Thursday, October 4, 2012

Otomen by Aya Kanno

Otomen by Aya Kanno was a previous TAB pick, which is why I decided to check out the series. Asuka Masamune is a guy that likes to do crafty things like sewing and knitting, he likes cute things, and he loves shoujo manga. Asuka’s father was also into cute and girly things, and his mother made him ashamed to like girly things like his father did. However, when a girl named Ryo Miyakozuka transfers into the school Asuka finds it more and more difficult to hide his interests.

The more he thinks about her, the more he wants to do crafts, bake, and buy cute things. Ryo is the daughter of a dojo master, and she only has brothers; she isn't very good at girly things and aspires to be tough. Most of the students in the school think Asuka is tough because he's on the kendo team and he does judo, but he has to work hard to hide his girly interests. When he meets Ryo and Juta he is able to let down his guard and share his real interests by bringing them homemade meals for lunch and by teaching Ryo how to bake a cake.

Why is Juta so interested in Asuka and Ryo? Why does the story of Love Chick seem so familiar? Can Asuka convince Ryo's father that he is worthy of her? 

Otomen is a play on words: "otome" meaning young lady and the English word "men." This word is used in the manga to describe a man that likes girly things, like Asuka. I like a graphic novel that breaks gender stereotypes, though this is still very much a shoujo manga and would be more appealing to girls or guys that like love stories. The characters are all interesting, and relatable to any teen that has ever struggled to fit in.