mō ichido, shōjo. (70s, 80s & 90s shōjo manga retrospective)

Hagio Moto - on Frol from They Were Eleven

In biology class I learned about fish and snails and such that changed sex, and at the time I was reading these biology books and idly thinking, ‘Oh, how interesting.’ But ideas like that have been incorporated into science fiction here and there, and especially Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a book called The Left Hand of Darkness in which she explored races like that and their culture, and how their biology intertwines with their culture. The people living on that planet change their sex while growing up. Normally, they're sort of neither sex. When I read that book, I thought it was so fascinating and was inspired by it. So I created a character who hadn't differentiated into one sex yet, and had to choose whether they become male or female at puberty, and I had so much fun creating this character. The reason I had so much fun is, girls are put into boxes ever since they're small, being told they must act like girls. And although there might be much more to their personalities than that, like climbing trees, being loud, running down hallways, things like that, girls don't do any of those things. Girls like that will be categorized as tomboys, and while feeling incredibly impaired by that, there was still a part of me who thought, ‘No, I'm a girl so this is how I must act,’ and was suppressing myself. But Frol from They Were Eleven! isn't a boy or a girl yet, so no matter what they did, no one was going to tell them ‘But you're a girl.’ I wrote that character thinking ‘They're so lucky,’ and yearning to be like them.

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