Pop-culture woman of the week - Mizuki Ashiya

Name: Mizuki Ashiya (芦屋 瑞希)
Appearance: Hana-Kimi, manga in 23 volumes
Creator: Hisaya Nakajo
Weapon/ability: Fast runner
Race: Japanese
Age: 15 at the beginning of the manga

Mizuki is Japanese, but she and her family moved to California when she was very young and she grew up there. While she grew up there she kept track of the Japanese high jumper Izumi Sano, he is the same age as her and he shows great promise to turn into something great. Mizuki is a great fan of his and decided it would be a good idea to enter the same school as her idol – problem number one being that it is in Japan, problem number two being that it is an all boys’ school, Osaka Gakuen. But Mizuki is determined to do it, she persuades her parents that it would be a good idea to let her go to Japan and once there she cuts her hair and acts like a boy (her family not knowing anything about the last part).

Mizuki is very American in her ways that somewhat collides with the more formal ways of the Japanese, her initial tries to befriend Izumi makes people think she has a crush on him – when she thinks she is just acting normal. But she is not deterred. She tries her best to fit in and make friends. Mizuki ends up sharing a room with Izumi, but she has very little trouble there with keeping her gender hidden – since he does everything he can to keep away from discovering it. This is of course no coincidence; he knows she is a girl since he found out when he had to carry her once soon after her arrival at the school.

Izumi knows of her being a girl, but he does not tell her – afraid that it will make her leave the school, and the school doctor, Doctor Umeda, knows of it too and that she is aware of. She turns to him to ask for help and support, he is reluctant to give it but in the end he is an endless support to her (he and his sister who helps out with getting Mizuki things she needs but which would be hard to come buy if posing as a boy).

Initially Mizuki is actually not in love with Izumi and just admires him greatly – but since they live together, he is a really nice (and good-looking) guy and it is a shōjo manga, she of course develops more romantic feelings towards him too.

The original name of the manga is Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, which means ‘For you in full blossom’. The story has been turned into a drama for television in both Taiwan and Japan, but for once there is no anime based on the story.

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