Benio Hanamura is a 17-year-old schoolgirl in Tokyo during the Taisho era. Benio lost her mother when she was very young and has been raised by her father, a high-ranking official in the Japanese army. As a result, she has grown into a tomboy—contrary to traditional Japanese notions of femininity, she studies kendo, drinks sake, dresses in often outlandish-looking Western fashions, and isn't as interested in housewife duties as she is in literature. She also rejects the idea of arranged marriages and believes in a woman's right to a career and to marry for love. Benio's best friends are the beautiful Tamaki, who is much more feminine than Benio but equally interested in women's rights, and Ranmaru, a young man who was raised to play female roles in the kabuki theater and as a result has acquired very effeminate mannerisms.