shoujo corner #2

gender bender

To be honest, the concept of gender bender shoujo manga can be a bit ridiculous at times. I often found myself asking, how do people not realize this person is a girl/boy? The insanity of the whole situation adds a layer of comedy to the story, though, which is why I’ve come to accept that I really, really, really like gender bender shoujo manga.

Otonari Complex

Story and Art: Nonomura Saku

Kuji Akira and Ninomiya Makoto have been neighbors and friends from childhood. Akira-kun is handsome and Makoto-chan is pretty but Akira’s a girl and Makoto’s a boy… Their feelings for each other are growing more complex just as they are finding themselves the focus of romantic interest of their friends and acquaintances.

– Batoto.

The two protagonists of this manga are very beautifully written. Both of them have complicated feelings regarding their own identities as they also try to navigate how others perceive them and how they feel about each other. The art style is clean and nice, and the pacing is quite good. Overall, this story has the perfect amount of emotion and humor. A must-read.

Usotsuki Lily

Story and Art: Komura Ayumi

Hinata Saotome is suddenly asked out by En Shinohara, a gorgeous boy in her grade. What she doesn’t know though, is that his hobby is cross-dressing! En has always hated men, and whenever he sees his own reflection, he punches out whatever is doing the reflecting (windows, mirrors…). To combat this hatred, he dresses up as a girl. Hinata decides to go out with him anyway, despite his weird hobby.

– MU.

I love Komura Ayumi. I think her humor is fantastic, and her art style is very unique and defined. Thus, it came to no surprise to me that I would love this manga. The characters are complex and varied, some of them dark while others whimsical, but all of them equally contribute to the comedy in this series. It’s a very unusual twist to the typical shoujo gender bender in that Hinata accepts En to be the cross-dressing boyfriend he is, and while they have their faults, the characters are strong and really drive the plot to something wonderful.

Twin Role

Story and Art: Harumi Hitsuji

Izumi goes to a school that involves art and music but both sides compete against each other to win awards. Online, Izumi goes under the name Izu and creates images for music videos created by a user named Kanon who is listed as a 21-year-old female.

However, this user has a secret! Turns out Kanon is really the new transfer student, Kaoru Sagami—the son of a famous musician. Plus, he’s in love with Izumi! He wants her to fall in love with him, not his online persona, but he can’t bring himself to confess that he is actually Kanon. And Izumi seems to consider him as a rival and she loves the persona more than Kaoru! What must Kaoru do to make Izumi love him!?

– LuffynoTomo.

The premise of this story is cute, as one of the protagonists writes Vocaloid music and the other draws PVs for him. (As a Vocaloid fan, I liked this cute nod to the creation process.) The plot is a little different from usual gender bender as the gender bending actually happens online, since Izumi thinks Kaoru is a girl through messaging. The story is lighthearted and mostly a feel-good, and while I felt that the characters seemed to have inconsistent personalities sometimes, I still thoroughly enjoyed this manga.

Ouran High School Host Club

Story and Art: Hatori Bisco

At Ouran High School, an academy where only the children of the rich and powerful attend, there exists a club consisting of the most elite of the student body: the legendary Host Club. Within the club’s room, six beautiful, bored boys spend their time entertaining equally beautiful and bored girls.

Haruhi Fujioka, a poor scholarship student, has no interest in the Host Club—until she breaks a valuable vase in their clubroom. After being mistaken for a boy, Haruhi is forced by Kyouya Ootori to work for the Host Club to repay her debt. Tamaki Suou, the princely leader of the club, eagerly takes her under his wing to teach her the ways of the host.

Things, however, are never quite so simple with the Host Club around. Even the most mundane events can turn into huge spectacles with the likes of prankster twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, stoic Takashi Morinozuka, and sweet Mitsukuni “Hunny” Haninozuka. The crazy adventures of the Host Club are just beginning, and Haruhi must learn how to survive in the glitzy world of the hosts.

– MAL Rewrite.

I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll need to talk about this, since OHSHC is undoubtedly a classic in the genre. If you’ve never read the series or only watched the anime, though, you definitely need to pick it up. The art starts off very exaggerated, but as this series ran for eight years, you can clearly see a lot of the improvements to the art as Hatori Bisco begins to clean up her style. While it’s a long read, it’s definitely worth it for the humorous, charming cast and the lovable heroine, as the mangaka starts off with a lot of comedy and seals the series with a touching, worthwhile finish.

Seiyuu Ka!

Story and Art: Minami Maki

As a child, Hime Kino was starstruck by “Lovely Blazers” voice actress Sakura Aoyama. From that day on, Hime has dreamed of following in Sakura’s footsteps.

With this in mind, Hime enrolls in Hiiragi Academy, a voice acting school famous for producing the best of the best. In fact, Hime sits right next to the already successful son of Sakura, Senri Kudou. Aiming to match her peers’ level of skill, Hime attempts to put her best foot forward. She introduces herself with her cutest voice, but what comes out is anything but—she sounds like an old man, earning her the nickname “Gorilla Princess.” Suddenly, she finds herself grouped with other potential dropouts.

But Hime is not deterred by such a setback, and she quickly becomes friends with the others at the bottom of the class. With their help and her own unrivaled optimism, Hime will do whatever it takes to achieve her dream!

– MAL Rewrite.

This manga is sprinkled with comedy with a quirky plot and over-the-top characters reminiscent of Minami Maki’s previous series, Special A. Her art and writing has drastically improved since then, however, bringing us a wonderful cute story about a girl just trying to make her voice actress dreams come true. The gender bender part? Due to her unusual voice, she makes her debut not as a voice actress– but as a voice actor. Hilarity ensues in this lighthearted read.

That’s all for now. Hope one of them interests you!

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