Romance Roundtable #40: My Androgynous Boyfriend (Volume 1)

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

The back fo the volume text: "His makeup is flawless! Wako and her androgynous boyfriend don't exactly have the most raditional of relationships. She spends her days working hard in the world of publishing, while he spends his time obsessing over fashion and makeup — all with the goal of making himself beautiful just for her. This romantic slice-of-life story is about love, relationships, and breaking with tradition!"

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!
highly recommend!

Panel 1
Meguru, showing Wako a new cafe: "Ta-daa! Everyone on Insta's talking about how cute this place is."
Wako: "Cute."

Panel 2
Meguru, looking at the food they've ordered: "Whoa! It's even cuter in person!"
Wako, visibly bothered: "So cute."

Panel 3
Meguru: "I feel bad, but I guess we should eat it."
Wako, rubbing her eyes in disbelief: "SO CUTE."

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!!”

Ashley: hehehehe

CC: agreed! also just right out of the gate

Meguru kissing Wako awake.
Meguru: "The nicest way to wake up..."
Wako: "Right, it's like... one of those alarm clocks that gradually gets brighter."
Wako, realizing what time it is: "AH! I don't have time! I've gotta get ready!"

Ashley: LMAO

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????

Ashley: yep!
except i still snooze lol

Rachel: bless
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

Ashley: 100%

Rachel: but yes let’s talk about Wako
i love her

Wako, furiously typing on the computer.
Meguru: "Huh? Hey? Wako-cha--"
Meguru, thinking to himself: "Once her editorial spirit is fired up, no one can stop Wako-chan..."

Ashley: i kind of feel like Wako is all of us combined into one person?????

Rachel: HAHAHAHA

CC: LMAOOO

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:

Wako, applying liquid eyeliner, with her mouth open in concentration.
Meguru, still in jammies: "WHAT?! YOU'RE STILL DOING YOUR MAKEUP?!"

Jenny: it takes a long time!!

Ashley: “mouth open”

Rachel: LOLLL
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

Jenny: 😭

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

A couple selfie where Wako looks very strange and Meguru looks stoned.
Wako: "You can't post this! Your eyes are half-closed!"
Meguru: "THAT'S what you're focused on?"

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

Meguru looking sparkly: "My own beauty is more than enough!"

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

Teenage Wako, explaining why she doesn't spend a lot of time on her appearance: "Oh! I'm just an admirer, really. As long as i'm not making people uncomfortable, I don't bother with it."
Meguru: "Hunh... so you don't want to be beautiful?"
Wako: "I can't see my own face."

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
LMAO JENNY

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
also

Wako's coworker, who now assumes she's in a lesbian relationship: "You're like the MAN, right...?"
Wako, in disbelief: "......... ... ......"

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

Rachel: !!!!

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: LOL

CC: LMAO

Jenny: LOLOLOLOL

Rachel: i’m dead

CC: cackling
can’t stop cackling

Jenny: but speaking of gender roles

Meguru: "Doing next to nothing with my style, and all I do on my day off is sleep. I work so late, I barely cook or clean. And somehow, a girl like me got super-cute Meguru-kun. This really is bliss."
Meguru, panicking: "If this was supposed to be an equal exchange, I'd have died ages ago!"

Ashley: LOL

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??

Rachel: !!!!

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:

Wako, talking to an author she admires: "Um, so about your new book, I — "
The author: "Oh! Look at the time. Sorry. I've got a deadline with another publisher."

Ashley: ^^ yes jenny for real!!

Wako, internally: "I wanted to talk about his new manga, but all he did was complain about his wife."
Wako, to the restaurant worker: "Could I get a receipt please? You can charge it to my company."

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

Meguru, staggering to the kitchen: "I have to make something fancy so Wako-chan will still love me..."

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!!!!!

Jenny: 🧠

CC: normal is whatever is normal for you!!!!!!!!!!!

Rachel: YESSSS
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

Wako placing Meguru in different tableaus at Ikeya:
"The only son of a wealthy family."
"The university student who lives wit his grandmother by the sea."
"You wanted lots of space for your first apartment, so you moved to a place twenty minutes from the nearest station, and now you have regrets."
More Ikeya tableaus:
"A sofa an American would eat popcorn on while watching movies!" "A kitchen where someone is likely to make fancy fruit salad for supper!"

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

Wako and Meguru outside Ikeya, the alternate world Ikea of this comic.

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

Rachel: YES
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

Ashley: HA

Jenny: some angst though

Meguru, starting to panic: "Now I've done it... I made her too attractive. Everyone will be after her!"
Caption: "Not going to happen."
Meguru, head in hands: "But... I can't do anything half-heartedly!!"

Rachel: lol a relatable amount!!

CC: LOL

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

Meguru, trying to think about what to do for dinner: "But if we do THAT, I'd rather make something more chic than hot pot... My primary goal is to clean out the fridge..."

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!!!!
hahaha

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

Meguru, trying to reassure his boss at the clothing shop: "The customer is my girlfriend. I'll be everyone's Meguru!"
Meguru, internally: "Sorry, Wako-chan."
Meguru's boss, celebrating: "That's what I want to hear, Meguru! You're my biggest draw!"

CC: LMAO yeah agreed

Rachel: YEAH this was so interesting to me!!
like the insistence of Meguru’s fans in presenting him as gay

After a fan assumes that the person that Meguru is dating is a man, he says "Boyfriend...?"
Meguru's boss covers his mouth with her hand. "It's okay if it's a guy."
Meguru's boss, panicking: "If they find out their idol has a girlfriend, it's all over! The day they learn their money pays for your dates with her... their rage will be hell. They'll destroy everything in their path, and before you know it, your social media will be a wasteland..."

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

Kira, with determination: "I have never dated ANYONE. My body and soul are pure."
A zoom in on the reporter's very surprised face to Kira's announcement.

Ashley: MY FAVORITE SCENEEEEEEEE

CC: LOLLLLL
this guy

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
uhhhhhh
a million gackts
well
WELL
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

The band Malice Mizer, with absolutely wild looks.

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

Rachel: !!!!
yes yes yes

CC: help

More crazy Malice Mizer looks!!

CC: as soon as we end this roundtable i’m gonna be like 24 tabs deep in inexplicable and baffling malice mizer group photos

Ashley: LOL
is this a good time to tell everyone that there’s a live action drama of My Androgynous Boyfriend?

CC: !!!!!!!

Rachel: AHHH WHAT

CC: oh no her bangssssss

Ashley: hahahaha

CC: this is wild
amazing
cannot wait to barrel thru the entire thing as soon as possible L O L

Jenny: so many dramatic lean-ins?!

Ashley: YES
including a like, trapped by LEG

Rachel: i am trying so hard to get a good screengrab of that AND I CAN’T

Ashley: hahaha
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

Ashley: LMAO

Rachel: so much easier to draw too

CC: LOL
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

Meguru, gushing about Wako after Kira asked about her: "I worked really hard, if I do say so myself. Ah, it's so embarrassing! Seriously! I would only ever tell you this, Kira-kun. I could never tell anyone else. Wako-chan would get upset if I talked about this stuff. She'd be all 'You revised it in your head, stop!' She's so cute..."
Meanwhile, Kira has gotten in a taxi.
Taxi driver: "What about your friend there?"
Kira: "He's fine. Just long-winded."

Jenny: hilarious
leaving in the middle of a story you asked for because you got bored
ledge

Ashley: absolutely

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

Rachel: YES!!

CC: tamekou

Screenshot of a new story with the headline: "Kim Cattrall: 'I don't want to be in a situation for even an hour where I'm not enjoying myself'"

Ashley: FULLY

Jenny: incredible!!!

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

Wako, reacting to Meguru putting the moves on her: "No matter how many times we do it, moments like this... You're just so cool, Meguru-kun... I'll never get used to it."

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

A very normal middle-aged (?) lady, lounging with the buckwild Malice Mizer gang.

Rachel: LOL

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!
this lady

Wako's coworker: "I thought you had to go to Shibuya... for a same-sex marriage. That's what it said in this BL I read the other day..."

Jenny: also learning
learning about local laws

Ashley: i KNEW IT i knew you were gonna post that hahahaha

Jenny: LOL

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!!!!!

CC: LOL

Rachel: LOLLLL

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:

Wako and Meguru holding hands and walking together, giggling sweetly.

CC: ;o;
loved this scene!!!!!

Rachel: they’re so
cute!!!!!!
good for them

Ashley: they’re just happy together and sometimes that’s enough!!!!!!!!!!!

CC: truly!!!!


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.

CC Calanthe

CC Calanthe

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!
Jenny Mott

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.
Ashley Gallagher

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley writes comics and emails from zir burrow in the Pacific Northwest. Ze is a sentient subtropical swamp fern whose favorite food is old words.
Rachel Weiss

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.
POMEgranate Magazine