Welcome back to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re covering volume 1 of My Androgynous Boyfriend by Tamekou: an unbelievably sweet slice of life romance manga about two well-adjusted adults negotiating gender roles in their relationship and on their own terms. You really, truly do love to see it!!!!
Jenny: this was such a sweet low-stress slice of life!
Rachel: i really enjoyed it!!!!
CC: truly just vibin
Ashley: me too! thank you to the publisher for the actually very good summary, haha
CC: very sweet and sincere and low key
Ashley: very low key, it felt like watching terrace house or something
you expect it to be very dramatic and then it’s mostly just nice
Jenny: yeah! felt nice and human
Rachel: yes!!! also the art is sooo gorgeous
Jenny: and it’s got jokes!
Jenny: also, might just be me, but this was VERY reletable
i too stare at my partner just vibing and think “cute. so cute. so cute!!”
CC: agreed! also just right out of the gate
CC: just waking up with a nice smooch, just like one of those natural light lamps
very good and very cute and also v accurate
love 2 see love!!!!
Ashley: hahaha me too. i also have that alarm clock lmao
Rachel: omg does it work????
except i still snooze lol
ok maybe it would be good to talk about these characters one at a time
because something i really liked about this comic is that it’s not really story focused, but character focused
Jenny: agreed, agreed
Rachel: but yes let’s talk about Wako
i love her
Ashley: i kind of feel like Wako is all of us combined into one person?????
Jenny: she’s a comics(?) editor for a publishing company
she was definitely v relatable
Ashley: i haven’t done eye makeup in literal years but i think this really just captures her Relatability:
Jenny: it takes a long time!!
Ashley: “mouth open”
this is us to each other when we are crammed in an airbnb in Toronto
trying to get cute for TCAF
Ashley: AHHHHH HAHAHA
tropical print robe and all
Rachel: the one thing i did not find relatable about Wako was her focus on her partner’s looks over her own
CC: omg yeah
Rachel: i’m sorry if i look even slightly worse that my partner, then the photo is never seeing the light of day
CC: yeah if my partner
who is extremely good looking, whose good looks I do love to celebrate
ever said this to me
CC: we would have some words
Ashley: asbfljbasdfhgbadlhks fadhljghblajdsgb;
Rachel: LOL I HAVE THAT SCREENSHOT TOO
CC: even if it’s true u don’t need to say it!!!!!!!
L O L
Jenny: i mean, i did really like wako’s take on this
Jenny: watertight logic here
Ashley: i very strongly related to that aspect
Rachel: i mean i love this and appreciate it
but cannot implement it into my own life
Jenny: how other people perceive me does not matter because all that i care about is my own perception is just god-tier
CC: i can respect it but to live without vanity….such a noble goal
Ashley: it’s actually very interesting, because Wako kind of struggles so much with living up to a feminine ideal she’s just not interested in, other than the way it can get her what she wants (landing a famous mangaka for her magazine, etc.)
whereas her boyfriend embraces that same ideal for the sheer joy of it
so who really is the androgyne here, hmm??
Rachel: OH A GREAT POINT
Ashley: HAHAHAHAHAHA yep i saved that one
i mean like… there’s so much to unpack
Jenny: lol also wasn’t her answer “i guess so?”
Ashley: YES IT WAS
Jenny: i love to see it
Rachel: i think this comic is nice and silly and fun but also does a great job of pointing out that femininity = female is a bullshit concept and what is wrong with the straights
CC: in another set of gender roles with my partner
in another world beyond gender roles with my partner?
look i’m going for an isekai title here
Ashley: I Went to Shibuya, the Gretna Green of Japan, For My Gay Marriage to My Straight Partner
Rachel: i’m dead
can’t stop cackling
Jenny: but speaking of gender roles
Jenny: they do really love and support each other, but the way that support is traditionally quantified and divided is maybe not actually representative of how people interact with each other!!
and maybe that’s the point??
Ashley: damn, yeah
in this way it’s probably the most actually contemporary-feeling comic we’ve read since Still Sick, maybe even more so
Jenny: i feel like wako is the one we see get wrapped up in feeling like she’s failing at gender, like saying she’s going to start a diet after meeting with this asshole:
Ashley: ^^ yes jenny for real!!
CC: ohhh godddd this guy
Rachel: oh man
amazing how quickly you can hate a character
Ashley: the darksided wife guy
CC: negawife guy
negging wife guy 😢
Ashley: the problems clown of his own marriage
Jenny: it was nice to see her come home from this interaction with external social pressures to her sweet andro bf who loves her just as she is and actively encourages her not to bow to those pressures
Ashley: yes 🥺
CC: imo it was also very sweet and relatable to see him expressing his love through care
CC: i mean, it is not true, she will still love u anyway bb
Jenny: gotta teach these kids that the people in the relationship are the ones who get to make the rules for what their relationship is!
CC: yeah maybe the moral behind like
all the romance roundtables
if you take one lesson away from all of these!!!!!
CC: normal is whatever is normal for you!!!!!!!!!!!
i mean, and i think that’s what i like most about seeing this couple
real going steady energy
Ashley: VERY THAT!!
CC: I know!!!!
Rachel: like just seeing them goof off
CC: seven year anniversary!
love that for them
Ashley: haha i love that scene!!!
Rachel: get silly at the local Ikeya!!
Jenny: omg when they went to IKEYA i screamed
absolutely this is the slice of life content i crave
CC: it’s wild to see ikea as a plot point and not as a relationship “ender” or w/e
you can have a lot of fun goofing around at an ikea!!!!
Ashley: yeah, i labeled my screenshots from that scene “the ikea test” hahaha
Rachel: i love this because it’s that combo of 2 different romance tropes
the ikea test
2. the “let’s make up stories about the people we see” thing
but instead, we are making up stories about sweet andro bf based on ikea setting
CC: i love #2
i loved it here and i love it irl
(I love to make up stories about dogs we see)
(but also making up stories about ur beautiful bf also seems like a ton of fun honestly)
Ashley: yes!! okay okay tho, i actually think this is a great opportunity to talk about Meguru some!!! because he is just so game for whatever and also LOOKS GREAT ALWAYS
i love that he’s so… chill
like he loves his girlfriend, he loves fashion
he doesn’t need anything else!! he is a simple man!!!
there’s no like dark past driving his actions
god y’all, i am tired of Batman
Jenny: some angst though
Rachel: lol a relatable amount!!
Jenny: a blessing…and a curse
Ashley: he is truly motivated by simply being and creating beauty, including the beauty of a healthy relationship
CC: amazing, chef’s kiss, i love that take
Rachel: even meals should be chic!!!
a chic life for a chic wife!!
CC: ha ha ha
get that on a needlepoint and throw it up on the wall
chic life chic wife
Ashley: even fridge clean meals can spark joy!!!!
CC: you know what i just realized
in both meguru’s and wako’s working lives
they both work with coworkers who read them as queer and both of them just kinda roll with it
in a way I’m not used to seeing in manga or honestly in a lot of media beyond our specifically queer indie comics niche
which I really dug
Ashley: yeah!!! i mean, i am probably Western Gazing this a fair amount, but they just felt very Bi4Bi to me
CC: LMAO yeah agreed
Rachel: YEAH this was so interesting to me!!
like the insistence of Meguru’s fans in presenting him as gay
Rachel: YES like if he can’t be with me, he can’t be with any other woman, but it’s fine if he’s with a man
idk i love that he’s not bothered by it, but it is a good call out of that toxic idol culture
CC: i guess it just makes him seem more
unattainable but yeah, agreed about the callout there
Rachel: can we talk about
Meguru’s model friend
Ashley: I LOVE HIM
OMG I’VE BEEN WAITINGNNNNGNGNGNGNG
Ashley: MY FAVORITE SCENEEEEEEEE
Ashley: how DARE YOU imply that i have done SEX
i am simply too beautiful for such a base act
CC: so much going on but you know what i’m here for it, high strung fashion friend
Rachel: ok i am not an expert but how adjacent to Gackt is this guy
on a scale of 1 Gackt to many Gackts
how many Gackts
CC: L O L L O L L L O L L O L L L L L L L
a million gackts
i feel like gackt would never imply that he was a virgin
Rachel: no, only that he is an immortal vampire
(please read that as “vamPEER”)
CC: i feel like if you made this guy 100 times more lewd you’d get gackt
but look: i appreciate this comic for backing up what i am ALWAYS saying
visual kei is coming back baby!!!!
2022 will be our year!!!!!
i feel like the fashion friend could and would rock this look
Ashley: i choose to believe this
but Kira is like Ace Galatea
i am the platonic ideal of beauty and when i said platonic i MEANT IT
CC: LOL ashley
yes yes yes
CC: as soon as we end this roundtable i’m gonna be like 24 tabs deep in inexplicable and baffling malice mizer group photos
is this a good time to tell everyone that there’s a live action drama of My Androgynous Boyfriend?
Rachel: AHHH WHAT
CC: oh no her bangssssss
CC: this is wild
cannot wait to barrel thru the entire thing as soon as possible L O L
Jenny: so many dramatic lean-ins?!
including a like, trapped by LEG
Rachel: i am trying so hard to get a good screengrab of that AND I CAN’T
also CC: i think you’re more close to the mark than you even think, because apparently, we have Genderless Kei now:
CC: good for them
definitely seems like an easier look to wear, just by virtue of having like 50 fewer belts to strap on
love to see this for the youths
Rachel: so much easier to draw too
well in the meantime…are y’all ready for final thoughts??
Jenny: before we get to it, i will just say this friend
in his obvious self-absorption — an icon
leaving in the middle of a story you asked for because you got bored
CC: see now THAT feels like something gackt might do
Rachel: truly so great
Ashley: Tamekou is really just killing it with the comedic timing, like these screens are such a small fraction of the sight gags
CC: if it sucks hit the bricks!!!!
Rachel: an inspiration!!!!
i can do my final thought!
especially having watched that genderless kei video
where they talk about fashion and androgyny not being related to sexual orientation
so glad that the author takes the time to let us know that these two BONE
Rachel: AND THEY HAVE A GREAT TIME
Jenny: very important
Ashley: YESSSS also like, getting shy 7 years in? why is that SO CUTE
CC: also side note: god it is nice to read one of these about adults and not teens
Rachel: YEAH GOD
Ashley: one thousand million percent lmao
CC: very happy for them and also i love to see it
ok so my final thought is
i do not know the context of this photo, or even who this lady is
but i feel like if wako was a middle aged lady in like 1998 this image would really vibe with her
Ashley: AHHH hahahaha yes
Rachel: love to be surrounded by beauty
CC: i’ve had this on my phone for years and cannot figure out anything else about it other than
it’s malice mizer and this gal living her best life
YES surrounded by beauty
good for u ma’am
Ashley: we can all only dream of being this fulfilled in our life path
Jenny: for real
i think my big takeaway here is that i’m so glad that other people also learn things from the comics they read!
here, we’ve learned that normal is whatever is normal for you!
Jenny: also learning
learning about local laws
Ashley: i KNEW IT i knew you were gonna post that hahahaha
CC: her brain just ascending thru the meme
gotta read more manga to achieve full brain luminosity
Jenny: it’s the only way
Ashley: it’s not yaoi, it’s called edutainment, sweaty!!!!!
Ashley: okay, my final thought is just like, a wholesome one
you know you’ve found the one when a moment like this makes you giggle with glee nearly a decade in:
loved this scene!!!!!
Rachel: they’re so
good for them
Ashley: they’re just happy together and sometimes that’s enough!!!!!!!!!!!
Join us for even more love story shouting in our next Romance Roundtable! In the meantime, check out our Patreon for just a few bonus goofs that didn’t make it into today’s roundtable, as a treat.