In this essay, I will explain why people do (and should) ship Kirihara Akaya and Hiyoshi Wakashi.
Nobody’s going around claiming this ship is canon. Yet despite its randomness, it’s had a small but strong fanbase for over 10 years! Why? Because it’s a damn good ship. Read on!
Admittedly, this ship does not have a lot of in-story support. It had to be inspired by something, though, so its origins are worth noting.
A Memorable Tennis Match
It all began in Genius ch.154! Hiyoshi was introduced for the first time for his match against Ryoma. Sanada, Yanagi, and Kirihara were watching and recognized him. This is part of Hiyoshi’s initial characterization.
Yanagi notes that these two played a match the year before, and that Hiyoshi was a challenging opponent. Kirihara pretends that he doesn’t remember. Sanada calls him out, implying that Kirihara was lying– that he definitely remembered Hiyoshi. (This is confirmed/implied later in the match by Kirihara when he refers to Echizen: “Seigaku has an ace up their sleeve, too.”)
These four panels alone birthed this ship. Shippers are amazing.
So, in summary…
Their interaction before the events of Prince of Tennis: We know they played a memorable match before. We also know that the year prior Hyotei faced Rikkai and lost in the Kantou final, so they would have been aware of each other then.
Their “interaction” during Prince of Tennis: They watched their respective matches against Seigaku at the Kantou Tournament. At Nationals, Hiyoshi watched Kirihara violently defeat the same doubles team (Inui/Kaidoh) that he and Gakuto lost to in the quarter-finals.
New Prince of Tennis: Roommates!
Years later (3 months later, in the story) they were roommates at U-17! The ship took off more at this point. These two clips from the anime illustrate their interaction:
At first, Hiyoshi is one gekokujou away from being super tsun and uninterested in conversing. He’s trying to meditate. Shut up.
The tide turns abruptly when Kirihara says the magic word: ghost. Hiyoshi is now INCREDIBLY interested in conversing. Friendship is born. They can now feed off each others’ obsession with this ghost while their roommates either run away or make fun of them.
The adventures of Room 205 have a great amount of content, especially in RisingBeat. Usually the other three are just being mean to Kirihara. Their ghost hunt was detailed in 2018’s first Halloween event, you can read the stories here.
But let’s focus on Kirihara and Hiyoshi.
They Played Doubles Together
This image exists.
We don’t know anything about it, but it exists, and that’s all we need. Clearly they played doubles together against their senpai and lost. No Gekokujou today, boys, but everybody knows that doubles = shipping rights.
They Talked Smack Together
In PairPuri 9 Witness Talk, there is record that at U-17, Kabaji overheard Kirihara and Hiyoshi talking negatively about their senpai behind their backs. This is called bonding.
Eyewitness K-san [Kabaji]
(regarding Hiyoshi and Akaya)
They are … obstinate …
They were bad-mouthing their senpais but … they were … proud of it.
If it wasn’t for the “proud” part, I’d say they were probably talking smack because they got their asses beat, as seen above. But for a more canon reason?
Well, simply put… It’s in character. Kirihara and Hiyoshi are both assholes. This can be attested to by Hiyoshi’s teammates and anybody who’s ever been in proximity of both Kirihara and a tennis court.
That’s not the only thing they have in common, however.
Compare and Contrast
Personality-wise, Kirihara and Hiyoshi are very different. But there are strong parallels between these 2nd year fighters…
Kirihara and Hiyoshi have a common goal.
Defeat their senpai and become number 1!
For Hiyoshi, this is the meaning behind his trademark “Gekokujou”. Kirihara doesn’t use big words like that, so he just screams about beating everyone and becoming number one. That works too.
The aesthetic juxtaposition is worth noting. Their appearances are also representative of their personality traits.
Take Kirihara. His dark and wild seaweed hair and iconic eyes match his energetic personality.
Hiyoshi and his straight, clean cut, mushroom hairstyle matches his traditional upbringing (he’s an old-fashioned boy) and straight-laced disposition. Both their hair and these traits differ greatly, but accent each other both socially and aesthetically. Their differences achieve balance. When Hiyoshi’s too boring or neurotic, Kirihara can help him loosen up and find his fun side. When Kirihara is peak dumbass, Hiyoshi can help reign him in and keep him from making idiotic decisions.
A cute concept: Seaweed and Mushroom.
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