasted onto the head of a model in his S&M magazine.
  • The Rival: Ryoko to Nana. Not that Nana cares.
  • Running Gag: Nana hitting or throwing something at Kaoru, and Ryoko grappling Kaoru against his will.
  • Say It with Hearts: Every now and then, especially during particularly touching moments.
  • School Swimsuit: Nana often wears one during breathers since they can't wrinkle.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Both Nana and Kaoru keep their "breathers" secret from others (indeed, it's part of the thrill). Ryoko has also gotten in on it now, and agreed to keep it a secret.
    • Inverting it is the student council president and his sister. They're aware of Nana and Kaoru's mutually exclusive secrets — namely, that they're in love with each other and oblivious — but instead of keeping the secret, they're trying to exploit the fact that they are unaware.
  • Selfless Wish: When they visit a shrine together for New Years, Kaoru sits to the side as Nana approaches the shrine and pretends to be disinterested, but quietly prays for Nana to have all of her wishes granted...and to have a few more breathers together with her.
  • Separated by the Wall: Nana and Kaoru live in adjacent apartments, and the common wall is between their bedrooms, which they use to signal each other by knocking. They also tend to think about their feelings for each other while staring at it.
  • Sexy Santa Bikini: Nana's wearing one on the fanservice art page at the start of Chapter 66. Specifically she's wearing the santa hat and boots and Kaoru's dressed as a Reindeer in the background.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend/He Is Not My Boyfriend: variation: Nana and Kaoru each deny being in love with the other when questioned. Apparently simultaneously. With Love Bubbles behind both of them.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kaoru's mother, at least, is starting to push them together, in the manner of interfering parents everywhere by asking Nana to take care of him when he's off sick.
    • Mitsuko actively roots for them as well, encouraging Nana and Kaoru to communicate through their breathers more closely.
    • After the end of the first manga, Nana's mom tells her in a letter to share chocolate with "white knight-kun from next door".
  • Shown Their Work: All about fetish gear and their uses, but yeah...
  • Shout-Out: Little Nana bringing home a certificate for winning the Tenkaichi Tournament.
  • Smug Snake: The student council president, who openly accosts Kaoru when they're alone, demanding he get on his hands and knees to beg to see an email when the group gets split up, talking about how he's more deserving of Nana 'cause... well, 'cause.
  • Speech Impediment: Kaoru has a stammer when he's nervous (fan translation - unsure whether it's in the original). It gets worse when he's administering the breathers, displaying his nerves and excitement.
    • He stammers in the official German translation, too. Safe to say that it is in the original.
  • Spit Take
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: When Nana finishes a race looking more like she's had a 'breather', one of the younger girls feels her heart skip a beat at the sight of it.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Kaoru in his "Master" persona.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Kaoru is somewhat guilty of doing this from time to time. It's part of his issues with Nana and himself. This can lead to some curiously funny exchanges among him and those he calls friends...
    • Nana can be guilty of this herself, but for different reasons and not nearly as much as Kaoru.
  • Swapped Roles: When Ryoko stops a younger student from finding out about the "breathers", she forces Kaoru to teach her about administering breathers (or rather, carrot and stick method). She settles on trying to give him a breather, along with Mitsuko as a guide. It doesn't work. Kaoru does submit a bit, but refuses to become complacent, and insists he's Nana's Dom, and no one's sub.
  • That Was Not a Dream: After the events of Black Label, Kaoru and Nana return from the countryside to their old lives and old roles. Although Kaoru never seriously, legitimately considers the possibility that the experiences he shared with Nana were a dream, he nevertheless finds himself in something of a trance, not daring to believe that the girl who towers over him in attractiveness and popularity is the same girl he kissed for an entire night. Kaoru has to remind himself that everything really did happen, that it wasn't a dream. And unbeknownst to him, Nana finds herself thinking exactly the same thing.
  • The Tease: Nana, subconsciously at first. Overtly later on when she's professionally made up and dressed in a kimono, just to go on a shrine visit with Kaoru..
    • Specifically, she's wearing a furisode, an advertisement to everyone that she's a "Young, single woman available for marriage".
    • Ryoko has this habit of always play around with Kaoru in an teasing and/or gadfly manner when ever they meet.
    • Then in Black Label, While still at the retreat and before another session, Tachibana is told by Sarashina to tease Kaoru before Kaoru ties her up. Let's just say this much, she doesn't disappoint. Oh and just to note, Sarashina-sensei and Nana are watching while this goes on.
  • Those Two Guys: Kaoru's friends.
  • Time Skip: A minor one. The "sequel", Nana & Kaoru: Black Label takes place during summer vacation, where Kaoru and Nana end up being tutored on proper BDSM technique by Kaoru's favorite author. Both are running concurrently, with Black Label having much more adult content (open nudity, for one).
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: One chapter shows Kaoru has to stand on tiptoe to whisper into her ear.
  • Tokyo University
  • Tomboy: The very athletic and boyish looking Ryoko.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ryoko and Nana respectively, although Ryoko is more obviously feminine during the breathers.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kaoru's been running every morning ever since Nana was accosted by shoplifters during a breather. By chapter 15, he can sprint around town without even breaking a sweat, whereas the much more athletic (on paper) student council president can barely keep up. Similarly, it's spelled out very clearly that Kaoru is every bit Nana's match intellectually, he just has trouble focusing on studying.
  • Triang Relations: Type 5 in the student council.
    • Ryoko, Kaoru and Nana are in a romantic Type 5 - Kaoru's infatuated with Nana while Ryoko's developed a crush on Kaoru. What's preventing a traditional type 4 in Black Label is whether Nana can work out what her growing affections for Kaoru mean.
  • Tsundere: Nana, although with a twist — she's the submissive in an on-again-off-again BDSM relationship with her Childhood Friend. Thus, she has a very good reason to be embarrassed about her relationship with him, and motive for denying it when asked. Kaoru, meanwhile, is even more abrasive to Nana than she is to him, with a twist: he's only worried about her reputation, as he sees himself as being beneath her and dragging her down.
    • Nana switches to type A tsun when her mother finally comes home (using almost the same words as Kaoru, at that).
  • Twice Shy: The only people who don't realize that Nana and Kaoru are in love with each other are Nana and Kaoru themselves. Nana almost confesses to him at the start of the chapter in response to his self-depreciating comments about how she must not like being around him (and part of her Character Development is her starting to realize her feelings for him), and he's quite open with himself about being in love with Nana. The student council president and his sister are also quite aware of this, and are plotting to get the president and Nana hooked up before the two figure it out. Given the NtK Black Label timeskip has Nana and Kaoru still together, still having breathers, and off at a BDSM author's house for private tutoring in BDSM techniques, actually making out... The president isn't going to win this one.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: When Sarashi-sensei begins telling Kaoru how he met Tachibana, it switches to Tachibana in the bath telling Nana how she met Sarashi.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: An unmarried example, but no one could be blamed for doing a double take at seeing Kaoru and Nana together. Kaoru's friends even take a jab at their supposed unsuitability for each other.
    • The entire plot is basically driven by Kaoru's assumption that Nana could never see him as boyfriend material, which makes it something of an inversion.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Considering the things that Kaoru does to Nana, the fact that there is UST is impressive. They're things like Bound and Gagged or Kinky Spanking. This is not without some Belligerent Sexual Tension and pain.
  • Unusual Euphemism: After reading this, you will never again be able to talk about "taking a breather" without giggling.
  • Urine Trouble:
    • Invoked in chapter 6. Nana has to use the restroom, and Kaoru seems to be finding her a restroom, but they go to a clearing and Kaoru wants her to do it there. She is hesitant to do so, but she does give in.
    • In chapter 75, she's is suffering from another one, while in her "Dog Girl" outfit. After much panic, and trying to do it as an actual dog would, she finds a way to relieve herself. Kaoru then helps clean her up.
  • Visible Silence
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The viewer is not spared Kaoru vomiting right on Nana as she comforts him. (Un)Fortunately, Nana covers most of the shot.
  • Wake-Up Call: Kaoru calls out Nana's teacher and classmates for taking advantage of Nana and pushing their work onto her. He demands to know what they'll do once Nana inevitably graduates and they can no longer rely on her. The outburst made them realise how much stress they were placing on Nana to meet everyone's expectations. Kaoru's outburst was so potent that the next day, they were tripping over themselves to apologise to Nana for how much they took advantage of her without thinking about how much stress they were heaping on her and give a promise that they'll step up and actually take their own initiative.
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…:
    • Kimono's come undone? Fetch the rope and bind her breasts with bondage ties so it'll fit better.
    • Need to motivate a member of the track team? Propose tying Kaoru up to learn how to push people's buttons.
  • invokedWrite Who You Know: It's implied in Black Label that Sarashina-sensei uses this to come up with the plot of his books.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The poor student council president realizes that Kaoru has a secondary character's face, but doesn't realize he's in an Ecchi, Ugly Guy, Hot Wife comedy. He's also absolutely dumbfounded at Kaoru's sad, depressed resignation about Nana being way outside of his league, expecting some form of argument or fight.

Alternative Title(s): Nana To Kaoru

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