Kodansha Comics recently added Keito Gaku’s debut series “Boys Run the Riot” where highschooler Ryo Watari and classmates made their own paths to become who they really are.

Ryo Watari did his best to survive the start of his second year of high school but it  was tough to hide his feelings about everything while ignoring the nagging teachers and peers’ glares. Assigned female at birth, he knew he didn’t feel right being called a girl. The gender dysphoria hit especially hard just being forced to wear his assigned uniform. He felt like himself in male street fashion clothing while tagging local walls with graffiti. Thinking this term will just be like the previous ones, life brought a shocking change to the students when  Jin Sato transferred to his class. Having a shaved undercut, piercings and Nike high tops didn’t help much with his peers’ perception about him being held back a year. His menacing looks attracted unwanted attention as he sat next to Ryo. However, fate brought these two guys together to find a way to follow their passions through fashion and break down the walls of judgment and fear.

“Boys Run the Riot” is a powerful story that many can relate to whether or not the reader is a part of the queer community. One can feel the intense frustration Ryo has with his situation, being unable to be who he really is at a pivotal part of his life. Gaku, a trans man himself, said in the postscript interview that he took inspirations from his past and surroundings. It is rare to have a manga with a transgender lead created by a trans artist. Most manga fans are used to seeing female protagonists caught into weird and comedic circumstances and having to disguise themselves as guys, like “Ouran High School Host Club” and “Hana Kimi” or vice versa.  However “Boys Run the Riot” has a foundation in reality and has scenes that reflect some of the experiences trans people have. His art conveys the emotional moments of the manga well and the details reflect the amount of research and collaboration with others. Gaku mentions the people he worked with to make Volume One, including street artists and members of the fashion industry. All this results into this wonderful book of a very meaningful human drama.

Volume Two of “Boys Run the Riot” will arrive in stores in July 2021. For more information, check out Kodansha’s webpage.

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