Tag Archives: Kodansha Comics

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4       

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: January 18, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Tsubasa uploads an apology video before disappearing from YouTube. Opinions are divided regarding the video, but life goes on. Although Ryo is out at school, he isn’t out to his family, although his older brother suspects something because of the way Ryo has been acting lately. While out one day Ryo and the others run into the shop owner who originally rejected their line. They ask his opinion, and he tells them what he really thinks, which they find harsh. To make matters worse, Jin returns to his apartment and finds his father there, with nothing kind to say to his son.

Ryo goes to the video store and runs into a guy who is wearing their brand! Ryo is excited until he discovers the guy doesn’t really like it, he happens to have his own brand, which he’s been living off of for twenty years. He invites Ryo and the others to visit his place. They take him up on his offer and are impressed with his set-up. He tells them they have to decide on what their theme is and come up with a concept. Then he tells them he has an exhibition coming up… and they can have room there for a display of their own! That’s an offer they can’t possibly refuse! Such an opportunity!

As the day of the exhibition approaches, Jin and Ryo have to decide if they are going to say anything to their families. If so, what are they going to say? How long can they keep their secrets safe rather than being who they are openly?

In the final volume of Boys Run the Riot, we watch the boys grow along with their brand. They may not be setting the world on fire right now, but they are building a solid foundation from which to build their future. One important lesson they learn is to listen to what others say yet ultimately follow their own path, create their own destiny. It’s important to be who you are… to everyone. I feel optimistic about Boys on the Riot and think they will do well. A fitting ending to a good series. Well done! Look forward to seeing more from this author.

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.

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: July 27, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Wing is an LGBTQ Youtuber whose videos are being talked about at Ryo’s school. Elated at their first sales of Boys Run the Riot merch, Jin treats Ryo and Itsuka to a celebratory feast of burgers! He tells them they need to reach out to stores to get them to carry their line in order to boost their appeal. He arranges for a meeting with a rep from a local store, but that doesn’t go very well.

The three decide they need to get part-time jobs so they have the cash to continue to produce their merchandise. Ryo applies to a karaoke bar, and is about to get the job, but when he requests that he be treated like a boy, at first the interviewer seems to understand. But then he laughs and says that can’t happen. So Ryo ends up getting a job at a restaurant, Izakaya. Luckily the uniform isn’t gender specific. But when Ryo unthinkingly starts to undress in front of the guys, they practically shove him into the girls’ change room, where a girl named Mizuki is changing, to Ryo’s chagrin.

Ryo fits in well with the others and he likes the job. But when Mizuki asks him if he is a boy, he is suddenly uncomfortable with admitting the truth. They go out for beer after work one day, and Ryo gets to know her better and begins to relax. Some of the guys at work announce they’re having a welcome to work party for Ryo, and Mizuki agrees to go. But it turns out two of the boys have ulterior motives.

Ryo calls off sick for a couple of days after that, and meets up with Jin and Itsuka. Jin has a surprise for them. He takes them to a house where they are greeted by a girl named Tsubasa, who just happens to be the Youtuber Wing! Seriously? She introduces them to her cousin Yutaka. Turns out he was their first customer! And now Boys Run the Riot is gonna do a collab with Wing! How awesome is that?

During the course of the photo shoot, Ryo gets to know Tsubasa, and she gives him some advice. But when the video comes out, there is a huge oops moment!

I am really enjoying this series. It’s not often you see transgender stories in manga, particularly with transgender males.  The author obviously has great insight into transgender people and helps us to understand what Ryo is going through in his desire to be who he is, not who he appears to be. Gender stereotypes and misperceptions have been around forever, but now it seems as though, thanks to a more open-minded younger generation and the power of the Internet, greater knowledge is forthcoming, along with greater acceptance and understanding.

Even as we get to know and understand Ryo, Ryo is learning more about himself. Perhaps the oops moment will turn into something wonderful. Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 1 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 1     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: May 25, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/240 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ryo feels as if he is living a lie, just because he appears to be a girl when he knows, inside, that he is a boy. But it’s not as easy as telling everyone the truth, because that just isn’t going to happen, and he knows no one will accept him if he does. So he does what he can. Each morning when he leaves the house, he stops in the train station bathroom to change into more comfortable boys’ clothing and put on a binder. Chika is his good friend, but he hasn’t even told her how he feels.

A new student arrives in Ryo’s class. His name is Jin and he should be a third year but was gone for a while and is repeating second year. The teacher directs him to the seat behind Ryo, who wonders how this guy can want to draw attention to himself the way he does. Ryo is seen by most people as weird, but how can he help that when he isn’t even allowed to be the person he is inside? And when he is with Chika, he can’t help but wish he was born a boy.

After school, Ryo goes to a new pop-up clothing store for a brand he really likes, but just as he reaches for a T-shirt, another hand reaches for it at the same time. Turns out the hand belongs to Jin! Jin thinks it’s great that they have the same taste, and he wants Ryo to make a brand with him, sell T-shirts online. But Ryo runs away.

Later, Ryo and Jin begin to talk, and Ryo starts to think maybe they should do the brand thing. But he is more afraid of what people think than Jin is. Jin thinks Ryo is more creative, so he can design the shirts, while Jin will take care of the business aspect. They make their first shirt and go to the Photography Club to see if they can borrow a camera to take pictures for promotion. That is where they meet Itsuka, the sole member of the club. He loves taking photos and uses a vintage camera his father gave him before giving up on his own photography career. But Itsuka is himself suffering from peer pressure and isn’t sure what to make of Ryo and Jin at first.

Just started reading this today and I already love this series! You don’t see a lot of transgender main characters in manga, especially not trans boys. You have to feel for Ryo, having to hide who he is because of society’s assumptions about him. I like both him and Jin and think they have the makings of good friends. Ryo’s revelation regarding how he feels didn’t bother Jin one bit. He tends to embrace the truth and isn’t afraid to show it. I look forward to reading more about them in the future.