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Manga / Tonari no Kashiwagi-san

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Tonari no Kashiwagi-san is a seinen romantic comedy manga written and illustrated by Kinusa Shimotsuki, which was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward from 2009 to 2016. It's about a socially awkward otaku named Yuuto Sakuraba, who finds out that the popular Ice Queen Kotone Kashiwagi is also an otaku, and not at all as cold as everyone thinks she is. From there a stumbling but solid friendship grows.

The manga has been animated as a motion comic (available on Crunchyroll), covering the first eleven chapters, pretty much frame by frame.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Apologises a Lot: Both Yuuto and Kotone apologise at first sign of something being wrong, before trying to find out if they're actually at fault, or even if something is wrong to begin with.
  • Bad Liar: Yuuto mentions that Kotone has difficulties with lying, considering how kind and modest she is.
  • Benevolent Boss: Kotori is very supportive of Yuuto in both his studies and his crush on her sister.
  • Beta Couple: Sayaka and Kazuki often help Kotone and Yuuto along with their stumbling more-than-friends-but-not-quite-going-out relationship, both through direct advice and as a Double Date couple to keep the two from being too nervous, although mostly Yuuto, as Kotone is even more innocent than that.
  • Big Little Sister: Kotone is taller and older looking than Kotori.
  • Birds of a Feather: Yuuto and Kotone have a lot in common, and not just their love for anime and manga.
  • Bland-Name Product: Pictia.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • When Yuuto asks for it, Kazuki will respond bluntly, who's also as direct to his girlfriend.
    • Sayaka, being who she is, won't spare feelings either.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Tina and Kou grew up together in Germany and started a Long-Distance Relationship when Kou went back to Japan. During the Christmas party, they get engaged.
  • Childhood Friends: Two pairs, Kotone and Sayaka, and Yuuto and Kazuki have known each other since they were small.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Sayaka is a platonic example towards Kotone. It's the main reason why she initially dislikes Yuuto.
  • Closet Geek: Kotone wants to keep her hobbies to this. This has became a serious burden on her.
  • Conveniently Seated: Yuuto and Kotone starts off with their desks next to each other. It's probably because of the Minimalist Cast that they sit in the far back, so it's easier to not include other characters. For their third year, they arrange this themselves, when Yuuto and Kazuki switch seats, for both their benefits.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Sayaka initially starts cold to everyone who's not Kotone, but eventually warms up to Kazuki while they're dating, and while she tries to hide it, to Yuuto too.
  • Double Date: The four main characters go out on a double date to an amusement park. Only Kotone actually fails to realise it's a date at all.
  • Edible Theme Naming: According to the author, the last names of the main cast are named after wagashi. Sakuraba comes from Sakuramochi, Kashiwagi comes from Kashiwagimochi, Kusano from Kusamochi, and Fukuda from Daifuku.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Tina, from Germany.
  • Genki Girl: Tina is a happy and energetic girl who jumps into any social situation, and will do what she can to cheer people up.
  • Happily Married: Kotori and Takuya have been a couple since their school years, and still manage to have their cute moments.
  • Heroic BSoD: Yuuto ceases to function when he sees Kotone walking home with her brother-in-law and mistakenly thinks that they're dating. He was standing there for several hours.
  • High-School Sweethearts:
    • Yuuto wants this sort of relationship with Kotone, to the point that he applied to the same university as her (which is actually far harder than the one he was initially planning on going to).
    • Kotori and Takuya's relationship is half this, half Childhood Friend Romance, since she was in 12th grade and he was in 6th when they started dating.
  • Ice Queen:
    • Subverted with Kotone, who has a reputation for being cold and unapproachable, and portrayed as one in the first chapter, but the truth is quite the opposite. She's just lacking a bit of self confidence and social skills.
    • Sayaka, on the other hand, is cold to everyone who isn't Kotone. At least at first.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: The blue-eyed Kotone is probably the most innocent of the cast, often having trouble spotting romantic situations.
  • It's All My Fault: Sayaka blames herself for her parents having to put up a Happy Marriage Charade as long as they did (they were waiting until after she finished middle school so as to not disrupt her studies).
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe example. Yuuto gets upset when Sayane starts becoming popular, though he gets over it.
  • Japanese Honorifics: Discussed by Kazuki and Sayaka once their relationship advances enough. He goes through "Sayaka", "Sayaka-chan", and "Sayaka-san", with various negative responses from her, before settling on simply "Saya", which causes her to blush, when deciding what to call her after they've been dating for a while.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sayaka is a jerk by her own admission, and tries to maintain that perception, but will help out if she can. She even wrote study notes for Yuuto, who she has a notably frosty relationship with.
  • Limited Animation: The anime is a motion comic, so it's only slightly more animated than the original manga.
  • Love Confession:
    • Surprisingly, considering Yuuto's awkwardness with Kotone, he's not late in confessing his love for her once he realises he is in love with her (previously never having had affections for any real girl), and he even does it later on just to be perfectly clear.
    • While the story shows it as happening much faster, Kazuki's confession is actually much further from when he fell in love with Sayaka. Her response is much more clear than Kotone's, but equally ambiguous, since it allows for the situation to go either way.
  • Minimalist Cast: Most of the series is about four characters, with some relatives occasionally appearing. Practically no other characters are even mentioned.
  • Moe: While the character design leans this way, Sayane's (that is, Kotone) drawing style is explicitly said to be moe In-Universe. Which is also why Yuuto is a fan.
  • No Loves Intersect: The 8 recurring characters are all neatly paired off into four couples (though to be fair, two of the pairs were already in a relationship before the series started). The closest thing to conflict is when Kou asks Tina if she has a crush on Yuuto due to how much she talks about him (she doesn't, she's just a really strong Yuuto/Kotone shipper).
  • No Social Skills: Both Yuuto and Kotone have trouble with interpersonal interactions, which makes their relationship all the more awkward. Sayaka once just say Yuuto is Innocently Insensitive.
  • Oblivious to Love: Kotone asked Yuuto what date he was on that Tina asked him about, not realising she was referring to the Double Date they went to with Sayaka and Kazuki. This is fairly typical for her.
  • Occidental Otaku: Tina. She initially learned Japanese and got into anime and manga because of her boyfriend.
  • Older Than She Looks: Kotori is 32 (and married), but looks younger than the teenage cast.
  • One Degree of Separation: Yuuto ended having a connection with the Kashiwagi family even before he becomes friends with Kotone. For one thing, Kotone is secretly his favorite online artist Sayane. For another, Kotone's older sister Kotori is the boss at his new job. Also, Tina's boyfriend knew Sayaka and Kotone back in elementary school. Yuuto actually lampshades it in chapter 75.
  • Otaku: Sayaka and Kazuki aren't otakus, which is the fastest way of describing how prevalent this character type is in this series.
  • Pen Name: Kotone uses "Sayane" to post her art.
  • Relative Error: Yuuto initially though that Takuya was cheating on Kotori with Kotone when he saw them together, since he was unaware of the fact that Kotori and Kotone were sisters.
  • Rule of Three: Yuuto confesses his feelings to Kotone three times over the course of the series, though he only asks her to go out with him the third time.
  • Secret-Keeper: Yuuto becomes one about Kotone being an otaku, which is what kicks off the plot. Sayaka, a Childhood Friend of Kotone, was already in the loop, and eventually more characters find out. Tina figures it out herself almost immediately when she notices the phone strap Kotone has.
  • Shipper on Deck: Everyone except Sayaka ships Yuuto/Kotone. Tina in particular is obsessed with it to the point that more than half of her dialogue is related to getting them together in some way.
  • Show Within a Show: Gadget Maid. Both Yuuto and Kotone are fans of it.
  • Shrinking Violet: Kotone's shyness and lack of social skills is what causes people to believe she's an Ice Queen. She also has trouble interacting with Kazuki for a long while, even after getting a little bit familiar with him. However, once people start to discuss anime with her (and it's not in public), she quickly forgets her shyness.
  • Sneeze Cut: Characters frequently sneeze when they're talked about, and it's usually lampshaded.
  • Super-Deformed: Tends to happen when any character gets fired up and passionate about a subject, such as when Kotone starts to talk about anime.
  • Third-Person Person: Tina uses a rather childish language, being described as unused to speaking Japanese.
  • Tsundere: Sayaka. Yuuto and Kotone even discuss it at one point, trying to figure out her feelings for Kazuki. Once they start dating, Kazuki gets very proficient in pushing her dere buttons, usually to her embarrassment.
  • Twice Shy: This is one of the main draws of the story. Yuuto and Kotone share several traits that make most of their problems and mistakes come from assumptions based on their insecurities.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Sayaka arranges to meet with her father, and brings Kazuki along for moral support. She only wants to know one thing: Was it worth marrying her mother despite how it ended up. The answer is quite simple: Yes, because Sayaka was born.
  • When She Smiles: Kotone is said to be particularly cute by Yuuto when she smiles, and outside their circle of friends, she rarely smiles. Sayaka also mentions that she can't get Kotone to smile like that.