Bokura no Hentai: Fumiko Fumi

You guys, I am reading so many books! It is getting a bit ridiculous and also, why did I come all the way to Japan if all I’m going to do is read books? But the majority of the reading is happening in the train. I always forget how much reading I get done in this country. Back when I was working a real job in a real office, I was reading several books of one sort or another every week. Because that commute equals a lot of time, and for me, a lot of time equals a lot of books. So I guess this little maze of logic excuses my habit of frequenting bookstores and spending far too much money on books? Let’s just agree that it does and move on.

On one such excessive spending trip at the bookstore where I find all the interesting things, I found this interesting thing. Bokura no Hentai, or “Our Perversion”, with the tantalizing tagline “Yuri? BL?”. So is this girl-on-girl or boy-on-boy? Um, yes. I do want to know that answer. Mostly, I want to know how that ends up even being a question. So into the shopping basket this one went.

The answer (which is not in any way spoilerrific) is neither. Which is okay, since the road to neither is pretty interesting. Three junior high school boys meet up dressed as girls. Because, as it turns out, they all have their own, degrees of disturbing reasons for cross-dressing. Marika/Yuta is genuinely transgendered, while Paro/Tamura and Yui/Ryo have their own (sad) reasons for dressing up like girls. Those reasons come out in the story in pretty natural and important ways so I won’t out anyone here. But I will say that those reasons are not upbeat in any way. Basically, you should be prepared for some sad times going forward. (Also, no spoilers this time, but you know I am going to be talking about all these sad times in the next books, so get ready!)

The three boys find each other online and meet as a sort of support group for boys who dress like girls. Yui is disdainful and wary, Marika is open and ready to love, and Paro just wants to make things easy for everyone. Their initial discomfort with each other is realistic and so understandable. But they all feel that this meet-up is the only chance they have to express this part of themselves, and so, even though each of them has his own issues and doubts, they continue to meet and create their feminine identities with each other.

I was reminded a lot of Takako Shimura, not just because of the subject matter which obviously brings to mind her genderqueer exploration in Wandering Son, but also the style, which is similarly round and soft. Fumi’s a little more rough and leaving a little more to the imagination, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if she had worked as an assistant to Shimura or something, their styles overlap so much. But Fumi tends towards the super minimal in this volume and a rounder, more abstract line than Shimura favours. Still, the overall effect is a definite softening of the edges of this somewhat difficult story.

And it is on the difficult side. Cute and charming, but also sad and exhausting. The three continue to meet up, even though Yui is determined to never see them again, to never dress as a girl again. But for reasons I don’t want to ruin for you, he is compelled to don that wig and skirt, and the only people who get that are Marika and Paro.

I like the tack that Fumi takes of having two of the boys cross-dress for reasons other than gender/sexuality. There are always a million reasons for doing anything and it’s good to see that represented in a sensitive and understanding way. Basically, the whole book is an exercise in things that are difficult to write about without offending someone, and I think Fumi pulls it off admirably, addressing the concerns of both the boy who is a girl and the boys who are not.

Although I don’t usually fall for this soft, round style (I am all about hard lines), I did fall in love with the softness of these characters, and the subtle growth they experience over the course of the book. Things may get a little skeevy toward the end (according to one Twitter friend), but the overall story makes me want to keep reading. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out and if Fumi can maintain the rather sensitive and understanding position taken re: boys cross-dressing for a variety of reasons. I hope it doesn’t get too NSFW, though, since I have to bring these books back to Canada with me and we have laws about the kids doing the sexy.

8 thoughts on “Bokura no Hentai: Fumiko Fumi

  1. Ooooh, I am so jealous! How long will you be in Japan this time?
    Fret not, buying too many books is not a waste of money. High five from a fellow bookworm!

    This book intrigues me. I find the subject of human’s sexuality spectrum fascinating. I haven’t got the time to read ‘Wandering Son’ but I plan to do that once I finished my backlog. Currently I am trying to finish several English books in my Nook so the Japanese books are kinda neglected. So many good books to read, so little time. Gah.

    Do you have any plan to write a post about bookstores in Japan? I know that it might not be very consistent with the theme of your blog, but it should be interesting.

    • I’m here until the beginning of December, so plenty of time to spend money in bookstores! Thanks for validating my addiction, although I fear we might be in some kind of co-dependent relationship.

      You should definitely check this one out. I’m also pretty interested in human sexuality (although I am more attracted to the cultural influences on sexuality than the spectrum itself). Wandering Son is really good and worth reading, as is IS (although as I say in my posts on those books, the end almost ruins everything that comes before it).

      And if you are reading good things in English, please tell me. My recent English reading lately has been less than interesting.

      I might do a post on bookstores here. It’s a little outside the theme, but relevant since, you know, I have to buy the books I write about somewhere. I’m not sure how much I’d actually have to say about bookstores. My friend wrote a pretty good post about Kinokuniya though. Maybe that will tide you over for bookstore posts until I decide to write one?

      • Have a blast in Japan! Although, this reminds me. How about your kittens? Who will take care of them?

        Lately, I am immersing myself in fantasy/science fiction so if you want some suggestions in literary fiction, I couldn’t provide. Hmm, on second thought, perhaps Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Why be Happy when You could be Normal?’?
        I found the book wonderful. It was grim, but very engaging. And she surely has a way with words. Her writing is marvelous.

        As for fantasy, may I recommend ‘Libriomancer’ by Jim C. Hines? It’s about librarians who possess magical ability of pulling things out of books. Like the lightsaber from Star Wars or the babel fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I immediately think of Sauron’s ring, but it is said in the book that some books are locked and The Lord of the Rings is one of them. That sucks. Ahem.

        Anyway.

        Thank you for the link. I will check it out.

      • Oh the kittens! I was only fostering them, just taking care of them until they were big enough to be adopted, so I took them back to the shelter the week before I left. They’ve all been adopted, so I don’t have to feel sad that they are stuck living in the shelter.

        I’ve actually been meaning to read that Jeanette Winterson. I really love her writing and another friend of mine also recommended it, so clearly it is worth reading. And thanks for the tip on Libriomancer. That sounds like something I could get into. I don’t write about fantasy here too often, but I do like to read it sometimes. So something to pick up when I get back to Canada!

  2. Pingback: MangaBlog — Moyoco Anno, Yoshitaka Amano, and YaoiCon news

  3. Are you going to review the second and third volumes as well? Because I would definitely enjoying hearing your opinion on them ^_^

    • Huh. I thought I replied ages ago! Sorry! The short answer is: Yes. The longer answer: I’m posting a write-up tomorrow. Let me know what you think, and what you think of the series yourself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s