Have you heard of the manga Fukakkai na Boku no Subete o (不可解なぼくのすべてを), or Fukaboku? It was first released in June of 2018 and includes characters with diverse sexual and gender identities. It follows the protagonist Mogumu, born male but cross-dresses as a cute girl, after their invited by their classmate to work at the Otokonoko Cafe. Mogumo is excited to find a place they could belong but quickly realizes that they are different from the rest of the staff because Mogumo is not an Otokonoko. Mogumo identifies as non-binary. Fukaboku is a story of Mogumo and others finding an understanding in a society that is quick to judge and quick to put labels on people.
What are Otokonoko (男の娘)?
In Japanese, cross-dressing men are called josou danshi while cross-dressing women are called dansou joshi. But Otokonoko, sometimes called otoko no musume, are men who cross-dress as ultra-feminine cute women from anime, manga and video games.
Otokonoko is also a term used to describe the genre of manga, video games, anime and other works that depict otokonoko characters.
Are Otokonoko gay men?
Not necessary. Otokonoko could be of any sexuality- gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, etc. Like being a drag queen, being a otokonoko is about expressing their inner femininity through costume, makeup, and performance.
Is there a real otokonoko café?
In the spring of 2009, the first otokonoko maid café and bar named New Type opened in Akihabara (秋葉原), a district in central Tokyo famous for its electronics shops and being the nerd capital of Japan. New Type charges an entry fee to enter and offers many food and drinks that customers can order. The cafe and bar also hosts many kinds of events (http://newtype.ms/en/).
Youtube video about NewType:
If you are looking for cross-dressing women, Queen Dolce is a café also in Akihabara where women cross-dress as masculine butlers and serve the customers.
Who are some famous Otokonoko?
Comedian Yakkun Sakurazuka cross-dressed as a schoolgirl while telling jokes.
Yakkun Sakurazuka as a tough school girl
Nanami Igarashi is the son of a famous manga artist and a voice actor. He made his debut as a otokonoko manga artist with an essay-style manga about his love for putting on his girlfriend’s make-up and wearing her clothes.
Nanami Igarashi as a maid
Even the professional kick boxer Yichiro “Jienotsu” Nagashima has been known to dress up as various female manga characters.
The professor boxer Yichiro Nagashima
The most famous example from fictional work is probably Bridget from Guilty Gear who appears as a nun.
Bridget from Guilty Gear is the most famous fictional otokonoko
Despite the heavy focus on maids, nuns, and sailors, each otokonoko brings their own style to the crossdressing. Ultimately, crossdressing is about self-expression.
So how is Fukaboku different from other otokonoko works?
Fukaboku shows a non-binary protagonist whom others assumed is an otonokono based on their appearance.
Mogumo wearing the cafe uniform
When asked to introduce themselves as a otokonoko, Mogumo refused, because they don’t personally identified as a male, and therefore is not a man cross-dressing as a girl. To Mogumo, they are simply being themselves by wearing feminine clothings. This sparked a conversation between the others who works at the café.
Suzu- a gay man who is cross-dressing for fun
Ten-chan- loves cosplaying
Mei- struggles with his gender identify, and wishes he were born a girl
Despite the predictable storyline, this manga depicts believable otokonokos who are real and authentic . Furthermore, the storyline depicts not only the struggle Mogumo has to go through in order to be understood by others but also the process the other characters have to go through to accept Mogumo’s and their own gender and sexual identifies.