There are many stories about tomboys, girls with boyish tendencies, but what about the opposite? In fact, what would you call a boy with girly interests? The manga answer is: Otomen!
For those unfamiliar with this series by Aya Kanno, “otomen” is a play on the Japanese word otome (乙女), meaning “young lady” or “mistress,” and the English word “men.” The plot centers around Asuka Masamune, the manliest guy in his high school. However, he has a secret: the things he really loves are sweets, shojo manga, and sewing. He hides this part of his life from everyone until he meets Ryo Miyakozuka, the least feminine girl in school. Volume 12 of the series has just come out and you can read on for the review! (For those interested in my review of Volume 11, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Secretly taking a baking class for men, Asuka is relieved that there’s a safe haven where he doesn’t need to hide his girly side from his anti-otomen mother. But when she finds out that he’s been attending this class, things get set to explode!
Teen romance takes a backseat in Otomen Volume 12. In fact, Ryo only shows up in a couple panels. Instead, the focus is on the mysterious pastry chef of Violet. The series has been hinting for a while at the connection between him and Asuka, but now we finally learn of their true relationship as well as that of Amakashi and a couple other characters.
The circumstances by which the chef comes to live with Asuka and his mother are a bit over-the-top, but once past that, the otomen bonding that takes place between the two is really, well, cute. Kanno-sensei goes off the deep end again a chapter later with a parody of a violent yakuza kidnapping. The gangster and the demand he makes are nothing short of laughable, but the chef and Asuka treat the situation so seriously that it works, creating a dramatic revelation scene followed by a touching conclusion.
For the final chapter in this installment, the focus switches back to love – as through the eyes of the poet of Ginyuri. Amakashi gets his moment to sparkle (literally) in the spotlight as Kanno-sensei delves into his particular otomen obsession. The ending is somewhat bittersweet, but considering the way other shojo manga have depicted fordidden student-teacher love affairs, I’m glad Kanno-sensei handled this story the way she did.
Asuka continues hiding his otomen self from his mom, but he finds solace as he and the Violet pastry chef connect on a deeper level. Their bond, though, goes even further than he expects. It’s a couple of close calls and one big revelation for our hero in this installment of Otomen.
First published at the Fandom Post.