Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 3 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 3     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: October 5, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The unthinkable has happened to Ryo – he has been outed in a video by the Youtuber Wing! Apprehensive about going to school, he finds that people are interested in his brand. But some of the boys think it’s funny to be vulgar, so he walks away from them. After school, Ryo and Jin approach Tsubasa and request she delete the video, but she refuses because she says it’s against her policy as a content creator. Tsubasa and her cousin think the guys should be happy, because didn’t they get sales from the video? Now what are they going to do?

Ryo begins to skip school to avoid his fellow classmates. He is surprised when Tsubasa shows up outside of his house. As Ryo explains why he is upset, Tsubasa tries to comfort him and tell him he isn’t weird. When Ryo finally faces Chika, he is upset, not because she accepts him as he is, but because she makes him feel odd, like an “other”.  Then Chika tells Ryo he should lean on Tsubasa, because she gets him, which only frustrates him, unable to tell her how he feels about her.

At school, Chihiro accuses Jin of only becoming friends with Ryo in order to get next to Wing, but Jin refuses to accept the blame. The teacher is concerned about Ryo and wonders what she can do to help. Ryo shows up in class unexpectedly and asks to address his fellow students, explaining how he feels as transgender. He is wearing a male uniform and has a surprise underneath it.

Business at Boys Run the Riot is booming, with orders pouring in, but there are also a lot of requests for more collaboration, including clothing design, with Tsubasa. They examine their motives for what they are doing and  debate the matter between the three of them and decide to make a fresh start, without Tsubasa. Tsubasa has her own problems, including the fact that although she is out as a woman, people don’t realize she is a lesbian. She is warned that could be a career killer. She envies Ryo his strength. But a moment of drunkenness that ends up on the Internet threatens her sense of self, revealing how very perilous that is.

This volume is primarily concerned with both Ryo and Tsubasa and how they deal with their gender identities, especially as they relate to the people around them. Other people have made it difficult for them to be who they really are, but Ryo is stronger, and has better support. Tsubasa is surrounded by people who don’t understand her, other than her cousin. But that’s not surprising as she is still struggling to understand herself. But Yutaka says it beautifully, that Tsubasa is Tsubasa to him, not her gender. He wonders if maybe she is genderfluid, and gives her much to think about.

The point is that people are too obsessed with placing other people in pigeonholes and the answer to gender identity is not easy and it isn’t relevant when compared to what kind of person someone is inside. It’s more important that people love, it doesn’t matter who they love. I believe there is one volume left, looking forward to it.

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