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From Go! Comi:
Like most teenagers, Mashiro Ichijo has a secret. But Mashiro's secret is that he’s neither fully male nor female! So far, Mashiro's been able to live his life as a boy, but all this changes when he's informed of a new class he must take in order to graduate from his elite prep school. To pass, he must find the “Key”…and the only way to find it is to enter into a nightmare world where his body and soul are put at the mercy of the worst kind of enemies: his classmates!
放課後保健室 After School Nightmare L'Infirmerie après les cours (French) The Nurse's Office After School
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Not perfect, but still enjoyable
It was an interesting story, but the characters were not very well written. As some other reviewers mentioned, there were problems with the whole gender identity vs sexuality thing.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The main character switched partners whenever they changed their gender identity, and I felt like that was a bit silly. From the start I had hoped for Sou to accept Mashiro for who he was, but instead he just kept insisting that Mashiro was a girl. Then when Mashiro realized that he was in love with Sou, after being in complete denial, he suddenly decided that he was okay with being a girl. Basically, I just didn't like how the author tried too hard to make this a heterosexual manga. What I did like about the story was that Kureha was very supportive throughout the entire manga, and really accepted his word for who he was instead of trying to change him or tease him. It would've been nice if Mashiro had just continued loving Kureha to the end, as a boy or girl, or if Sou had been a little less pushy about his thoughts on Mashiro's gender.
Despite the minor flaws, I would still recommend this manga. Each of the characters had their own interesting storylines showing their insecurities and personal issues, and I found the relationships between the three main characters to be quite cute. The art is pretty nice as well.
One step forward, another step back
Summary: I do not recommend this manga if you are looking for positive/accurate depictions of LGBTIQ characters, for the reasons stated below.
I will start by stating I did enjoy this manga, for many of the reasons stated in previous comments which I will not repeat.
The main purpose behind my comment is more to point out some of the problems I found with the concept of Mashiro as an Intersex character. I do realize that her* being half-male and half-female was done for symbolic purposes but the way it was done was a complete cop out for me personally.
I want to write this not so much to deter anyone who is interested a manga with an Intersex character in it but rather to point out this is not an accurate depiction. Had it been, Mashiro would have been female from the very start simply because they stated her "bottom half" is female. The manga however has her first depicted and believing she is male. There is next to no reveal as to how she managed to live her life as male up until that point or why she identified as male from the start.
However there is a silver lining to this, Mashiro's confusion and frustration over her gender identity is rather insightful for people who identify as trans* and how she fights to prove her identity as male. That is what I find to be the beauty of this manga, all the characters to a certain extent will have something identifiable with one character or another.
Going back to the issue of gender identity, one of the things I found most detestable was the whole vagina = female equation (I do acknowledge there will be people questioning this and further people who will disagree with why I state this in the first place). Taking a step back, once more the manga does not arrive to a conclusion as to why Mashiro presents as male despite having female genitalia in the beginning of the story. Realistically gender is assigned based on genitalia, but of course there would be no story otherwise had the mangaka chosen to acknowledge this. However despite not acknowledging this initially, it is brought up time and time again when it is revealed that Mashiro has "lady bits." Case in point, she must be a girl and this idea is constantly forced upon her. This ultimately leads to the conflict over her gender identity. Further more, her decision to be female is rather interesting. The manga makes an excellent point that being either male or female doesn't mean life will be easier, Mashiro states she believed that her life would be easier if she was a guy as opposed to a girl, and concluded she should be a girl but also acknowledges that both genders have their own struggles. But this further reinforces the idea that vagina = female and to like Sou she must be female.
Yet how the manga handles this issue becomes frustrating, multiple times the reader is delivered a big slap of "heteronormativity." This is done especially in regards to Mashiro's relationships to Sou and Kureha, she becomes the opposite sex for each character when her role becomes that of "love interest". What I enjoyed about the relationship between Mashiro and Kureha was her acceptance of Mashiro's identity as male despite the fact she has female genitalia. While the relationship with Sou was again that slap of heteronormativity, as it is depicted she can't have a relationship with Sou as a guy. There is absolutely no room for a homosexual relationship, especially when it came to having Mashiro accept a female identity. The relationship with Kureha only worked when Mashiro considered herself male, once she starts to accept herself as female, does she accept her feelings for Sou. It goes back to the same question in the manga, did she like Kureha for the sake of maintaining a male identity? But the manga does not open the possibility up for Mashiro having a relationship with Sou as a male or having a relationship with Kureha has a female.
To wrap up, this manga without intending to does depict gender dysphoria well, this is a step forward. However it further reinforces the idea of sex and gender being equal and heterosexuality as being ideal. It should be kept in mind that the set up is done for the sake of symbolism and in a shoujo manga there will be expectations of heterosexual relationships and BL for those who enjoy it (that was another quip I had, Mashiro looking male on top for the sake of BL but also under the guise that she's a girl.)
Overall I do recommend this manga for it's story-telling, it's art, and how it can be relatable. However if you're looking for a story with accurate representations of LGBTIQ characters, this is not your manga. Like many other gender benders, I find this story is progressive to the extent but also regressive.
... Last updated on February 7th, 2015, 4:02am
This story really left me with a lot to contemplate. The individual struggles in the manga are easily relatable, and I found myself pondering what I would do if in same circumstances. There was also so much symbolism behind each chapter... This was a very rewarding read for me. It kind of sparked a lightbulb in me, to be honest.
All in all, if you can tolerate male on male scenes (very mild, and only some will see it that way), this manga should be pretty cool
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The hypocritical prince part and the parts about moving on from tragedies and not wallowing in self pity really hit the bull's eye for me. Although not completely, it really applies to me personally... so wow, kudos to author there.
The only parts i didn't like were the ambiguous and confusing relationships between the main love triangle. I mean, why was Sou in love with Mashiro in the first place? And I never quite understood Mashiro's deep love for Sou either. I understood KuredaxMashiro since they needed each other to feel secure about themselves, but i can't see the other side.
However, i really like how the author explored the idea that each and every one of us have different situations that we must deal with, and that little words can break us on the inside when we have a weak mentality. I really admired Kureda in the end too, she really became a character i would root for.
... Last updated on December 23rd, 2014, 5:51pm
I hated all the characters. Not to mention Ichijo's thinking." If I love a girl I am a guy." WTF!!? A girl can be in love with another girl! "I am a guy, so it is impossible in love with him" Again guys can be in love with other guys. Plus his reaction to when he thinks hes in love, hes like all "My hearts going doki-doki~! Oh No! Im acting like a girl." It depends on the person to what their reaction to the one they love is, not the gender....Im sure everyone feels it when theyre thinking about their beloved. I feel like this whole manga is based on gender stereotypes and discrimination. I admit that this story seemed interesting which was what got me started but now its just repetitive, stupid and hateful. Its unique but that doesnt cover it for me.
Amazing... Highly recommended
After I finished it, I was speechless .. Good thing I gave this a chance,. I was reluctant to read this coz I thought its horror (yeah ryt I'm a coward lol).. But my thirst for gender bender stories convinced me to try it,. I thought it will be some cliche gender bender, but I was wrong.. It's like a hard candy with a surprise center,. When you start reading it, it's as if you are with the characters dreaming ...the main character's conflicting stand of his/her gender is quite a cliche already , yet it was handled so uniquely (u will get it at the very LAST chapter).. I admit there was some parts that piss me like when mashiro started to accept her girl side,. She sound so winy ( just like a real girl) ,. He was so much cooler as a guy (but I still ship him/her with Sou than with his/her gf ).... But it's how the author played with the story line and made us believe of what is real and what is a dream ,,,, and in the end the author actually tricked us (in many many but subtle ways )... I give this manga perfect 10 not because I'm a gender bender obssessed person, but because of the unique story done the right way.... So please give this manga a try
... Last updated on October 23rd, 2013, 10:10am
I was pretty skeptical about this manga and put it on hold for quite a while but actually.. it's weirdly captivating. I actually finished all 10 volumes but it wasn't my favorite or anything. The plot was very interesting and unique but i couldn't really appreciate any of it because of the main character's indecisiveness and fear. Things started to jumble up to me and it became choppy i lost track of what was happening. It was an interesting manga because of how different the plot is but It's not something i would read again.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The ending? what? wtf? lol
Never would have thought...
I didn't get this manga at all at first. I mean, the first chapters were vague to me, or maybe I just wasn't satisfied. I hated Mashiro's personality: the way he handles things and the way he responds to certain situations and circumstances. I hated how people seem to be irrational, how they tend to always overreact, how they seem to always think that they're more unfortunate that everybody else. But then, the complexity of everything dawned on me during the last volume.
I seriously thought of abandoning the manga once I came to read volume 6; everything was becoming to much for me to handle. I find myself screaming at the screen saying, "How stupid!" or "Are you an idiot or what" or "Not again!" Every little thing was starting to get on my nerves: Mashiro who seems to cry over everything that happens, Kureha who thinks that she should always be understood, Sou who just does as he pleases, Ai who just gets under my skin... But I willed myself to read the rest.
At volume 8 or so, everything became clearer. Everybody's problems surfaced, everybody's emotions and true feelings were shown. I started to think that everything at the beginning was all for this. The annoyance I felt at everything at the beginning began to fade. There was less screaming and more, "Ahh, so that's why!" or "So that's how it is!" Right now I'm thinking, why did I take so long to find this manga? Why didn't anyone tell me about it?
The manga gives you a good understanding of people. It says that we may not always act rationally, we may not always do the right thing, but we'll always have the chance to set things right. We should always be ourselves, not hiding behind some kind of facade, not hiding behind a memory, not hiding behind other people. We should always face our problems head-on instead of running away from them. We should overcome them and use the lessons we learned from them to move forward.
I learned a lot from this manga. My outlook in life will never be the same as before. Kudos to Mizushiro Setona for making such an awesome manga!
I missed something
I missed something. The manga just did not make anymore sense after few chapters. If I think its about the souls before they are born into this world, then what do I think about their interactions with their families and whats with these relationships anyway?
Not Worth Spoiling
If you're considering this series then definitely give it a shot! But if you only read the first and last chapter it wouldn't make any sense anyway. It's not a perfect manga by all means, but I don't believe there's necessarily a "perfect" manga either now, or in the future. The characters were what I liked most about this manga. They are all very individual and realistic. The plot is really original and awesome too. It's definitely a mystery what's going to happen next. Although there are some little hints here and there that the author wove throughout the series. It's delightfully expectedly unexpected.
My mind is pretty much blown. I can't find the right words to describe how this manga made me feel. But, what I will say is that it was one of the most impressive, complex and crazy stories I have ever read. It hooked me completely - I stayed up till 4 am to read this sucker. And I don't regret it at all because I know I'll remember it for a while. It's just one of those stories that leave an impression on you. It could be good or bad, but for those who like darker and deeper themed stories, packed with conflicted feelings and trippy psychological issues (that become reflected visually and directly) then you'll probably enjoy it like I did. It was definitely unique in terms of plot and characters that go with it. What I admired and enjoyed most about the story when I look back is the progression and development of the main character. In the beginning he/she is conflicted with her identity but by the end she knows who she wants to be and the story becomes easier to read (it feels a little happier), though you may take the ending as bittersweet. And it's an added plus for me that it focused on overcoming mental weaknesses and searching for who you're most comfortable being.
However, like previously mentioned, be forewarned. It's loaded with crazy psychological and personal problems that are vaguely foreshadowed (so it catches you off guard). Look out for WTF realizations. But despite that, I think that was what gave this amazing story character and its bizarre qualities.
Give it a shot if you're fine with all that in mind. But dont let it intimidate you if you're looking for something different.