Broken Gem: A review of Bokura no Hentai

[Hachimitsu_Scans]_Bokura_no_Hentai_v01_c01_02-03Introduction

From the good to the mediocre and memorably bad, most titles contain at least some minor flaws. Yes, that’s true even for your favorites. It’s very rare for these weaknesses to ruin an overall satisfying story. Rare but not impossible, as Bokura no Hentai (BnH) by Fumiko Fumi, one of the few manga that tries to deal with queer/transgender issues on a realistic, level-headed basis, unfortunately reminds us.

*The following review will contain some very important spoilers. For those of you who have come across our blog for the first time, I should mention that I am a transgender woman and social justice and identity will be a major part of my critique. Continue reading

Same-sex desire and unions in A Bride’s Story

Shirin & Anis

Otoyomegatari is an ongoing manga series by Kaoru Mori, the same artist who brought us Emma. It is published in English by Yen Press in a beautiful hardcover edition, translated as A Bride’s Story, and chronicles the life of Amira with her younger groom and her relationship with her tribe as well as the cultural observations of Dr. Smith, an English doctor, in the Central Turkic area in the late 19th century. Mori’s love for details is evident both in her luscious artwork and her well-researched historical tidbits thus winning in 2014 the 7th Annual Manga Taishō Award.

In the 7th volume (chapters 36-44), which is going to be published in English towards the end of 2015, we meet Anis, a beautiful slender woman, hidden away in a huge mansion by her rich beloved husband according to the customs of the region -probably Iran, judging from the clothes. To make her mistress feel less lonely, her servant suggests going to the bathhouse to befriend other women and this opens a whole new world for her. Shirin, a poor voluptuous woman, catches her eye and they connect quickly. What makes this arc special is that the focus is on a second type of marriage, equally established and esteemed; that between “sisters”: siqqah-yi khwahar khwandagi. Did you really think same-sex marriage was a 21st century invention? Let us take a look at same-sex desire, the customs and the sexual politics of Middle East depicted in A Bride’s Story. Continue reading

“What’s this trans thing?”

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Rui isn’t pleased with the way this question is posed. Learn how to talk and behave, please.  Treat others as the human beings they are.

20th November is Transgender Remembrance Day. 24 hours dedicated to victims of transphobic violence. I think this is a good opportunity to explain some things about the term and to dispel certain misconceptions I’ve encountered ever since my partner came out and I or she disclosed her identity to others, even inside the LGB community.

Continue reading

LGBTQ lives in collective societies- the case of Japan

identity_by_kidchanBeing LGBTQ is hard not because our sexuality and gender identity walk hand-in-hand with instability in mental health (it doesn’t), but rather because the people around us validate their way of living by perpetuating hate speech and violence against us. Because some societies and people still view the others as commodities for their self-gratification. This is especially true in collective, mostly non-Western, societies. In this post I’ll examine through manga the societal pressure LGBTQ individuals face in Japan.  Continue reading

The importance of Hourou Musuko

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Is your heart always faithful there? […]
If you knew the true me,
would you still smile like that?
[…] You can stay the way you are.
~from the OP, ‘Itsudatte’

Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son as it’s known in the English-speaking world, is the only anime title so far that doesn’t fetishize transgender individuals and it’s almost entirely about their stories. Yoshino and Nitori aren’t ‘traps’ for the audience’s viewing pleasure, but individuals who face a deep and personal struggle with themselves and the others around them. They are the protagonists; not the queer sidekick.

It is based on the homonym manga, which is published in a very neat, hardback edition by Fantagraphics. But since anime have a wider audience, the fact that this title got an adaptation is of significance for trans people and their visibility.  Continue reading