Otomen--a bit of a review

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Otomen--a bit of a review

Postby ShastaB24 » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:37 pm

I have decided to give manga a chance. It came to me that I had derided the form without any actual substance behind it. While I started by reading the first three volumes of Dragon Ball, I took a departure from the action comics to check out a comic I had read about, Otomen.

What drew me to the comic was its description as a story of a guy who feels shame over his love of girly things. While the main character is still a heterosexual cisgender male, this is a close correlation to the LGBT community and something I'm sure we can all relate to.

Reading it, I was hampered by stylistic problems, which I am sure are trappings of the shojo genre, such as lack of tails on word and thought balloons (it takes a while to figure out just who is supposed to be talking) and the fact that the characters didn't seem to have much variation in how they were drawn. However, I could get past this and saw, at the meat of it, a moving story. Asuka, the main character, loves to cook, sew and read shojo manga, but feels he must be masculine and so in public practices judo and affects a rough exterior. His love interest is Ryo, a girl who can't cook to save her life. Trying to push the two together is the playboy Juto, who is secretly the writer of Asuka's favorite shojo manga.

Intercut into the story is Asuka's background. His father was a transwoman, which devastated his mother. Her subsequent negative reaction to seeing her son's feminine tendencies rules Asuka's hatred and fear of his feminine side. I get the feeling that this is a story of a transwoman, just pulled back a little, so it can appeal to more people. This is good, since I'm sure I otherwise would not have found it in Redding (it was at Barnes and Noble, but Redding is still a very conservative city).

It's actually a story of which I will pick up Volume 2 when it comes out. Also, it may help me transition into some other shojo titles that I may have consciously been avoiding because of my fear of the form. What do you people think of this comic?
All the bad things in life only help you appreciate the good even more.
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