@Full Moon: Looking at Gender-Bender Manga in the Past and Present

As a self-professed fan of transformations (but having just as big a dislike of ecchi and hentai), it’s hard to find a good gender-bender manga that isn’t about getting off…so to speak.

Meta context: Hmm…this post just makes me realise how out of my depth I really am when talking about the LGBTIQ+ community, even though I support them whenever I can. (Well, I was even more out of my depth before I tried DakaIchi and Your Dry Delight…and this dates back to May 2018, so the post reflects that. I also had to give this post a much bigger proofread as a result, as well.)

I found this post languishing in my “ready to post for when you’re not feeling like writing” folder and it seems appropriate for Pride Month, so…here you go.

@Full Moon is an odd title which was originally translated in the Tokyopop days under some very small licensing group called Broccoli Books, then license rescued by Kodansha USA along with its predecessor Until the Full Moon. It seems to hold every single good and bad thing about the days of Tokyopop within its pages, including absolutely no explanation of what is going on…and it seems to be categorised as “shonen ai” everywhere I look, which is why I need innuendo to prevent myself from making this post 18+ on a blog where the standard is SFW (to talk about what this series is not, ironically). Unfortunately(?), I can only find the first two volumes of @Full Moon at a library, so…goodbye, Until the Full Moon

@Full Moon has occasional jokes about how Marlo and David are married – this is a fact that isn’t hidden by the back cover. Even though Marlo has the Ranma Half situation of becoming a woman under the full moon (hence the name of the original series), the fact that they are jokes in this series, in a genre which is meant to be mostly quite positive about loving who you love regardless of gender or sex, is a precarious double-edged sword. Comments like “So you’re gay?” from a side character suggest that while the series is willing to be “light and fluffy” for fujoshi/fudanshis’ delight, it takes out some element of what makes this sort of thing powerful in the first place and sours it. Pretty much every gender-bender series I can think of tends to be a light-hearted slapstick rom-com with a love polygon, so I’m kind of disappointed that this is pretty much that. (If I’ve never brought it up before, I had much the same problem with Hana-Kimi‘s Nakatsu…)

Well, the Ranma Half situation kind of legalises Marlo and David’s relationship regardless of their gender, which probably allowed @Full Moon to be published in times where people were more conservative about same-sex couples. Then again, Tokyopop was rather forward for its time by literally grabbing everything, up to and including publishing Gravitation

Uh, getting back to the point. Now that same sex marriage is being legalised in more places than it used to be, looking at this manga is a strange experience, to say the least. The fact kidnapping (for reasons that aren’t fully explained) and dates for both Marlo and David prove to be “relationship testers” is definitely “within the box” for this sort of series, but the fact there aren’t any summary pages to explain what the heck is going on for a confused reader is probably worse.


So, what do you think is the state of gender-bender manga as a commentary on the LGBTIQ+ community, both in the early 2000s and now?

 

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