|This article contains HEAVY spoilers. Please view at your own risk.
Minori Kushieda (櫛枝 実乃梨, Kushieda Minori) is one of the series' female protagonists. She is a student in Class 2-C and the best friend of Taiga Aisaka.
Minori is a girl of average height. Her hair is shoulder length, she has a medium-long fringe that covers a small part of her forehead, after Episode 20 her fringe is slightly shorter.
Her hair is pink-colored amaranth and her eyes are the same color. She is usually shown wearing the school uniform. Occasionally, she is shown wearing jeans with flashy blouses and when she is on her part-time jobs, she wears the uniform of each respectively.
Minori is very athletic and is the captain of the girl's softball club at school, and, in the later part of the series, the captain of the merged boys and girls softball team. Her energy is a never-ending flow, and this energy is extremely shown in her personality. She is usually cheerful, if not always and knows exactly how to turn a mistake into a thing to be happy about or laughed at.
At the same time, she holds many part time jobs, like a mobile phone stylist, a waitress at a family restaurant, a clerk at a convenience store, as well as roles at a shabu-shabu joint and a karaoke box. Later on in the series, she reveals that she is working hard because she does not want to be a hindrance to anyone. Her ultimate goal for saving money is to get into a sports university and aim for the national softball league.
She is a glutton when it comes to food, but is also constantly combating with dieting, calling herself a 'diet warrior'. This (again) reflects her energetic personality.
She gets a thrill out of being scared, unlike most people. She also seems to have a very high amount of skill in that regard. Whether it's acting scared or scaring others.
Despite her air-headed tendencies, she is very perceptive, and is one of the few people to see Ryuuji for the gentle person he is, and is also not fooled by Ami's acts of innocence. Her intuition is very noteworthy, and she can question a single act down to the point where it can be answered with simple responses. She also sees and knows that Ryuuji and Taiga love and care for each other deeply despite Taiga's acts of pushing Ryuuji and Minori to be together.
It is implied that her air-headed tendencies is a façade, to hide the deepest sadness in her heart that she doesn't want to show. This is shown when she gets nosebleeds sometimes.
Minori has a younger brother who plays baseball.
Summer Break Arc
During their summer break, Kitamura, Ami, Ryuuji, Taiga and Minori all go to Ami's villa to spend their summer there. During their stay, Ryuuji takes this chance to get to know Minori better. After dinner, Minori and Ryuuji talk about ghosts and love over ice cream. She tells Ryuuji, "I believe ghosts exist in this world but I've never seen them. I don't believe people who said they've seen them. I've also thought about this in the same way: I believe in the future, I'll fall in love, get married, and become happy. But actually, I've never had that feeling for anyone before. I feel distant to those who talk about love in this world. That's because I can't see it. Since ghosts don't exist, I'll never see them". She is implying that she knows that Ryuuji is interested in her and likes her, but because he has never acted on his feelings, she doesn't believe it. She is trying to tell Ryuuji that if he is interested in her he needs to tell her.
Taiga's Father Return Arc
In episode 12, when Ryuuji tells Minori that Taiga and her father are beginning to reconnect, Minori gets angry and argues with Ryuuji that Taiga should not have anything to do with her father; while Ryuuji feels the opposite. Taiga tries to calm things down by making the two shake hands, but Ryuuji walks away angrily. During the festival, Taiga's father does not show up, and Ryuuji does not apologize to Minori. Just as Taiga makes a dramatic appearance in the beauty contest, Ryuuji receives a text from her father saying he would not be able to live with her. Taiga wins the beauty contest, despite the sadness that her father did not show up. A race is held to determine who will dance with Taiga, and Ryuuji, finally understanding Minori's warning, is determined to win it, using short cuts and stepping on top of other participants. Minori also decides to run the race for her best friend, even surpassing Ryuuji. Near the end of the race, two boys pushes Minori down and she throws a baseball at them. She also throws herself towards the last four participants and provides an opportunity for Ryuuji to win. However, he goes back for her. They hold hands as they cross the finish line together, forgiving each other.
Christmas Eve Party Arc
In episode 17, Minori becomes disoriented during a baseball game because of what Ami had said about Minori's feelings of guilt, and makes a mistake that causes her team to lose the game. After Ryuuji tells Taiga that his relationship with Minori has not progressed, Taiga declares the need to play Cupid for him, since she wants to be good for Santa. At school the next morning, Kitamura announces that the student council will organize a Christmas Eve party to boost romantic feelings among students. Taiga and Ryuuji ask Minori to go to the party with them, but she vehemently declines. This causes Taiga and Ryuuji to worry about Minori.
As Christmas approaches, everyone is helping with the Christmas party and helps put together an artificial Christmas tree topped with a glass star that Taiga brought, which she says is her most valuable Christmas ornament. Everyone is pleased with their efforts and awed by the sight of the tree lit up. However, a stray softball crashes through the gym window and knocks over the tree, smashing the star. This sends Minori into deep regret and she forces it upon herself to fix the broken star; despite her protests, Ryuuji helps her out. The baseball club apologizes and Minori leaves, still declining Ryuuji's offer of going to the party as she feels she would not be welcome after the accident. Despite hearing that, Ryuuji promises her that he will wait for her.
On the night of the party, Taiga brings over a suit for Ryuuji to wear while he still attempts to convince Minori to come. The party begins with a special Christmas song performed by Taiga and Ami. Following the song, Ami informs Ryuuji that Taiga has left the party. Taiga decides to go home in order to wait for Santa Claus, stopping by Minori's house on the way to convince her to go to the party. Ryuuji, figuring she would be alone, goes to Taiga's apartment dressed up as a bear in order to help Taiga realize that she is not alone. Afterwards, she tells Ryuuji to go back and wait for Minori. Ryuuji leaves, despite initially resisting. Taiga begins crying uncontrollably, thinking that with Ryuuji together with Minori, Ryuuji and herself can no longer stay together. Taiga rushes after Ryuuji, calling for him, but he is already gone. Minori, who was heading to the party, witnesses this.
When Minori meets Ryuuji at the school, she tells him that she "does not want to see ghosts and UFOs with him after all, and would rather not see them" implying to him that she does not wish to have a boyfriend at this point in time. Ryuuji interprets this as being rejected and collapses onto the sidewalk.
Ski Field Trip Arc
Later in the year, their class is scheduled to have a ski field trip. Taiga points out to Ryuuji that this would be his last chance to confirm Minori's feelings before classes are rearranged. Ryuuji catches up with Minori, who is still a bit disheartened from Christmas, and Taiga provides an opportunity for the two to start talking again. Later, Ryuuji, Minori, Yusaku, Ami and the other students go to Taiga's apartment to discuss plans for the trip. Ryuuji and Minori talk in the kitchen, where she constantly praises Ryuuji for the way Taiga has become. She wishes that things would stay the way they were forever, while Ryuuji knows that it would not be possible, and becomes determined to confess properly. During the ski trip, Ryuuji has a brief talk with Minori and Minori puts on the hairpin Ryuuji supposedly got for her during Christmas, saying Taiga gave it to her. He realizes that no matter what he does, Minori's feelings for him will not change. When confronted by Yusaku, Noto, and Haruta, Ryuuji reveals he has a crush on Minori. Later, they investigate the girl's room in order to find out the true reason behind Minori's rejection, only to end up hiding in a closet along with Taiga, when Ami, Minori, Maya, and Nanako come in. Ami brings up the topic of Ryuuji's rejection by Minori, and the two get angry at each other. Minori tells Ami that she shouldn't judge her because the other couldn't see or read her heart and Ami tells Minori that she was really good at faking.
The next day, Taiga and Minori accidentally run into Ami on their sled. Ami feels that they did it on purpose because of last night's argument and engages in a physical fight with Minori. Minori drops her hairpin on a nearby slope and Taiga goes to search for it by herself, but ends up falling down without the others noticing. When Taiga does not return, Yusaku, Minori, and Ryuuji search for her. Ryuuji contemplates his feelings for Taiga as he realizes he left her alone again. Ryuuji finds her at the bottom of a hill, bleeding and covered in snow. As Ryuuji carries her back, a barely conscious Taiga thinking that he is Yusaku, apologizes and confesses that she cannot stop loving Ryuuji. Ryuuji tells Yusaku later on to lie for him and say that it was Yusaku who saved Taiga instead of him.
Valentine's Day Arc
As Valentine's Day approaches, Taiga decides to make everyone some chocolate as thanks for the things they have done for her. However, when Minori notices that Taiga believed Yusaku rescued her from the ski trip instead of Ryuuji, she becomes angry. She confronts Taiga, with Ami and Yusaku blocking the exits, trying to get her to show her true feelings. Taiga says she only wanted Minori to be happy, but Minori says that happiness is something only she can decide for herself. Taiga runs off and Minori decides to go after her, asking Ryuuji if he will go after her too. Ryuuji decides to help Minori go after Taiga. While running to catch up, Minori shouts that she has always liked Ryuuji but held back because of her friendship with Taiga and because Taiga needed him more than she did; she also says that Taiga has to obtain her own happiness as well.
Afterwards, Minori confirms Ryuuji’s love for Taiga. She tells Ryuuji that this was a giant goodbye and then she places her fist in his lips and when Ryuuji leaves her in the infirmary to run after Taiga, she presses her fist to her lips as an indirect kiss; her first and last kiss with Ryuuji. Yusaku calls up and asks them to go to Ami's house. Minori, Ami, and Yusaku do not agree with their plans but decide to support them. Minori ends up lending all her life savings to the two. When the others leave Ami's house, Minori stays and there she breaks down and cries. Ami asks her, “Are you upset that Taiga took Ryuuji away from you or….”, but before Ami finishes Minori says she doesn't know but she learned one thing "If you trip while running down a hallway, you’ll get a nosebleed. If you trip in life, you cry." When Ryuuji comes back to school without Taiga, Minori is happy that Ryuuji let her leave but she has come to terms with everything, this reveals Minori to be a strong, compassionate, empathetic, and generous woman who genuinely cares about Ryuuji's well-being. Taiga sends everyone a mail with a picture of the night sky and a single star, and Minori feels that this is supposed to encourage them to do their best. Everyone gets together to send a group picture to Taiga.
Non in-universe appearances
Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi
It is quickly established in the series that Minori and Taiga are best friends that care for each other dearly, as Minori has never been the target of Taiga's violent outbursts during the series. They also call each other by first-name basis. There are times when even Minori herself jokingly states that she falls for Taiga.
When Minori first notices the amount of time Taiga has been spending with Ryuuji, she brings them to the school rooftop, and then pleads for Ryuuji to take excellent care of Taiga. However, Minori isn't aware of Taiga's attempts to get her closer to Ryuuji until the third-from-last episode. This is the only time she gets confrontational with Taiga. She resolves this by finally letting go of her own feelings for Ryuuji. After seeing off Ryuuji and Taiga on their plan to elope together, Minori breaks down and cries.
After Taiga transfers out of Ohashi High School, Minori initially appears to be deeply hurt by the news, to the point where she slaps Ryuuji and blames him for letting Taiga go. However, when Taiga gets back in touch by sending a picture of the night sky to Class 2-C, Minori was the first to realize the significance of said picture, which reaffirms her friendship with Taiga.
It is known that Ryuuji holds a crush on Minori at the start of the series. Ryuuji always blushes when he sees Minori and admires her. Minori appears to reciprocate feelings as early as episode 3 when she starts acting nervously around Ryuuji, for example, trembling when she's about to pitch a ball. However, Minori holds back on expressing any feelings for Ryuuji because she knows he would be better off with Taiga. She even goes as far as avoiding Ryuuji when Taiga was suspended from school.
Perhaps as a result of holding back, Minori is able to confront Ryuuji over letting Taiga's father back into his daughter's life, but only because Ryuuji had already met with Taiga's father and wasn't warned in advance over what he is really like.
Minori's inability to tell Ryuuji upfront about her own feelings makes her resort to ambiguous words when the subject matter arises. As a result, when Ryuuji finally sees Minori to confess to her after she avoided attending the Christmas party, Minori ends up making Ryuuji believe that she rejected him. This only makes it even more awkward for Ryuuji to approach Minori again. After Minori confronts Taiga over the latter's attempts to get Ryuuji closer to her, she finally admits the feelings she held back for Ryuuji and lets go. This also convinces Ryuuji that it's over between him and Minori. Thus, Minori supports Ryuuji and Taiga's decision to elope together, and ends up crying after seeing both of them off.
After Ami transfers into Class 2-C, Minori appears to be suspicious of her, especially after disapproving of people that freely call themselves airheads, which is what Ami did during her first P.E. lesson with the class. Despite this, Minori is able to address Ami on a first-name basis.
The first significant interaction between the two is when Ami tells Minori that she doesn't have to feel guilty about pursuing Ryuuji, after assuming that Taiga was still in love with Yusaku. This inadvertently throws a wrench at Ryuuji's attempts to get with Minori, which Ami doesn't realize until the ski trip.
When Ami is informed, from Taiga, about Ryuuji apparently being rejected by Minori on Christmas Eve, she then relays the information to Minori herself during the ski trip. Minori reacts angrily to this, but Nanako and Maya manage to get Ami to apologize. However, the following day, when Taiga and Minori crash into Ami while riding a sled, Ami gets up angrily, brings up what happened the previous day, and the confrontation gets not only personal, but also physical. This causes Ami to avoid Minori at school afterwards, even when the latter tries to talk to her.
It is only after Minori accepts Ryuuji and Taiga's decision to elope together, that she starts to mend the rift between herself and Ami, by crying in front of Ami.
Neither Minori nor Yusaku have expressed any interest towards each other, yet they remain on good terms, as both captain their respective softball teams. During their stay at Ami's beach house, Minori and Yusaku come up with ideas to scare Ryuuji and Taiga.
- "My happiness can only be made by my own hands. My happiness doesn't depend on anyone but me!"
- "Even when the sky's so dark you can't see a thing, there are still stars shining out there. So if she can learn to shine brighter, we'll be able to see her."
- "A nosebleed just means your heart is sweating!"
- "It's those 'No big deal' things that count the most."
- "I don't want to get so caught up in searching for what I can't see, that I lose sight of what I can."
- "I believe in ghosts, even though I've never seen one before.. And get this, I don't believe in any of the people that have said they have seen one before. It's kind of like how I think about the concept of love. Like, I believe one day I'll fall in love, get married and live happily ever after, even though I've never actually fallen in love with anyone yet. You see what I'm saying? For some people falling in love is like second nature, but I can't even relate to that. So if I've never fallen in love before is it real? And that makes me wonder if ghosts are real. I haven't seen one yet so maybe they're not."
- "If you trip while running down a hallway, you'll get a nosebleed. If you trip in life, you cry."
- "Taiga, you’ve always wanted to know, right?! I… I also…I love Takasu Ryuuji too! I love him! I’ve always loved him, but I thought I should let you have him! I thought to myself, 'If Taiga, my best friend, needs him..' but that was just my arrogance confusing me! I’ve underestimated you! I said that my happiness doesn’t depend on anyone but me, didn’t I? The same goes for you. Your happiness doesn’t depend on anyone but yourself!"
- The name Minori means "fruit, good result, truth" (実) (mi), "from" (乃) (no) and "pear" (梨) (ri).
- Minori's surname Kushieda means "comb" (櫛) (kushi) and "branch" (枝) (eda).
- Minori is also known by the pet name "Minorin" (as a form of friendly affection).
|Ryuuji Takasu • Taiga Aisaka • Minori Kushieda • Yusaku Kitamura • Ami Kawashima|
|Inko • Yasuko Takasu • Sumire Kano • Maya Kihara • Nanako Kashii • Yuri Koigakubo • Koji Haruta • Hisamitsu Noto • Sakura Kano • Kota Tomiie|