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Manga / Boys Run the Riot

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I hate my uniform. It's stiff and annoying... hot in the summer, cold in the winter. But the biggest reason... is that every morning, it reminds me that I'm female.
Ryo Watari, Chapter 1 "Encounter"

High schooler Ryo Watari knows he's transgender, but he doesn't have anyone to confide in about the confusion he feels. He can't tell his best friend, who he's secretly got a crush on, and he can't tell his mom, who's constantly asking why Ryo "dresses like a boy." He certainly can't tell Jin Sato, the new transfer student who looks like just another bully... The only time Ryo feels at ease is when he's wearing his favorite clothes. Then, and only then, the world melts away, and he can be his true self. One day, while out shopping, Ryo sees someone he didn't expect: Jin. The kid who looked so tough in class has the same taste in fashion as him! At last, Ryo has someone he can open up to — and the journey ahead might finally give him a way to express himself to the world.

Boys Run the Riot is a manga series by Keito Gaku. It was serialized in Weekly Young Magazine from January 27, 2020, to August 31, only to move to Comic Days on September 9 and end on October 14 with 37 chapters in 4 volumes. Kodansha USA began publishing the manga in English on May 25, 2021.

Boys Run the Riot provides examples of:

  • Empathic Environment: After Itsuka finds his treasured camera broken and blames Ryo and Jin for causing him to be targetted, he walks home in the rain without an umbrella.
  • Foreign Language Title: The manga is written in Japanese but titled in English.
  • Gender Vocabulary Slip: When Ryo's classmates start talking about their favorite characters in a drama, he pipes up to agree with Kashiwabara's choice, but he accidentally uses the masculine ore, hastily switching to uchi (and a male character) when he sees the faces of the others. The English translation adds an extra line to get across the same general idea:
    Ryo: Uh, I-I mean, if I had to choose a girl, like me, it'd be Hana...
  • Never Mess with Granny: One of the "pals" Jin enlists to help advertise his and Ryo's brand is a frail-looking old lady. She ends up performing a flying kick on the cop who tries breaking up the mob.
  • Slut-Shaming: Ryo was bullied by two girls in middle school for seemingly being a girl who was close friends with boys, receiving cruel notes in his locker accusing him of sleeping with his friends. The attention was bad enough for Ryo's friends to stop being friends with him.
  • Symbol Swearing: When Itsuka comes back to Ryo and Jin to apologize for what he said to them, Ryo has more than a few choice words for him.
    Ryo: Guys like you are @#$% @#$?! @#$!@... and @#%$! &%$# #*@$# #%@$!..
    Jin: Watari... Hey, calm that potty mouth, dude.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: At the start of chapter 1, Ryo keeps telling Jin the proverb about "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down". Ryo sees himself as having been "that nail" in the past, someone who got punished for standing out too much, and as a result, he isn't out to anyone as trans. He also says that he uses his fashion choices to blend in as a guy, and he dislikes how much Jin draws attention to himself. Seeing Jin be fearless about his ideas helps Ryo slowly change his mind over the first volume, though.
  • Title Drop: At the end of Volume 1, Jin organizes a mass gathering to advertise the fashion brand, only for chaos to ensue when the police try to break it up. Ryo, who's been pondering a name for the brand, is struck by inspiration:
    Ryo: A "riot"... can mean an "outburst of feelings." It also has a slang meaning... "a highly entertaining thing." But that alone is what we should aim for... and move toward— we are... "Boys Run The Riot!"
  • Trans Tribulations: Ryo isn't out to anyone as trans because of his fear of social reprisal, he lost a lot of his cis male friends once bullies accused him of dating them all or being "boy crazy", and he has a crush on his best friend Chika, a cis girl. He eventually comes out to Jin, who surprises him by being a really good ally about the whole thing.
    Jin: If you don't tell me, how am I 'sposed to understand?! I don't know anything about your pain and sufferin'. Even if I spent my whole life tryin', I wouldn't fully get it. Of course I wouldn't. I'm just a regular guy. But...I think I wanna know. Why wouldn't I want a friend to confide in me? So let it all out. You think I can't take it or somethin'?