“Before I became a manga artist, I used to work in an apparel store. Before I became a manga artist, I was an apparel store clerk, and while I dealt with all kinds of customers, there was one incident that I can’t forget and that still haunts me…”
Rei Taki, a manga artist, said this and looked straight at me.
Ms. Taki is the author of the popular manga “Last Gender,” in which various “sexual minorities” appear.
Last Gender: We Who Are Nothing” is currently being serialized in the youth comic magazine “Evening. The setting of this work is a happening bar. The people who gather here all have a background that is “unusual” somehow. They come to the bar in search of encounters. …… This ambitious work, in which a drama unfolds in which “people” who transcend gender sometimes intersect, is attracting attention beyond the world of manga.
It’s been about a year since the series started. It has been almost a year since it was first serialized, and the second volume will soon be released, and the readers are not limited to men, but also include a wide range of ages.
“I wanted to portray a ‘minority’. I wanted to depict ‘minorities,’ because I wanted to resolve or give shape to the ‘bewildering feelings’ that I had.
I used to work as a clerk in a store where there were many young female customers. One day, a male customer in his fifties came in wearing a suit. He was looking at a floral skirt. When I asked him if it was a gift, he asked in a small voice, as if hesitating, “May I try it on? She seemed very apologetic.
To be honest, I thought, “What? You’re going to wear it? I was surprised. But of course she was a customer, so I took her to the fitting room. But my reaction, “What? I think she could sense my reaction. In the end, the customer left without buying anything and that was the end of it. After he left, I felt very sorry for what I had done. I think she must have had the courage to come to the store.
This is what unconscious discrimination is all about, I think. I was shocked to find out that I had such prejudice in my mind. I think it’s okay for men to want to wear women’s clothes. As a store assistant, I should have handled the situation in a flat manner, I reflected.
This experience has stuck with me for a long time, and the character Marie in the story is based on that person. The character Marie in the story is based on that person, and I had to deal with my feelings about the past as I worked on the story.
One of the characters, “Marie,” is physically male, but her heart is “bisexual,” 70% male and 30% female, and she enjoys wearing makeup and Lolita fashion. She looks like a “good manager” on the outside and is actually in such a position. He can’t tell his wife the truth, but he can only show his “self” in a happening bar.
Ms. Taki’s visuals of the “capable manager ≒ Marie” are also impressive, with her vertically curled hair and pretty dress full of frills, and her face with make-up firmly overlapping the face of the “manager. Her drawing ability and expressive power are astonishing.
In addition to Marie, there are other characters with diverse genders and sexualities, such as Ran, who is transgender and bisexual, and Shinsei, who is pansexual and does not care what gender she is when she falls in love with someone.
“The characters are inspired by real people. The characters are inspired by real people, and some of them may reflect the real experiences of people I’ve met.
The characters are inspired by real people. I’ve always felt that I don’t have many romantic feelings. The line between “I like you as a friend, I like you as a person, and I like you as the opposite sex” is vague. Do I like someone if I think he’s a good person? Or do I like him when I want to hold his hand? From where to where is it possible to like someone? There are so many questions in my mind.
And as I listened to various people’s stories, I began to think, “I can’t say for sure that I won’t become like that. That may have been part of the reason why I first thought I wanted to draw stories about people who belonged to the “minority,” who were excluded from the majority of the “common” or “normal” frame of reference.
This work has been receiving a lot of sympathy for its characters since it was first published as a short story. “The editor in charge of the story says that many people commented, “I found out I’m ‘pansexual’ after reading this manga,” or “I thought I might be in this category.
However, the manga repeatedly conveys the message that “the body and sexuality are only one aspect of a person” and that “one should not judge an individual’s personality based on knowledge alone.
“I want to tell people that what is depicted in this work is not everything. This is what you should do! This is how it should be! I don’t want to impose anything on people.
Mr. Taki emphasizes.
“I think that not only minorities but also majorities have the feeling of not knowing who they are or where they belong.
Even when I think about clothes, I wonder if I’m neat or cute. Do I look cute? There are so many different genres and categories, but I think we all have this feeling. There are many different genres and categories, but we tend to want to fit into one of them.
For example, even if you call yourself a “homosexual,” you’ve lived a different life, and you have a completely different personality. I don’t think it’s right for us to force ourselves to label or categorize our own titles or positions, or to feel like we have to decide.
Of course, there are times when knowing which category you fall into makes you feel more secure and confident. However, I draw with the thought that gender and sexual categories are not the end-all-be-all of a person.
I believe that the world will become freer and freer in the future, and I hope that everyone will be able to value their “self” and “your self” in this way. I want to be like that, too.
Even at the stage of writing a story, Mr. Taki says that he and the editor in charge of the story have heated discussions, such as “this person would not act or say this way,” “no, they might,” “they should,” and “that is impossible,” and that he struggles with his “judgmental self” as he works on the story.
Taki says, “I created the work and the characters, so no matter how much I try to eliminate them, my will still comes into play. However, if I decide that this is the character I want to portray, the work will lose its freedom, so I am constantly in dialogue with the characters.
Nowadays, we often see the phrase “respect for diversity.
I feel that “respecting diversity” means to look at the person in front of you, and to have a mind that understands diverse ideas. I want to keep that in mind both in real life and in my manga.
Happening bar “Bar California”. This is a place where people of different genders, sexual habits, and sexual orientations gather.
People come to this bar to become “something”.
There are as many sexualities as there are people.
A gem of an omnibus story about sex and love!
Click here to purchase the first volume (Kindle e-book).
Interview and text by： Mao Daimon