IS ~Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei~
Review by Jen Wang
Although IS ~Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei~ gets off on the wrong foot with an incorrect statistic in its opening graphic, this 2011 adaptation of a manga series helps raise awareness of the lives of intersex individuals. “Intersex” refers to variation in sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of “male” or “female”. The differences may be external, internal, or both. IS follows two teenagers who go through the ups and downs of adolescence while struggling with their gender identity.
Despite growing up as a male, Haru Hoshino (Saki Fukuda) has begun to appear more female, his registered sex. As a result, he has to transfer to a new high school under a new identity. Although his parents are supportive, Haru reveals that they too have struggled with acceptance in the past. On the other hand, Miwako Aihara (Ayame Gouriki) has a neglectful father and an abusive mother who forces her to be more feminine. Miwa find solace in Haru’s friendship, but she still has many inner demons. Meanwhile, Haru has to contend with an outside world that insists on enforcing a strict gender binary.