Boys Run the Riot, Vol 1
Author: Keito Gaku
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
American release date: May 25, 2021
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/240 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Ryo feels as if he is living a lie, just because he appears to be a girl when he knows, inside, that he is a boy. But it’s not as easy as telling everyone the truth, because that just isn’t going to happen, and he knows no one will accept him if he does. So he does what he can. Each morning when he leaves the house, he stops in the train station bathroom to change into more comfortable boys’ clothing and put on a binder. Chika is his good friend, but he hasn’t even told her how he feels.
A new student arrives in Ryo’s class. His name is Jin and he should be a third year but was gone for a while and is repeating second year. The teacher directs him to the seat behind Ryo, who wonders how this guy can want to draw attention to himself the way he does. Ryo is seen by most people as weird, but how can he help that when he isn’t even allowed to be the person he is inside? And when he is with Chika, he can’t help but wish he was born a boy.
After school, Ryo goes to a new pop-up clothing store for a brand he really likes, but just as he reaches for a T-shirt, another hand reaches for it at the same time. Turns out the hand belongs to Jin! Jin thinks it’s great that they have the same taste, and he wants Ryo to make a brand with him, sell T-shirts online. But Ryo runs away.
Later, Ryo and Jin begin to talk, and Ryo starts to think maybe they should do the brand thing. But he is more afraid of what people think than Jin is. Jin thinks Ryo is more creative, so he can design the shirts, while Jin will take care of the business aspect. They make their first shirt and go to the Photography Club to see if they can borrow a camera to take pictures for promotion. That is where they meet Itsuka, the sole member of the club. He loves taking photos and uses a vintage camera his father gave him before giving up on his own photography career. But Itsuka is himself suffering from peer pressure and isn’t sure what to make of Ryo and Jin at first.
Just started reading this today and I already love this series! You don’t see a lot of transgender main characters in manga, especially not trans boys. You have to feel for Ryo, having to hide who he is because of society’s assumptions about him. I like both him and Jin and think they have the makings of good friends. Ryo’s revelation regarding how he feels didn’t bother Jin one bit. He tends to embrace the truth and isn’t afraid to show it. I look forward to reading more about them in the future.