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Comic Book / Fence

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Fence is a comic book series by writer C.S. Pacat (author of the Captive Prince series) and artist Johanna the Mad, published by Boom! Studios under the "Boom! Box" brand.

The series is a Sports Story focused on the world of competitive fencing. There are two main characters, who are also rivals: Nicholas Cox, a Hot-Blooded young fencer and Seiji Katayama, a cool and collected fencing prodigy. They both attend the prestigious Kings Row, an all-boys boarding school where they both compete for a slot on the elite fencing team among a colorful cast of characters made up of spoiled rich kids, tough coaches, and flirty jocks.

The series borrows a lot of tropes from Sports Anime, complete with a pretty accurate depiction of fencing. It also has a heaping amount of Boys' Love content, with numerous gay characters along with the Homoerotic Subtext between the two main characters. Unsurprisingly, it quickly picked up a fanbase and after the initial 12 issues were released, the series was announced to be continued in OGN (original graphic novel) form, along with two written prose novels (titled Striking Distance and Disarmed) that were released in 2020 and 2021.


Not related to the play Fences, written by August Wilson in 1984, or its 2016 film adaptation.

This series includes the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Seiji, a well-renowned fencer along with Aiden who is gifted at fencing as well.
  • Always Someone Better: Seiji, has this towards Jesse Coste who he seemingly can't beat.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Seiji seemingly has symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder. He's hyperfocused on fencing and curt with his words towards others. Striking Distance goes more in-depth with this; Seiji has trouble relating to others when not talking about his specialized interest, he has a difficult time making friends with the team and seeing things from their perspective, and he feels uncomfortable with small talk, all of which are common characteristics of individuals on the neurodivergent spectrum.
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  • Ambiguously Gay: Both Nicholas and Seiji, who constantly think about each other and have yet to state if they're romantically interested in women. This is stark contrast with Aiden, Harvard and almost every other boy who attends Kings Row.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Seiji's Japanese and is excellent at fencing.
  • Bastard Angst: Nicholas, who is the "illegitimate" son of fencing prodigy Robert Coste. His father left his mother and Nicholas, for the most part, took care of himself and lived in poverty with fencing as his only escape.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Nicholas and Seiji don't get along at all, and yet can't stop thinking about each other; Seiji seems especially enamored after he's nearly beaten by Nicholas in a match.
  • The Casanova: Aiden, who makes his way quickly through the population of the school.
  • Cast Full of Gay: There are a lot of gay/bi students attending Kings Row. The explicitly gay main characters include Aiden, Harvard, and Dante, and there are several minor characters that are gay (namely, Aiden's fanboy squad). Nicholas and Seiji obviously have some sort of attraction towards each other, but neither has declared themselves straight or gay.
  • Childhood Friends: Harvard and Aiden, and they have another childhood friend in Arune, who attends another school.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Nicholas's whole backstory involving his father and living in poverty.
  • Expy: The creators have stated that the anime Haikyuu!! has been a major inspiration for the series and characters, even the buildup of the stories are the same.
    • Naïve Newcomer Nicholas/Hinata goes against The Ace Seiji/Kageyama, who is expected to win the opening tournament in their debut match, Nicholas/Hinata hope they can somehow pull out a win, only to be crushingly defeated, Seiji/Kageyama taunt their hopes of success while Nicholas/Hinata swear they will defeat them. Months pass and Nicholas/Hinata enter a low-ranked high school with the optimism of facing their rival, only to find Seiji/Kageyama is attending the same school and now have to learn to work together.
  • Five-Token Band- The cast of Fence is very diverse, both in and out of King's Row: Seiji is Japanese, Eugene is Filipino, Harvard is African-American, Aiden is white, Nicholas is ethnically ambiguous with white heritage, Bobby is Hispanic, Kally is presumably Middle Eastern or Asian.
  • Gaming and Sports Anime & Manga: Fence is a Western take on this genre.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Nicholas harbors a lot of resentment towards Jesse, who has their father's love, attention, and his dreams involving fencing be fulfilled significantly easier than he's experienced. When Jesse shows up at King's Row for a practice demonstration and Nicholas sees Seiji's interest be piqued, Nicholas becomes angered at the thought of Jesse stealing Seiji away from him as well.
  • Has Two Mommies: Kally has two mothers, which he affectionately refers to as "moms."
  • Height Angst: Bobby is the shortest at King's Row and understands he has a disadvantage due to his small size, but after some words of "encouragement" from Seiji and watching Hartley, who is even shorter than he is, fence incredibly well, Bobby swears to get passed his weakness.
  • Incompletely Trained: Nicholas's former fencing coach taught Nicholas about fencing, but as Nicholas attends King's Row, he finds himself way out of his depth.
  • Inscrutable Oriental: Seiji is poised, polished, and cold, and also Japanese-American.
  • Just Friends: Aiden is clearly into Harvard and wants him as more of a friend, but Aiden refuses to date him because he doesn't sleep with teammates. When Jay asks Aiden why he has this policy, Aiden explains it's so he "doesn't mess up the one good thing he has in his life" as he fondly looks at Harvard.
  • Lamarck Was Right: There is absolutely no reason Nicholas should have inherited his world-champion father's fencing skills—it's a learned skill, not a genetic ability.
  • LGBT Awakening: In Striking Distance, Harvard realizes that he is gay after he goes on a date with a girl that his mother help set up. Aiden is encouraging and is thinking this is his chance to finally be with Harvard — only for Harvard to call up his mother and ask her if she can set up on with a date on a boy.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Nicholas is the illegitimate son of Robert Coste, making him Jesse Coste's younger half-brother, not that Jesse, or Robert, is aware.
  • No-Sell: Aiden's mind games don't work on Nicholas, who is generally just too dense to get what Aiden's doing. But beyond that, Nicholas focuses on the fact that Aiden beat Seiji, so beating Aiden is like beating Seiji.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Bobby has an obvious crush on Seiji, who is too focused on fencing to even think to notice. Meanwhile, Dante is seemingly crushing on Bobby big time, not that Bobby notices.
    • Harvard is unaware that Aiden is in love with him, and just sees him as a friend.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Nicholas's passionate and strong personality contrasts with Seiji's icy demeanor.
  • Shown Their Work: C.S. Pacat works with an épée coach in order portray fencing realistically as well as develop the characters' strengths and weaknesses.
  • Smug Snake: Aiden, who barely practices and yet is great at fencing and he crushes other boys' hearts quickly.
  • Sports Story
  • Super Coach: Coach Williams, who has the uncanny ability to narrow down the strengths and weaknesses of her team.
  • This Is My Side: Nicholas and Seiji split their dorm room down the middle.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Aiden clearly wants to be with Harvard, but wants to keep it at Just Friends due to his insecurities, as well as not being completely sure that Harvard likes boys. Harvard realizes that he's also into Aiden in Striking Distance but also doesn't want to ruin their friendship.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Nicholas was improperly trained by his coach before attending Kings Row. He has terrible technique but he's also very strong and left-handed, which gives him an edge in the sport. Coach Williams even mentions that Nicholas is a prodigy, his issue is when he stacks himself against fencers like Seiji, he's facing prodigies with over a decade of training.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Bobby, who dresses in girls' clothing, and is cute and gentle.