Film Friday- The Quintessential Quintuplets

Film Friday- The Quintessential Quintuplets

The Quintessential Quintuplets is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Negi Haruba. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine from August 2017 to February 2020. The series follows the daily life of a high school student Futaro Uesugi who is hired as a private tutor for a group of quintuplets, Ichika, Nino, Miku, Yotsuba and Itsuki Nakano, who perform poorly academically. At the very beginning of the story, it is indicated Futaro will marry with one of the Nakano quintuplets but the identity of the bride is unknown until near the end of the story.

An anime television series adaptation produced by Tezuka Productions aired from January to March 2019 on TBS and other channels. A second season by Bibury Animation Studios premiered in January 2021.

The series is published in English by Kodansha USA under the Kodansha Comics imprint. The anime series is licensed in North America under a Crunchyroll–Funimation partnership.

The series is a commercial success, being the 5th best selling manga in 2019, and the 3rd best selling manga in the first half of 2020 in Japan. In 2019, the manga won the award for the shōnen category at the 43rd annual Kodansha Manga Awards.

Main characters

Futaro Uesugi

A blunt, friendless highschool student that is very academically gifted. Futaro lives with his sister and father in a small apartment. He is serious and dedicated to his efforts in helping the Nakano sisters improve their grades. He likes dishes that Raiha cooks, but hates raw fish. His favorite drink is barley tea, his favorite animals are gorillas and his daily convention is storing one coin. In his student handbook he keeps a photo of a girl he met in Kyoto while he was in sixth grade, who was his inspiration to study. It is later revealed that she is one of the Nakano Quintuplets.

Nakano Quintuplet sisters

The sisters are all physically identical with large blue eyes, light-reddish hair, cute expressive faces and shapely figures. Despite their different hairstyles, the sisters are experts at impersonating each other and often do so for pranks or convenience. They were born on May 5 and live together in a rich high-rise apartment and by following the “go-toubun” (five portions, divided equally) philosophy given by their late mother, consider themselves five parts of one whole. Although they share terrible grades and no desire to study, they can be honorable and appreciate the work that Futaro is dedicating towards them.

Ichika Nakano
The eldest sister, she has short hair without any accessories. Ichika acts like a responsible older sister – she’s caring, thoughtful and wise. She enjoys sleeping and her room is incredibly messy. She aspires to become a movie actress and dedicates most of her time and resources to do so, to the point of having to quit schooling in order to focus on her acting career. She likes salted fish but hates mushrooms. Her favorite drink is frappuccino, her favorite animals are hippos, her favorite TV program type is drama, her best subject is mathematics, and her daily hobby is jogging. She falls in love with Futaro and wanted to confess to him, but hearing Nino confessing to Futaro prevented her from doing so. As she grew to accept she wanted Futaro for herself, she became misguided and started using underhanded methods to get closer to him and sabotage her sisters in the process. She used Miku’s disguised as a way to “cheat” her way into his heart, almost sabotaging Miku’s chances to confess in the process. It’s revealed that she met Futaro 5 years before the start of the story: after Futaro and the girl from the photo (Yotsuba) had spent the entire day together and both went to the inn the quintuplets were staying at, she was interested in him and played cards with him while Yotsuba was gone, with Futaro himself unaware that he was interacting with another quintuplet. She had forgotten about this exchange until they reunited years later, when he put a blond wig as a disguise, resembling the way he looked years ago. After getting called out by Futaro on her schemes and realizing the error of her ways, she helps Miku properly confess to Futaro and decides to stop pursuing her love towards him, lying to him that their moments together were all “lies”. She becomes his guide on his path to accept he was in love and becomes the first quintuplet in knowing his choice. After Futaro’s choice at the end of the school festival, she congratulates him and pushes him to be more open with his feelings. 5 years later, she becomes a famous actress around the world.
Nino Nakano
The second sister, she has very long hair with two butterfly-style accessories on the sides. Due to her poor eyesight, she has been wearing contact lenses for the past three years but still takes five minutes to put them in. Although she is caring and playful with her sisters, she shows a grumpy and somewhat aggressive personality to outsiders. She likes pancakes, but hates tsukemono. Her favorite drink is warm water, her favorite animals are rabbits, her favorite TV program type is variety shows, her best subject is English, and her daily convention is putting on a facial mask and doing yoga. She is also fashionable and skilled at cooking, hinted to have dreams of becoming a chef. She views Futaro as an interloper to the sisters’ unique relationship and has gone to extreme, sometimes illegal lengths to ban him from their apartment. She’s afraid to be left behind and desires to find her own path, but she’s afraid to let go of the past and the dynamic she had with her sisters since they were kids; her problems with Fuutaro comes from the very fact that she sees him as the one changing the status quo she had grown accustomed to, which sometimes generates conflict between her and her sisters.
However, she starts seeing Fuutaro as someone who respects her feelings and one who desires to see the Nakano quintuplets together as a family, melting her heart. After fully realizing her feelings, she becomes the first quintuplet to successfully confess to Futaro, taking a straight-forward approach on her love towards him ever since in order to gain his affection, often clashing with the third sister, Miku, acting like rivals. After Futaro’s choice at the end of the school festival, she becomes upset with Yotsuba’s consideration of her feelings as she sees it as pity. After a heartfelt exchange, she accepts Yotsuba’s resolve, acknowledging her as a rival and warns that she will take any chance on taking Futaro away if their relationship ever falls apart. 5 years later she opens the Nakano Bakery shop with Miku, borrowing the place of the former Uesugi restaurant.
Miku Nakano
The third sister, she has medium-length hair, “emotionless” eyes and normally a specific pair of headphones around her neck. She has a quiet and passive personality, few friends, and interest in warlords of specific eras of Japanese history. She likes matcha, but hates chocolates. Her favorite drink is green tea, her favorite animals are hedgehogs, her favorite TV program type is documentary, her best subject is social science, and her daily convention is divination. She seems to be the first one to fall in love with Futaro. Her cooking skills are abysmal, but after Futaro said that he preferred girls who can cook, she began focusing to improve that talent. While taking confidence in her pursuit of Futaro, after seeing her sisters one by one starting to pursue his affection as well, made her shyness bloom, even more, seeing her sisters as better candidates for his love and grew scared of “playing fair” against them who had a more aggressive approach. She manages to successfully confess to Futaro the second time, though she leaves it vague to make him embarrassed. After this, she regains her confidence and goes for a more assertive/aggressive approach similar to Nino’s. She decides to pursue culinary arts after realizing she likes to “make stuff”, regardless if it is for Futaro’s sake or not. After Futaro’s choice at the end of the school festival, she counsels Yotsuba into accepting the other sisters’ frustration and anger and that she should pursue her own happiness. She ultimately realizes that despite not being Futaro’s choice, she is happy that she has become a unique individual and takes pride in it. 5 years later she opens the Nakano Bakery shop with Nino, borrowing the place of the former Uesugi restaurant.
Yotsuba Nakano
The fourth sister, she has medium-length hair and a ribbon styled into two vertical “ears”. Always cheerful, friendly and good at sports, her constantly active personality can annoy others. She likes citrus unshiu, but hates bell peppers. She likes watching anime and loves drinking carbonated fruit juice. Her favorite animals are camels, her best subject is Japanese, and her daily convention is watering plants. She has received 0% scores on school tests. Her actions usually suggest either a complete absence of thought or unconscious intricate plans far beyond anything the other characters could imagine. She is the only one to immediately accept Futaro as their tutor. She’s supportive and always looking out for other people, especially her sisters and Futaro. She has a bad habit of putting others’ needs above her own.
Later it’s revealed that she’s the girl from the photo, the one Futaro met 5 years before the start of the story during a school trip at Kyoto. She met him by coincidence, getting him out of a complicated situation and spent the rest of the day together. Connecting after enjoying their adventure during the day, both promised to improve their grades in order to apply to highly profitable jobs and make their respective families have a better lifestyle, specifically Raiha for Futaro and Rena for Yotsuba. However, due to her own low self-confidence and identity issues while growing up, as well as Rena’s death soon after the Kyoto trip, she slowly started growing distant from her sisters, seeing them getting slightly better grades than her with little effort while she studied hard with unsuccessful results, frustration building on her. She then decides to focus on clubs and develop her athletic abilities, dropping studying completely as she lost her resolve, changing her mindset from self-improvement to competition for recognition above her sisters and be recognized as the superior of the sisters. That ultimately costs her getting expelled from her previous school, but her sisters refuse to leave her alone and follow her.
Therefore, her selfish mind view was shattered and developed a selfless devotion towards them and started to prioritize their own happiness and desires over her own. She refuses to tell Futaro who she is after meeting with him at the start of the story because she views herself as a failure due to not being able to fulfill the promise they made and decides to support him on his school and love life, ignoring her own feelings for him when she sees her sisters slowly falling for him and actively pursuing his love. However, her subtle yet meaningful support throughout the series ends up getting noticed by Futaro, ultimately leading to him falling in love with her and choosing her at the end of the school festival. Initially she refuses and runs away, but after hearing Futaro’s confession, she becomes unable to hold her feelings down and confesses her love. After the school festival, she decides that before dating Futaro she needed to talk with her sisters about their feelings and her own, especially Nino and Miku. After coming to terms that she can pursue her own happiness, she accepts both Futaro’s re-confession and proposal and they become a couple. Five years later, she lives together with Futaro at Tokyo and celebrates her wedding ceremony. In the final chapter, it’s revealed she is the one who kissed Futaro under the bell while disguised as Itsuki, event which Futaro in the future narrates as the moment he started seeing his bride as “special”.
Itsuki Nakano
The fifth and the youngest sister, she has an expressive ahoge, long hair with two twirling “streams” and two stars beside her eyes. Her blood type is A. She has a two-faced personality; she’s always friendly with acquaintances and classmates but Futaro’s presence immediately puts her in attack mode due to his past insults. She loves to eat food and studies seriously, even though her methods need improvement. She likes meat and curry but hates umeboshi. Her favorite animal is the kangaroo. Her favorite TV program type is wasei-eigo. Her best subject is science and her daily convention is exercising abdominal muscles and doing yoga. Ever since she was little, she was close to her mother, Rena. After her death, she decided to cope with her loss by trying to replace Rena as the mother-figure of the quintuplets, with unsuccessful results. This makes her act properly towards others and is strict with her sisters at times, taking her mother’s advice seriously, whether it’s about how they should act with each other or how they should be careful when picking their romantic partner. After thinking about what to do with her career path, she decides to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher, despite her low grades. During one point of the series, she dresses as the girl from the photo, nicknaming herself “Rena” (after her mother) and meeting with Futaro in the present in order to sever ties with him and forcing him to move on from their promise. Later (after the reveal that “Rena”/Itsuki was not the girl from the photo) it’s revealed that she was asked by Yotsuba (the girl from the photo) to perform this task, as she herself isn’t good with disguises and doesn’t want her identity revealed to Futaro and felt their promise was holding him back from enjoying his school life like a normal student. However, later in the series, Itsuki felt she couldn’t keep the secret hidden much longer as she thought of it as unfair to both Yotsuba and Futaro and decided to dress as “Rena” on her own once again to make Futaro remember who he met, only for her advances to be rejected by him, who had since figured out the girl of the photo was one of the quintuplets, though not exactly which one, and he was sick of playing along with their tricks. After Futaro makes his choice, Itsuki goes under a brief period of self-doubt, unable to congratulate him on his decision and realizes her hidden feelings for him. However, after overhearing Yotsuba and Nino’s discussion, she decides to let go of those feelings by realizing that “a fruitless love can also be beautiful”, deciding to treasure her memories with Futaro instead. 5 years later, she becomes a teacher.

Production

The idea of “a group of quintuplets falling in love with the same person” existed even before the serialization of Haruba’s previous work, Karma of Purgatory (2014-2015), but was very simple at that time. The idea was denied by his editor-in-charge. A year after, after the end of Karma of Purgatory, he discussed with his editor-in-charge what to serialize next. Among the few ideas being come up with, the “quintuplets” idea was included again, which was accepted by the editor this time. After failures in two to three serialization committees, finally it was decided to have a one-shot manga published first. The one-shot received positive reviews and therefore went on to serialization.

Haruba finished drawing the last chapter on February 10, 2020.

Characters

It was decided the protagonist should be quintuplets at the very beginning. When later the idea of quadruplets and sextuplets was raised, it was rejected very quickly, around 30 seconds. Haruba said it might be a reference to Super Sentai when he came up with this idea. Similar to Super Sentai, Ichika (yellow), Nino (black), Miku (blue), Yotsuba (green) and Itsuki (red) are all represented by a colour. The design of the quintuplets started from his favourite existing female characters from “some slice-of-life works only with girls”, around 15 to 20 of them. The idea of adding numbers in their names was after the design was almost confirmed.

The hair colour of the Nakano quintuplets are different when being coloured, which was suggested by Haruba himself, such that they are more distinguishable from each other. The hair colour of the bride in the flashforward is therefore a colour-in-between.

Story

The flashforward that Futaro will eventually marry with only one of the Nakano quintuplets was for eliminating the possibility of marrying all five of them, which would be a lazy ending. It was also decided all quintuplets would anyway have negative feelings towards Futaro from the beginning because Haruba wanted to write how their relationship improved from hate to love in the story, except Yotsuba, who has to act as Futaro’s guide for the development of the story.

While it is normal for harem romantic comedy manga to have sexy depiction, Haruba tried to avoid it to some extent after Vol. 1. In his opinion, showing panties which are being worn, i.e. panchira, makes characters less mysterious and then less interesting to the readers. To keep the characters interesting, the sexy scenes were intended to be ambiguous but not straightforward, leading to readers’ imagination. The swimsuit appearance of the Nakanos was finally revealed in Ep. 92 as Haruba thought an episode of swimming suits should exist before finishing the story.

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