Monday, December 24, 2018

Holiday Review: THE BRIDE WAS A BOY

Seven Seas brought us multiple webmanga this year, but aside from the sequel for My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, this may have been the most anticipated of the lot.  As important as Claudine was for trans representation in the 70s, it's important now that we're getting trans stories from actual transfolk like this.

THE BRIDE WAS A BOY (Hanayome wa Motodanshi), by Chii.  First published in 2016 and first published in North America in 2018.


Chii was a transwoman happily in love with her boyfriend.  She was so much in love that she began to make plans to undergo sex reassignment surgery so that she will be able to legally transition and finally marry her boyfriend.  What follows is a whirlwind story of love, transition, and weddings taken from the mangaka's own life!


A lot of LGBTQ stories are about The Struggle: the struggle to come out, the struggle against discrimination, and so forth.  Even if they are excellent works in their own right, that does mean that they tend to be heavy, even depressing works.  That's why it's nice to get a story like The Bride Was a Boy.  Chii doesn't dismiss her own struggles, but it's not the ultimate focus of her story.

That's not to say that she isn't trying to educate people.  In between each chapter is a brief informational comic that explain trans-specific terminology or debunk stereotypes about transwomen.  A lot of these terms and concepts will be familiar to those who are or know trans people, although some of the terms and processes are more Japan-specific.  She also doesn't ignore her own struggle, as she does reflect at a few points on her youth and defining her gender and sexuality.

That being said, it's only a small part of the book; Chii clearly wants to put her time and effort into telling the story of her here and now.  She wants to focus on how she found love, fully becoming the woman she always was, and being accepted as such by her family.  It's a sweet and hopeful story, and I've seen how her story has given other trans women not only hope, but the motivation to share their own stories.  It's living proof of how important trans representation in media is important, and I hope that this is simply the first of many stories like this to come.


Like Satoko and Nada, Chii was not an artist by trade, so her art style is very simple and chibi-fied (and from what we see in the author's notes, she's a far better artist than Husband-kun). There are lots of squishy cartoon faces, short proportions, cute screentones, and most of it laid out in 4-koma style.  Still, Chii is lively on the page, posing and bouncing her way through the panels.  This ends up complimenting the sweetness of the story itself, and this feeling is only amplified in the color pages.  Like the cover, they are soaked in soft pastel shades (and appropriately enough, most of them are shades of blue and pink like those on the trans pride flag).  It's just a very cute book.


The Bride Was a Boy is not just important as far as trans representation in manga, but just a wonderful story in general (and all the more so because it's true).  This is yet another heartwarming tale that everyone should check out, regardless of the state of their gender.

This book is published by Seven Seas.  It is currently in print.

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