Title: The Bride Was A Boy
Publisher: Seven Seas
Drawn in the style of diary comics with an upbeat, adorable flair, this is a charming tale about Chii, a woman assigned male at birth. Her story starts with her childhood and follows the ups and downs of exploring her sexuality, gender, and transition – as well as falling in love with a man who’s head over heels for her. Now they want to get married, so Chii’s about to embark on a new adventure: becoming a bride!
Manga and anime have not had the best relationship with transgender representation. In fact, for every Tokyo Godfathers, there is undoubtedly a whole mass of trans characters existing purely to be the butt of a rather dated joke. However, when I saw this one in my post seeking LGBTQ manga recommendations, I was filled with hope. You see, this one is an own voices piece written and illustrated by a transgender woman.
Now, to clarify here, I’m not saying that own voices books are the only ones capable of decent representation. Well researched titles can be great. Plus, not every person’s experiences are identical, meaning that an own voices tale may well not feel accurate to someone else in the same community as the creator. In this instance though, with the medium having had such a poor history of representation, I was looking forward to seeing how Chii’s story was presented.
In short, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the book exceeded my expectations. First up, the story itself is super sweet. While a lot of people in the transgender community struggle with a whole host of issues, Chii mostly seems to have had a lot of support around here. That really warmed my heart. Even when she was worried about how her future husband would react to her being born male, things played out well for her.
Portraying the struggles a community faces is important. Equally though, showing that things can be okay is also important. I know growing up myself that what I really wanted was to see stories where things turned out okay. I understood the difficulties I faced, I wanted to see the white light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure that there will be members of the trans community that want that too, and this release provides that in spades. Yes, Chii faced a whole bunch of hurdles, but she came through it all and is happy. That’s truly wonderful to see.
On top of that, she takes great care to split the arcs of her story with informational pieces. These are bite-sized facts about the LGBTQ community and some of the common misconceptions thrown our way. I thought that was a nice touch, as it increases the educational value of the book without altering the overall tone.
On the art front, while the book isn’t as detailed as some of the sprawling, picturesque scenes of other manga, there’s a real charm here. The chibi style is highly emotive, and it fits nicely alongside Chii’s life story. It’s an important part of the general feel of the book, I think. The visual art and sweet nature of the story make it all feel very suitable for most ages too. If anything, I could see it being a good learning tool during diversity-based school lessons.
Honestly, I can’t find a fault with this one. It did everything I wanted and more, and I am so happy to see Chii’s story played out with such honesty and warmth. This one is an easy 5 out of 5 for me, and an easy recommendation for anyone’s bookshelf.