Sensual Phrase is a shōjo manga series created by Mayu Shinjo. The manga was published by Shogakukan in Shōjo Comic between 1997 and 2000, and collected in 18 bound volumes. It was adapted as a 44-episode anime television series by Studio Hibari, and as a series of novels. The series tells the story of Aine Yukimura, a high school student who becomes the lyricist for a Japanese rock band, and her relationship with the band’s lead singer, Sakuya Ookochi.
Written and illustrated by Mayu Shinjo, Sensual Phrase premiered in Shōjo Comic in 1997, where it was serialized monthly until its conclusion in 2000. The individual chapters were collected and published in 17 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from June 1997 through January 2001. An additional volume was released on April 24, 2003 containing a sequel chapter to the story and additional unrelated short stories. Shogakukan republished the serialized chapters across six shinsoban hard cover editions in 2003, and re-released the original 17 volumes in 2006 with new covers
Sensual Phrase is licensed for English-language release in North America by Viz Media, including the special final volume. Viz Media published the first volume of the series on March 24, 2004; the final volume was released on February 13, 2007.
The series is licensed for regional language publication by Editorial Ivréa in Spain and Latin America, Pika Edition in France, Egmont Manga & Anime in Germany, and Star Comics in Italy. It was serialized in Germany in Manga Twister, and in Italy in Amici.
Five novels based on the manga were published by Shogakukan:
- 90-nichi no Densetsu, published December 1, 1999
- Hong Kong Kyoushikyoku, published July 25, 2000
- Ao no Meikyu, published November 26, 2001
- Owarinaki Shinwa, published February 2001
- Engage Song, published June 3, 2003
Aine Yukimura is a seventeen-year-old high school student who writes sensual song lyrics and hopes to become a songwriter. One day, two school friends talk her into entering her best lyrics into a contest. When someone bumps into her in the street, she drops her lyrics and is almost run over by a passing car. It is driven by Sakuya Ookochi, lead singer of the hard rock band Lucifer, which is known for its sensual lyrics. Aine does not know who he is, but falls in love. He makes sure she is not hurt, and gives her an all-access pass to that night’s show. After she leaves, he finds her lyrics and takes them back to the band with a plan in mind.
That night, Aine listens from the back of the audience. As she turns to leave, she hears Sakuya singing her lyrics. She runs to the stage to see if he is the driver of the car. She is swept off her feet. At first, people tell her Sakuya is never serious about women, and she thinks he might be toying with her. Later, he kidnaps her and convinces her to become the band’s lyricist, and she thinks he is playing with her but for business reasons, not romance. Sakuya then transfers to Aine’s high school, wanting to protect and work with her. Initially, he sees her as an innocent he can tease, but his feelings for her soon grow. Seeing her talent, and wanting to win the girl, Sakuya campaigns for Aine to become the band’s official lyricist. His manager initially objects, but relents on seeing the continued excellence of Aine’s lyrics. She becomes their lyricist, using the male pseudonym Yukihiko Aine to protect her identity and the band’s image.
Aine and Sakuya’s relationship gets off to a rocky start, when they do not communicate their real feelings. Aine tries to hide her feelings for Sakuya, thinking he sees the two of them only as co-workers. She believes he wants to preserve her virginal imagination so that she will continue to write hit songs for the band. This seems confirmed when he rejects her advances. Although Sakuya is not subtle by nature, he attempts to express his feelings for her by writing a ballad called “Little Bird” or “Love Melody”, but she continues to misunderstand. Finally, after filming the music video “Drug”, he corners her and confesses his feelings.
But beginning a romance and being the girlfriend of a high-profile star is not easy. As the series progresses, Aine finds herself the frequent target of Sakuya’s enemies, including rival bands and obsessed fans.
Ralph Grazer, Sakuya’s older half-brother, is an American media mogul who heads a business empire in the United States and is branching into Asian markets. Ralph has a grudge against Sakuya, whom he has never met although their father has pushed them to make contact. Ralph goes to Japan, and uses blackmail to force Aine to break up with Sakuya and work for him instead. Sakuya takes time out from the band to confront his biological father, the man had who had raped his mother. Sakuya travels to America to learn the family business, which gives him the knowledge and power to take Ralph’s position as head of the media corporation. Sakuya returns to Japan and forces Ralph to sign a contract under which he will recover his position in return for releasing Aine. Ralph, used to getting whatever and whomever he wants, is confused by this tactic and by Sakuya’s love for Aine. He returns to the United States to start over and relearn from their father. Ralph returns twice more in the manga, but no longer necessarily as Sakuya’s enemy.
Lucifer continues to grow, becoming a major hit. Renamed Λucifer, the band prepares to tour America and Europe. Sakuya and Aine attempt to balance their love and professional lives. Aine’s feelings for Sakuya and her ability to write lyrics are tested. The band hires Hitoshi Takayama as producer to prepare for international fame. At first, Hitoshi thinks Aine is nothing more than an outspoken groupie, with no place on band premises or in Sakuya’s life. But as he gets to know her he falls in love, hiding his feelings by pretending to be homosexual. As Hitoshi plans the band’s six-month move to England to set the stage for capturing European fans, he attempts to break up both Sakuya and Aine’s relationship and another couple, one of the band’s guitarists, Atsuro, and his girlfriend Yuuka. Yuki, another guitarist, soon puts a stop to this plan, letting Takayama know that band members owe their success to their families and lovers.
Kaito Yoshioka, president of a rival label, resents Λucifer’s success. He decides to use Aine to break up the band, and brutally rapes her in an attempt to break Sakuya. Hitoshi finds Aine and takes her to his home to try to comfort her, helping her avoid Sakuya out of shame, self-loathing and fear of being rejected. When Aine tries to commit suicide that night, Takayama tells Sakuya. Sakuya loses his voice and desire to sing, and leaves the band. Yuki realizes that the only way to protect the band is to sign with Sakuya’s half-brother Ralph’s label, taking the band international. Meanwhile, Sakuya tries to kill Yoshioka, but Ralph stops him. He reminds Sakuya that Aine needs him to be with her, not in prison. Ralph avenges Aine by having Yoshioka investigated for tax evasion and fraud, which destroys his company.
Aine is in a near-catatonic state, and Sakuya takes her into hiding to care for her. When she again attempts suicide, he cuts his own wrist telling her he will die with her if that is what she really wants. Aine snaps out of her depression and begins to heal emotionally. Takayama finds Sakuya, and with Yuki makes several attempts to persuade Sakuya to return to the band. Aine realizes that Sakuya is avoiding music and is afraid that she will be hurt again because of him. She convinces him to return to the world they both love. Takayama’s death in a car accident tramatizes and pushes Sakuya to rejoin the band and sign the contract. Ralph tells Sakuya that, when he takes over from their father, he wants Sakuya to head the company’s media business. Sakuya refuses, saying he would rather be a producer. After Takayama’s death, Λucifer performs its final concert in Japan before moving to New York City. While they are overseas, Aine studies to take Takayama’s place and become a producer. At the end of the series, Sakuya and Aine are married with a son. ~ See one-shot of Atsuro and Yuuka’s wedding, and one-shot ‘King Egoist’ in Love Celeb for the announcement of Sakuya and Aine’s second child ~