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Webcomic / Sakana

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"Courting the girl of your dreams is hard when you work at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan. It's even harder if you are scared of girls, and near-impossible if your brother's kind of shady, your best friend is too excited, and your co-worker hates your guts."
Sakana, Vol. 1 Summary

Sakana is a Slice of Life with a side of Romantic Comedy written and drawn by Madeline "Mad" Rupert. The comic initially stars none other than Jiro Sakana, an especially nervous young man who works as a cashier at Sakana's fish stall alongside his older brother Taro, who's taken up the much more suitable occupation of the stall's butcher.

The plot revolves around the various and usually comedic misadventures of the stall's employees, starting off with Jiro finally managing to get a date with his crush - a woman simply known as "Cash Register Girl" thanks to Jiro being too jittery to actually get her name. Luckily(?), our hero has the help of the only slightly overprotective Taro and their easily excitable and extroverted roommate Taisei. A fourth party is added to the mix when Yuudai, the stall's short-tempered and uptight supervisor who harbors a special brand of hatred for Jiro, finds himself tangled up in the trio's antics.

From there, more and more mayhem, both comedic and otherwise, is piled onto the cast, and while it eventually serves to be the glue that holds them together, they must find a way to make it through in their own clumsy way. Whether or not they'll make it through in one piece, however, is another question.

An affiliate of Hiveworks. Previously available on Smack Jeeves and the now defunct Inkblazers/Mangamagazine.

This comic contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Each of the primary characters' design is based on some kind of seafood: Jiro has hair similar to a shark fin, Taro's design is based on a crab, Taisei's hair is meant to be reminiscent of an octopus and Yuudai resembles an eel.
  • Art Evolution: It's subtle since the artist already has a distinctive art style, but the characters' bodies are drawn more proportionally in later chapters, and whether they're angular or curvy begins to depend on the character after a while. Most noticeably, however, although most of the characters already looked a part of a Cast of Snowflakes, since chapter 4 or so there has been steady improvement into making each character's facial features more defined and his or her own, and their expressions are no longer as minimalistic and more emphatic for it. Their eyes are also drawn larger later on (e.g. Yuudai, and if you compare the size of his glasses from chapter 1 and 9, Taro), and unlike in the first, Jiro consistently has a (pretty prominent) nose on side-view in later chapters, too.
    • Yuudai's character design eventually changed to a less 'slippery'-looking (i.e. like an eel) one as he mellowed out from someone who's snide and hateful of everything but making sales to someone who's simply irritable but awkward, snarking, and a little lonely. (In his case, it's the audience getting to know him better, though lately some people have been doing a good job in inadvertently drawing him out of his shell...) Chie's design changed more than the others', too, and her cheerful and outgoing behavior subsequently came off clearer than when she'd first appeared.
  • Berserk Button: Don't ever try to do something bad to Jiro. Taro WILL hurt you.
    • Oh, and for those concerned, don't ever mention in front of Yuudai that Jiro is the better register worker.
    • Yuudai is also pretty sensitive to people talking about his scar.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A lot of the characters have these, unless they are shocked (which they are very often).
    • Subverted with Taisei, whose eyes naturally have a crazed expression about them. It's the reason for his bangs; he doesn't like to put people off.
  • Bloody Hilarious: In many of the comic strips featuring Taro hard at work, he cuts fish with such a vigor that the blood splatters all over the place. And it ALWAYS leads to hilarious situations.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Thanks to the artists style being pretty recognizable, no character looks like the other. Even Jiro and Taro, who are brothers. Also, every character has a distinct personality and their own quirks.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Whenever this comes up in the comic itself, expect it to come from Taro. Although it's not as prevalent in the present as it was in his teenage years.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While Jiro may be observant, he... doesn't always live up to expectations.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Taro and the angry lady from the train. To call it a Meet Cute, however, would be a bit of a stretch; she was pissed off and mistook Taro for a woman, and he didn't care much about her because he had his mind on how well Jiro is doing on his date.
    • Said angry lady ended up being a Chekhov's Gunman: she was eventually revealed to be Chie's older sister.
  • Cringe Comedy: A lot of the humor comes from seeing the cast trying to scramble out of bizarrely embarrassing situations.
  • Date Peepers: Taisei, Taro and Yuudai do this when Jiro is finally on a date.
  • Deadly Euphemism:
    Endo: You remember the last time we saw each other? When Nishimura said it was either you or the stall?
    Genji: ...Yeah?
    Endo: That's what this was. He wanted us to make... an executive decision on whether you'd show returns on his investment or not.
    Genji: ... What?
    Endo: He said we could kill you if you acted like an idiot.
  • Death Glare: The angry looking lady from the train that Taro runs into.
  • Domestic Abuse: Yuudai suffered from this in his previous relationship. His ex, Arata, is the one who gave him his characteristic scar.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Taro, when wearing the disguise Taisei prepared for him while spying on Jiro. Lampshaded In-Universe by Yuudai.
  • Dub Name Change: The Japanese scanlations change the name of Taisei's favorite character from Hypraman to "Hyperman".
  • Fun with Foreign Languages/ Wing Dinglish: When Taro meets Jan, the German assistent sushi chef who speaks very little Japanese with a very heavy accent, they, of course, don't understand each other and wacky hijinks of Taro trying to get his point across ensue.
  • Freudian Excuse: It was recently revealed that Jiro's girl issues stem from when he was around six. A little girl in his class declared him her boyfriend, and when he asked what that meant, she decked him. Their relationship after this point consisted entirely of her abusing Jiro while shrieking "BOYFRIEND!"
  • Frustrated Overhead Scribble: When Taisei laughs and asks where Jiro is really going after Jiro tells him he's got a date Jiro's response is an angry jumbled line.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Yuudai claims that he's this, but it seems to be subverted since he adores his cat and seems to get along at least a little bit better with Taro than with everyone else, so he makes exceptions for some.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jiro and Tasei have been best friends since middle school, and they are practically inseparable, go shopping together, and share an apartment. Oh, and after Jiro finally goes on a date with Chie, Taisei can't stop worrying about him getting hurt, and so he stalks their date.
    • Word of God states that Shigeru and Taro are "bros for life".
  • Hidden Depths: Resident grump Yuudai happens to have a weakness for pretty much anything cat-related. And shoujo manga.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Taisei doesn't seem to notice that Yuudai is not exactly Jiro's friend, and instead immediately sees Yuudai as part of the team.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Both Jiro and Yuudai end up being this at some point, albeit not to each other.
  • Implied Death Threat: When Genji shows some reluctance going along with Ryoji's plan, (persuading Uncle Ren to give up Sakana stall, so Ryoji can use it for his own shady business), he delivers one of these, directed at poor Genji.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Taisei loves to go SHOPP-ING~!
  • Jerkass: Yuudai certainly acts this way, but there are several hints that it's actually just a matter of him being fed up with life and not being able to trust many people. Because if someone (Read: Taisei) would strip Yuudai out of all his layers of his Jerkass-ness, they'd find someone who's much less hostile... but still just as awkward.
    • The angry looking lady from the train is mean to Taisei of all people, which quickly earned her this status. Granted, she did have a bad day.
    • One of Jiro's childhood crushes brushed off his Love Confession pretty rudely.
  • Keet: Taisei! Although he fits the "hyperactive," "cheerful," and "loud," characteristics, he's not exactly small...
    • Jan can also qualify. Despite his limited means of communication, his enthusiasm for his job at the fish stall is crystal clear.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Yuudai and Taisei, much to the fanbase's delight.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Both of the comic's major antagonists, Ryoji Nishimura and Arata Tasaki, manage to fill this role, although it's Downplayed for the most part. The former is a manipulative mob boss who's made it clear that he won't hesitate to kill Genji if he doesn't get his way, and the latter is an emotionally abusive sleazebag who manages to render the normally abrasive and antisocial Yuudai meek and with no choice but interact with him (and that goes without mentioning that he's at least part of the reason why Yuudai is so antisocial to begin with), both of which are a far cry from the comic's other, more ineffectual assholes, and rather jarring antagonists in what is otherwise a goofy and light-hearted Slice of Life-Romantic Comedy.
  • Love Bubbles: Cash Register Girl/Chie has them and sparkles in Jiro-Vision.
  • Love Epiphany: It's closer to a Crush Epiphany, but Yuudai has one in regards to Taisei after Jiro asks him if he was trying to send a rather... interesting drunk text to him instead of Arata:
    Yuudai: I told you I hated him!
    Jiro: I know you didn't mean it. I know you're upset about Arata, I get that, I do! Just think about this for a second! You were texting somebody with you! Somebody right there!
    Yuudai: (hesitantly) Was I?
    Jiro: You're asking someone to date you! Not to get back together!
    Yuudai: Is that the same thing?
    Yuudai: Holy shit I was trying to text Taisei.
  • Luminescent Blush: Yuudai! Have some here, here, here, and, perhaps a more visible one due to it being coloured, here.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Holy shit, what did you do to your hair?" The first time we hear it, it's the first thing Arata says to Yuudai (who sports a scruffy-looking mullet in the present day) after seeing him for the first time in five years. The second time, it's the first thing Yuudai says after seeing Jiro's Gag Haircut. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is what ends up triggering Yuudai's Heel Realization and makes him really see just how low he's managed to sink thanks to Arata.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Yuudai initially mistaking Taisei for Jiro's boyfriend.
  • No Name Given: "Cash Register Girl," and only because Jiro is too nervous to ask for it. We eventually learn that it's Chie Yamamoto... A.K.A, the terror of Jiro's preschool years.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Taisei. The awkwardness level of it is especially high because he's so tall.
  • Oblivious to Love: Seemingly subverted. Jiro tries to ask Chie out on a date, but is too nervous when talking to her to actually do so, so he asks her for some change instead. Depressed, Jiro goes back with the change, but Taro notices a piece of paper with her phone number on it...
  • Oh, Crap!: Our three Date Peepers pull an epic one here.
  • Recurring Extra: A guy with a cap with the phrase "THIS GUY" on it shows up frequently in the background. He seems to be a Chekhov's Gunman, because the artist revealed that he will have a bigger role in the future. It turns out he's actually Yuudai's ex-boyfriend.
  • Running Gag: The brothers failing to get Cash Register Girl/Chie's name until the actual date proper.
    • Taro tends to respond to being woken up by his alarm by punching the alarm clock.
    • Yuudai's penchant for pulling off perfect Spit Takes seems to be becoming one as well.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some rather neat and detailed drawn shots of parks, Harajuku and, of course, the Tsukiji Fish Market.
  • Serious Business: Because he's a butcher, chopping up fish is Serious Business to Taro.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Jiro, in an attempt to eat a cheap place on his date, accidentally goes to a place where everyone is this, which only furthers his embarassment.
  • Straight Gay: Yuudai. The x shaped scar on his face was from an abusive ex-boyfriend.
  • Translation Convention: The only hint you get that the characters are speaking in Japanese is in Chapter 9, when Jan and Taisei pronounce an American movie's title in English.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Heavily implied to be the source of Genji's financial issues, and as expected, it hasn't exactly worked in his favor. His dad Ren is getting sick of bailing him out, so he's gearing up to cut Genji off... And as of chapter seventeen, Genji only has one day left to take care of it.
  • Webcomic Time: Although the strip has run for nearly thirteen years as of the time of this writing (including a roughly three year hiatus), only about a week has passed in the story so far.
  • Wham Line: Ohoho. And what a Wham Line it was.
    "Chie": No! You haven't done anything wrong! I'm the monster here! I've felt guilty for so long I just have to say it! I'm sorry, Jiro Sakana. I'll never forgive myself for what I did in preschool.
    • Yet another one from Arata, this time regarding Yuudai:
      Arata: I mean, honestly, where do you get off texting me on a Saturday night, when you already have a new boyfriend?
    • And another:
      Jiro: You also kissed Taisei on Saturday.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Happens to Yuudai of all people. Waking up disoriented and in some state of undress after reluctantly agreeing to join the rest of the main cast for one night of drinking? Check. Seeing that another character (who he happens to despise) is right next to him, leading him to briefly contemplate the possibility that they might have slept together with thinly-veiled horror? Check. Yet another character begins rattling off stranger and stranger things he did while drunk, leading him to panic and ask what exactly happened last night? Check and check.
    • As comedically as it plays out, however, this example also leads to some good old Mood Whiplash when Yuudai finds that he's received some messages.
  • Yakuza: All but outright stated to be the case with Genji's... associates, particularly Ryoji.