This month’s Manga Movable Feast centers on After School Nightmare published in the U.S. under Go! Comi, which is a manga company that is clearly disappearing. This is one of the few titles I have read from this publisher, and it was Eisner nominated.
Mashiro Ichijo is a student at a school, where you have to go through a trial to graduate. He is definitely a character with secrets, that is unlike Asuka from Otomen. He is actually a she or is she a he? Mashiro is the one of the few characters I have read or seen outside of hentai titles that is actually mentioned as a hermaphrodite, so by the top he is a male, but on the bottom he is a girl. I have not seen the artist draw an artistic representation of his bottom, so what to say other than from what the other characters mention, and the real self that he/she portrays in the nightmare world. If they ever show him naked, he would be totally like a Ken doll – assexual as I seen on Snow Sakura and Japanese censorship laws placated.
There are self-gender identity questions raised in this series. Is he going to be a manly man with a cute girlfriend, or would he be a female, and give into Sou- a darker classmate of his. I just see this as a continual love triangle between the three, as it is exemplify on the book covers of this series.
My personal preference is to see Mashiro end up with Sou. After a couple of weeks of reading a lot of shoujo titles, I really really am quite happy to see the “bl” scenes that Mashiro has. Can you call them bl scenes? I just see two guys going at at, and to me, my heart started to sigh.. and I can only say “yay!” But then mentally “boo” while Mashiro refuses Sou’s affections.
Warning this title also has incest issues, so please don’t read if you don’t like that. The series makes for a good suspenseful, mystery read though. Probably other read alike would be Future Diary or Deadman Wonderland. There are relationship issues, secrets, betrayals. I cannot truly confirm if this is a gender bender type series, since it is not the lead character either concealing her gender or cross dressing. Yet the self-questioning identity crisis and gender disassociation type manga title read a-likes would probably be for some readers some comparison to MW or Revolutionary Girl Utena.