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Manga / Love Me For Who I Am

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Clockwise from the right: Tetsu, Mogumo, Mei, Suzu, and Ten

When high school student Tetsu Iwaoka learns the wish of his lonely classmate Mogumo, "Please give me friends who will understand me", he thinks he knows the perfect place. He invites Mogumo to work at his family's maid café, and while Mogumo is excited to start, there's just one problem: it's a "girlyboy" (otokonoko) café, and Mogumo isn't a girl or a boy.

Love Me For Who I Am (Fukakai na Boku no Subete Wo) is a seinen manga by Kata Konayama about finding those who accept you for who you truly are. It ran in COMIC MeDu from 2018 to 2021. Seven Seas Entertainment announced that they licensed the manga and released the first volume in (fittingly) June 2020.

Love Me For Who I Am provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mogumo and Sakura's father is strict and emotionally abusive, unaccepting of Mogumo's non-binary identity and trying his best to force Sakura to be more submissive and feminine. He violently opposed Sakura cutting her hair short, thinking she was going to act like a boy because of it, and forced her to quit the soccer team.
  • Alliterative Name: Suzu's full name, Sou Suzumi.
  • And Then What?: Kotone asks Tetsu what he plans to do after he admits that he has feelings for Mogumo, which stumps him since he hasn't thoroughly thought about his feelings at this point.
    Kotone: You and Mogu-chan are listed as the same sex on your family registers so you can't get married in this country. But he and I are undoubtedly a boy and a girl. In that case, which of those would be the happier choice for Mogu-chan?
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Suzu and Ten both make rather pretty girls, though they are both cis men who just like wearing feminine clothing.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Played for Drama. The end of chapter 22 implies that Mogumo got seriously, probably fatally wounded, when they tried to talk Sakura out of her suicide attempt. Thankfully, chapter 23, the beginning of volume 5, shows that Mogumo's injuries aren't too bad, and that they're perfectly fine, other than having their hands bandaged up.
  • Be Yourself: The overarching theme of the series is learning to love and accept yourself, and you don't need anyone's permission to do so.
  • Bleached Underpants: Kata Konayama got started from drawing doujinshi and adult works. Suzu's backstory is told in the author's 2016 adult doujinshi work Kimi Dake no Ponytail.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three original café maids are blonde/light-brunette Ten, dark-haired Suzu, and reddish-brunette Mei.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Mogumo is non-binary, Mei and Satori are trans women, Suzu is a gay man with a boyfriend, Tetsu isn't sure of his sexuality but has interest in Mogumo, and Kotone is a lesbian.
  • Childhood Friends: Kotone and Mogumo have been friends since childhood when Mogumo's family first moved in Kotone's neighbourhood. The two have been close ever since, with Kotone in the present day still taking care of Mogumo by visiting their home to cook.
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • A good chunk of Kotone's character arc is her coming to terms with her gayngst and coming out of the closet. When taken to gay rights festival by her transgender friends while still closeted, she ends up breaking down crying after seeing all the happy lesbian couples.
    • There are also a few other, less obvious, Coming Out Stories: Mogumo learning about their non-binary identity and how to be openly enby, Suzu being in a Secret Relationship with his boyfriend and learning to be more open, and Mei learning that it's okay to be seen a trans girl instead of a Wholesome Crossdresser.
  • Cool Big Sis: Satori is a good older sister to Tetsu and takes good care of the other café employees as well.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Happens when Mogumo tries on Mei's clothing in an attempt to see if they liked her ultra-feminine clothes.
  • Double Date: Mogumo and Tetsu go on one with Suzu and his boyfriend, Haruto.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mogumo returns home and finally stands up to their father, backed up by their mother and Tetsu. Their father finally comes around to accepting it's okay for his children to be gender-nonconforming, meaning he'll no longer pressure Mogumo to being more masculine and Sakura can join the soccer team again. Mogumo does have to move out and work less often at the café to care for their sick mother, but the final pages reveal their mother is recovering well, meaning Mogumo will be back at the café soon.
  • First-Episode Twist: Mogumo is revealed to be non-binary in the first chapter. It's a surprise to all the other characters, but necessary to reveal in order to describe the premise.
  • Gayngst: Kotone's misandry and obsession with Mogumo is revealed to be a result of her having to hide her homosexuality for so long.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Mei is initially envious of Mogumo for being able to say that they aren't a boy or a girl while Mei feels she needs to hold on to her assigned sex even though she is a girl. This explains why she's so defensive when Mogumo doesn't want to call themself a "girlyboy".
    • Kotone is jealous of Tetsu, who she sees as turning Mogumo "gay" and stealing them away from her. She thankfully grows out of this in chapters 16 and 17, apologizing to Tetsu for her behavior towards him, though not without playfully joking that she'll resent him forever.
  • Harsh Word Impact: In Chapter 2, the Innocently Insensitive Mogumo asks Suzu point-blank "Are you a homo?", shown as an arrow stabbing through him.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mogumo suffers from one in Chapter 18 when their little sister Sakura comes to ask them to come back home.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Mogumo asks Suzu if he is a "homo" when they first meet him. Mei immediately corrects them, telling them that the word can be offensive and shouldn't be used. Mogumo clearly meant no harm and immediately apologizes.
    • Kotone is incredibly cold to Ten and Suzu from the first time they meet them, repeatedly pointing out Ten’s vocal tick. When Suzu asks her not to make fun of Ten, she’s taken aback, not realizing she seemed to be mocking him.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: Tetsu's confession to Mogumo is interrupted by Mogumo confessing to him instead.
  • Just the Way You Are: Mogumo considers trying to be more feminine and dressing like the much girlier Mei in hopes that Tetsu will like them more that way. As it turns out, Tetsu prefers Mogumo's personal style and personality rather than them trying to be something they aren't.
  • LGBT Awakening: Meeting Mogumo helps Mei realize that she's allowed to consider herself a girl instead of a girlyboy/otokonoko, and also helps Tetsu realize he may be queer after he develops a crush on them.
  • Luminescent Blush: Often, but it's most noticeable whenever characters are flushing about something romantic, such as Tetsu and Mogumo after their first kiss together.
  • Otokonoko Genre: While technically not an otokonoko work, the series could be considered "otokonoko-adjacent." The cafe is officially an otokonoko cafe (translated as "girlyboy cafe", though the official release outright uses otokonoko and has a note explaining it), and several of the characters that work there refer to themselves as otokonoko/girlyboys.
  • Pride Parade: Mei, Mogumo and Kotone go to a Pride Festival in Chapter 15. This triggers a lot of emotions from Kotone, who's struggling to accept that she's a lesbian and is shocked to see how many women like her are out there.
  • Romantic Spoonfeeding: In Chapter 25, Tetsu feeds Mogumo with chopsticks when teaching them how to cook.
  • Self-Harm: Chapter 23 reveals that in the past, Mogumo, experiencing heavy dysphoria, horrified that their voice was changing, attempted to use a knife to cut out their Adam's Apple. Their mother tried to talk them out of it, but Mogumo called her out for not making any attempt to understand them and their issues. They don't go through with it, but the incident fractured their family enough that Mogumo left.
  • Shipper on Deck: Suzu teases Mogumo and Tetsu about being a couple even before they get together.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Mogumo and Sakura's father believes in imposing strict gender roles, openly opposing Sakura cutting her hair short and joining the soccer team and pressuring her to focus on cooking and cleaning so she can be a good wife.
  • Trans Relationship Troubles: Mogumo was assigned male at birth and presents as feminine, but they're non-binary. Their male friend Tetsu has a crush on them. Kotone, who is a closeted lesbian and likes Mogumo herself, questions Tetsuo on this later. The two are male on paper, so they can't get married in Japan. Others see them as a gay couple, even if their relationship isn't same-gender.
  • Trans Tribulations: Several major characters deal with this.
    • Mogumo struggles with dysphoria and being nonbinary in a largely binary world. This is especially prevalent in their flashbacks and the final chapters, where they come out to their parents.
    • Mei had always dreamed of being born as a girl, and feels that expressing herself as an otokonoko is the only way she can feel accepted as feminine. After meeting Mogumo, Mei is finally able to come to terms with her identity.
    • This is part of Satori's backstory: she tried coming out to her parents, but they didn't get it, blamed each other, and their marriage gradually fell apart. It's implied her business isn't just a crossdressing-themed café, but also a safe space for people who don't conform to their assigned birth gender, something Satori didn't have.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Narrowly averted. Mogumo's father insists that to prove they're sorry for their actions, they need to cut their hair and start behaving like a man. Mogumo — who hates being perceived as a man so much it nearly drove them to suicide — reluctantly agrees, on the condition that they explain why having long hair is important to them first. When Mogumo's mother accepts their identity, she insists to her husband that they listen to their children instead of talking over them. This finally makes him back off on cutting their hair.
  • Twice Shy: Subverted. Tetsu and Mogumo have an odd and adorable Love Confession scene where Mogumo loudly interrupts Tetsu's attempted confession with a confession of their own. They then begin to argue about who likes whom more.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: In a flashback to Mogumo's childhood, their mother comments that she hopes Mogumo's feminine tendencies and interests are just a phase. As it turns out, it wasn't a phase at all; the lack of acceptance has made Mogumo pretty much ghost their family at least until their sister pays them a visit at the cafe. As a result, their father pressures Sakura to be more feminine, forcing her to quit the soccer team to focus on housework as a means to force her to conform to a strict gender role.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 22. The second half of it involves Sakura visiting Mogumo at their house and taking a knife to her own neck, threatening suicide. The scene makes Mogumo remember a time when they themselves attempted to gouge their Adam's Apple out in the same way. Mogumo tries to convince Sakura not to go through with it, but in their attempt to get the knife away from her, it's implied that Mogumo got badly hurt in the process.
  • Wham Shot:
    • At the end of Chapter 9, after Tetsu and Kotone's argument, Mogumo reaches out to comfort Kotone... and Kotone tenses up and shrieks, the way she'd react as if a man had touched her, revealing that part of her still sees Mogumo as a man.
    • Chapter 17 ends with Mogumo's younger sister entering Cafe Question and Mogumo having a distinctly uncomfortable look on their face.
  • Wham Line:
    • Chapter 16 delivers one from Mogumo of all people.
      Mogumo: You know, I'm here if you want to talk. Whenever you're ready.
      Kotone: There's... nothing on my mind...
      Mogumo: Then... stop using me as a substitute for a girlfriend.
    • In Chapter 19, we get this:
      Sakura: Mom isn't doing well.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Suzu and Ten are cis men but still enjoy cross-dressing both at the cafe and in their personal lives when possible. Both put in a lot of effort into looking feminine and are equally as attractive as their other co-workers when in their uniforms.

Alternative Title(s): Fukakai Na Boku No Subete Wo, Love Me For What I Am