piranha: red origami crane (Default)
the title is a play on 乙女 (otome; young lady) and "men" (in english), and it refers to boys who like girlish things. i've seen another term for this, which seems to carry more of a connotation of such men also not being very sexual or aggressive/assertive when it comes to love: 草食男子 (soushoku danshi, literally "herbivorous guy"; i guess because herbivores are less aggressive?).

masamune asuka is quite the manly guy, excelling in karate and kendo. but he has a secret: what he really likes is cooking, sewing, knitting, and everything sparkly and cute. when he was a young teenager, his father left home because he had always wanted to be a woman. this affected asuka's mother very badly, and, because she saw that her son liked girly things, she forced him to be completely masculine.

of course denying a large part of oneself doesn't ever work well, but asuka doesn't actually want to be a woman; he just wants to do things that normally are in a girl's domain. one day a new transfer student joins his class; miyakozuka ryou. ryou has grown up without a mother, and with a tough father, and she's pretty much taken on the role of his son; he taught her karate and kendo, and training with him is one of her favourite things. she doesn't know how to cook or sew, and she likes action and horror movies. asuka and ryou are quite taken with each other, and quickly admit their secrets and start helping each other.

i started reading this because i think japan, and especially shoujo, needs manga in which people break through gender barriers, and it sure can't hurt westerners either. this is a true gender bender; not as in magic body swapping, or pretending to be a boy/girl, but as in stretching the meaning of gender beyond its standard perceptions. read more detail; no spoilers )

it's not any big revelation for anyone who's been pondering gender seriously already, but it's quite progressive in the shoujo manga universe, and indirectly acknowledges that gender isn't binary, and that liking pursuits commonly attributed to the "opposite" gender doesn't turn one into a transvestite or transsexual or make one homosexual, and i am happy that it's quite successful in japan. so yeah, recommended.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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