ボーイズ・ラン・ザ・ライオット, Bōizu Ran za Raiotto
Genre: Coming-of-age, Drama, LGBTQ, School Life, Seinen
Written By: Keito Gaku
Magazine: Weekly Young Magazine, Comic Days
It’s Manga Monday once again and today I am coming with another new series I started. This one is very heavily inspired by the author, who is also a transgender man, and some influences from some of his friends. To my knowledge, it’s the first series I’ve read with a main trans character. If anything it makes me want more! Especially in today’s times, it should be no secret the constant and sometimes deadly struggle of being transgender. I read several interviews with the author and from what I’ve gathered the manga isn’t a direct account of his own life but rather he can relate to his feelings and despair.
I’ve had this series on my radar for a while but finally just got to reading the first volume. Now that that’s done, I’m excited to read the rest!
Ryou Watari is a boy born in the body of a girl. Rejected for being a “tomboyish girl” and a transgender boy, he cannot confide in anyone and suffers in the prison of his own skin. Subtly, he expresses his genuine self through a buzzcut and secret purchases of boys’ clothes. However, Ryou’s life changes when Jin Satou joins his class. Jin is laidback, fearless, and straightforward. He is not ashamed of his interests, nor does he care about others’ opinions. For the first time ever, instead of envy, Ryou feels admiration. After running into Ryou in a men’s fashion store, Jin proposes the unexpected: they should start a clothing brand together.
Overwhelmed and afraid, Ryou confesses everything to Jin. To his surprise, Jin is fully accepting. Honored to have his first genuine friend and a trusting partner, Ryou agrees to set their business in motion. Recruiting a photographer and collaborating with talented outcasts, the boys prepare to express themselves through fashion and change the world—one step at a time.via myanimelist.com
First off, I just want to give Ryou a hug. He is just so overwhelmed with having to hide his true self that most of the time he doesn’t seem to enjoy anything. I’m not going to pretend that I can understand because I won’t ever be able to. Even though it’s only the first volume, he is able to make some great strides in his character. The contrast from his timidness to addressing the rumors regarding him and Jin in the beginning to him standing up for himself was refreshing. Now, I’m not going to fault anyone for not being able to defend themselves but when they do it just gives me a sense of peace.
We first see Ryou being upset with having to wear a girl’s uniform to school. He leaves home and switches into his gym sweatsuit and clearly sticks out from the rest of his peers. It’s not just his fashion either, he doesn’t really watch the same shows as they do and he doesn’t use social media at all. If you think about it, he’s really a unique individual already. He does have an interest in fashion, loving to purchase boys clothing and wearing them. His mother doesn’t understand and is always asking why he dresses like a boy.
I remember when I was growing up, my mama asked me the same thing. I’ve always just preferred more loose fitting, baggier clothing and didn’t really like wearing dresses or skirts. I was a tomboy (still very much am) but I was just nodding my head when he’d switch his skirt for pants.
So there is your typical bullying that also happens in the manga. I’ve never understood bullying someone for being different because why does that affect you? Like are you going to just die if you can’t understand someone who isn’t the same as you? This is why I’m really glad Ryou has Jin. Even though Ryou has been standing up for himself, Jin adds that extra muscle he needs. I say that most of the bullying triggers make no sense to me but as someone who has been bullied before, there’s no reasoning with them. Ryou feels pretty hopeless and that’s toppled with the fact he has a crush on his best friend, Chika.
Jin is the first person to be nice and supportive of him. When they initially meet, Ryou thought he looked like a delinquent. It was funny that Ryou would judge a book by its cover because that’s something he hates since people think he looks girlish. Jin is also the first person he opens up to about him being trans. Jin hardly bats an eyelash and immediately accepts him which Ryou can’t believe. It was just little moments like that that made me love Jin. He’s got the vibe of someone who is usually on the receiving end of prejudice but doesn’t care and still lives his life.
The two decide (mainly Jin) to start a fashion brand and sell their clothes online to express themselves. We meet another individual who seems to be dealing with similar desires as the other two. Itsuka is into photography but he’s the first and only member of the photography club at school. I didn’t even know bullying someone because they like taking pictures was a thing.
Anyway, he tries sees how “free” and expressive Jin and Ryou are and gets envious. This causes them to butt heads at first but Itsuka slowly follows their lead and starts to take control of his own path. I was a proud mother hen. It was like seeing my children learning to love and accept themselves for who they are.
We met a lot of characters in the first few chapters!
The main protagonist. He is transgender and suffers from body dysmorphia. He finds solace in wearing boys clothing and expressing himself with his graffiti. BEST BOY. Also has a potty mouth when angered.
He’s technically a third year but due to is poor grades he’s taking his second year again. He loves fashion and doesn’t care about other’s opinions of him. He’s second BEST BOY and sort of reminds me of Asahi from Haikyuu (I might just have a type). Horrible at posing for pictures.
Third best boy! He has a love for photography and is the first and only member of the photography club. I wasn’t a fan at first but after he came to his senses, I decided to take him in as yet another fictional son.
She is Ryou’s best friend and seems to be able to sense when Ryou is his true self or not. The jury is still out but I think she’ll end up being a catalyst for a lot of things. Ryou has a crush on her but for obvious reasons hasn’t disclosed it. When Jin makes his speech at the school’s assembly, she thinks it’s cool and this causes Ryou to stop hiding his interests.
- Ryou’s Graffiti
- At the end of the manga, there’s a list of terms and their definitions
- Keito Gaku interview
It was a stellar first volume. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of information for me to take in but I learned a lot. The characters were introduced well and it flowed nicely. As I said before, I can’t wait to grab the next volume and read. This is definitely a much needed, fresh take from my typical manga (fighting, gore, romance). I look forward to taking this journey with Ryou and hopefully we get to see him be entirely comfortable with who he is. I’d love his mother to understand as well and just for him to have an overall stable support system.
This is a highly recommended series for anyone who is open minded enough and truly wants to learn more about the LGBTQ community! It should be no surprise that I’m giving this a 5 onigiri out of 5.
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