Otoboku Anime, Volume 1 (English)

September 29th, 2008

Otoboku, originally known as Otome ha oneesama(boku) ni koishiteru, is the story of a boy, Mizuho, who ends up attending a girls private school at the behest of his grandfather’s will. Although the will does not stipulate it, Mizuho will cross-dress and attempt to pass as a girl. Of course, not only does he pass, he becomes the idol of the school for his exceptional beauty and athleticism.

Media Blasters licensed it as a Yuri anime. There is a case for it being Yuri in the same way I My Me Strawberry Egg is Yuri. The girls who fall for Mizuho believe he is a girl (except where they know he is not.)

While it may be considered a Yuri anime in that sense, I have never reviewed it here for many reasons. Media Blasters asked me to watch and review it now, so I am. Only because I love you, Chet.

Fans who enjoy harem series, male cross-dressing, Newhalf and/or gender-bending and bishoujo games will enjoy this series very much. It is based on a bishoujo game, and has all the qualities that appeal to those audiences.

If you have watched Otoboku and enjoyed it, or are interested in any of the above kinds of anime, you’ll be pleased to know that Media Blasters did a nice job on the technical side.

And, if you have watched and enjoyed this series, or plan on watching and enjoying it, I strongly recommend you do not read the rest of this review…

***

…because the rest of this review will be a discussion of some of the things I hated about Otoboku.

The Uniforms. The uniforms are demure (except when they are not) tight-waisted, puffy-sleeved pale bluish white for summer, dark blue for winter, with a bib of a different white to set off the chest that somehow miraculously clings to the contour of even the smallest girl’s chest, without providing any actual support, so there’s plenty of jiggling going on. Since the uniforms are designed to draw the eye inexorably to this area…there had better be *something* to keep your attention.

The Premise. Mizuho’s grandfather’s will stipulated that he had to attend the school – nowhere did it say that he had to pass – or even dress – as a girl. Why they didn’t just give him a room somewhere and explain the situation? Because then we wouldn’t have had the “funny” situation of a guy cross-dressing in a girls’ dorm!

The Guy in a Dress (is a better woman than thou.) Otoboku is not a trans story. It has the same relationship to transgender issues as it does to lesbianism…which is to say, not much, unless you’re really desperate for a reflection of something sort of similar in anime. It is a harem story. Mizuho is not a crossdresser, nor is he, like Kashimashi‘s Hazumu, a woman in a man’s body – Mizuho is a man who, through the use of a thin plot driver, is “forced” to wear girl’s clothes. This is, at best, Newhalf fantasy, where he is a perfect (i.e., straight/normal) man *and* a perfect woman, at the same time. There is an actual belief among many men that the perfect woman really is a man. RuPaul was so perfect a woman, he became a women’s makeup spokesperson. And likewise, Mizuho, after the application of makeup is suddenly transformed, not into a pancake covered guy, but into a magnificent specimen of femininity. He’s more beautiful than the real women…and by simply being male, he is of course a better athlete than anyone in the school. (God, how I wished the star forward of the school’s basketball team would have stepped up and stuffed Mizuho into that basket…) Don’t get me started on the antiquated, rigid and utterly absurd issue of gender roles. Girls don’t run, girl’s don’t drop their bags as they rush to the toilet… Gah.

Fake Breasts. Mizuho’s breasts are fake. Not real. And yet, somehow not only are they warm, and feel just like the real thing, they magically have *nerves* so when he’s being groped by dormmates, he is all squirmy and turned on. No. Nonononono. No. NO.

Girls Dorms. Girls dorms are not full of negligees and pillow fights. They just aren’t.

This isn’t everything I hated about the anime, just the main things. I was watching it on my iPod on the train and about 2/3 of the way through the first episode, I started to cry. I was half laughing, but mostly sobbing as I said out loud – “I can’t do it. I can’t watch any more of this.”

But I did watch more. I watched this whole volume. The one thing I enjoyed was the eyecatch where Mizuho needs a shave. Other than that, it was scrunchy-face-making torture.

Chet, man, I love you. But I will not watch more of this anime. Ever.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 3
Characters – 4
Yuri – 1
Service – 7

Overall – 3

My sincere and heartfelt sympathy to the translator for this volume. It must have been like stabbing yourself in the eyes with a fork, Midori. I owe you a hug for your pain when I see you at MangaNEXT.

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14 Responses

  1. darkchibi07 says:

    You’re a brave woman! I couldn’t stomach even one episode of it!

  2. Smithie says:

    Ha, great review! :) I only watched the first episode of this series fansubbed before I stopped, never to continue it. I attend a liberal arts women’s college and, of course, live in an all-female dorm, and these anime depictions of all-female school culture endlessly amuse me (even if it’s always a high school setting; similar enough idea). While I love Marimite with every fiber of my anime geek heart, and enjoy Aoi Hana, Mai Otome, First Love Sisters, etc for what they are (entertaining fantasy), Otoboku stretches light years beyond any vestige of realism or plausibility I can think of (like characters, situations, the dynamics of an all-female academic setting). But anyway, with all of the all-girls’ high school anime out, an anime set at an all-women’s college (for a change) would be pretty sweet. ^^

  3. Anonymous says:

    Not a great series, but I thought the ghost girl was funny

  4. Anonymous says:

    I watched Otoboku and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    …but I am an MtF. So I hope you will excuse my lack of taste in this case. :P

  5. Anonymous says:

    Several things about Otoboku annoyed me too. Like:

    Why do Mizuho’s breasts look real and have nerves?

    Why does he look so good in a two piece suit? http://kurogane.animeblogger.net/image/otoboku/mizuhofull.jpg

    Why are their so many pillow fights, negligees, and panty shots in the girls dorms? (from experience, I can say it’s nothing like that)

    AND WHY IS HE THE MOST FENIMEINE CHARATCER?

    In the words of my favorite animeblogger, “I don’t care anymore. Just shoot me. No way there’s a penis on this. None. I won’t accept it.”

  6. jaymiemizuno says:

    i grabbed Otoboku because i like both Yuri and gender-bender series. Yeah, i have Day of Revolution, Yubisaki Milk Tea, Strawberry Eggs, Otoboku…

    Wonder what you would think of Day of Revolution; it is interesting and infuriating the whole “you are a girl, so you must date and marry a guy” socilization.

  7. ajshepherd says:

    I must admit to having a soft spot for Otoboku. Not because I think it’s good or anything, but because it’s stupid. Very stupid. Vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly stupid.

    Not only is the basic premise ridiculous (even more ridiculous than the plot of Princess Princess, if you ask me), but it rapidly becomes clear that the writers and animators can’t actually be bothered to try and maintain that premise until right before the end when they suddenly go “er, um, wasn’t this character meant to be a guy?” “Oh yeah, we’d totally forgotten”. Like I said, stupid, right to the end.

    What can I say? Sometimes I like slumming it.

    I enjoyed your review, that’s what I call suffering for your art.

  8. Ellen Rose says:

    I watched the show from beginning to end, and enjoyed it. The thirteenth episode was a crackfic, compared to the first twelve.

    But as I recall, it was Mizuho’s grandmother who left the instructions in her will. And since she had unfinished business with the ghost girl, it makes more sense that way.

    (Mind you, I watched fansubs. They could have goofed on the gender of the grandparent.)

  9. ellen – It was Grandfather. I remember wondering how the fansubbers got something so basic wrong when I tried to watch it the first time. The unfinished ghost business was with Mizuho’s mother, not grandmother.

    If you require a thin veil of sense to be applied to this story, the underlying motivation for the request was to bring Mizuho and his mother closer, since he lost her early on.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How can this be considered Yuri in any way? It’s still a guy, isn’t it, who doesn’t want to change to a woman?

    Mind is boggled.

  11. Cassandra says:

    Well, there is some OTHER Yuri in it…perhaps on that note, more than a 1 is deserved…

  12. tsuyo_puyo says:

    this is one of those anime series where i enjoyed it, but am fully aware of how disturbing and dumb it is. lol still doesnt change the fact that i liked this series! i dont know why they dont just have a female lead, i thought in general otaku find girl x girl to be “moe”, but there r barely any Yuri anime series. stuff like iono the fanatics should be ridiculously popular T_T

  13. Leo says:

    If you’re not looking for a story that’s well detailed and pristine, and just want a mindless “eh, I got nothing better to do” anime. This is good for those with strange taste

  14. Omg, I thought I was the only person who cried tears of pain for this anime.

    And you’re right–the only remotely funny thing were those eyecatches, and the beard one totally killed me. Though curiously… why was this not even mentioned in the anime? I mean, if he’s a young man, surely he would have the workings of facial hair that even a shave couldn’t hide.

    Plus, for some reason, I noticed that his penis seemed to disappear when he’s wearing bikini bottoms or panties. I feel sorry for him, a little now.

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