Frey·ja

Crossdressing Japan

I spent the last few weeks reading crossdressing manga and watching crossdressing anime, a surprising popular genre.

Japan is simultaneously the most sexually repressed and sexually liberal culture on the planet. Being gay is still frowned upon, but it’s not uncommon to have entire manga/anime/game series written about very specific sexual fetishes. For example, its world famous tentacle pr0n.

I’m still having trouble finding even a single piece of western media (be it TV, movie, book, or comic) that represents crossdressers in a way that I like. We’ve had decent representations of drag queens for decades now, and recent years have shown many positive takes on trans characters, but CDing is an odd group that’s either forgotten or portrayed in an uncomplimentary way (Psycho, The Rocky Horror Picture Show). I was wondering (and okay, hoping) that Japanese media would do better.

The good news: I have one good recommendation for you. The bad news: even in Japan, most crossdressing media is not amazing.

Like in the west, the motivation for dressing like a woman has a wide spectrum of motivation, but it tends to be simplified down to two of the most common tropes:

Most Japanese media tends to fall in one bucket or the other, and sometimes both. Works that don’t fall into either bucket exist, but are very, very unusual. I’m not mad about it, but neither trope is realistic, and a crossdressing archetype that’s more grounded in reality is difficult to find.

I’ve put together a list of recommendations and semi-recommendations below. Note that almost every manga series ever written has at least one minor crossdressing character, or has crossdressing as a plot point somewhere, but I’ve focused just on those where an important core character is a crossdresser, or where crossdressing is central to the plot.

The only manga/anime I’m going to recommend unconditionally is Jellyfish Princess. It follows a shy girl who moves in with a collective of other otaku women, all of whom have to fight the redevelopment of their neighborhood.

Crossdressing isn’t core to the plot, but one of the most important characters is a crossdresser (Kurako) who crossdresses because she likes women’s fashion. Unlike every single other manga/anime I read/watched, Kurako is portrayed as absolutely beautiful, but not just lazily/wishfully drawn as any other female character. She’s a little taller than the other girls, wears too much makeup (which to be clear, looks hot), and dresses a little too elaborately. She’s also straight.

Kurako

Kurako

Kurako

I really like Kurako’s portrayal and how crossdressing is treated in a relatively realistic light. The series’ main character is neutral towards it, but not judgemental, and a running gag is her trying to hide that Kurako is a man from her roommates who don’t allow men in the house. Kurako’s dad and brother don’t like it, but are accepting of their son/brother’s quirk. Her uncle on the other hand loves it and gets really excited seeing Kurako dressed up as a cute girl.

Here’s a few that are okay, but in all honesty, if you care about your time, are probably still not quite worth it.

Ryo from Bremen

Hime from Himegoto

Hime from Himegoto

These are some other ones I read, but which weren’t very good:

I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but because none of these publications are localized for the west, you can often read fan translations for them by googling for the name of the series combined with “manga kakalot”.

I went in wishing that crossdressing manga on the other side of the Pacific was better, but after reading a dozen series, conclude that it doesn’t come out too far ahead of what we have in the west, but still makes for decent time killing entertainment if you’d be doing that anyway. Do read or watch (there’s an anime adaption) Jellyfish Princess, which is worth your time.

I’ll keep looking and update this list if anything new comes up. If you think I’ve missed a good one, please let me know :)

October 5, 2020 (3 years ago) by Frey·ja