Former porn star turned author Ooshima Kaoru details his autobiographical account of his daily life as a pansexual cross-dresser and what led him into working in the adult film industry. Along the way, he meets another porn star similar to him who he calls Michelle and the two start dating.
So I'm not quite sure why this manga has such a low rating? I mean I suppose I can understand given the subject matter and author being relatively divisive but going into reading this, none of that really bothered me. I feel like it's also necessary to preface this review with a little caveat before I actually get into talking about it. I am a college-aged male who identifies as straight and given that gender identity and sexuality is such a hot topic nowadays and a very core idea essential to this work, I can only offer my perspective as who I am (though even
I found some bits to be kind of relatable at parts). I should also mention that this is my first review of anything on MAL and while I am more confident in the discussion regarding anime and the unique devices and decisions that go into the creation of one, I am not as well-versed in manga, so bear that in mind please.
Anyway, this manga. Generally speaking, I found it to be really quite enjoyable! What originally interested me was the unique premise of the work. It isn't everyday that you get to learn about the life of an actor in the adult industry let alone a boygirl (ah another thing, I will be using the terminology as stated in the actual manga despite being much more popularly known among certain circles as "traps," I feel using the words written by those with personal experience is much more appropriate). This manga gives an interesting glimpse into the life of a boygirl, showing the reader common struggles and daily tropes at first but going more into personal experience beginning with an autobiographical career history but then leading much more into things like upbringing, romance, and social perception.
That is what I feel is so endearing about this manga, is that it speaks to this community of crossdressers and people that are generally seen as nonbianary in such a human way. From just one person's experience in the porn industry as well as romance and their significant other, there's so much to be said on a deeper level. Now I'm not going to say that this work is trying to extol those themes in any way but it certainly does express them to some extent. At its heart, Otokonoko Doushi Renaichuu is a 4-koma about personal experiences. It is not a masterpiece novel nor some grand social commentary and it doesn't pretend to be anything like that either. It is simply enjoyable when you take it for what it is. When you can look past certain things and understand that you're reading the life of another person, it becomes a really good story at some points.
That said there are of course other things that make the manga great in my opinion. The humor in this really landed with me and I like the art style a lot. What stood out to me most was one point somewhere near the end of chapter 3 where they broke the 4-koma format and it looked like a real manga. Though there isn't any overarching plot (because at the end of the day, its about personal experiences), when the story does have something to say, it says it very clearly and usually that message is about humans just being humans. That whether someone's a boy, a girl, a boygirl, trans, homosexual, heterosexual, or anything else - they're still human. The two main characters throughout the story (the author and his girlfriend) show genuine emotion and just bleed realism (again, probably because they are real people but its still worth noting if you enjoy realistic characters and entertaining interactions like I do).
Now all things considered, I'm not sure I am qualified to judge this manga due to my lack of experience in reading them but I'm going to try anyways. I think it was good. Very good. Not a masterpiece but definitely not deserving of the lowly 6.94 that it currently holds. If you're on the fence about reading, I'd recommend giving it a go! It tells an incredibly human tale about the relationship between two boygirls that were able to find love together.