Bokura no Hentai 2/3: Fumiko Fumi

Bokura no Hentai

So right about now, I am in full blown panic mode, getting three months of stuff together to move back across the ocean to the frozen tundras of Canada and wondering how exactly three months went by so quickly. I could swear that I just got here. I can’t quite get the hang of this time thing. I mean, I read Books Two and Three of Bokura no Hentai not long after I arrived in Japan, and I am just getting around to writing about them now. Even after the gentle prodding of a kind reader to maybe post something about my impressions of the later volumes of the series. I feel like I just read these books, but clearly my sense of time is broken. (Also, my memory and my ability to sleep. I am clearly half a person. Applications for assistants to help me get my shit straight are welcome.)

But the soft, rounded lines of Kuchibiru to Garnet reminded me that I still hadn’t gotten back to Bokura no Hentai. If it wasn’t for this documentation of the battles my brain wages with books, I might never remember anything I read. So a solid high five to me and my brain for actually typing all this stuff out! I at least am glad for this record of my noodle-y ramblings. 

And as noted in my noodling about the first volume of this series, things do in fact get seriously skeevy. I’ll try to avoid any serious spoilers ahead, but the fact that I’m discussing the second and third books in the series kind of makes a certain level of spoilerdom inevitable. So! I honestly love Marika/Yuta. She is just so sweet and genuine and certain of herself, while at the same time very confused about what she should do. Marika is the only one of the three cross-dressing boys who is actually transgender, and while she doesn’t struggle with the fact that she is a girl, she does struggle with how to present that and how to deal with a world hostile and not understanding of the very concept of transgender.

It’s especially interesting to read a story like this set in Japan, given that Japan has a very strong don’t-ask-don’t-tell kind of attitude towards gender and sexuality. Although you do see more and more gay and “new half” (i.e., trans) people in the media these days, they are generally treated as isolated, fascinating weirdos and not to be expected in the general population. After all, this is a country where you can still be fired for coming out. It is getting better all the time, but as my super hardcore activist gay rights friends (seriously, the only thing they talk about is LGBTQ rights) will tell you, Japan still has a long way to go. So Marika’s hesitation in coming out and the difficulties she faces trying to negotiate her identity with her cross-dressing partners Paro and Yui ring especially true.

I felt so bad for her as she begins to cross the threshold of puberty and has to face the fact that she is no longer the pure princess she had dreamed of being. She even stops cross-dressing and cuts her hair in an attempt to cram herself into a standard gender role. A very interesting development for Marika and how she navigates her gender expression and identity is Satoshi, who is a boy as well, but cross-dresses at school because he thinks he looks cuter in the girl’s uniform. But then Satoshi in girl’s clothing asks Marika in boy’s clothing out and lines get even more blurred.

Makeup

Yui also tries to force himself to live a “normal” life, although that “normal” is very different from the normal Marika tries to live. He tries to abandon the dead sister he dresses up as, the dead sister he’s essentially forced to dress up as by his seriously negligent mother, and be a regular junior high school boy with a girlfriend and everything. Which works out about as well as you’d think.

Meanwhile, after the very skeezy and awkward and weird incident with Marika, Paro gives up cross-dressing entirely and stops hanging out with Marika and Yui. But Paro is gay and his cross-dressing started off as a way to get the guy he liked to like him back, so giving up cross-dressing doesn’t really change his essential dilemma: trying to find his way as a gay guy in a world that would prefer gay guys keep that shit to themselves. So he ends up in even skeezier situations, basically dating guys who are old enough to know that they should not be anywhere near junior high school boys as he tries to find acceptance and love.

suprise

But it’s not just about these boys and their dresses. We also get to see things from the other side thanks to Marika’s childhood friend, who can’t understand why anyone would want to be a girl, even though she knows that her best friend would like nothing more. So many things about girlhood frustrate her, including the whole finding and having a boyfriend part, and she looks for a different way of being. Which is one of the things I really like about this series. It does tackle some tough stuff with gender identity and all that, but really, it’s about questioning who you are and the difficulty of finding those answers. I love love love that the author never boils things down to any kind of gender essentialism, but lets things sit uneasily, uncategorized as these kids fumble around trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.

All of which means that basically, the sad times just keep coming. But these are stepping stones over from childhood into adolescence, which is a sad and difficult time no matter what kind of sexuality you find yourself in possession of. If you happen to be these three skirt-wearing boys, though, wow, you are going to have an especially difficult time. I feel like this series is the natural successor to IS, in the way it handles sexuality and gender in ways that are tactful and ring true. But this series is far more honest than IS. The relentless cheerfulness is completely absent; instead, feelings are complex and nuanced, and no one is ever sure that anything is the right thing. The covers might be on the sensational side with their passionate kisses, but the insides have so many more layers.

troubled times

UPDATE: So when I went to buy the latest volume of this series (which apparently travelled back in time to be purchased by me since the copyright date is January 1, 2014), the clerk informed me that they’re making a movie of the series. She further informed me that her friend was working on it and she was very excited. She then also laid some insider info on me: they will not be releasing the movie under the title Bokura no Hentai. Which does not come as much of a surprise because no one wants to say “Two for Our Perversion“. 

9 thoughts on “Bokura no Hentai 2/3: Fumiko Fumi

  1. This sounds like what I’ve been waiting for; a manga that deals with transgender kids in an honest and moving way. And the art has this beauty I’m not used to seeing, and it’s hitting me hard. Your blog is inspiring me to think about what I’d enjoy translating (I’d like to follow in your footsteps and be a Japanese manga translator), and this is one of them. I really have to thank you and your impeccable taste for existing.

    • If you’re looking for a manga that deals with transgender kids in an honest way, this is a pretty good choice. I haven’t read Volume Four yet (it’s sitting there waiting for me to pick it up), but everything up to Volume Four is really moving and sincere, with an honest look at the fluidity of gender and gender performance. I’m glad I can give you some food for thought about what you’d like to end up translating one of these days. Feel free to email me with translator questions. And if you manage to check this series out, let me know what you think! Hopefully, my taste is not way off the mark.

      • Thank you so much! I’d be happy to- when the first volume comes back in stock, that is. (Or if I happen to find it in Japan in October). I just finished reading two of your love letters to est em’s work (the ones about the indigo-dyeing brothers and the chocolate lover) and oh my, I haven’t read her work yet, but I’m already in love. Which one would be the best for someone who hasn’t indulged in her work yet? (I’m kind of tempted to just treat myself to both, but self-control is a worthwhile practice, haha).

      • Definitely pick this one up! I’m sure it will still be on the shelves in Japan in October. And if not, you can always order it online.

        But asking me about what est em is best for someone who doesn’t know her work? That is such a tough one. Of the two you mentioned, I would definitely go with the chocolate lover. That book is just gorgeous. Of her other work, if you want to read something very Boys’ Love style, I might recommend Tableau No. 20 (a personal favourite) or Kuslar. But for something more mainstream, it has to be Golondrina. I might just suggest Golondrina overall, actually. I think it’s her strongest work so far. But the chocolate one is so sensual and beautiful, it is high on my list. She said that they’re not printing the version with the gold obi anymore, so if you see that one, pick it up because you won’t have the chance again and it is a beautiful book.

  2. I was particularly drawn to Golondrina because I fell in love with the story. I’ve been deprived of girls who give stories life, and Chica’s a girl that can keep her story pumping with blood. I think I’m gonna go with that one, so thanks. Ever have those moments where you need badass chicks in whatever you’re reading?

  3. aw a live action coming? thats sweet. i do wonder how they work with the kid actors though……… but it’s seriously bokura no hentai that would be worked right? because there’s also a work from fumiko fumi that going to be remade into live action. if that’s really bokura no hentai then she will had two of her works will be remade!
    also, have you read other fumiko fumi’s work? i’m interested ( mainly because i’ve comfortable with her artwork and story tell ) but i haven’t found much available infos in the web.

    • I think my source at the bookstore was wrong since a little digging around reveals that two of Fumiko Fumi’s works are being turned into live-action films, but Bokura no Hentai does not look to be the source material for either of them. Oh, bookstore clerk! Why did you lead me astray like this!

      I haven’t actually read any of Fumi’s other work, but I would be inclined to pick it up given how much I’ve been enjoying her work on this series. I’ll have to put her on my books-to-buy list.

  4. Hello, if you can get info of the movie can you share it? This is my first time reading a manga with regards to transgenders because I relate to the story and still seeking answers on my personality. Thank you

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