Car mechanic and ex-yankee Honda falls in love with Someya, a beautiful okama. Someya promises to go on a date with him in exchange for free car maintenance. Someya planned to tease him since the mechanic was unaware of his true gender, but when Someya reveals the truth, Honda's attitude doesn't change one bit! And now Honda's acceptance has stirred up feelings of affection in Someya!
Being a spinoff of the already very spastic Okane ga nai one would be justified in expecting Henshin Dekinai to be less than stellar. Yet surprisingly it is quite good and in some respects even extraordinary. This time around the main couple in Okane is demoted to the sidelines and the Someya, the supporting role okama, takes the lead. And this makes all the difference in terms of tone: while there is are still plenty of silly antics Henshin is overall much more serious than its parent manga. Someya is a crossdresser who runs a bar catering to costumers who enjoy the company of men dressed up as women. The territory is rife for comedy but in this particular manga we follow Someya as he drops the drag outfit for a while to meet with his estranged father. Through this interaction we get to see some of the harsh reality of how it is to be sexually different in a society as normative as Japan. Someya actually looks masculine in civillian clothes so the contrast between himself as 'male' and as his female counterpart is driven home just through the artwork. Being the son of a company president Someya is under all sorts of pressures to become 'normal' and give up on his real identity. The one flashback that explains how Someya got into drag is a character defining moment that actually works despite all the ongoing mayhem. It is interesting how the entire Okane ga nai franchise is such a blatant parody of BL cliches yet still manages to confront the all too real discrimination that homosexuals must face in Japan while more serious works in the same genre shy away from as much of touching on it. By stripping down some of the comedy aspects Henshin manages to tackle actual character growth as Someya makes a stand for individual rights. Which is not to say there is not humor in this spinoff. Someya captivates the mechanic Honda (who also has a minor role in Okane) while all dressed up for work and failing to realize his gender status Honda falls head over heels. Much craziness follows. Upon finding out just that Someya is indeed male Honda remains in love. It is from the interaction between these two that most of the comedy comes from and it is very effective. Honda is the typical simple guy whose one love for cars is already amusing since he takes it such an extent but his dense nature serves the perfect foil for the complicated Someya. Apart from gender orientation we also have a social status issue, Someya is very high on the pole and part of his anxieties stem exactly from this while Honda is a so called yankee and borderline criminal. There is enough contrast to make it fun to wacth. There is less of the absurdly exaggerated art style that is the hallmark of the franchise, the seme/uke dynamics may persist to some extent but one does not look ten times larger than the other. Overall, Henshin Dekinai is not exactly a realistic portrayal of gay issues in Japan but it gets closer to it than most BL manga and by managing to balance the serious elements with rampant silliness it creates a highly entertaining read.
To be honest, I went in with low expectations since this is a spin off of Okane Ga Nai, and I didn't perticullarly like that series for multiple reasons (mainly the predictible characters and sexual abuse). However, Henshin Dekinai is actually really good! The humor was actually funny, the characters, or at least Someya, have interesting and belivable backstories, and the main characters are actually interesting and fun to watch. To me at least, Someya was one of the better characters from Okane ga Nai, which is why I gave Henshin Dekinai a try in the first place. This manga just made me like him/her more, and I really like Honda as a character too. Overall, it's a fun story with serious moments and interesting characters that are fun to watch. The art style is the same as in Okane ga Nai, which means it's pretty good.
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