Otomen Volume 8
I’ve given up trying to make sense of this series — I just enjoy reading the over-the-top teen drama making fun of restrictive gender roles. Aya Kanno seems to be wandering through whatever conventions she wishes as a way of playing with her characters and providing entertainment to the reader.
This time around, in Otomen volume 8, it’s the possibility of Ryo moving away for family reasons. That allows everyone to demonstrate just how much they’ll miss her in over-the-top gestures. Even with the exaggeration, it’s touching to see friends who care so much about each other. Asuka demonstrates that he really does know Ryo best, giving her what she wants instead of what he wants to give her, even though the ridiculous ending is played for comedy, not feeling.
To distract from the absence of one of the main characters, there’s a side character focus story, as Asuka’s rival Hajime uses his “girlish” skills with makeup to make over an internet friend. There’s always a surprise twist in these stories, though (whether or not it’s plausible), to ramp up the emotion. Or sometimes the revelation isn’t so surprising, as when Asuka meets Ryo’s grandfather. Still, I find the series pleasant escapism, with attractive characters and happy images.
As in the last book, this volume ends on a cliffhanger, although this one is more directly involved with the premise of the series: Asuka’s mother, the one with a fetish for really strict traditional gender roles, takes over the school and starts enforcing her demands. That should mean a return to the core of the Otomen premise. (The publisher provided a review copy.)