Three and a half stars.
Only when I searched this series on Goodreads I realized that it’s an earlier effort by the author of the story that has impressed me the most recently: Boy’s Abyss. Someone also recommended ‘Himegoto’ because it reminded them of Shūzō Oshimi’s stuff, so I guess Ryou Minenami is on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite authors.
However, this series I’m reviewing is much sloppier and less impressive than ‘Boy’s Abyss’. We follow mostly four college students, all of whom have issues with what they were either born as or were pushed into being.
The main protagonist is a pretty tomboy who has been locked into acting like one of the guys by her shitty childhood friend (an infuriating idiot that I didn’t find interesting enough as a character despite his personal issues), and now is having trouble accepting herself as a woman and dealing with not only her need to dress more girly, but also with her growing urges to be dominated sexually by men. We get a few scenes of her alone in her bedroom feeling bad because she can’t reconcile her masturbatory fantasies with her inability to accept her female nature.
The second most important main character is a pretty guy who’s popular for that reason, but who in reality wishes he had been born a woman. In his spare time he dresses with women clothes as often as he can (usually imitating a gorgeous classmate of theirs, whom he admits he’d rather be). However, he’s attracted to women, and gets particularly turned on by handling girly women aggressively while wearing women clothes. This person and the previous main character spark a compelling friendship through such an encounter.
The third main character is a baby-faced eighteen-year-old girl who’s revered for her beauty and fashion sense (this is the girl that the previous character is imitating). However, she’s terrified of growing old, and in fact moonlights as a prostitute mainly to cosplay as a fifteen-year-old girl during the act and be treated as such by middle aged men (some of which approach the act with cosplay of their own, well aware that this girl isn’t fifteen). Interestingly, the girl despises men and is sexually attracted to “boys”. She becomes infatuated with the main protagonist because that one has looked like an innocent, pretty boy throughout her life. She has no trouble imagining the protagonist’s naked breasts in her romantic fantasies, so she’s likely dealing with further repressed urges.
The fourth character is the previously mentioned childhood “friend” of the protagonist, a guy who has been in love with the protagonist precisely because she looked like a pretty boy. He has made every effort to restrain the girl’s urges to grow as a woman. The protagonist had hoped that her new life in college would be her first opportunity to express herself freely, but her dickheaded childhood “friend” has made a point of following her there, and is eager to inform everyone who approaches her that “she’s one of the boys”. The author could have attempted to make this idiot somewhat sympathetic, but the volume ends with this guy’s outrageous reaction to the protagonist presenting herself with girly clothes, which solidifies him as the nasty villain of the tale so far.
An interesting, compelling volume which almost made me miss my train stop this morning. However, the contrast between the author’s drawings, as well as his writing and storyboarding abilities, in this series and in the superior effort ‘Boy’s Abyss’ prevents me from rating this one higher.