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Manga comic books strike blow for LGBT rights in buttoned-up Japan

Wandering Son, a well-loved manga, or Japanese comic, tells the story of close friends Shuichi, "a boy who wants to be a girl", and Yoshino, "a girl who wants to be a boy". The teens struggle with the usual ups and downs of adolescence, but also with Japan's unflinching gender norms. The pair, for instance, are frustrated by their school's dress code.

When Yoshino steals a stiff-collared, dark-gray boy's uniform from her older brother and wears it to class, her schoolmates praise how "cool" she looks. But when Shuichi wears Yoshino's compulsory, girlish sailor suit, his teachers send him to the nurse's office and then home to change. (The manga uses female pronouns for Yoshino and male for Shuichi, a choice reflected here.)

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