In recent years, more and more girls are experiencing the development of "tertiary sexual characteristics" during the later years of their puberty -- that is, the rapid masculinization of a certain part of their external genitalia. Ooi Haruka is one such girl, who has until now kept the changes in her body a secret from everyone but her family. However, after an embarrassing incident involving the guy she's been crushing on in a crowded train, she wakes up to discover herself at school, surrounded by a group of students calling themselves the "Bra Girls (Swing Girls)." And they know her secret!?
Now, even for a volume of this length, there's plenty to talk about. Now before we begin, I'd like to mention that I am a trans woman and when I first read the description of the manga (and reading that it was made by Ryuta Amazume of Nana to Kaoru fame) I was rather excited in terms of curiosity and I would like to say that this manga really "hits home" if you know what I mean. Now there are plenty of more "adult" works about this subject (regarding an intersex person, or dare I say it: "futanari") with no real back story or really
any story at all, so I would like to remind you that this manga, although with some suggestive themes, is not by any means the type of manga that exists solely for ones cheap, perverted thrills.
Instead, Bra-Girl is much more than that. As women with such characteristics, even as a comedy, the manga takes the subject both seriously and respectfully. They're not made fun of for their bodies rather than the situations they encounter. It's not just about the bodies they were born with, but more so about how they deal with it, telling very emotional stories and coping together as friends who comfort each other when they're down or confused. The main character, Haruka, is even very body positive and overall acts as a very good and supportive friend. The manga covers many things such as sexuality, conflicting emotions, relationships, and in a way, dealing with gender dysphoria. When you read this manga, you'll soon forget that Haruka and the others as "girls with penises", but fondly remember them, simply as girls. I was really touched by it, and even changed by it. When I finished reading every single chapter, I thought differently about myself and felt better about both my identity and my body, just as the girls in this manga did. I really applaud Amazume for this. He's just that good, I guess!
With that aside, the artwork from Amazume is amazing as usual, for having a good combination of beauty but also a good sprinkle of silliness here and there regarding poses, facial expressions, and general design. Plus I have a soft spot for Amazume's token "internal nervous wreck" type expressions that are just plain adorable. You'll probably understand what I'm talking about once you start reading!
Really, everything is basically so great, the only thing I really wish there was more character development. I really think there could've been more to say about them and there were a few key characters that weren't as relevant as some of the others, that I feel that some of them still have a bit of a mystery to them. But to be fair, I say that to basically everything I finish that I happen to like a lot and I really do. I am absolutely grateful that I read this as there have only been few creative works out there that have really moved me as deep as this manga did.
I hope it does the same for you. It may even change you for the better.