Kazuya Aoike (青池 和也,Aoike Kazuya) was a friend of Tsukushi Makino, whom he had known since grade school. They were reunited when he transferred to Eitoku Academy during his second year of high school. He had feelings for Tsukushi but never pursued her. Only recently being rich, Kazuya often referred to his family as "nouveau riche."
Kazuya was born into a modest family of farmers. He became friends with Tsukushi Makino when they were in the same class during elementary school. They lost contact after moving on to different middle schools. Kazuya also had a younger brother.
During his second year of high school, Kazuya's family struck it rich after selling all of their land. They moved to the Setagaya ward of Tokyo and Kazuya transferred to Eitoku Academy.
First days at Eitoku
Tsukushi: "I'll be fine. I just have to get through two more years."
Kazuya: "I can take it too, as long as it's with you. Besides, how can I leave you to face this alone?"
Kazuya was "relieved" to hear that Tsukushi was a student at Eitoku from a mutual friend. On his first day, he met her soon after arriving. The two of them became absorbed in talking about their childhood. After lunch, Kazuya found a red slip in his locker. He assumed it was a "welcome thing," not knowing that it was a sign from the F4 to bully him. The student body then began throwing eggs and natto at him, while the teachers turned a blind eye. After leaving him briefly to confront Tsukasa Domyoji, Tsukushi returned a few minutes later to save him from a bully. She advised him to leave Eitoku, but Kazuya refused saying "How can I leave you to face this alone?" The bullies soon found them so they sought refuge in the university's cafeteria. Rui Hanazawa surprised the room by declaring "It's time to stop."
Tsukasa and Rui fought about Tsukushi, leading her to forgot Kazuya. She realized he was still there when the guys dropped her on him. Later, Kazuya made preparations to defend himself against the bullies. He then asked Tsukushi if she wanted to go to his family's vacation home in Atami for the summer. Tsukushi passed out while he was talking. The next day, Kazuya braved the bullies alone since Tsukushi was sick. Later, Kazuya and Tsukushi traveled to Atami by train with her mother and father. Upon arriving, they went sightseeing at several shrines. Kazuya prayed that Tsukushi would figure out his feelings for her. Next, they went to the beach where Kazuya showed them his family's boat. They were then shocked to see Tsukasa approaching on his yacht. Later that night, Kazuya and Tsukushi attended his party.
During the party, the lights were turned off momentarily for a party game. When the lights turned back on, Kazuya discovered Yuriko Asai had kissed him to their mutual horror. At the same time, Tsukasa and Tsukushi had kissed which devastated Kazuya. The next night, Kazuya confronted Tsukasa about "hurting Tsukushi." He challenged Tsukasa to fishing contest, saying "We'll settle this man to man." Being experienced, Kazuya quickly accumulated fish. He made fun of Tsukasa for only catching squid. Tsukasa kicked him in retaliation. Kazuya then accused him of changing Tsukushi from a happy person to her being "sad and angry" all the time. Tsukasa guessed that Kazuya liked Tsukushi but claimed that she was in love with him. They returned to Tsukasa's yacht, where they ran into Tsukushi and started a cookout.
"My cuttlefish created a bond between the masses and the elite! I've come to realize the great significance of what I did! Now we won't be bullied anymore! Come on! Didn't you see their face?! They had soy sauce on their chins and they were laughing! In that moment I knew I was part of the Eitoku family! We all realized we're just people!"
Kazuya returned to Eitoku with a new hope, proclaiming "My cuttlefish created a bond between the masses and the elite!" He was proven wrong when another student threw a can at him. Tsukushi comforted the sorely disappointed Kazuya. Later that day, he and Tsukushi witnessed Tsukasa go on a rampage. Both were surprised by this side of him. The two started to walk home together, but Tsukushi returned to school for her notes. A few days later, Kazuya picked up Tsukushi and her friend Yuki Matsuoka for Shizuka Todo's birthday party. Yuki spotted several male celebrities. Kazuya told her to pretend not to notice them. A second later, he saw Rio Makise and immediately asked for her autograph. After Shizuka made her announcement, Kazuya and Yuki talked about it excitedly with Tsukushi.
Along with Tsukushi and the F4, Kazuya went to the airport to see off Shizuka. Tsukasa showed him his going away present to her, a fake snake jumping out of a box. Kazuya passed out from shock. After Shizuka boarded her plane, Rui arrived and revealed he was going as well. He then kissed Tsukushi on the forehead, which annoyed Kazuya and Tsukasa. The next day, Tsukasa went to their classroom and told Tsukushi something before leaving. Kazuya exclaimed "It sounds like he was asking you for a date!" He then said "He can't do that to my Tsukushi," but she did not hear him. A few days later, everyone began acting nice to Tsukushi. Another student, Sakurako Sanjo, congratulated her on dating Tsukasa. She and Kazuya then rushed to the bulletin board, where a picture of her and Tsukasa was displayed.
Later, Tsukushi invited Kazuya to come with her to a meet a foreigner named Thomas. He was excited and attempted to speak Spanish to him, despite Thomas being German. Kazuya and Tsukushi were surprised by Thomas' bad manners. When he left he called Kazuya a "kid," which annoyed him. A couple days later, Kazuya was absent from school due to the flu. When he recovered, he happily greeted Tsukushi at school before Tsukasa pushed him away. A few days later, Kazuya heard from Tsukushi's mother about her being at Tsukasa's island. He charted a course for it on his boat. It took two days for him, Sakurako, and Thomas to reach it. Once there, Kazuya brought them news of Shizuka's engagement. The next day, everyone took his boat home since Tsukasa had suddenly taken off in his jet by himself.
Stint in the F4
"I got up at 5:00 this morning and practiced in the park! I couldn't sleep in on the morning of such an important game! I can't let you get expelled!"
A few days later, Tsukasa had Kazuya arrive at school in a limo and dressed in Armani. He then told him "Starting today, you're a member of the F4," before announcing it that he was replacing Rui. Kazuya was excited by his stroke of luck and wanted to share it with Tsukushi. Tsukasa, however, told him never to talk to her or Rui again. Later that day, Kazuya was brought to Tsukasa's house, where Akira Mimasaka and Sojiro Nishikado attempted to talk Tsukasa out of his plans. They then questioned why Kazuya was there. On their way out, he was grabbed by Tsubaki Domyoji, who forced him to tell her everything. The next day, Kazuya declared he would leave the school if Tsukushi had to leave. Eventually, a game of basketball was proposed to settle the matter. It was decided that Kazuya would play with Tsukushi and Rui.
The next morning, Kazuya woke up at five in the morning to practice. He acquired several bruises in the process. Later that morning, he greeted Tsukushi cheerfully, declaring "I can't let you get expelled!" Before the match began, Rui gave Kazuya and Tsukushi some last minute tips. He tried to follow Rui's advice, but his inexperience got in the way. The F4 racked up several points, before Rui implemented a new strategy. Kazuya scored one point after Tsukushi missed a two-pointer. While the F4 were arguing about Tsukasa quitting the game, Kazuya took the ball and threw it in the hoop. He declared they were "tied," but everyone ignored him. Afterwards, everyone, except Tsukasa, went to the Domyojis' to celebrate. Akira and Sojiro tied Kazuya up when they locked Tsukushi and Rui alone together in a room.
A few days later, Kazuya had heard about Tsukasa moving to New York City. He ran up to Tsukushi to tell her at school. Kazuya said "I wonder if he'll let me have you," but Tsukushi did not hear since she had ran off. That night, he went out with the F4 for Tsukasa's going-away party. Sojiro asked him why he was there and he protested that he was also a F4 member. When Tsukushi was brought up, Kazuya mentioned her money troubles at home to the group. A few days later, Tsukasa returned from New York. Upon seeing him, Kazuya shouted "The devil is back!" He then accused him of being "afraid to be away from home" and asked him why he came to school with Tsukushi. Tsukasa answered "I slept with her last night," which Tsukushi tried to deny. Before she could clear it up, Kazuya passed out from shock.
Start of winter term
"Is it true you're entering a beauty pageant?! I-I'm not sure I like that idea. I mean... You're not acting like yourself. I want you to stay the same."
Some days later, Kazuya ran up to Tsukushi after learning she was entering a beauty contest. He opposed it since she was "not acting like [her]self." On Christmas Eve, he attended the contest with the F4 and Tsubaki. Kazuya was extremely nervous, even saying "I can't bear to watch anymore" at one point. Before the second round, he went backstage with Tsukasa, Akira, and Sojiro to wish Tsukushi good luck. He and Akira ended up having to drag Tsukasa out when Tsukushi annoyed him. Kazuya continued cheering for her throughout the rest of the contest. Afterwards, he went with the F4 to celebrate Tsukushi being the runner-up. Kazuya claimed that he knew Tsukushi would make it far it the contest. Akira pointed out that Kazuya had said that "she looked like the pauper she was" at one point.
After New Years', Kazuya heard about the F4's trip to Canada. He was upset about not being invited and told them "I thought we were friends!" Tsukushi then walked by and ignored Tsukasa, only acknowledging Kazuya. He ran after her, asking her if it was okay to ignore Tsukasa. She said "To me he's just an invisible man." Kazuya had to stop following her, being too out of breath. A few days later, he and Sakurako helped Tsukushi hide when she received another red card. Kazuya was surprised since she and Tsukasa had been getting along great. Sakurako felt that Tsukasa was not behind it. Someone then tried to enter the room. Kazuya and Sakurako covered for Tsukushi while she escaped through a window. He and Sakurako later tried to find Tsukushi to make sure she got away, but they were unable to.
Later, Kazuya went with Sakurako to visit Tsukushi and Tsukasa at the hospital. Junpei Oribe passed by them. Kazuya called him "Mr. Evil" but Sakurako remarked on his good looks. He began bickering with her. Kazuya shouted that he loved Tsukushi. Sakurako made similar sentiments about Tsukasa, voicing her wish to give herself to him "if it was [not] for that a-cup girl!" Kazuya agreed with Tsukushi being flat-chested. An annoyed Tsukushi overheard all of this. A few days later, Kazuya asked Tsukushi to eat lunch with him before noticing her angry mood. She asked him if he had seen the F4. He answered and followed her to the cafeteria, where she had a fight with Tsukasa. Akira asked "What the hell happened?" Kazuya replied happily "She probably dumped him," leading Tsukasa to kick him.
Tsukushi dating Tsukasa
Tsukushi: "I'm just fed up with my own stupidity. I've always been so gullible. How often have I discovered too late that I was fooled."
Kazuya: "That's what makes you so wonderful, Tsukushi. That's why everyone likes you. Of course. That's what I love about you."
A couple days later, Tsukushi was talking to Sojiro and Akira when Kazuya arrived with his lunch. They were joined by Tsukasa. Kazuya asked him "Is it true that you have a girlfriend?" which Tsukasa confirmed. He then said "You've finally given Tsukushi up," leading Sojiro to hit Kazuya. Some days later, Kazuya was walking home with Tsukushi when she told him "I've always been so gullible" and felt that she was always being "fooled" as a result. Kazuya assured her "That's what makes you wonderful." He then tried to casually confess his feelings, but she did not hear him. She declared "Let's be friends forever." After Tsukushi's family moved away, Kazuya came to help her paint her apartment. He was happy that she had not told Tsukasa about her living alone. Kazuya ended up feeling sick from the paint fumes and had to rest.
The next day at school, Kazuya ran up to Tsukushi asking "What's it like, living alone?" She said "It's wonderful" and thanked him for his help. Kazuya blushed, embarrassed that he passed out. He later offered to take her home, but she politely declined. Some days later, Kazuya heard that Tsukushi and Tsukasa were "seriously going out." He asked her if it was true. Sojiro and Akira revealed it was, causing Kazuya to freeze in shock. In the cafeteria, Kazuya told the two guys that Tsukushi looked "strained." He then said, mostly to himself, "It's not right to force yourself to be with someone, Tsukushi." Some days later, Kazuya and Sakurako overheard Tsukushi yelling at no one. He was concerned, but Tsukushi said she was "fine." She then suggested going somewhere after school until Tsukasa interrupted them.
Kazuya: "That guy's awful! He's scum! He's not even attempting to find Tsukushi. I should never have let someone like him have Tsukushi. I'd never make Tsukushi unhappy. Don't you think we make a much better couple?!"
Yuki: "Uh, don't get so upset. You really do like Tsukushi, don't you?"
Kazuya: "I wonder where she's gone. How could she vanish without a word to us? Poor Tsukushi. She's probably crying all alone right now."
That afternoon after school, Kazuya invited Sakurako to go somewhere, but she said no. He then received a call from his father about their business "going under." On his way home, Kazuya ran into Tsukushi and told her what happened. The next day, Kazuya learned that Tsukushi had left school and Tsukasa's house. He asked Sojiro, Akira, and Rui if they knew anything. They all went to talk to Tsukasa, who acted indifferent. Kazuya tried to convince him to help them search. Tsukasa grabbed him and threw him to the ground. They all left immediately. Later, Kazuya met with Yuki to ask about Tsukushi. He revealed that his family's situation was fixed when Tsukushi disappeared, which Yuki confirmed for her as well. Kazuya became angry when she asked about Tsukasa. He claimed "I'd never make Tsukushi unhappy."
Over the next few days, Kazuya continued his search for Tsukushi. Sojiro asked him about it, to which he and Sakurako confirmed they had learned nothing. Despite Kazuya's anger at Tsukasa, he showed up for his "cheer up" party. A physical fight broke out between Tsukasa and Sojiro. Kazuya left with Sakurako and Shigeru Okawahara. The three forlornly wondered where Tsukushi was. Sometime later, Tsukushi returned to Tokyo. Kazuya went with everyone to greet her. He and Yuki both cried and apologized to her. Shortly, Akira dragged Kazuya away to leave the girls alone. A few days later, Kazuya greeted Tsukushi at school. He informed her that the F4 were looking for her and that they mentioned "something about a cousin." After she left, he was approached someone whom he mistook for Tsukasa.
The next day, Kazuya greeted Tsukushi and invited her to go somewhere after school. She declined, but offered to go the following day before remarking "You really act like a girl, don't you, Kazuya?" They then said good morning to the F4 and nagged them for not attending their classes.
Kazuya's notable feature was his baby-face, giving him an immature appearance. As such, he was not considered handsome by his peers. He had brown hair which had an orange hue to it. Kazuya's sense of style could be described as gaudy. This was shown by the clothes he chose to wear to fancy events, such as the suit at Shizuka's birthday party. He was also short, particularly compared to the F4 whom were all over fifteen centimeters taller than him.
Personality and traits
Characterized as wimpy, Kazuya was usually shown as the opposite of the strong F4. What he lacked in strength was made up by his genuine kindness and unselfishness, two traits not usually exhibited by the F4. He showed these traits particularly to Tsukushi, whom he loved but never confessed to. Kazuya always stood by and supported Tsukushi no matter what she was going through. He was also able to understand her better than Tsukasa, because of their humble upbringings.
Not being used to being rich, Kazuya was apt to reference his family's new wealth to the point of being an annoyance. He was also known for committing faux pas, such as when he asked celebrities for theirs autographs at Shizuka's party. Kazuya was also often unintentionally comical, similar to Tsukushi's father.
Yoji Ietomi voices Kazuya in the 1996 anime adaptation and the short film. First appearing in fourth episode, his portrayal is kept to similar to the manga, though he is slightly less pathetic. For example, Kazuya passes out while redecorating Tsukushi's apartment in the manga whilst in the anime he is very helpful. His crush on Tsukushi remains the same as does the running gag of her not hearing him confess. He also develops a friendship with Sakurako, which is hinted to be something more in the final episode.