"Otokonoko", also known as "Otoko no Musume", is a Japanese genre of romantic and/or erotic stories for men, focusing on Attractive Bent-Gender male Crossdressers. The name is a pun.Details It is sometimes called '"josou" ("women's clothes"), a more generic term for male crossdressers. Western fandom uses the terms "trap" and, less often, "tomgirl"(as the opposite of Tomboy).note
Otokonoko features both girl-on-crossdresser and guy-on-crossdresser stories (it's one of the few places where you will find m/f stories and m/m stories side-by-side in the same magazine). The target audience is men who crossdress (or are interested), and men who have a fetish for crossdressers, and the art styles and tropes are typically those of male-oriented romance / ecchi / hentai material. There is also a significant Periphery Demographic of female readers. (Although guy-on-guy otokonoko is often mistaken for Boys' Love Genre, and some Shoujo, Josei, boys love works, and otome games do include characters that identify as otokonoko, anything targeted to women is not the otokonoko genre.)
Although cute crossdressers in romantic situations have been an occasional theme in Shōnen and seinen since the '80s, otokonoko did not start as an identified genre until about 2004. Most works created before this are not usually considered part of the genre, although some have been grandfathered in.
An otokonoko character must be anatomically male (no Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders) but look convincingly like an attractive girl. Most identify as male, but even when the character identifies as female, few works try to deal with actual Transgender issues in anything like a realistic way. Since otokonoko is mainly an otaku thing, otokonoko are quite likely to wear Sailor Fuku, Meido, Miko, Cat Girl or Naughty Nurse Outfits as well as "ordinary" female clothes.
Some non-fiction magazines exist to provide advice and help with crossdressing for men who identify as otokonoko in Real Life and who crossdress to achieve the look (or want to).
The following works either technically aren't Otokonoko or precede the establishment of Otokonoko as a genre, but have been influential in its development:
- MariaHolic - The inspiration for dozens of "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" stories, although it's not the first to do this. It's not quite an example of the genre (in ways, it's almost a parody of it, actually).
- The iDOLM@STER - It has two iconic otokonoko characters, Ryo Akizuki and Saki Mizushima, the latter whom is voiced by an actual otokonoko. However, they are but two characters in a huge franchise; SideM is mainly aimed at women (though Saki is very popular with men), and Ryo stopped crossdressing in the True Ending of Dearly Stars and his subsequent appearances in SideM. The two are total opposites when it comes to why they came to do it: Ryo was forced into it at first but came to love the people he knew while on the job, and Saki adores the practice, but was inspired to start crossdressing in the open after Ryo confessed the truth to his fans.
- Happiness - Jun is pretty much the type-model for the "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" plot. Doesn't quite fit into the genre, as Jun is only one of a number of possible Love Interests in the game and is mostly a side-character in the anime adaptations. On the other hand, Jun is also heavily implied to be transgender and can be romanced as a boy or, via magic, a girl.
- No Bra - Like Happiness!, a model for the "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" storyline. Predates the genre, sometimes grandfathered in as it otherwise fits quite well (though it's implied that Yuki is transgender).
- Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts - Hideyoshi is an icon for the subculture. Doesn't quite fit into the genre, as it doesn't focus on Hideyoshi's love life (he's only a side character).
- If you were to explain Otokonoko to someone, Bridget from Guilty Gear would probably be the first character to come to mind for many, but he's not the focus of the series and the series predates the genre by a few years.
- Wandering Son - The three "crossdressers" are all transgender, but the series is often mistaken for at Otokonoko series. Waai did run some articles and ads for the anime adaptation.
- Stop!! Hibari-kun! - Hibari is well-known as a classic in the genre, but the series predates the genre by at least twenty years, being from The '80s. Hisashi Eguchi has commented on the fact that Hibari is supposed to be read as a openly gay feminine boy, however.
- Princess Jellyfish - Kuranosuke is an icon, well known for being both incredibly fashionable and a rare adult crossdresser, and the series does focus on the Sibling Triangle. But it doesn't quite fit the genre, being a josei aimed at young adult women.
- W Juliet - It is about a boy pretending to be a girl at school so his father will let him become an actor. His Love Interest is technically the lead, though.
- Usotsuki Lily - A parody on the genre aimed at the Shoujo crowd.
- Love Me For Who I Am - The series is about male assigned at birth people working in dresses at a cafe, and the characters do call themselves "otokonoko" sometimes, but it's not officially in the genre. The manga is also queer-themed as the protagonist is explicitly non-binary and at least two other characters are trans girls.
- There are a couple of magazines that focus specifically on otokonoko manga:
- WAaI! boys in skirts (more clean) (suspended indefinitely as of early 2014)
- WAaI! Mahalo - A spinoff magazine focusing on manga. Cancelled after about 6 issues.
- Oto★Nyan (more raunchy) (on a most likely permanent hiatus as of summer 2013)
- Otoko no Ko Comic Anthology (filthy)
- Otokonoko HEAVEN (even more filthy)
- WAaI! boys in skirts (more clean) (suspended indefinitely as of early 2014)
- Amahara-kun +: A sociopathic tomgirl tries to convert other boys into tomgirls by whatever means necessary, and often ends up helping them in some way.
- Boku to Boku: A girl who looks like a boy befriends a crossdresser.
- Bokura no Hentai is light on the Fanservice, but it's seinen and therefore fits the "targeted towards men" part. Notably, one of the three main characters is explicitly transgender, while the other two are boys who are crossdressing for personal reasons. The series comes off as a Genre Deconstruction as with its cute art style and "Middle school crossdressers" premise it seems to be normal game, but the cast has a serious case of Dysfunction Junction and the series handles its topics seriously.
- Brocken Blood: a borderline example, started off as a gag comedy with a crossdressed Magical Boy but has increased the crossdressing-fanservice levels to appeal to otokonoko fans.
- Hikaru to Hikari: A young boy is made to crossdress by his childhood friend for a singing contest, and discovers that he is far more confident in himself as his new alter-ego.
- Himegoto by Norio Tsukudani, a rare 4-koma work (at least the first few chapters). The first in the genre to get an anime, though it was badly received.
- Himegoto Plus: A spinoff focusing on the main character's little brother.
- Josou Shounen, An ongoing (as of 2014) manga anthology featuring cross-dressing boys. The majority of the stories have romantic elements to them. Some more notable recurring series include the following-
- Hatsu Kokuhaku: A boy is roped into cross-dressing in order to get closer to a classmate he likes... initially, anyway.
- Zenryoku Otome: A cross-dressing boy becomes infatuated with the person who saved him from a perverted train passenger.
- Haruno To Natsukawa: A student's male friend takes his entrance into high school as an opportunity to make his cross-dressing debut. Hijinks ensue as the friend attempts to get closer to the student.
- Mayo Elle Otokonoko: would be yet another "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" story, except that most of the "girls" aren't...
- My Cute Crossdresser: a guy who likes doing makeup convinces a classmate to crossdress so he can use him for practice, gets turned on by the result. One of the first in the genre to be officially published in English.
- Onnanoko Tokidoki Otokonoko: yet another "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" story.
- Ookami Shounen Wa Kyou Mo Uso O Kasaneru is about a Nice Guy with the Face of a Thug. Being rejected by the girl he loves he runs to his Cool Big Sis for help. She drugs his coffee and makes him look like a girl. Now he saves the girl he loves from some real thugs and Love Interest reveals she has a cripling fear of boys. After a while he finds out that he actually likes being dressed like that more as he can be himself without people fearing him.
- Past Future: A boy starts crossdressing to try and bond with his disapproving and distant sister.
- Prunus Girl: yet another "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" story.
- Reversible!: An all boys school that at first glance seems to be coed due to the eccentric dress code, and the relationships that develop there.
- Sazanami Cherry: A boy confesses his attraction to a girl but it turns out the girl is a crossdressing boy. In this case, Ren has an Ambiguous Gender Identity and is implied that he's actually a trans girl who hasn't began identifying as so yet.
- The Secret Devil-chan: Guy wishes for Horny Devil to take his virginity, gets cutie, freaks when he realizes he forgot to specify female cutie.
- Sensei Anone: A hapless male high-school teacher gets pursued by an also male student who wears girls' clothes.
- Porte Tricolore: A short-lived Slice of Life series set in a magical world where only tomgirls can use magic. Notable for implying that most of the cast is actually intersex in some way.
- I'm a Royal Tutor in My Sister's Dress revolves around a boy impersonating his older sister in order for the both of them to avoid execution.
- Otoboku - Maidens Are Falling For Me: Possibly the original "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" story; released at a point where the genre didn't have a name and consequently advertised as "Girls' Love" even though the main character is male.
- Otoko no Ko wa Meido Fuku ga Osuki!?: Four cute girls open and run a maid cafe (spoiler: they're not girls)
- Otoko No Ko Club is a nonfiction magazine aimed at otokonoko which provides tips and techniques for crossdressing.
- Wagahai wa 'Otokonoko' dearu! (I am an Otokonoko!): A manga how-to guide for otokonoko hopefuls written by Nanami Igarashi, son of Shōjo manga artist Yumiko Igarashi (Candy Candy) and voice actor Kazuhiko Inoue and himself an otokonoko (currently providing the page image).