We’ve all been there – you have a quiet evening to yourself, and you fancy a tear through some of your most beloved manga – on a night such as this, I found myself re-reading through one of my favourites in Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!. The characters are all such a riot.
However throughout this re-read I couldn’t help but get caught up in the hilarity of the fun-loving eldest sister of the Ayase family, Asagi Ayase.
Who is Asagi Ayase?
Asagi Ayase is the eldest child of the Ayase family, who live next door to single father Yousuke Koiwai and his adopted daughter – the ever energetic and titular Yotsuba. Asagi is a student at a nearby university and stays at home due to distance and the ease of living at home financially. In the rare instances where she is at home (seriously Azuma-sensei, we need more Asagi chapters – the people demand it!), we see her personality in full force in her interactions with her parents, her sisters, and of course, with the neighbouring Koiwai family – especially Yotsuba.
Why we love her
Asagi has a mischievous streak and loves to tease her siblings, her parents, and people in general but has shown herself to have a heartwarmingly caring attitude towards her neighbour Yotsuba. Asagi often plays along with whatever games Yotsuba is making up and joins in with her antics, often in order to use Yotsuba’s chaotic fun nature against her middle sister Fuuka in order to get her kicks. However within this we get the sense as readers that she identifies greatly with Yotsuba and this is confirmed by Asagi’s mother, who reminisces that Asagi was very similar to Yotsuba when she was the same age; which Asagi denies in embarrassment.
We see this in a flashback where Asagi is really happy that she has managed to find a 4 leaf clover for her mum and gives it to her, only to be told by her mum that if she really wants to give her a lucky gift, she should find a 5 leaf clover – Asagi tries but cannot find it, which goes a long way to show where Asagi gets her teasing nature from!
On multiple occasions, we see Asagi interact in the most wholesome way with Yotsuba, whether it be by making a fairy dress for her out of trash bags, bringing back souvenirs from one of Asagi’s many trips away to other areas of Japan with her friend Torako (in fact Asagi teaches Yotsuba about the etiquette and rules of souvenir giving in Japan) or mending the damaged voice box of Yotsuba’s stuffed bear Juralumin, which she treasures deeply.
Why you will love her
Asagi is a beautiful woman, but she has nuance and it is a great testament to Azuma-senpai in his character writing that all of the characters in Yotsuba&! feel so real. This is largely in part because Yotsuba&! is a slice of life comedy manga, but to be able to make characters so realistic is truly impressive. Asagi has caring moments, but can be lazy, and in some cases a little hurtful when poking fun of Fuuka, her younger sister, for her weight – however this never comes across as anything more than sisterly teasing.
With her best friend Torako, much like with Fuuka, she’ll often introduce Yotsuba into the situation in order to see how Torako will handle Yotsuba and takes great pleasure in seeing others try to handle Yotsuba, as Asagi easily handles Yotsuba’s behaviour better than any other character in the show, besides Yotsuba’s father Yousuke. All of the characters in Yotsuba&! are amazing in their own right but before long, just like Yotsuba&!’s resident Asagi-simp Takashi “Jumbo” Takeda, you will fall for Asagi. She is inevitable.