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Manga / Otomen

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When Asuka Masamune was young, his father left his mother... to become a woman. This shock devestated Mrs. Masamune, and it shocked her even more to see her son show interest in dolls and other girly pursuits. Worried that Asuka would also turn out to be a trans woman, she hammered into the young boy about the importance of being as manly as possible.

Now 16, Asuka is widely considered the manliest man in school. He's top in the country at kendo, is extremely talented at judo as well, and is seen by all his peers as the pinnacle of manly, manly perfection.

Secretly, though, he's still incredibly thrilled with sewing, baking, cute things, Shoujo manga, and girlish pursuits in general. Mind you, he's absurdly talented at all of those, too.

He's able to mask his desires from nearly everyone, except a pesky flirt named Juta, until along comes Ryo Miyakozuka. She's pretty, confident, loyal, and more than a bit tomboyish. Asuka falls for her instantly, and suddenly finds himself struggling with maintaining his mask of masculine strength while learning to integrate his inner feminine desires into his personality, to accept that he is, in Juta's words, an otomen (oto- from otome, maiden, and -men from the English word).

Created by Aya Kanno, the manga was serialized in Bessatsu Hana to Yume from 2006 to 2012. A TV soap opera based on the manga aired in August 2009, spanning 12 episodes. It is only loosely based on the actual plot of the manga though, as pretty much the whole thing was rewritten from scratch.

This series has examples of:

  • Action Girl: Ryo, which eventually led to Battle Couple.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Some new plots and a slew of new characters were added into the live-action drama.
  • Affectionate Parody: Mainly of romantic shoujo manga: in a free talk the author even writes that she tries to go through all shoujo manga clichés inherent in certain settings (beach trip, amusement park, etc). It also takes affectionate shots at shounen manga, being a manga artist, etc. But of course it is a shoujo manga so it's Not So Above It All.
  • Agent Peacock: Asuka may love all things girly, but he is still the captain of his school's kendo team and capable of handling himself in a fight.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Averted, Mifune speaks Japanese with a "visible" accent.
  • Art Shift: Used profusely. Characters from Love Chick sometimes appear in place of the real characters; Mira-sensei is always drawn in classic seventies shoujo manga style; Yamato, who tends to fantasize about himself as a hot macho guy is sometimes drawn as a shoujo-style "sexy bishounen;" and Ryo's very manly and macho grandfather is always drawn as if he came from a stereotypical seinen manga.
    • Also done in-story by Juta - when anti-otomen forces try to trick him into revealing in art class that he's the artist of Love Chick, he deliberately does an over-the-top shonen manga to try to avert suspicion. He even notes mentally that he's good enough to imitate any style. It also comes up later with Juta when he's subject to Mind Control to act more manly, and he starts submitting shonen manga to his editors.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender:
    • Juta is a pretty convincing woman as Jewel Sachihana, Mira-sensei not so much without his fan hiding his face.
    • Also Asuka, who makes such a good Sachihana that Kasuga ends up with a crush on "her"...
    • Don't forget Ryo cross-dressing her manly school uniform in volume 13. Many school boys say she's a pretty male!
  • Author Avatar: The character Michiru in Love Chick who is the gender-flipped version of the mangaka, Juta.
  • Beach Episode: Part of volume 4, and the live drama's episodes 4 & 5.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Asuka actively tries to invoke this; at first, he hopes (due to pressure from his mother) to focus so much on masculinity that he becomes masculine. He fails.
    • Ryo's grandfather, on the other hand, succeeded... or at least reached a compromise.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Miyabi and Tonomine were barely one step away from resolving this in the live-action drama.
  • Berserk Button: Makeup (for Tonomine) and flowers (for Kitora) are Serious Business.
  • Blackmail: More than once, Asuka gets threatened when someone learns his secret and threatens to expose it to his mother.
  • Bland-Name Product: In an attempt to become more manly, Asuka is seen reading a copy of "Shounen Janwa", obviously derived from Shounen Jump (Janpu) ("Shounen Junk" in the American edition).
  • Bowdlerise: George's band Fuckin' Bones became Freak Bones in the American edition.
  • Broken Aesop: In the end of Otowa's arc, she learns that no matter how much she's been trying to change and hide her true self it was meaningless, and that those who really like her like her real self. She acknowledges the lesson... and decides to ignore it because she enjoys being fawned on by her adorers.
  • The Casanova: Juta. The girls around him even accept this, as long as he doesn't start favoring one girl over the others.
  • Clark Kenting: Juta as Sachihana Jewel, along with his various aliases. Really, Asuka... the artist of your favorite shoujo manga is Jewel (Jueru) Sachihana. The lech hanging out with you is Juta Tachibana. And you caught him with very large art from the series. And the two main characters have the same names as you and the girl you like. Her handwriting is very similar to his. And you even remember being in situations like the ones that happen to the heroine of Love Chick. And you still can't figure out that Juta is Jewel. Even worse; a bonus chapter reveals that the fictional Asuka has the same last name as him. Lampshaded when Kasuga easily figures it out. It seems Kitora knows as well.
  • Death Glare: Asuka's mom gives one to her son with Blank White Eyes when she catches a handmade stuffed bear lying around the house.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: One of the characters, Yamato, gets mistaken as a girl VERY often by guys, Juta even tried to hit on him.
  • Even the Guys Want Him / Even the Girls Want Her: Asuka and Ryo seem to get this reaction now and then.
    • Asuka is regarded as "the kind of guy other men fall in love with" by members of his kendo club. When he's rumored to move to America he even gets a group of guys confessing their love for him.
    • And Asuka actually gets more Valentine's chocolates from males (though only because Suzaku charmed all the girls to give him theirs).
    • Ryo gets even more fangirls after the Ideal-Con, who now considers her as a prince. Even Miyabi
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Asuka's mother due to her past trauma.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: In this series, one's cooking skills seems to be directly proportional to their femininity. When Ryo goes through a Heroic BSoD after Asuka breaks up with her, she starts to act feminine, and her cooking skill vastly improves. When she goes back to her tomboyish self, she reverts into the Lethal Chef she usually is.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Asuka is the guy; Ryo is the girl. Understandable if you get that mixed up.
  • Gender Flip: Asuka even reads the manga containing his Distaff Counterpart, although he still hasn't realized that it's based on him, with a gender flip. Said manga also contain gender-flipped counterparts of the girl he likes and his best friend.
  • "Gender-Normative Parent" Plot: Slight variation in that its Asuka's mom who's pushing him to be manly.
  • Genre Savvy: Juta, which makes sense since he's the author of the Show Within a Show Love Chick. He'll even attempt to invoke tropes to move the story along, generally to Asuka's and Ryo's benefit.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Kasuga takes off his specs whenever he wants to be particularly intimidating.
  • Girly Girl:
    • Asuka's problem is he he's a guy with girly hobbies.
    • Despite her personality, Oharida Miyabi.
  • Gratuitous English: Subverted with Mifune who is, in fact, American. Played straight (or rather, parodied) with the lyrics of Ariake's song, "SayonaLovers"note .
  • Handsome Lech: Juta.
  • Halloween Episode: The live drama's Episode 3.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Juta and Asuka, in spades. It's carefully balanced with Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?, though.
    • When Asuka takes it upon himself to find out if Juta has a girlfriend, he unconsciously follows the usual shoujo Clingy Jealous Girl routine, including stalking Juta, confronting him about having a lover, telling him "I won't allow you to flirt with other girls in my presence!" and demanding to see Juta's home (and then making a beeline for his room). The chapter ends with the two of them being Mistaken for Gay.
    • Tonomine and Asuka also have a couple of moments. To say nothing of Tonomine's Valentine's Day chocolate...
    • Yamato's 'confession' to Asuka... actually not romantic, but sure looks like that. He also likes to fanboy Asuka as "the ideal man," and once even took him to a date.
    • And then there's Ooji Suzaku who flirts with Kasuga and Tetsuya, his interactions with Asuka drip with Ho Yay.
    • Despite being Shoujo parody, Miyabi towards Ryou.
  • I Was Just Passing Through - Tomomine always has an excuse on hand for when he helps Asuka out - usually something about "owing" Asuka for previous actions or wanting to make things "fair" for the future. It's fairly evident that Asuka sees right through it.
  • Imagine Spot: In the earlier chapters, Yamato's character seemed to be built on this and Dude Looks Like a Lady.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Asuka has a vast number of feminine traits, though most people don't know this.
  • Japanese Spirit: Mifune is fixated upon it.
  • Kendo Team Captain: Asuka, Tonomine.
  • Large Ham: Tonomine, especially when applying make-up.
  • Lethal Chef: Ryo, which is improving by the time.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Has one.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Ariake Yamato, who is kept from finding out about Asuka's otomen lifestyle; in part because he doesn't seem to be accepting of it, and in part just because he's oblivious.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Suzaku, though he wears his hair tied up.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Asuka's dad, when he eventually reveals himself.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Ryo and Asuka.
  • The Matchmaker: Juta for Asuka and Ryo.
  • Meta Guy: Juta, although he keeps it to internal monologues.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Juta hugs Asuka for being so nice, the girls who were trying to find out who he was favoring suddenly walk in... after that, Ryo informs Juta and Asuka that the girls have found out who Juta's favorite is.
    • In the fourth episode of the drama, Juta and his sister Kuriko mishear/misinterpret several statements that lead them to think that Asuka and Tonomine have developed romantic feelings for each other. (Juta panics at the thought that he might have to turn Love Chick into a Boys' Love series, but Kuriko squees at the idea.)
  • Moe: Otowa deliberately plays up moe traits and stereotypes in order to manipulate people. Even her name is Moematsu Otowa. In reality she's anything but moe.
  • Moustache de Plume: Reversed, Juta takes on the feminine pen name Jewel Sachihana when writing Love Chick, and when a public appearance is required he is forced to go one further and appear to his fans in drag. Same with the mangaka Juta idolizes, Mira-sensei.
  • Muse Abuse: Juta. To his credit, with time he grows to feel awfully guilty about it, especially when it comes to Asuka (though not guilty enough to actually stop writing the manga and confess everything to Asuka).
  • Oblivious to Love: For a long time, Ryo just didn't realize that Asuka was in love with her. Despite the fact that he confessed to her at the end of the first chapter, and at least twice after that. Later, though, she finally agreed to go out with him, even though they still don't do typical things that couples do.
  • Occidental Otaku: Mifune Knight, one of the new teachers at Ginyuri, although rather than anime and manga he's obsessed with Japanese history and culture. Apparently he inherited it from his equally Japan-crazy father who actually built a Jidaigeki Theme Park. (Mifune is a white American but he teaches Japanese history at Ginyuri.)
  • Official Couple: Asuka and Ryo. They take until they are 28 years to finally tie the knot, though.
  • Once per Episode: Several in the drama.
  • Only Sane Man: Juta (by Word of God).
  • Parental Abandonment: Juta's mom and dad left their children to fend for themselves when they went on world-travelling trip. From a flashback we learn that this isn't anything new.
  • Precision F-Strike: Mifune has an epic one in volume 10.
  • Pretty Boy: The main male characters, especially Asuka, Juta and Tonomine whose looks are often commented on.
    • And they all pale in comparison to school doctor Ooji Suzaku, also known as Prince Pheromone. Wherever he goes he's surrounded by fainting female students ("little kittens" and "butterflies" as he calls them) and adoring males.
  • Promotion to Parent: That harem of women waiting for Juta at home? All ten of them are his younger sisters. Their parents went on a round-the-world trip, and the children are now living off of Juta's royalties. It's suggested that his eldest sister, Kuriko, eventually gets a job to help out as well.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: ...of Juta's manga.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: Asuka's facade.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Asuka ultimately tries to accept himself as such - unlike his father, he's happy with being male, so long as he's allowed to indulge in cuteness. Also, given the number of guys besides Asuka who start reading Love Chick in their school, this might be more common there than it first seems.
  • The Rival: Tonomine is Asuka's bitter rival, although Asuka doesn't really regard him as such.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: After it is revealed that they used to be an acoustic folk-music girl duo (by use of crossdressing), Visual Kei singer Hanamasa and his older brother, hard rock guitarist George, eventually get back together, merge their bands, and perform gentle soft-rock love songs. It becomes a huge success, of course.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Kasuga.
  • Secret Test of Character: Asuka's mom does this to him in Episode 2 of the drama.
  • Shirtless Scene: Most of the men when they are on the beach in episode 5.
  • Shout-Out: To Macross 7 of all things, on the band fight night, by George of Fuckin' Bone. "Listen to my song! Totsugeki Rolling Bone!"
  • Shower of Awkward: Ryo walks in on a very naked Asuka in the bathroom. He freaks out, she doesn't even seem to notice.
  • Show Within a Show: Jewel Sachihana's Love Chick.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Ryo, Asuka and Juta usually eat lunch on the roof so that other students won't know about Asuka's amazing bento making skills.
  • Stoic Spectacles:
    • Tonomine, so much.
    • Kasuga, too.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Ooji Suzaku's sheer sex appeal makes even Kasuga flustered. His nickname is "Prince Pheromone."
  • Trans Tribulations: Asuka's dad in the drama. In the manga it turns out that she put off transitioning out of guilt for abandoning her family, and finally goes through with it in the last chapter with the full support of Asuka and her ex-wife.
  • Stylistic Suck: While the main point of the demand for the class was to out Juta as Jewel Sachihana, Asuka's cousin was also looking for evidence that Asuka was an otomen by getting Asuka to draw shojo-style. His art is so bad that nobody can tell much of anything about its style.
  • Tsundere: Tonomine, sort of: the author coined the phrase "tsunsama" (the "tsun" part of tsundere + oresama) to describe him. Usually he's red hot on the "tsun" (irritable) front but he has revealed his "dere" (soft) side a number of times.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: It would would be impolite to comment on Yamato's first attempt to wear makeup, so we will leave that with Tonomine.
    " a blasphemy against makeup!"
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: The reason Kasuga hates Asuka so much. Yamato also tends to have this effect on guys.
    • Then there's Asuka's favorite band, fra-fra... a duo of sisters that turned out to have been actually Visual Kei singer Hanamasa and his older brother and hard rock guitarist George in drag, before Hanamasa's voice changed.
  • Visual Kei: House Dust.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Juta is forced to do this to protect his identity as the author of Love Chick.
    • Yamato also crossdresses on a number of occasions.
    • And then there's Mira-sensei...
    • Asuka also crossdresses at one point, with huge success.
  • Writer Cop Out: Subverted in-universe: when Ryo has to move away everyone feels sad, but Juta tries to lift his friends' spirits saying that he feels like a miracle is going to happen and Ryo won't have to move away - since only a Happy Ending suits a relationship like that of Asuka and Ryo. Needless to say, by the end of the chapter no miracle occurs and Ryo really moves away, much to Juta's shock.