#PrideMonth2020 special; How Watashi no Kanojo wa Otoko no Ko explores the connection between love and gender.

With my exams finally concluding and me finally getting some quality sleep, I should announce that I am finally ready to tackle my mountain of drafts. That, however, would be a big fat lie. The transition from studying to now writing posts again has been a bit of a rough one. My initial plan has been to make BL/GL lists first and then move on to some more thematic projects. A you can see from the title of this post, my plan has somewhat changed.
Instead of making lists, I’ll lean more onto making individual reviews for the entire upcoming summer most likely, concentrating on LGBTQ+ character or theme rich manga. {Or at least for as long as I have ideas for posts}

Thank you in advance for your continued support! Your comments and
views mean the world to me!

Love is a tricky thing regardless of your gender, age, or the people you’re attracted to. I’m sure many of us have wondered what even is love and how should we define it. Surely, there has to be a way, and many have tried to put it into words. From wanting to stay by another’s side, supporting them endlessly, to butterflies fluttering in your stomach whenever you try to nervously approach and talk to that special person. But more importantly than definition, what does love come with? How does love tie in with gender and why is that lens so important as well as confusing?

As “Watashi no Kanojo wa Otoko no Ko” puts it, the first criteria when it comes to love is gender. This lengthy one-shot is quite an interesting read that explores complex feelings of love, jealousy, and how it ties into gender.
The story follows Makoto, who identifies as bigender. This sentence already might raise the levels of happiness, as reading as manga with such representation is rare to say the least (even in manga that center around homosexual relationships, for example, they sometimes turn the other way and push the romance onto a place of one time occurrence/exception to the norm. I find it difficult to put my problem with this into words, as it is quite different from choosing not to identify as something in particular, which I will talk more about it my future reviews). Makoto meets up with their partner Yuuko-chan (I’m going to refer to them interchangeably as Yuuko-chan and Yuuko, as Makoto does in the story)at a store and the first few pages already state us the main problem.

The sweet moment of them talking about Yuuko-chan’s manga release quickly turns sour as Makoto’s friend from school approaches them. Miki-san, as Makoto calls her, quickly turns to question Makoto about their “girlfriend”, dismissing their attempts at correcting her. This continues to be an ongoing problem for our couple, as we continue exploring how Makoto and Yuuko became a couple, realized their feeling for each other and their feelings towards gender and love.

Miki is loud and lacks knowledge, but as we later on learn plays an important role in the story with her continuing ignorance. It was almost hilarious to see how she declared Yuuko bisexual, happily proclaimed to not be prejudiced against any sexual preferences, to the now anxious Makoto, and in the same breath lashed out at Yuuko calmly, albeit somewhat coldly, explaining the difference. She storms off complaining about Yuuko’s attitude to Makoto, who’s still trying to calm her down, and not understanding why Yuuko chose to pick a fight. Makoto and Yuuko just stare at her running off, both confused (Yuuko even questioning what attitude was she talking about).

In their thoughts we see Makoto talking about how they are uncomfortable upon being called “girlfriend” when they identify neither male nor female, wondering about how they should explain themselves clearly. Yuuko lends them their hairclip and that seems to be the end of that.

From the start we can see that Makoto has trouble with standing their ground against others who don’t seem to understand what they’re talking about and refuse to listen. This could be brushed off as avoiding conflict, but it’s clear that Makoto doesn’t want anyone to badmouth their partner, even if they’re their friends. In the following scene, we are forced to listen as Makoto’s friend continue to misgender Yuuko and offer all kinds of speculations about them without knowing them at all.

The flashback into how Makoto realized their feelings about themselves more clearly helps clear things up a bit, as well as it gives context to why “Yuuko-chan” is so important to them. Makoto realized their identity upon viewing a lecture of sorts on LGBT people in primary school. They were shocked as they felt that many things from their past behaviors were answered, and everything sort of clicked into place for a while. Until they proclaimed to Yuuko that they’re transgender and much to their bafflement found out that they knew all along. The problem arose when this seemingly clear line became muddled as they became confused, wanting to live in the form of a woman, but not wanting to go beyond that (transition). Yuuko-chan once again nonchalantly helps them, saying “How you want to dress doesn’t define your gender.”

This cements their relationship as one of communication and mutual understanding, which makes the upcoming scene almost hard to read. Miki-san approaches Yuuko along with Makoto and proclaims that she wants to learn more about LGBT, which seems like a step in the right direction, until Yuuko asks a simple question. “Why?” Saying that it bothers her, Miki almost tramples all hope that I had left for her. Makoto even tries to explain the difference between gender and sexual orientation to Miki once again, but it falls on deaf ears as Miki jokingly asks if Yuuko could date her.

An important hint for Miki’s character motivation of being an absolute ass

Miki is loud and she doesn’t seem to read situations well at all, or is often rude whether meaning to or not. She adds Yuuko on Line and seemingly compliments them on their art, later on commenting on how big the hands look, much to the couple’s annoyance.

We get another flashback, in a way, into another type of “false ally-like” character. A teacher agrees help Makoto to come out, and when they write a speech to explain things better with the help of Yuuko, he brushes it off as too rigid and rambly, and asks them to change it. His only plus in the story is that he made Yuuko realize their feelings towards Makoto. In the end, Makoto changes the speech, lying as Yuuko puts it, completely red and embarrassed as we see some students laughing at them. The scene ends with Yuuko sobbing. We finally learn that the reason why Yuuko stopped going to school was this incident. However, it ends somewhat positively as the two embrace confessing how they feel about each other.

Miki’s despicable shenanigans continue as she takes the pin Yuuko lent to Makoto, saying to “give her a kiss for forgiveness”, as if she didn’t know how Yuuko identifies all over again. The situation escalates when Yuuko notices the pin and even yanks it out of Miki’s hair, asking if she enjoy’s messing with other’s relationships. This leads to Miki lashing out about Yuuko’s appearance and gender not making any sense, while the latter retaliates by saying that there’s just no term to describe them.

This seems to push Miki to the breaking point. She turns to Makoto, who has been trying to nervously break the two up, asking what do they even see in someone like Yuuko, so delinquent like and no match for Makoto at all.

The following scene was so almost anticlimactic yet beautifully executed. Miki’s face a few pages back, when Makoto said they loved Yuuko for who they are suddenly made sense. All this time Miki’s clumsy remarks and ugly jabs at Yuuko were because she was jealous.

How quickly her face got red and tears started running down her cheeks, Miki suddenly became pitiful. It was somewhat hard, but nevertheless satisfying to watch her being rejected so harshly and absolutely ,after all of the purposefully spiteful and hurtful things she has said and done.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that characters (or people) like Miki can never change. Her future remains unknown, but her past remains sealed with tears and vile hurtful words. Despite her off-putting behavior, I felt a bit sorry for her. As Yuuko put it, she looked quite pitiful. Rejection hurts and I’m sure many can relate to that pain. That being said, people should be educated (and more importantly, try to educate themselves). If they refuse to change their hurtful ways out of nothing but spite, they should be held accountable, instead of hiding behind their friends back or waving it off as a joke (both ways as Miki was seen to act in the chapter).

As Miki walks away crying, we get a closing scene of Makoto apologizing for Yuuko getting hurt over their indecisiveness. We get an insight into how Yuuko felt during Makoto’s standing up for them. They like Makoto so much, they love them, and were relieved and feel like the transmitting of feelings is enough, even if they can’t put them into words. Rain falls, as they kiss reminiscing about the past, but at the end they both smile through shared tears.

Love is complicated and it is weird. We can’t just change who we love, as much as people like Miki-san would want to change it or change us. This oneshot brings out feelings of sadness, anger, but above all it highlights what a powerful feeling love is, overcoming all obstacles in the end.

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