Buchō wa onee

Buchou wa onee

Title: Mr. F. Vincent Is……
Japanese Title: 部長はオネエ (Buchō wa onee)
Artist: Nagabe (ながべ)
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Akane Shinsha (茜新社)
Pages: 231

Falnail Vincent is a section chief at a large corporation in Japan. He is cool, collected, and very good at his job. His colleagues respect him, and his subordinates admire him, but he’s desperately trying to keep a secret from his co-workers: When he leaves work, Falnail becomes Fal-chan, a hostess at an onee bar. At typical onee bars, patrons are served by glamorous “older sister” types, but Fal-chan’s bar, Jewelry, happens to be staffed by huge beefcakes in heels, hairbows, and strapless minidresses.

Cracks in Falnail’s masculine persona appear when he forgets that he’s not supposed to gush about girly topics like patisseries and makeup bags with his female co-workers. Still, he’s able to keep his two lives separate until a new patron at Jewelry, an American named George Weaver, shows up at his office the next day as a foreign business associate. Being a typical American (the kind that speaks perfect Japanese), George is upfront about his interest in Fal-chan and won’t take “no” for an answer, inviting Falnail out on dates to an amusement park and a fancy restaurant. Meanwhile, George’s advances have sparked the competitive spirit of Danto Impasu, Falnail’s junior at work who’s been harboring a crush on his boss. Because this is a manga, Danto also ends up visiting Jewelry, and hijinks ensue.

None of this deviates far from the routine BL nonsense we all know and love, but what’s a bit out of the ordinary is that everyone in this manga is an animal. George is a bird, Danto is a wolf, and Falnail is some sort of dragon. The mama-san of Jewelry is a tiger, and Fal-chan’s fellow hostesses are a shark and a ram. During his day job, Falnail works with rabbits, roosters, foxes, tanuki, and all manner of other creatures.

The tagline for Buchō wa onee, which just finished serialization in the bi-monthly BL magazine Opera, is “Jūjin + Suits + ML.” Jūjin (獣人) is a subset of a genre of manga called kemono-kei (ケモノ系), which might be glossed as “anthro.” As opposed to jingai (人外), in which mostly human characters have isolated animal body parts like ears or tails, jūjin, or “beast people,” are animals that speak, dress, and walk upright like humans. “ML” is an abbreviation of “mens love,” a subgenre of BL in which the characters are middle-aged and built like brick houses.

As in English-language anthro communities, there seems to be a strong interest male/male romance written and drawn by men and for men in Japanese kemono-kei, with bears being portrayed as literal bears (or wolves, or lions, or Satanic demons, or what have you). Buchō wa onee is extremely silly and lighthearted, but its overt bara stylizations hint at what I see as a movement away from the classic portrayal of androgynous bishōnen masculinity within the world of original dōjinshi comics for women.

I don’t want to read too much into the series of cute tableaus collected in Buchō wa onee, but the normalized strangeness of animals going about their daily lives in an environment otherwise exactly like our own lends an interesting perspective on Falnail’s dilemma, which is that he feels the need to keep his two personas entirely separate. He worries that his colleagues, who depend on him to be authoritative, won’t respect him if they find out about Fal-chan, but the fact that everyone is a different type of animal betrays the reality of the true diversity of the world, where it is not necessarily the case that one’s “species” affects one’s personality in any way. Over the course of the manga, it’s suggested that, even if Falnail isn’t completely comfortable with moving to America and living with George as an openly gay man, he can begin to bridge the gap between his two identities by slowly revealing himself to a sympathetic co-worker.

Mostly, however, Buchō wa onee is about ferocious anthro muscleheads being adorable. Sometimes it’s good to just leave all the real life gay drama behind in real life, you know?

If you’re interested in checking out more of the artist’s work, Nagabe is on Pixiv and Tumblr.

Since today is August 1, I also want to give a shout-out to the round-up of 2015 yaoi-themed web comics posted by Khursten Santos over at her blog Otaku Champloo. To all my fellow fujoshi and fudanshi, stay fabulous and never lose your sparkle-tinted glasses. Happy 801 Day!

Buchou wa onee Page 228

6 thoughts on “Buchō wa onee

  1. I’m actually not sure of the correct romanization for “Falnail” (Faruneiru). The name is written in cursive on one of the color inserts at the beginning of the book, but the artist kind of sucks at writing in cursive. To be honest, though, s/he is much better at it than I am, and I also suck at reading cursive. The name could be “Fialrail” – or something else? Also, according to the cursive on Fal-chan’s onee calling card, the bar she works at might be named “Jewerly.” Since its logo is a diamond, I’m guessing it’s “Jewelry,” but…?

    In conclusion, English is hard and cursive is stupid.

  2. OH! Thank you so much for reviewing this, it sounds and looks utterly fabulous and I am going to check it out for sure :3 On a more ‘overall’ note, thanks for your hard work on this blog, I’m not a great commenter but adore each post here. Have a great 801 ;3

    1. Thank you so much! *hugs*

      If you’re interested in this manga, there’s another cool one along the same lines that I just finished reading. It’s called NiiNi no mori (ニィーニの森), it’s by an artist named SHOOWA, and it’s billed as a “Jingai BL Fantasy.” It’s a bit more angsty than Buchō wa onee, but it’s still very fluffy and quite beautifully drawn.

  3. the normalized strangeness of animals going about their daily lives in an environment otherwise exactly like our own lends an interesting perspective on Falnail’s dilemma

    I can’t help but think back to the Apocalypse Meow/Cat Shit One manga, and whether depicting the humans of the Vietnam War as animals *there* was also meant as a commentary on the “normalized strangeness” of war.

  4. Where can I read this manga? I have been trying to look for it online but I can’t seem it find it so I can read it online 😦

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