Otomen is a romantic comedy by Aya Kanno that has been running in Bessatsu Hana to Yume magazine since late 2006. Brought to a North American audience by Viz in 2009, Otomen has been popular among shoujo fans in the states. Kanno approaches the stigmas of gender stereotypes in Otomen, using her lovable characters and appealing artwork to highly entertain shoujo fans, and possibly cause readers to rethink what should be expected of males and females.
The Gist: Asuka Masamune is an “otomen”. He likes girly hobbies like sewing and cooking, and reads shoujo manga. Due to his father becoming a transvestite, he must hide his girly fascinations in order to accomodate his paranoid mother. He poses as a manly man at school. However, once he crushes on on Ryo Miyakozuka, his feminine tendencies start to come out. The gender opposites when it comes to homemaking skills, Ryo and Asuka make a perfect pair for Juta Tachibana’s newest manuscript. Asuka worries about others discovering his girly side while other guys, like Juta and kendo captain Hajime Tonomine, struggle with similar issues. Otomen explores the gender stereotypes society tends to force on people, and the importance of being yourself.
This series is an enjoyable read with characters that are great sources of humor as well as endearment.