“Ore Monogatari!!” (My Love Story!!) Manga Depicting Uniquely Japanese Gender Identities
Cross-cultural interest and curiosity starts with culture and traditional arts in the beginning and then proceeds to the understanding of ethnic values of the country. In the case of Japan, they are values such as “bushido” and “yamato nadeshiko”.
“Yamato nadeshiko”, a concept that characterizes reserved Japanese feminine values, is often heard abroad, too. (Yamato is one of the many names for Japan and nadeshiko is the name of a flower known as a ‘fringed pink’ in English). There is also a word “nippon danji” that represents Japanese masculine values other than “Bushido” (the way of the samurai).
This time we would like to introduce “Ore monogatari!!”, whose hero is an epitome of the “nippon danji”.
Takeo Gouda is the main character; he is muscular and kind-hearted far more than the average, though his appearance is less than attractive. One day in the train he rescues a girl, Rinko Yamato, who is being molested.
Takeo falls in love with lovely Rinko, but he gives up the idea of confessing his feeling to her, because his appearance is not attractive. Furthermore, he is convinced that Rinko is interested in Makoto Sunakawa, his friend.
But Makoto Sunakawa realizes Rinko actually likes Takeo, and with the help of Makoto, Takeo and Rinko start dating.
Though Takeo and Rinko are clumsy at effort, they keep dating and gradually confirm their feelings for each other, through sharing various experiences from season to season.
The manga depicts the two of them dating and Takeo, who overcomes accidents and mishaps occurring around them.
1. Takeo Gouda
His estimated height is 2m and weight is 120 kg (the average height of Japanese males is about 1.7m).
He has a severe crewcut, thick eyebrows over strict, sharp eyes; a tough-looking square face on a strong sturdy body.
He tends to be shunned away by females, perhaps because of his appearance, but he is well respected by male classmates.
He is far from an ordinary freshman high school student. He is a master of judo, and his physical abilities are far beyond those of ordinary men. He cannot ignore a person in need, and dives into action without thinking about consequences.
He is generous and he doesn’t fret about details, and he has a strong sense of justice.
At the beginning he was so naïve and clumsy that he was determined not to even kiss Rinko until they get married.
2. Rinko Yamato
She is a cute, mild-mannered girl.
She appears to be feeble because of this image, but she is actually strong-willed. If Takeo is a personification of “nippon danji”, Rinko embodies “yamato nadeshiko”.
She is always considerate to others around her, but she looks out for Takeo first.
3. Makoto Sunakawa
He is Takeo’s childhood friend and a high school freshman attending the same school with him.
His personality is the complete opposite of Takeo’s. He is calm and collected, handsome, with a good-looking slender physique.
Takeo being reckless, Makoto always watches after him and offers various help.
He has an older sister, and she liked Takeo. When she found out Takeo started dating Rinko, she cries her heart out.
The work “Ore monogatari!!” is created by two people, with the story written by Kazune Kawahara, and the manga drawn by Aruko. To put the impression of this work concisely, this manga is like depicting Sylvester Stallone being a high school freshman leading an ordinary life.
In the recent past, Japanese men used to believe that it was cool for a man to have a strong sense of justice and help the weak like Takeo and he should be both strong and kind, but awkward with females. That’s the prototypical image of men called “nippon danji”, and together with “yamato nadeshiko”, both values have become rarely observed in today’s Japan, not only in manga but also in the real world.
This work has become popular by reviving such lost values and depicting them with visually vivid characters. But the work itself is staged on youthful scenes any boys and girls would surely experience. It vividly depicts how couples think about each other and how they go through setbacks caused by misunderstandings.
In addition, a 24-episode TV anime started broadcasting in April 2015, and furthermore it became a live action movie in October 2015.
In an ordinary love story, it usually ends when lovers confirm their mutual feelings, however in “Ore monogatari”, the story depicts their difficulties and happiness after the two of them start dating. You can probably enjoy reading this story, by comparing it with your youth and finding many places you can empathize with.