Context: in the manga りくどう, a girl named Naeshiro is thinking over the friendship between her boyfriend Riku and a boy named Mihara. Both of them are boxers, but Mihara is older than Riku and is thinking about retiring from boxing after an injury.

リクは気付いてるかわからないけどボクサーとして前を歩いてた人だから…… 慕ってる……のかな

私…… より?

I don't understand who admires whom, Riku admires Mihara or Mihara admires Riku? I don't understand this because I don't know how to interpret 前を歩いてた人. Does it refer to Mihara in the sense that he has "walked the boxing path" before Riku, so he is like a senpai to him?

Here you can see the whole page. Thank you for your help!

  • 2
    Doesn't the 「私・・・より」 part help? That is a big hint. – l'électeur Mar 4 at 10:49
  • @l'électeur Yes, in fact I think that it is Riku that admires Mihara, but I would like to know the exact meaning of 前を歩いてた人. – Marco Mar 4 at 16:06

ボクサーとして前を歩いていた人 is not really a tricky expression. It just refers to someone who was more successful in the field of boxing. Normally, his age is less important than his actual career (a strong younger boxer can be a 前を歩いている人). But in this case, Mihara was like a senpai to Riku, too. In non-romantic contexts, the subject of 慕う is normally someone lower than the object (e.g., 生徒が先生を慕う, 後輩が先輩を慕う), so who admires whom is implied by this verb itself.

If I understand the context correctly, the sentence is saying:

I (=Yuki) wonder if Riku admires Mihara more than Riku likes me (=Yuki).

Note that, technically speaking, the 私より part is ambiguous; the exact same sentence could mean the following:

I (=Yuki) wonder if Riku admires Mihara more than I (=Yuki) love Mihara.

You know the story, so you know which interpretation is correct.

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