Sensual Phrase (快感 フレーズ Kaikan Furēzu?) 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.
To promote the anime, two real-life bands were formed: Λucifer, the band the story focuses on, and e.MU, a rival band. Both bands continued after the anime ended before disbanding. Within the series, Λucifer’s original name is Lucifer, which is changed to Λucifer (using the Greek letter lambda) when the band decides to go international. For the purposes of the article, the second name, Λucifer is used. Japanese names are given in Western order, with family name last.
Virginal Aine Yukimura is a quiet high school student who secretly writes raunchy song lyrics in hopes of becoming a song writer. One day she drops her lyrics and is almost run over by a car driven by Sakuya Ookochi, the lead singer for the hard-rocking band Lucifer known for their sensual lyrics. While helping her out, he ends up with a copy of her lyrics. Seeing her talent and desiring the girl, he campaigns for Aine to become the official lyricist for the band. His manager initially objects, but when Aine continues producing excellent lyrics, he relents and she becomes their lyricist using the male pseudonym Yukihiko Aine to protect her identity.
Aine and Sakuya's relationship starts on rocky ground, with Aine in love with Sakuya but thinking he only is with her for her lyrics. When he rejects her sexual advance, this only furthers this belief until he expresses his own love for her through a ballad he writes entitled "Little Bird". However, being the girlfriend of a high profile star is not an easy task. Aine is almost immediately targeted by jealous classmates who are fans of Sakuya's with Sakuya finally having to step in to put an end to things when some female fans pay some guys to attempt to rape Aine. As the series progresses, Aine is frequently targeted by Sakuya's enemies including rival bands and obsessed fans. In particular, his half-brother Ralph uses blackmail to take Aine from Sakuya temporarily, forcing Sakuya to face his father, who raped his mother. Knowing that his father prefers him over Ralph, Sakuya bows his head to him and learns the family business, giving him the power to take back Aine and keep Ralph from trying such a tactic again. However, Ralph continues attempting to woo Aine, having fallen in love with her during the time he held her captive and refused to submit to him.
Lucifer continues to grow as a band, moving from an independent band to major hit, renaming itself to Λucifer, and preparing to do tours in America and Europe, while Sakuya and Aine attempt to balance their love and professional lives. As the group continues to grow, the president of Λucifer's parent label, Kaito Yoshioka, grows to dislike the band's success overshadowing the main label's act. He brutally rapes Aine in an attempt to break Sakuya. She is found by their producer Hitoshi, who takes her to his home and tries to comfort her while helping her avoid Sakuya. Aine tries to commit suicide that night, leaving Hitoshi no choice but to tell Sakuya. Sakuya tries to kill Yoshioka, but is stopped by Ralph, who promises to avenge Aine while reminding Sakuya that she needs him with her, not in prison. Sakuya takes Aine, who is in a near catatonic state, 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's what she really wants. Aine snaps out of her depression and begins healing emotionally, while they work to recover their relationship. Aine realizes Sakuya is avoiding music and is afraid she will be hurt again because of him. She convinces him to return to the world they both love and after the death of the Hitoshi, Λucifer goes on to perform their final concert in Japan before a big European tour. While they are overseas, Aine studies to become the group's new manager. At the end for the series, Sakuya and Aine are married with a son.
The anime adaptation does not follow most of the manga, acting more as a prequel series that shows how the band came to be formed and the daily hardships and struggles they faced as they formed. Aine is not introduced until the band gets their first debut in Episode 19.
- Aine Yukimura (雪村 愛音 Yukimura Aine?)
- Main female protagonist of the series. Aine is a typically happy, but shy high school girl. Her (literally) accidental meeting with Sakuya starts a whirlwind romance full of intense emotions, secrets, and of course, hot nights. Aine firmly earns her own place in the band as their lyricist who is able to pop out one hit song after another. She even contributes to music video concepts that help further the band's success. She is a valuable asset to the band not only because of her lyrics and her ability to soften Sakuya's wild ways, but also because her insight into what fans want in Λucifer allows them to promote themselves better. Voiced by: Atsuko Enomoto
- Sakuya Ookochi (大河内 咲也 Ōkochi Sakuya?)
- Main character of the series, Sakuya is the highly talented lead singer of Λucifer. He is known for his striking blue eyes which are inherited from his American father. However, Sakuya is also rude, physical, and doesn't care about life even when he starts singing with the band Lucifer. Sakuya lived most of his young teenage life paying off his mother’s debt at the club she worked in. Like his mother, he sang and played the piano for club guests, but to make more money he also worked as a male escort on the side. Because of his harsh experiences as a child, Sakuya's sense of trust was lost in people. But when he meets Aine, a high school girl, he shows a new caring and sensitive light towards others, especially to Aine. When she first starts working for them he says to himself that he is just selfishly using her, but after a while his true feelings start pouring out. Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze
- Yukifumi ("Yuki") Todo (藤堂 雪文 Todo Yukifumi?)
- Santa's old friend and one of the founders of the band, Yuki has the strongest sense of leadership and responsibility that naturally makes him the band leader. He is often the one who knocks sense into Sakuya (sometimes almost too literally) whenever Sakuya's primal feelings blind him to Aine’s own hurt and pain, and the exasperation he causes his band mates. Yuki is the eldest son of a famous, traditional Noh theater family, but was forced to choose between the band and his family when he was offered a record contract. He chose the band and was subsequently disowned by his father, but a later episode of the series reveals a friendly relationship between the two. On a side note, Yuki is married and has a child. Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki
- Yoshihiko ("Santa") Nagai (永井良彦 Nagai Yoshihiko?) , drums
- Λucifer’s drummer, Santa’s namesake comes from his birth date, which is on Christmas Day. Santa is an easy-going, but boisterous guy, who formerly played in Climb' with his girlfriend Yumi. Other than that, his history is little known when compared to his band mates, and is the only one who remains single at the end of the series. Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai
- Kazuto ("Towa") Sakuma (佐久間和斗 Sakuma Kazuto?)
- Bass guitarist of Λucifer. Much to his dislike, Towa’s androgynous good looks make not only women but also men swoon over him. Born with fair, wavy hair and "cursed" with the inability to tan, Towa’s looks blur the lines between people’s perception of his gender so much that some people ignore his natural gender do not even consider him as a man. Although Towa is irked by this, he only truly cares for the opinion of his childhood friend and current girlfriend, Miya, Λucier’s official makeup artist. Miya, ironically, is considered tomboyish and considers herself a rather plain woman. She and Towa completely complement each other, as in each other’s eyes, Towa is fully man as much as Miya is fully woman. Voiced by: Susumu Chiba
- Atsuro Kiryuu (桐生 敦郎 Kiryū Atsuro?)
- As the most friendly and cheerful member of Λucifer, Atsuro serves as the comic relief in Kaikan Phrase. Atsuro’s long-time girlfriend, Yuuka, is actually his stepsister with whom he desperately tries to keep their relationship a secret from their parents, the media, and even his band mates. Towards the end of the series, his whole band (except Sakuya) reveals that they had known of their relationship all along. Also by the end, Atsuro and Yuuka also make a conscious decision to be open about their relationship to the public. Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura
In her blog, Shinjo noted that though she was the actual creator of Sensual Phrase, she was on of the last to know that the series was going to be adapted into an anime, and that by the time she knew, Shogakukan had already made the decision to do the series. She was also unaware that there were talks about making a film adaptation of the series until two years after the proposal was rejected. When the anime was rerun on AT-X, she found out by seeing it on the channels official website. She left Shogakukan in 2007, despite the company threatening to take all of her earlier series, including Sensual Phrase, out of print if she did so. Shinjo contacted a lawyer and, the threat was never carried out.
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 for 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 an English-language release in North America by Viz Media, including the special final volume. It released 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 releases 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 (ISBN 4-09-421241-8)
- Hong Kong Kyoushikyoku, published July 25, 2000 (ISBN 4-09-421242-6)
- Ao no Meikyu, published November 26, 2001, (ISBN 4-09-421243-4)
- Owarinaki Shinwa, published February 2001, (ISBN 4-09-421244-2)
- Engage Song, published June 3, 2003, (ISBN 4-09-421245-0)
Sensual Phrase was adapted as an anime television series by Studio Hibari. It was directed by Hiroko Tokita, with music by Susumu Akitagawa and character designs by Yumi Nakayama. There were multiple opening and closing themes, some of them credited to the fictional bands Λucifer and e.MU, for which real-world counterparts were created. The anime was broadcast on TV Tokyo in 44 episodes from April 20, 1999 to March 25, 2000. It was later released on 11 Videos by Pony Canyon.
Kaikan Phrase Original Soundtrack (快感フレーズ Original Soundtrack?) is the anime series soundtrack album. It was released February 16, 2000 by Pony Canyon. Some tracks are performed by Λucifer, the real-world counterpart of the fictional rock band of the series.
Kaikan Phrase Visualism (or Kaikan Phrase BGM Image Album: VISUALISM) was releaded on March 15, 2000 by Pony Canyon. In addition, a self-title album by Λucifer was released on April 15, 1998 by PolyGram, containing songs from the manga.
A video game based on the series, Kaikan Phrase: Datenshi Kourin, was released in Japan for the Sony PlayStation by Enix on February 24, 2000. Produced by Produce, it is a Single-player Music game that features the five members of Λucifer.
In 2006, a film adaption of Sensual Phrase was reportedly discussed by the Sensual Phrase editor at Shogakukan, but the idea was rejected because the company felt it would have been too much of a "hassle." According to Shinjo, she didn't learn about the proposal until years after it happened.
In addition, an artbook called SA KU YA (ISBN 4-09-199791-0) and a postcard book based on the manga were published.