Ryū knows he’s a boy, but fate put him in a female body. He hates wearing his uniform at school and only really feels comfortable in his own clothes. Ryū lets out some of his frustration with street art - tagging around his neighborhood. Jin transfers into Ryū ‘s class after being absent from school so long that he’s held back a year. Jin and Ryū become friends when they both reach for the same shirt at a store. Jin is convinced that their similar taste in fashion would be critical in opening a “brand” dedicated to selling clothes. Jin offers to run all of the business side of things, like setting up the website and working on marketing, but Ryū and his art skills is responsible for designing the shirts. The two also pull in a third student, who has a passion for photography, to take photos of Jin modeling their designs to use in marketing.
This story has a double appeal for teens. In essence, the story is about being comfortable with yourself and what you're passionate about, but there's another layer of making your mark in a digital world that so many of our students are engaged in right now. So many have their own channels, websites, etc., and want to become "internet famous." The series also tackles gender roles, but Ryū's struggles with self are very focused on his time at school and how other students treat him. The added conflict of wearing a gendered uniform will resonate with trans students who attend schools with gendered uniforms, but schools with uniforms isn't as common in North America. Rather, students might draw parallels with clothing in general as a form of gender expression. This title handles the struggles of transgender youth delicately and safely - the editor went so far as to add a note about safely binding when Ryū reveals his binding on page.
Gaku's illustrations are beautiful and detailed, and I especially enjoyed the depictions of street art. The characters are very expressive and designed well.
Students will connect with this story and the content. There is nothing in the first volume that would make this inappropriate for high school students, and some mature middle school students.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 8-12
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, LGBTQ+, School Age, Realistic Fiction, Friendship
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