I’ve recently been learning about the idea of primary sources and secondary sources, and how they have different purposes. Most manga would be a secondary sources on any given topic, but today I’m going to be talking about Hanayome wa Motodanshi, or “The Bride Was A Guy.” This can be viewed as a primary source seeing as it’s an autobiographical manga, which we don’t see often. This one volume manga is based on a web comic, which was released earlier this year.
The manga follows Chii, the author and her husband through different stages of their relationship. The manga is quite short, being only nine chapters, but through these nine chapters, as well as some pages dedicated to providing information about transgender people and the LGBT community in Japan as a whole, the short volume gives a lot of information to chew on.
As you may have been able to pick up from the title, the protagonist and author of the manga, Chii, is a trans woman. The manga tells the story of her before transition, during transitioning, and after. It also puts a lot of focus on showing her relationship with her husband. The manga makes it very easy to see how much they love each other, and their relationship is quite sweet. This sweetness is part of what I feel makes this manga so good. Even when they talk about more complicated and saddening things, the cute art style and writing lets you know that there is still some good left. The manga is very good at conveying the more complicated information that is sometimes discusses, whether it be by using the soft illustrations or dedicating a page to explaining something it’s never hard to digest.
The cute style of the manga makes learning new things fun, which is one of the strengths of visual media as a means of education. Another example would be the anime Moyashimon, which I watched recently. It uses chibi microbes (as well as some cute human characters) to teach people about agriculture, microbes, and fermentation. I might not remember everything from the show, but they made it interesting to learn in the moment. This is important for Hanayome wa Motodanshi, as it has some very important things to say.
I already knew most of the basic information about LGBT related issues going into reading this work, but the stuff that was specific to Japan was new information to me, so I think that anybody going into this work will learn something new. For example, in the United States, most of the current controversy regarding trans rights regards bathroom laws. In Japan, the largest issue is around marriage. Since gay marriage is still illegal in most of Japan, trans people who are already married either have to give up on legally changing their sex, or get divorced. This is only one of the issues faced. This is why this manga is important, it’s cute, and that’s great, but it’s also informative, and they blend those quite well. The cute characters and art make it fun to learn, and that’s something that’s very important when it comes to telling a tale you want people to learn from, if it’s not fun, people aren’t going to do it. If this manga taught you, or somebody something, than I think it’s doing it’s job.
It also provided at bit of contrast as opposed to the two other manga that deal with transgender issues that I’ve read. Wandering son takes a bit more of a somber approach to this topic, as well as doing a more general coming of age story, seeing as it covers elementary school through high school, as opposed to Hanayome wa Motodanshi‘s adulthood focused tale. The other manga about this I’ve read, Bokura no Hentai, goes deep into depressing, as well as dealing with child and sexual abuse. I hope to cover both of these titles in the future as well, as they provide and interesting contrast. I think they are important as well, although I wouldn’t recommend Bokura no Hentai as a tool for education, as it gets pretty squicky and NSFW at times.
Hanayome wa Motodanshi shows that you can do feel good and serious at the same time, and because of this it works as a place to learn more about a current topic. This is really important, as when you can convey knowledge in as simple but informative a way as Hanayome wa Motodanshi, a lot of people will get something out of it. If you couldn’t tell already, I highly recommend this manga, and I hope that you’ll find as much to love as I did.
This has been Hippo’s Manga Corner, and I’ll see you next week.