Ashita Niji ga Denakutemo: Kihara Noriko

Let’s face it. We need more cross-dressing BL. I don’t make the rules here. This is just fact. It’s such an interesting story device in the world of BL (and maybe elsewhere, but we’re talking man-man action here), a way for a character to take a step back, distance themselves from their actions and give in to desires they would otherwise be unable to approach without shame. It’s plausible deniability for both of the boys who would be in love if it weren’t for that pesky fact that one or both of them are straight. Dressing as a woman gives them a way to explore without that internalized shame or to lie to themselves until they can finally face the truth of their feelings. Cross-dressing brings a bunch of nuanced layers to a story, and most importantly, it is hot to see guys dressed as girls. Again, I don’t make the rules. This is pure fact. 

But there is so little cross-dressing BL! Or maybe I just am not running in the right BL circles?? (If you know any joso BL titles, please tell me! I want to read them.) There is perhaps the classic of the very small genre, Hideyoshico’s Udagawacho de Mattete yo, and Fumi Fumiko’s take on the cross-dressing seme, Joso Danshi to Menhera Ojisan, but that’s about all I can think of off of the top of my head. There’s also that one story in Tsuyuko Yuruko’s debut collection, Strange, but that’s stealth BL at best and still just a short story. There is an untapped market here, BL artists! Bring the fujoshi the joso content they demand!

It was honestly pure chance that I stumbled across more of this content that this fujoshi demands. Unable to stroll through the BL alleys of my favourite Tokyo bookstores, I have taken to picking books somewhat at random at my favourite online bookstores in the hopes of discovering new treats. I saw the cover of this in a tiny thumbnail and liked the art, so I popped it into my shopping cart. You know how I am a sucker for a good cover. I assumed it was some kind of josei something, and since the publisher was Shodensha, I figured it ran in Feel Young. I’ve had a lot of luck with josei from Feel Young (in terms of finding something I like reading), so I was pretty sure I would at least enjoy this random book, even if it didn’t end up on my top ten list. 

But then! When it arrived at my home after its long journey across the ocean! I saw that it ran in onBlue and was actually a BL book. Be still my beating heart! What a delightful and lucky coincidence! onBlue is far and away my favourite BL magazine, having serialized a number of my faves, like Shinjuku Lucky Hole, Equus, and the aforementioned Udagawacho de Mattete yo. Surprise BL from my favourite magazine! What a gift the gods of randomly ordering books had given me!

Unlike the other joso stories I’ve read, this one stars a drag queen. (And on the first page, I was already wondering why I have read zero drag queen BL. It’s got to be out there, right?!) Whip works at a gay bar, cross-dressing for his shifts, and does full-on drag performances once a month. In a very this-modern-era turn, he relaxes by chatting with a total stranger on the phone when he gets home, through an app that connects you to another person randomly, the way I connected with this book. 

When he logs on one night after a long night at work comforting gays unfortunate enough to fall for straights, the stranger on the end recognizes his voice. And Whip recognizes his: the insomniac salaryman he spoke with another time. He’d never matched with the same person before, but he finds the insomniac to be a great listener to his many gripes about his job and soon he’s talking with this man every night after work. It’s the outlet for all his stress, and he comes to depend on their nightly chats. And then one night, the salaryman walks into the bar he works at, and everything gets complicated. Because of course it does.  

I’ll refrain from spoiling it for you, but there are ups and downs and relationship tumult; schmexy action with not one, but two couples; unrequited love; and more than one so-called straight guy getting in on the man-man action. Something for everyone! Kihara does an incredible job of giving her characters nuance and personality, so that their stories feel earned and honest. And everyone consents at pretty much every step of the way (although there is some poking at boundaries), so if you do not love the non-con elements in a lot of BL, there might be something here for you. 

And you know I love the art! Lots of blushing, cute turned up noses, sharp lines, and just the right amount of dishevelled on our salaryman protagonist. Plus glasses! Kihara’s also fond of unusual angles and close-ups that give the story an interesting dynamic quality. Not to mention Whip’s solid side-eye game. Faces are unique and expressive, and Kihara knows how to make the most out of a raised eyebrow. 

Fingers crossed that this is the book that finally sparks the cross-dressing BL revolution! Our time has come, joso lovers! 

3 Comments

  1. hello! Just wanted to let you know that there are – in fact – more cross-dressing BL stories!
    I love series from Akane Abe, Sublime lisensed her Moon and Sun – story about yakuza and cross-dressing beautician. It’s really fun and heart-warming and have, in example, dinner with beautician mother and cooking lessons. So I highly recommend pretty much all from Akane Abe)

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