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Kazuki (Tona-Gura!)

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Her childhood dream versus reality. And the winner is....

Arisaka Kazuki is the main character and female lead of the ani-manga series Tona-Gura!. Her character seems to be a simple tsundere on the surface, but it is very rare for her to lash out blindly, or without real reason, whereas many female characters of her type are on a hair-trigger.

The series' focus is mainly on her and her mixed feelings for her childhood crush, Kagura Yuuji, who has resumed living next door to her after a decade's absence. Their houses were so close, their bedrooms had nearly connecting verandas, where the siblings would play together. As the series starts, Kazuki is excited over the Kaguras' return. She recalls Yuuji as a young gentleman, and his little sister Marie as a crybaby.

But when her older sister Hatsune tells her that their new/old neighbors have arrived, the pair is now radically different. Yuuji almost jumps on Kazuki, hugging her about the waist, an action which is met by Marie popping off the head of her teddy bear, and revealing a paint-ball firing machine gun that she mercilessly pummels her older brother with till he ceases his 'perverted' behavior. Kazuki cannot seem to make the new Yuuji back off, and her best friend Suzuharu Chihaya is no help, finding his behavior typical for boys and actually kind of cute. For Kazuki, the hardest part comes when Yuuji still shows signs of being who he once was to her. When faced with a difficult swimming competition at school, no one is more loyal or intense in his support than Yuuji--despite his hormonal response to the sight of her in a swimsuit. It becomes clear that he is not simply a grabby jerk, but rather clueless about his grabby behavior, yet up against the boy she remembers, this often helps Kazuki not at all. Also not helping is Marie's practiced over-reaction to almost any action on Yuuji's part that seems perverted, as well as Hatsune's efforts to matchmake the now mismatched pair. Yuuji shows signs of limited growth early on - however this comes in the form of answering the hopeful signs she shows by again bothering Kazuki with his antics, so the effect is again not helpful. Yuuji is actually at his most appealing when he complains of the frequent moves his absentee father subjects himself and Marie to, limiting the friendships they are able to develop. Again, though, any sign that he is getting through to Kazuki is met by hormonal behavior that either she and/or Marie respond with practiced violence to.

On other fronts, recent high-schooler Kazuki must also deal with the literal legion of admirers her much bustier older sister Hatsune has at school, not the least of which is a teacher Kazuki herself has a crush on--and who draws Yuuji's ire for this reason. Also on her mind is her own absent parents, traveling with Kagura-San, Yuuji and Marie's father, a man she and Hatsune respectfully call Uncle. One confusion seems to pile on top of another for Kazuki, including being teased by Chihaya that she might want Yuuji for herself.

In the anime, she notes it when Yuuji responds to the advice of her teacher Kogorou-San to back off from his behavior a bit, especially after a beach incident with her bikini-top leaves her infuriated. Kazuki is further shocked when Hatsune presents her with Kazuki's lost childhood diary, revealing that Yuuji has not changed at all. His behavior when a boy was endearing and funny; it is less so as a young man driven less by playfulness than by hormones. Kazuki also finds that she herself was more playful as a child, and less demanding that the world be a certain way. As the anime ends, the two reach a middle ground on their approach to life and start to begin a real relationship, while their stay is extended once again by their absentee parents.

In the manga, no one piece of advice makes Yuuji alter his ways. He seems instead to react to noting that one type of behavior gets him hit, and the other gets him closer to Kazuki. Kazuki for her part puts up with his less extreme behavior, even finding it charming. A major turning point comes when Yuuji accepts a photography internship with his father's subordinate. While still making comments about photographing Kazuki and Chihaya in swimsuits--and less--he becomes determined to be a better photographer, and works under conditions that are less than ideal, earning the admiration of the ladies he lives and associates with. At a critical moment, Yuuji again follows good advice and says that he likes Kazuki and finds her pretty, finally realizing that his hormonal actions, however well-intended, were not communicating these simple facts. The two begin a relationship that is growing slowly and moving forward at a pace they can handle. While a good person, Yuuji's boss Tojo Haya often has become an obstacle to their relationship, with her abusive boss persona (which she abandons when not working, and can be quite nice) and perfectionist demands on Yuuji's work limiting the amount of time the two can now spend together. The only guarantee the pair have is that they both want to see where their relationship goes, and to remain friends no matter what. Kazuki briefly found herself targeted by Marie, who found that a less perverted brother needed her less. Hatsune has not relented, despite the start of the relationship, seeming determined that she will see the pair to the altar. Kazuki still finds amusement in making Yuuji think she and Chihaya might be together.

Kazuki's personality is a fair one, in both anime and manga (unlike say, Love Hina's Naru, who becomes somewhat caricatured in that anime), and when Yuuji goes too far, her response is proportional, and unless his stare is constant and leering, does not even comment on what he might be thinking. Whether it is avoiding Yuuji early on or trying to be with him later on, she often finds the world at odds with how she thinks things should be, a source of frustration for her. On rare occasions, when she has found herself in the wrong vis-a-vis Yuuji, she has been quick and honest in making it right and admitting her mistakes. She actually feels some sympathy even in the worst of it for Yuuji's discomfort and efforts to be 'good' when dealing with the crush Isokawa Nina, a busty girl the same age as Marie, has on him. Kazuki has recently come across the intriguing idea of one day becoming a school swim teacher herself, a notion supported by all who know her.

The full scanlated manga series is not yet completed for consumption outside Japan, so the final outcome is not known at this time (5/20/11).

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