Almost a little girl

“I am fond of children—except boys.” This famous quote from Lewis Carroll, a noted appreciator of the (preferably naked) youthful female figure, should have put to rest uninformed allegations to the effect that all interest in child-like body features were bisexual in nature. Unfortunately, Carroll is probably not a favorite read among men who measure woman beauty in bust line centimeters, and people continue to believe that we can't tell apart little boys from little girls. Well, yes we can, and we have our preferences (and I don't mean that as yes we can fix the economy; it's more like yes we can bail out Goldman).

Except, admittedly, in those rare cases when we can't (black swans?). I'm refering of course to something akin to the trap concept in manga and anime.

I'd like to be slightly careful with words here, because it is not clear that there is such a thing as a well-defined trap concept at all. The English word (probably coined on some anonymous image board) lumps together at least two different Japanese terms: the josou shounen “boy in girl's clothes” on the one hand, and the otoko no ko on the other hand.

The first one refers to any kind of cross-dressing, especially if forced (Hayate as a plaything of Nagi and Maria), obvious (something like this), or more generally, in which the (possibly involuntary) cross-dresser retains most of his masculine qualities. This kind of character is mostly popular with female fans, and isn't what I'm interested in here.

The otoko no ko is more intriguing. For one thing, it's a clever pun that gets a bit lost in romanization: usually, otoko no ko is the transcription of the word 男の子, which simply means “boy” (literally “man-child”). In this case, however, it's 男の娘, which is pronounced the same but literally means “man-girl.” Since there is no reason to write otoko no ko when you just mean “boy,” please bear with me and let the phrase refer to this piece of otaku lingo.

As the gloss suggests, an otoko no ko doesn't just have a girlish outlook, but also a girly behavior and psychology. He is, however, well aware of his male condition (and his male genitalia), which usually makes for an interesting gender identity play. The typical storyline (for example, the original Boku no Pico—linking to a poorly written review, but there doesn't seem to be many to choose from) has this boy meet a heterosexual man who doesn't realize that he isn't a girl. They're attracted to each other, but as a boy, the otoko no ko has to try very hard not to lose out to real girls: he must exude cuteness, frailty, moe-ness and every possible non-male trait imaginable as an excuse for his lack of a vagina.

(By the way, such a well-known loli mangaka as Sasakura Ayato, of Shana manga fame, and who usually draws very strong-willed girls, turns to boys when she wants to depict cute children. Her recently published Shounen dolce is an all-shota book, which I'm not sure I want to read).

Otoko no asobiba
Otoko no asobiba

While I quite liked the whole Pico OVA series, it's not completely clear who the intended audience was. The idea that it was mostly made for shotacon fujoshi is probably quite naive. I haven't read a lot of BL, but even the younger boys in those titles don't look much like girls-with-an-inconvenient-appendage-below. I'm guessing the main audience was us, with the shota aspect thrown in to extend the appeal to some female viewers (or for the shock factor?).

It's much more clear who the audience of the book that prompted me to write this article was. Ueda Yuu is my second favorite author in LO these days, and probably the one who draws the cutest little girls in the magazine. I'll probably have more to say about his works in later posts. He was selling two doujinshi at C77: a Kimi nomi zo shiru sekai book which I was too late to grab, and Otoko no asobiba, a very cute otoko no ko original of which I could get one of the last few copies.

I'm not sure I would have bought it had I noticed that it was shota, but I don't regret the purchase. In addition to the Ueda Yuu style I am fond of, the endearing characters and the inordinate amount of cuteness, there's a very peculiar charm to this kind of books which possibly boils down to the realization that, “hey, I'm fapping to gay porn.” The half-serious sexual identity doubts are adding to the experience, somehow.

9 comments for ‘Almost a little girl’.

I still don't get why the one Pico movie has that scene of the older sister and the banana.

Because it was a self insert.

I'm not much for josou shounen or or otoko no ko if an older dude is doin' the plowin', but if that josou shounen or otoko no ko is plowin' a girl, then things get kind of interesting.

The half-serious sexual identity doubts are adding to the experience, somehow.
Oh, so that's the reason why I don't like traps very much - I don't get to enjoy this kind of doubts.
(However, now that I think about it, that must have been the kind of feeling I experienced the first times I used loli manga.)

Intriguing. I have never really felt the appeal of traps first-hand, but this is probably the best (and one of the only) posts on the matter that I've read. In a way, it really just makes me want to watch Boku no Pico.

"I'm guessing the main audience was us"

I believe that actually is the case in the Boku no Pico series. I have some of the same thoughts that you do here regarding traps, but I'm too afraid to actually be willing to release them out into the open, which makes me respect you even more.

Though I do think that one of Shin's complaints though regarding the "男の娘" character type is that because of the focus on being as feminine as possible, there's almost little to no actual "proof" that the character is actually a male in the first place in a lot of series; that is, we never see the "goods", so to speak. But that also probably kills a little bit of the buzz in the first place if we do get that proof.

What does it also mean in examples where as wah says, it's guy on guy? Even though the 男の娘 is feminine, he still has his male genitalia, which makes things like doujinshi showing r-18+ consummation of their love more niche, I think. We worry less about gender, and more about the biological sex when it comes down to that stuff.

@jp: Uh-uh. I hadn't seen Pico to Chico until now actually. That was strange. I wonder who that scene was meant for.

@Owen S.: What an awful pun www

@wah: I'm not sure you can really call it otoko no ko when the boy actually makes use of his extraneous appendage. It's a bit too male-conscious in and of itself. But yeah, I can see the appeal of nearly lesbian penetrative sex without toys. Although I've never really liked futanari, which I guess fits in that picture as well.

@Enthousiaste: Did you get that feeling because it was loli as opposed to grown up girls, or loli as opposed to shota?

@Eternal: Do try out Boku no Pico. For all its clichés and cheesiness, it manages to be one of a kind.

@TheBigN: The basic premise of this site is the love for little girls. So I don't have a lot left to hide. If I said I was into necrophilic bestiality, it wouldn't sound terribly shocking in comparison (by society's current standards anyway).

As for “seeing the goods” in non-ero works, you can probably get the odd public bath/onsen episode to reveal them (see what anime has come to!); but even if it's not the case, I don't really see this as a problem. Ambiguity is just as powerful as certainty in a situation like that—maybe even more so.

@Enthousiaste: Did you get that feeling because it was loli as opposed to grown up girls, or loli as opposed to shota?

As opposed to grown up. I got interested in shota only after getting interested in loli.

I haven't actually heard much of this bisexual thing except from homophobic transphobe people who talk WAY too much about curvy women with hips two times the size of their stomach and saying flat, uncurvy women look like "14 year old boys".

And they don't really call it bi, just gay, like everything else they hate.

And the actually conservative style homophobes, not tough-guy 'queer is eww I like dem tittays' types, tend to just compare homosexuals to pedophiles in general, in psuedo-intellectual Judeo-Christian propaganda fashions.

I've no experience with them going with the whole androgyny = pedophilia = bisexuality thing. Though I must admit it would be interesting to see something so ridiculous, especially as transphobic and cruelly shallow towards appearance instead of personality as it would be.

Children do naturally have a higher degree of androgyny, as they lack secondary sex characteristics. And so I've always anticipated some people going the extremely low road and androgyne-phobic to the hilarious high fascist degree like they did/have done/are planning to do in Australia. For all the world to see and laugh at.

On a dark humor level, seeing flat chested women, short men, and the other like, and their fans, further backed into a corner would be tragically hilarious.

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