Method Read: Published Manga
English Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Romantic Comedy
There is a rule amongst shojo manga: a shojo manga is never good after the fourth volume. I personally stand by it. Otomen is a bit of a different beast all together. It’s a beast because I can’t tell if it’s a parody or not. There seems to be
elements of an actual plot, but it’s hidden behind a layer of jokes and single chapter stories. Otomen has a very cliché, but entertaining plot. The same old girly, weak guy and strong girl plot is here. It however has a strong backbone of characters and humor. It starts Asuka Masamune who is a girly guy. No more no less. However, he is forced by his mother to live out a manly life (not as GAR as Guts from Berserk, but still manly). Why? There is no Musou Tensei here. His father left his mother to become a woman. Ever since then his mom has hated faggo–feminine, transsexual, or homosexuals. He however falls in love with a girl, Ryo whom is the exact opposite of him. He’s encouraged to pursue a relationship with Ryo by a “playa”, Juta. Juta has his own agenda that involves getting the two together to write out his manga Love Chick. The part that makes this story funny is the fact that Juta plays out Asuka as the woman and Ryo as the male. As you would guess, hijinx ensue.
I have to get down to it, the story isn’t really that funny or clever. What it does have going for it is its’ cuteness and characters. One of the things that bothers me with this manga is he hasn’t asked her out. This is one of those things whether it makes me wonder if this is a parody or an actual manga. Asuka may be a man’s man, but he has to stop being a pussy. He’s very concerned with what Ryo will think about how girly he is that he hasn’t asker her out. By volume two there should be a rival already. There hasn’t. There has been a very effeminate guy and a gothic Lolita rich girl and that‘s about it. I have two volumes of the manga that’s published here in the U.S. to read, but I’m hoping something develops. To you fujoshi out there, there is a lot to this manga for you. From cute guys to a shota getting hit on. Yeah, the selling point of this manga isn’t really for men. The characters really drive the manga home for me. I feel there is a great balance between the characters, I just wish more happened between them. I do want to point out, the same joke is done A LOT through the series. Asuka sees something cute, and he tries to hold it in to not say it.
Time to tell you why you should read the manga: the art. The art is amazing. There are some flaws with lines and jaws, but it’s not noticeable. It’s just great, cleaned, polished shojo at its best. One of the things that really
takes me away from shojo is the artwork (looking at you The Wallflower). There is some really good display of artwork in small details. Several panels of food just look amazing in detail. The only problem that I really have with this series is the paneling and emotion. Tension and impact is taken away by the way stuff is set up. There is this panel where the shota boy, Yamato or Yamamoto or some shit is being beat up. I sort of cared for the kid, but it ended in the poorest manner. I don’t exactly know how to describe it, but it just had this lack of emotion built into it.
Time to get down to the nitty gritty, should you read it? Sort of. This manga is true to the two chapter ideal. Read two chapters, if you don’t like those two chapters, you won’t like the series. The first two chapters describe what the whole manga will be about. Asuka’s teenage angst, constant jokes of cute things, etc. This manga isn’t a complete man/boy repellant. I hate reviewing series where I can’t tell you whether you should read it or not. The manga does have raise some questions about gender roles and how our peers react to it, but it’s not very in your face about it. I really recommend buying Viz’s manga release if you decide to read on. Despite some problem some pages getting cut off on the side in volume two, I don’t have any issues with it. It has a lot clearer and less awkward translations than the scanlations.
P.S. I’m not into yaoi, but why the hell isn’t there any doujin on this?