Otomen 1
by Kanno, Aya; Kanno, Aya (ILT)

Forced to hide his beloved hobbies-sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals, and reading shojo comics-and play the part of a masculine jock instead, Asuka Masamune finds himself drawn to Ryo Miyakozuka, a girl who can't sew or bake a cake to save her life.

Aya Kanno was born in Tokyo, Japan. She is the creator of Soul Rescue, which has been published in the United States, and her latest work, Otomen, is currently being serialized in Japan's BetsuHana magazine. Blank Slate was originally published as Akusaga in Japan in Hana to Yume magazine.

Is it nature, or is it nurture? Asuka, a young Japanese man, loves things his culture considers feminine and unfitting for men, like sewing, cooking, and even reading girly comics. His mother shames him for his interests, and he tries to bury himself in more "masculine" pursuits, like kendo, in an attempt to squash his real feelings. When Asuka meets an athletic girl he likes, he starts to realize the importance of following one s own passions instead of doing what his culture (and mother) might insist is best for him. Although the art is as sugary and cute as Asuka himself, with lots of sparkling and glitter in the periphery, hidden among all the prettiness are important themes of individuality and being true to yourself, making this an empowering read for teenage girls. Its title even offers a pun to the sharp eye: otome is Japanese for "girl," and it combines with the English word men. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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