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Manga / Sazanka

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Sazanka is a one-shot manga by Aya Kamiyama and the doujin circle Aquilegia, published in 2019. The story is about a young woman named Tatsuki, who has Aspergers, something that not even her boyfriend or her best friend know about. She chooses to take the first step and tell people about her condition, but what will come of it?

The manga contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The post-story bonus pages contain various information not covered in the main story, such as some of the characters' last names and how Keita met Tatsuki.
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  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Keita. He seems like a Nice Guy at first glance, but in reality, he's a manipulative, abusive Jerkass.
  • Bittersweet Ending/No Ending: Tatsuki breaks up with her abusive boyfriend, but starts making progress toward accepting herself. The author said that her friends had different impressions of the ending, and that she herself believes that it isn't necessarily a happy ending, with some things remaining unresolved.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • After telling Aoi that she quit her job, Tatsuki claims that she ran afoul of a rule prohibiting workplace romances, despite there being no evidence that any such rule exists. She then claims that she was kidding, and that the real reason was that she "wasn't good enough."
    • When Aoi notices a bruise on the underside of Tatsuki's armpit, Tatsuki claims she hit the arm against something, not wanting to admit Keita gave it to her.
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  • Book Ends: The manga begins and ends with Tatsuki spacing out while talking to her friends, one of whom jokingly calls her an "aspie." In the beginning, she considers telling someone she has Asperger's, but decides not to, and thinks about how she hates herself. In the ending, Aoi, who's since learned that Tatsuki has Asperger's, tells the other friend off, and Tatsuki realizes she isn't alone.
  • Character Tics: Tatsuki frequently puts her hand on the back of her head, often while trying to laugh off an awkward moment. This causes Tatsuki to see one of her bruises.
  • Childhood Friend: Tatsuki and Aoi have known each other since middle school.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: While Tatsuki isn't the one in trouble, she ends up doing this when Aoi asks her about her bruises.
    Aoi: What's that bruise?
    Tatsuki: Oh, I... hit it against something!
    Aoi: The underside of your arm? Yeah, likely story. Don't tell me, when you told your boyfriend that you wanted to break up, he beat you?
    Tatsuki: No, it didn't happen then!note 
    Aoi: ...What? You're saying he beat you up regularly?
    Tatsuki: (thinks) Oh... crap...
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  • Disproportionate Retribution: Keita shoves Tatsuki to the ground just for answering her phone while talking to him.
  • Domestic Abuser: Keita. He hits Tatsuki whenever she does something he doesn't like, and some of the things he says to her, such as his parting "The Reason You Suck" Speech, also come off as emotionally abusive.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Tatsuki is introduced spacing out while talking with her friends, pretending to laugh it off when Friend A calls her an "aspie," and fearing what they would think if they found out she has Asperger's.
    • Keita berates Tatsuki for making mistakes on the job because it would cause him problems, then appears to forgive her because she's his girlfriend, making him come off as a self-centered and manipulative individual.
  • First-Name Basis: While the manga is set in Japan, all the characters are close enough that they use first names with each other.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: "Friend A," the nameless mutual friend of Tatsuki and Aoi's. In addition to her using "aspie" as an insulting term, she gets on Aoi's neves. When Aoi says she's glad to spend time with Tatsuki without "her" around, Tatsuki laughs and agrees.
  • Harsh Word Impact: When Keita tells Tatsuki that she's making too many mistakes at her job, an arrow from his speech bubble stabs her in the head.
  • Hate Sink: Keita, Tatsuki's boyfriend, is cruel, abusive, manipulative, and extremely self-centered, frequently verbally and physically abusing Tatsuki because of her disability, with the manga making no effort to make him even the tiniest bit likeable in any way. Aoi even refers to him as a piece of shit.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Tatsuki's suggested to be this, as she chooses to tell her boyfriend of six months that she's autistic, rather than her friend that she's known since middle school (in other words, about 5-7 years, since both are 19 at the start of the story). It would also explain why she ended up with someone like Keita.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Tatsuki breaks down in tears after Aoi accepts her.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Tatsuki's friend calls her an "aspie" without knowing what it means, or that Tatsuki has Asperger's. In the bonus pages, "Friend A" protests that she would have stopped if someone had said something to her.
  • It's All About Me: Keita comes off as a fairly selfish individual when his actions are examined further. When he calls Tatsuki out on making mistakes, he tells her to think about all the trouble it would cause him as a full-timer. When Tatsuki breaks up with him, he insists that she quit her job, since otherwise it would be awkward, never even considering the possibility of quitting himself.
  • Jerkass: Keita, when all's said and done. There isn't any kinder way to describe someone who willingly hits and belittles his girlfriend.
  • Karma Houdini: Keita suffers no consequences for physically and emotionally abusing Tatsuki. While she breaks up with him, he convinces her to quit her job so he won't be inconvenienced.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Keita's good at seeming like a nice, understanding boyfriend, but this seems to be a calculated ruse to get her to do what he wants. Even as they're breaking up, he still convinces her to quit her job to avoid potentially awkward situations.
  • Meaningful Name: The title, Sazanka, refers to a broadleaf tree that, in the language of flowers, means "being earnest" and "overcoming difficulties."
  • Nice Girl: Tatsuki's Childhood Friend, Aoi, is one of the only people who accepts Tatsuki for who she is.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Aoi, Friend A and Tatsuki. Aoi is the Nice, since she's probably the nicest character in the cast, and the first person Tatsuki can tell about having Asperger's. "Friend A" is the Mean, since she casually throws around the term "aspie," albeit without not understanding what it means, and comes off as somewhat obnoxious. Tatsuki is the In-Between, since she's a decent person at heart, albeit somewhat withdrawn and lacking in social skills.
  • No Name Given: Tatsuki and Aoi's mutual friend is called "Friend A" in the post-story notes.
  • No Social Skills: Tatsuki, being Asperger's, seems to have trouble with interpersonal interactions, such as answering her phone while talking with her boyfriend. According to Aoi, Tatsuki's odd behavior has gone on for years.
  • No, You: When Tatsuki and Aoi's friend asks if Tatsuki's "an aspie," Aoi tells her that "it's getting boring." Said friend fires back, "What? Y-You're boring, Aoi."
  • Oh, Crap!: Tatsuki's reaction when Aoi discovers her bruises and realizes her ex-boyfriend gave them to her.
  • Precision F-Strike: Aoi refers to Keita as Tatsuki's "piece of shit boyfriend."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • When Tatsuki suffers a breakdown, he beats her up and gives her the following speech.
    Keita: Shut up. What the hell are you doing, snapping out like that? I laid out rules for you. And since you don't follow them, I end up having to bear all the burden! You can't even do basic stuff! You can't do anything!
    • A week later, Tatsuki breaks up with him. After convincing her to quit her job to spare him any awkwardness, he gives her the following speech with a smile on his face.
    Keita: You sure are something, Tatsuki. You pretend to be a prize, but in reality, you aren't worth it at all.
  • Working with the Ex: Defied. Keita says things will be awkward at work if he and Tatsuki break up, so he insists that she quit her job if she intends to break up with him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Keita shoves Tatsuki to the floor for taking a phone call while talking to him. When Tatsuki has a breakdown, Keita slaps her across the face, pulls her hair and kicks her in the stomach.