Masahiko Yanagiba lost both parents and, following his mother's will, moved to his maternal uncle's family, the Wakanaes. Although Wakanaes' hospitality was heartwarming, he soon found out why his other relatives shun away from the Wakanaes: his "uncle" is a woman while his "aunt" is just the opposite. Turns out the couple took the appearance of the opposite gender, and now Masahiko has no idea whether his cute cousin, Shion Wakanae, is either a boy or a girl.
Gender issues are always a touchy subject and they are usually approached in a “gentle”, serious manner, but this is not the case with F. Compo. Not as much because the method is crude, but as its main focus is not the journey of self-discovery. F. Compo is all about comedy with traces of drama along the way. By all means, this is no recipe for disaster, although in this case a lot of things did not mix well together.
There is no profound story, or any actual story at all for that matter; it is about the everyday life of various characters and their daily
adventures from simple things such as helping a friend to fighting with one’s self over accepting and being who one truly is. It is simple and nice and it could have worked great, if only the humor was up to par most of the time. Almost every problem, misunderstanding, joke, etc. revolves around a gender issue theme, be it either having the main character cross-dress against his will and thus, creating more trouble or having people turning gay at the drop of a hat, just because. There is no wide variety when it comes to comedy so it can only get stale after the usage of the same jokes, which most of the time are shallow and become very annoying in a long running manga.
The drama aspect of it has higher value as some stories portray better certain situations and circumstances and can make the reader empathize with the characters. Unfortunately, it is not enough to save the entire work, since the comedy is the strongest genre of it and sometimes affects it and also, there is unnecessary or badly executed drama at times. For instance, the romance is at a pretty low point, because it appears only to showcase a new (or repeated) problem with a dramatic finish and otherwise, it is forgotten. As a result, the pacing is pretty poor even for a seemingly relaxing slice of life manga.
The characters are also abused by the comedy, unfortunately. Especially the main character, whose main trait is naivety, so it is just so easy for various predicaments to happen to him alllllll the time. The development is small, since as mentioned, this is not a manga about any serious issue, so everything that happens is essentially for the comedy and often lacks a more thorough thought or explanation for the readers. That being said, at least it is not nonexistent and there is progress when genuine problems come up and we see the main cast, but also the secondary one to think more seriously. All of them are likable, though some can be really tiring with their repetitive jokes (again) and almost everyone has a story to tell, something that is always positive as the readers can see parts of everyone’s lives or pasts. However, most of the characters do not have any great impact.
F. Compo has a realistic art with a richness of facial expressions. It also manages to handle well the cross-dressing, yet there are times that I feel some characters have the same trait as Superman; just take off your glasses and no one could recognize you anymore. Sometimes it is just too obvious when who is dressed what and it makes no sense for other people not to realize this. The backgrounds are not notable and while most characters seem unique, some look more generic. All in all, the art is simple but sufficient and it delivers.
Personally, I assumed this would be more serious and although I was not discouraged when I figured out that it is not as I had imagined, it disappointed me greatly with its overuse of shallow gender jokes and then the lack of any deep thought at its majority or the misuse of such thoughts and the random events that happened that made me think the creator had run out of inspiration. This could have been so much more heart-warming, but it always ran around in circles.
So I finished ‘Family Compo’ by Hojo Tsukasa, a 14 volume manga from 1997. I’m both sad and happy right now. Very sad it’s over and there isn’t anymore. Especially as the ending is rushed. I knew going in that this series was ‘unfinished’ and yeah it’s not, plot points were rushed in the last few chapters and alot is left up in the air. It’s sad to see such an incredible series come to such a quick end.
I was surprised that there is an official END but also that leaves me sad as so much is left up in the air and so many
questions left unanswered. The ending is an ambiguous one and something that was clearly either forced by lack of sales by the publisher or by Hojo’s lack of interest to continue. I REALLY hope it wasn’t the latter as we were so close to the end, honestly it would have taken an extra volume max to fill out a decent ending leaving little left unanswered. Instead it really feels like the end was called upon and Hojo had two chapters to do it.
Still though I’m Happy because I LOVED this series. I laughed (alot) and I cried more than I care to admit. I genuinely cared for every character in this series, all brought to life so wonderfully. Undeniably it doesn’t truly go that deep into it’s LGBT themes as some might have liked but this series isn’t really about the struggle of someone who is LGBT but more the journey of someone, in this case Masahiko, discovering there is more to people than simply a defined gender (what’s on the inside that counts etc) and what that means to himself and especially how he feels about those around him. At least that’s my rough take on it :P
Read it, The story is heartfelt and Hojo’s art is beautiful.
Family Compo is a unique manga, its gonna take you a lot of time to find something this strange and interesting at the same time.
Story - 8/10
I'll try making it short and without too much spoilers, the story is about a guy who always wanted to have a normal lovely family, but his mother died and later the same happened with his father, so, that can't be helped he thought, but then appears his mother's sister/(brother) and our main character becomes part of her/(his) not so really normal family. Why not so really normal? Well, would it be normal if you discovered that your aunt
is actually a man and her/(his) husband is a woman? I dont think so but that's even not the strangest part because who knows who's they're daughter, a girl or a boy? Yet this special/strange family is what makes this manga really funny and interesting. Romance is here included as well but the author concentrates more his attention with the comedy part which this manga have a lot...
Art - 7.5/10
I really wish I could draw like that...
I think the art is very good and the most interesting part is how the author makes the characters look exactly the opposite sex, I'm talking about our main character when he's a girl because he looks really feminine...
Characters - 8/10
I could feel life in this manga, for me the characters were like real people and I enjoyed them all but not Youko, I think she ruined the lovely atmosphere of this manga.
Overall - 8/10
I really enjoyed this manga with all my heart but in the end I just wished for something more than that... I just think that this manga could be even better...
Family Compo isn't your typical family story!
I enjoyed this manga very much. The beginning of the manga was a bit slow and stereotypical for me, since it follows the whole "Abandoned kid gets rescued by forgotten family member" plot. As soon as it hits the later chapters, alot (and I mean ALOT) of crazy stuff happens that will make you say "WHAT?".
The art reminds me of something that could be featured in Shonen Jump more than Shoujo Beat but it doesn't distract too much.
Yes, the story is about crossdressing females AND males but doesn't follow the "bishounen formula" for the males (which, let's
be honest - how many male cross dressers truly look like females in real life? ...Not too many). I appreciate this 'cause it does make the story realistic and does make it seem like it could happen anywhere.
Please give this one a try. It doesn't look much but it really is a great story!