I’ve been waiting for this manga to come out since I saw the announcement from Seven Seas that they had licensed the English release, and I’m so glad that I came across it on my crowded Twitter feed. The tag-line for this series is “Boys love for the ages,” and that can’t be more accurate. BL Metamorphosis combines a simple and moving relationship between two people who could not be more different but who find a commonality with their interest in Boys Love. The story shows how people from all ages can connect over common interests even those from two generations very far apart. I absolutely fell in love with this manga by the end of the first volume and I can’t wait for the second to come out.
The story surrounds Ichinoi, a 75-year-old woman who lives alone after her husband passed away. She unwittingly buys a Boys Love manga one day and becomes fascinated with the story and the genre. When she returns to the bookstore to buy the next volume, an employee, high-school girl and BL fan Urara, offers to help her navigate the expansive number of books in the genre. And so begins a budding friendship between two unlikely people. The story and art were created by Kaori Tsurutani and published in English by Seven Seas.
Tsurutani’s art is very expressive and interesting. It’s definitely not as detailed or value heavy as some manga, but I think it fits the overall light-heartedness of the series. The value contrast is minimal, but used just enough to create somewhat of a mood in certain scenes. The line-work is very light, but manages to express a lot of emotions and movement. All of this comes together to give us a fairly simplified experience that draws your attention to the stories and characters rather than having the art overwhelm the reader.
Ichinoi is probably my favorite in the series. I love how she’s drawn, you really get a sense of her age but also that she still has that spark of life and energy in her. I think Tsurutani does a great job of bringing our attention to this through her panel design. The shots of her legs as she’s walking up a tall flight of stairs, the close-ups of her face as she reads her first BL, all of these I think draw attention to the life that is still within her aging body. It makes you root for her to enjoy these new things and have fun with Urara on their days together.
I also really love how Tsurutani creates this slight framed narrative within the larger manga by showing us parts of the BL manga Ichinoi and Urara are reading. It allows the reader to connect to the characters more and understand their reactions and feelings about the manga they are reading. The BL manga they are reading is set off by a black background, making it easily stand out from the rest of the pages. There’s not much difference in the art, but I don’t see that as an issue. I think having those pages in a different style, while cool to see, may become distracting after a while.
Overall, I think the main draw of this series is the story and the characters. The relationship between Urara and Ichinoi is not something you see that much and I’m enjoying the newness and the comfy feelings it creates. While their ages may be very far apart, I think they’re life circumstances are fairly similar. Ichinoi is living by herself now after her husband passed away, only really connecting to people through her calligraphy class. Urara is a high-school student who has trouble making friends and connecting with people her own age. They’re mutual loneliness draws them together through a shared interest. I think Urara probably finds it easy to talk to Ichinoi not only because she shares an interest in BL but also because she’s older and lacks the kind of peer pressure you find among people your own age. She’s open, welcoming, and straight-forward in the way she talks and interacts with Urara.
I think Ichinoi also finds something she’s been seeking in her relationship with Urara. As an older woman who lost their partner, I think she must be feeling her age. Being connected to Urara and being introduced to something new may feel like she’s getting a bit of her youth back. In the chapter that they go to the author meet-up, we see that she’s determined to try new things and be fun even if standing in a line for hours may not be the best thing for her. Everything she does with Urara allows her to get out of her regular routine and try something new.
Ichinoi and Urara’s relationship is very sweet and shows that people can connect to one-another across generations if they just find some common ground. I’m really looking forward to the next volume, and I hope you all pick this one up for yourselves. Let me know in the comments what you thought when you do!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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