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Manga / The Rows of Cherry Trees

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The Rows Of Cherry Trees (さくら並木,Sakura namiki) by Takahashi Makoto is a one-volume manga from 1957 that could be considered a precursor to the Yuri Genre.

The 4-chapter story centers around three students (first year Yukiko Nakahara, second year Ayako Sunayama and third year Chikage Maki) competing in a ping-pong tournament at the Sakura Girls' Institute. It also delves in Yukiko's mind and backstory, how Chikage became a huge influence in her life, and how much she adores her.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Yukiko's actual reason to like Chikage so much. Professor Nakahara's illness and eventual death left the family almost destitute, and they had to sell their original home. Chikage's parents purchased it, Yukiko met Chikage when checking on its surroundings in a fit of nostalgia, and Chikage was very gentle and understanding when she found out why. (Plus Chikage's father helped out Yukiko's mom to get a higher-paying job.) As a result, Yukiko pretty much fell for Chikage and transferred to her school to be as close to her as possible.
  • Berserk Button: Chikage is so adored by some of the Sakura Institute girls that calling her as anything but "Oneesama" (or at least "Chikage-san") will make her fangirls bare their teeth at the offender. i.e., the unnamed fat girl refers to her as "that third-year" and states she's nothing special, and the following pannel has an older girl throw a fit at that.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Cherry trees and flowers are a major motif, as one can see from the manga name alone. In fact, the story begins with an Opening Narration that talks about the Sakura Girls' Institute, how it's located in a place named Sakuragaoka (Cherry Blossom Hill), how it's chock full of cherry trees themselves...
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Ayako, towards Chikage.
  • Creator Provincialism: The author of the manga, Makoto Takahashi, is from Osaka. Understandably, the story is set there.
  • Dance of Romance: Subverted: Yukiko has an Imagine Spot where she sees herself dancing with Chikage... but then Ayako and other girls step in and bully Yukiko until they shoo her away, and then Ayako takes Yukiko's place as Chikage's dance partner.
  • Disappeared Dad: Yukiko's father died of some undescribed illness. She was quite the Daddy's Girl before that happened, and she remembers him very fondly.
  • Doting Parent: Yukiko's mother loves her "Yuki-chan" a lot and is very sweet and doting to her.
  • Eye Scream: Downplayed: when Yukiko walks up to Chikage to challenge her towards the end, one of the nearby players gets distracted and then gets hit in the eye with a pingpong ball, but she shrugs it off like nothing.
  • Fat Bastard: Chikage's housekeeper seems to be this, but she's mostly cranky due to circumstances. When Chikage gets her to calm down, she's far more agreeable and even apologizes to Yukiko for unfairly accusing her of being a thief.
  • Heroic BSoD: Yukiko suffers an intense one when she finds out that her classmates think she deliberately let Chikage win. She more or less recovers after having a good cry, but she does wonder if she unintentionally did it.
  • Gossipy Hens: Yukiko's classmates are seen chatting about her loss to Chikage and wondering if Yukiko threw the match on purpose. The implication that Ayako might have started spreading the rumors doesn't help.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Both Yukiko and Chikage are girly girls and keep their hair quite long. On the other hand, Ayako is kind of a tomboy and has matching Boyish Short Hair.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Ayako fawns over Chikage and clings to her during practice and when it's time to go home, but that turns Chikage off.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: Yukiko has one that her late father gave her. It plays Schumann's Traumerei - Reverie
  • One-Gender School: Sakura Girls' Institute
  • Onee-sama: Chikage is the affectionate type, and all the girls openly refer to her by the trope. When Yukiko does not, it's to silently challenge her to a match after Chikage has been avoiding her.
  • Opening Narration: The manga starts with one that lasts for several pages, describing the Institute at first and then talking about feelings, cherry blossoms, etc.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: The three girls are this to one or another degree, as they're all really good at table-tennis and not exactly willing to lose their matches.
  • Playing Sick: Yukiko claims to have a headache in order to get out of ping-pong practice; in reality, she's angsting over her relationship with Chikage.
  • Present Tense Narrative: The narration showcases Yukiko's POV and describes her day-by-day routine as the Love Triangle develops.
  • Purple Prose: The narration tends towards this with tis long, elaborated, elegant paragraphs, which feel exaggerated at times.
  • Sailor Fuku: Subverted: the cover (seen above) has two girls wearing serafuku, and the initial pages feature girls wearing serafuku too... but the Sakura Institute has more Western-looking outfits for their students.
  • Sparkling Stream of Tears: With the emphasis on "sparkling": sometimes, the tears are shaped like stars.
  • Shower of Angst: Yukiko has one after losing against Chikage. She has another when at home, but it's somewhat less angsty.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Mrs. Nakayama is seen sewing and embroidering, is very good at the latter, and according to Yukiko she sells some of her embroidery works to get a bit more money.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Averted, the Institute is specifically said to be in Osaka.
  • Tsurime Eyes: Ayako has these, representing her straightforward and more aggressive personality.
  • Will Not Be a Victim: After losing to Chikage, Yukiko falls into depression... but then she decides not to mope any longer and goes on to face her.
  • Wrong Assumption:
    • When Yukiko loses to Chikage, the first-year girls assume she threw the match to suck up to her.
    • Later, as Yukiko angsts about herself and Chikage, Yukiko's mother makes no questions but assumes that she's mourning for the family's dead patriarch. Then, she begins to cry too.
    • In the backstory, Yukiko tried to take a closer look to her former home, now inhabited by Chikage's rich family. The housekeeper and the Angry Guard Dog assume she's a thief and the first even drags her arohnd, but Chikage intervenes and Yukiko gets the chance to explain herself.