Asagao to Kase-san is a yuri manga which is written by Hiromi Takashima and received a short anime clip released on YouTube in May. We interviewed a famous fan of the manga, Nana Okada, the vice-captain of the idol group AKB48’s Team 4 and the captain of STU48. Okada has publicly said that she is a huge fan of Asagao to Kase-san, so let’s find out about her love towards this manga!
Born on 7 November. Works for AKS Co., Ltd. She passed the AKB48’s 14th Research Student Audition in May 2012 and made her debut in July of the same year. She is currently the vice-captain of AKB48’s Team 4. In February 2017, she was also appointed to be the captain of STU48, which is a sister group of AKB48. STU48 has its own theater in a ship that travels around the Setouchi Region in Japan.
Please tell us how you first started reading the Kase-san series.
‘There are sometimes fans who give me manga as gifts, and one of the manga I received was Asagao to Kase-san. The story was so good and I became a huge fan immediately. When the manga’s anime adaptation got an official Twitter account, I followed it right away!’
What do you think are the charms of this manga?
‘Everyone is so pure, and there are so many scenes that make my heart pound! For every chapter I read, I can’t stop my heart beating fast! In the Kase-san series, Yamada and Kase-san are shining brightly and enjoying their adolescent days. It really doesn’t matter that they are both girls. It is a manga that makes the readers feel great happiness.’
Please tell us your impression of each character. Let’s start with Yamada.
‘Yamada is the purest girl in the Kase-san series. She is very kind and also very inexperienced in love. These are her cute aspects. Also, I feel that she is a very hard worker who puts effort in the things she does every day, such as watering flowers and pulling up weeds. I love how she is so gentle to nature, and there is nothing that I don’t like about her! In the story of the marathon race (in Harukaze to Kase-san), there is a scene in which Yamada runs to the ruined flower bed and gets stepped on by many other students. When I read this scene, I felt that this action was so Yamada-like [laugh]. That is why I felt really happy when Yamada was able to become the chairman of the school’s greenery committee when she became a third-year student.’
What are your impressions of Kase-san?
‘She’s a fast runner, she’s tall and beautiful, … and she is just so cool! If she were my friend, I would definitely fall in love with her. She’s also very daring.’
In what way do you think she is daring?
‘Well, I think she’s daring overall [laugh]. I love the episode in which Yamada and Kase-san sing loudly at the river bank (in Love Song to Kase-san). In this episode, there is a scene in which the two characters drink tea from a flask after they finish singing. I strongly believe that Kase-san passed the bottle to Yamada, knowing that it would be an indirect kiss if Yamada drank from it! I think that this scene is a good example of Kase-san’s daring personality.’
Please tell us your impression of Mikawa, Yamada’s friend.
‘I personally feel that Mikawa is a very important character in the Kase-san series. For Yamada, Mikawa is a great friend who she can really trust. When Yamada hears a rumor that Kase-san used to go out with another girl, Mikawa gets worried about Yamada and asks her if she’s really okay with everything. It was as if Mikawa were Yamada’s mother [laugh].’
Now that we’ve heard about your impressions, please tell us your favorite character.
‘Hmm, I love everyone, so it’s a very difficult question… but I guess Kase-san is my favorite character. She is very positive and she is a great athlete. She is so perfect that no one can beat her coolness!’
If Kase-san were someone close to you, what would you do?
‘I would like to watch her from far away [laugh]. I like looking at Kase-san and Yamada being together, so I would not want to aggressively get between their relationship. Therefore, I would probably just watch them flirting from faraway. Oh, but I would love to become friends with Yamada. I love flowers too, so it might be fun to water the plants together! It would be awesome if, during the summer holidays, we can water flowers and watch Kase-san together, while Kase-san is doing her club activities.’
What is your favorite story in the Kase-san series?
‘Well, I must say that it is the “indirect kissing” scene with the bottle that I mentioned earlier. In Asagao to Kase-san, I can definitely say that that was my favorite scene, but I have many other favorite scenes! For example, in Obentou to Kase-san, I love the episode in which the characters get on an airplane to go to Okinawa on their school trip (in Ichigo Drop to Kase-san). Yamada looks out the airplane’s window and gets excited at how the landscape is so beautiful. Then, Kase-san covers herself and Yamada with a blanket, so that she can kiss Yamada. It is such a cute scene!’
Kase-san was very daring in that scene too, wasn’t she [laugh]?
‘Yes, exactly! I mean, a flight attendant is standing right behind them, but they still kiss! Although they are covered with a blanket, they still seem strange looking from the outside [laugh]. During the school trip, Yamada gets jealous about Kase-san, and although the two love each other, they go through some misunderstandings. In many of the episodes in Obentou to Kase-san, and I can remember the feeling of impatience that it gave me.’
Do you have any favorite scenes from Shortcake to Kase-san?
‘I love the scene in which Yamada strongly holds her platform ticket and jumps on to the Shinkansen at the very end (In Yuuyake to Kase-san). This was the first time to see Yamada’s emotions explode, and I was so touched. Yamada was planning to go to a local university, so it was surprising how she suddenly said, “I’m going to a university in Tokyo too!” This was the moment I felt that Yamada’s love towards Kase-san became stronger than any other feeling.’
On 25 July, the newest volume Apron to Kase-san is to be released. How do you feel about this?
‘I am so excited, and I must buy the special edition! The Kase-san series always warms my heart, so when I heard that a new volume is to be released, I felt so happy. Yamada and Kase-san look so cute together on the cover, and their maid costumes are very cute too! The word “apron” is included in the title, so their might be cooking scenes in the new book! Oh, I just can’t stop imagining [laugh]! Also, I personally want to find out more about Inoue-senpai, who is rumored to be the ex-girlfriend of Kase-san. We only know what Kase-san was like before she started going out with Yamada through rumors. Therefore, I’m very interested in Kase-san’s past. I’m so anxious to read the new volume!’
Now, please tell us your thoughts on the animation clip which was revealed in May.
‘The video expressed the sweet and sour aspects of school days, and I felt that it was great! It was so amazing! I especially felt that the fresh and pure atmosphere of the original manga was stronger in the video. Also, the theme song sung by Hanako Oku was beautiful. There are many members of AKB48 and STU48 who love Oku’s songs. I myself am a big fan of Oku, and I love singing “Garnet” at karaoke. I am looking forward to singing “Kimi no Egao (album ver.)”, the image song of Asagao to Kase-san, at karaoke too!’
Finally, can you please tell the charms of the Kase-san series to those who have never read the manga before?
‘The Kase-san series is a manga that I would strongly recommend to not just yuri manga fans, but also to those who are not familiar with or interested in yuri stories. Yuri manga has been gaining a lot of attention lately, but I truly feel that the Kase-san series is the manga that should be read by everyone! I’m sure that there are tons of fans besides me who strongly hope to read the sequel. If you do not know about the Kase-san series yet, I really hope you will watch the animation clip first, and get interested in the original manga too! I can definitely say that there is no other yuri manga that would make the reader’s heart pound as much as this series! I will continue to support this manga forever!’
Interview/Article: Maho Omura (Studio Hard Deluxe)
Photography: Hajime Omata (Studio Hard Deluxe)