Junko Saotome (早乙女 淳子 Saotome Junko) is an art student living in Tokyo who attends Tokyo F Art College with her boyfriend, Kyosuke Takakura and old friend, Shoji Endo. Her best friend since high school is Nana Komatsu.
Junko is first seen with long, straight hair, presumably straightened. After graduation, Junko started wearing her hair naturally. She began experimenting with her hair, putting it up in various ways with hair accessories. She also later wears her hair in dreadlocks, like her boyfriends's hairstyle. Her clothing style seems to be a mix between funk and bohemian.
Junko is bi-racial. She appears to wear mostly light makeup, and noticeably dark lipstick. Junko has seven piercings on her ears, three on each earlobe, and one cartilage on the right.
Personality and traits
Junko has a no-nonsense policy, when it comes to people. She acts quite a bit more mature than Nana Komatsu, despite being the same age. Junko often scolds Nana, while also consoling her. Although she may seem harsh at times, she is very caring towards the people she cares about.
Junko attended an all-girl high school from 1996 to 1999  where she met Nana Komatsu as a first year, they were in the same class. They also joined art club together, which was how they started to become acquainted. By their third year in high school, the two had become best friends.
Junko and Nana Komatsu enrolled in Naruse Art School in their home town together. However, Junko was serious about art, while Nana wanted to find a boyfriend. Junko and her old friend, Shoji Endo are reunited in her first class. Shoji introduced Junko to his friend, Kyosuke Takakura, who, she began dating later.
She began to take art more seriously after a few months at Naruse. Along with Kyosuke, Junko started applying to art schools in Tokyo. Her friends, Shoji and Nana, did the same. They visit Tokyo together, and Junko and Kyosuke were both accepted into their first choice school. Their friends were not so lucky.
Junko started attending Tokyo F Art College with Kyosuke Takakura in April 2000.During that time, she would often go to Jackson Hole with Kyosuke and Shoji Endo. She also began living with Kyosuke at some point.
- "No, from the moment I first saw Junko, I thought she was really cool"
- —Kyosuke, causing Junko to blush[src]
Kyosuke and Junko were introduced by a mutual friend, Shoji Endo. They got along quite well at Junko's apartment, and started talking sometime during the night, which led to them making out by morning. Nana Komatsu was the first person to see them together. It is implied that they starting dating after.
They began to share an apartment together, when they started art college in Tokyo. Their relationship is often compared to that of an old married couple. They have one of the longest relationships among the non-married couples.
Junko became friends with Nana, when they met during their first year of high school. They were best friends by graduation. Although Junko sometimes disagrees with Nana's decisions, she still listens to Nana and consoles her. She usually takes the tough love approach, when it comes to Nana. Despite their differences, Junko deeply cares for her.
Shoji and Junko first met in middle school. After graduating from middle school they lost touch and did not see each other until college. They became good friends again, after meeting at Naruse Art School on their first day of college. They, along with Kyosuke and Nana, spent a lot of time together as a group. They also moved to Tokyo around the same time, and frequented the bar, Jackson Hole.
Behind the scenes
- Junko is a major supporting character in Nana, and debuts in the first prologue chapter.
- Junko is the host of the bonus pages at the end of each manga volume, reading fan mail and displaying fan art.
- Ai Yazawa did the cover art of a Japanese karaoke album, Tsuya, which features Junko.
- Junko is voiced by Takako Honda in the anime adaptation and Saffron Henderson in the English dub.
- The name Junko means "pure" (淳) (jun) and "child" (子) (ko).
- Junko's surname Saotome means "already, now, early" (早) (sa) and "virgin, maiden, girl" (乙女) (otome).
- Same age as Nana.
- Junko graduated high school in March 1999, which means should would've started school in April 1996
- The first semester of college usually begins in April in Japan