When I originally found this manga, I thought ‘oh it’s a cute manga about a cafe that has crossdressing girlie boys, this could be an adorably fun read’ but then this manga hit close to home for me with it’s main lead and I knew I had found something truly special that I would have to write about this month in particular because this is the first manga I have read that has had a non-binary lead character. The reason this hits close to home for me is that three years ago I myself came out as non-binary after many years of soul searching.
The manga focuses on lonely high school student Mogumo who knows who they are as a person, but because of this feels isolated from those around them because they feel that no one truly understands them and just wishes they had some real friends. One day they are approached by a classmate named Tetsu Iwaoka , who thinks his cute ‘male’ classmate that cross-dresses at school would be a perfect fit for his family’s special maid cafe of cross dressing boys. This is not my first time coming across a yaoi story with a cross-dressing maid cafe, after all I have been a long fan of the series otoko no ko wa maid fuku ga osuki aka Boys that Enjoy Maids Clothing!? Its a bit of a hard series to explain but its basically a slice of life story of crossdressing boys ans their antics. Though if you look this one up I must warn it has a lot of R-18 artwork….
So yeah, I went into this manga expecting something like the Cherry Girls of otoko no ko wa maid fuku ga osuki which I would have been more than happy with, but then Mogumo drops a bombshell saying they are not a boy, so everyone assumes oh you are a girl then? It is then that Mogumo’s biggest bombshell is dropped. They do not see themselves as a boy or a girl, and in reading this moment my heart just bloomed with so much pride, because I understood immediately what they meant. They are non-binary and I must confess it is a term I wish I had known when I was a teenager. This reveal however causes some conflict with the others working at the cafe and this is when is how amazing the diversity included in this cafe truly begins to shine.
Within the staff of the cafe we have the transgender owner who is Tetsu’s older sister, a boy who wishes they were a girl but has not quite come to the conclusion that they themselves are trans, a young gay boy who loves cross-dressing because it makes him feel free to be himself and a straight boy who just sees crossdressing as another part of his true hobby of cosplay. Everyone in the cafe is different in their own special way, so Tetsu’s promise of Mogumo finding a place where they can belong and make friends could just come through.
I spent much of my youth as an outcast, I was never good with socializing and had very little interest in socializing with others mostly because I have always found it hard to relate to other people. During my teen years as my body began to change it caused me a lot of health issues that still affect my health to this day. I always knew I did not feel like a girl or a woman and was quite often before puberty mistaken for a boy but it never really bothered me. I knew deep down that I never felt female, but at the same time I had no want or need to be male either. I just wanted to be me without the label of a gender, but it would not be until a few years ago that I would learn the language for what I am and that was non-binary and it was not until I embraced being non-binary that I started feeling more comfortable with the more feminine side of myself. I use to constantly keep my hair short but last year for the first time since I was a kid I started growing my hair out and right now I am actually loving having long hair. Something I use to hate so much.
The characters within this manga discuss what it is like to be different and how some of them have found confidence in labels while others say that those same labels feel like painful restraints for them. What can be freeing for one person can be a hell for another and I liked that they had open and honest discussions about this. The LGBTQ+ community is such a large spectrum of different people that even though we all support each other even within our own ranks we will find those we don’t agree with. I myself have had these experiences with the few other non-binary people I have talked to. To many within the non-binary community gender neutral pronouns are very important, but for me I really don’t care what pronouns others use when talking to or about me, as long as they are being respectful I don’t care what anyone calls me. But I know it’s not like that for everyone and I accept that.
One of the cutest aspects of this manga however is the obvious blooming feelings between Tetsu and Mogumo. This brings up questions of sexuality for Tetsu that I hope get further explored in future volumes and also brings some anxiety to Mogumo because they don’t want to cause trouble for Tetsu, but there seems to be a hurdle in the horizon for these two love birds before anything even happens because of an interesting confrontation for Tetsu at the end of this volume and I look forward to reading more of this amazing manga when the following volumes get an official English release and even though this is not a sponsored post, I got my copy of this amazing manga from Bookwalker which I recently signed up for and am loving all the yaoi at my fingertips.