When I was describing this manga to my friend, her first guess as to what it was about, based on the title, was that it was a romance between a cockroach man and Franz Kafka. She was only mildly disappointed when I explained that Kaori Tsurutani’s BL Metamorphosis is instead a sweet story about female friendship and the joys of being able to share your hobbies with others.
Ichinoi is a seventy-five year-old calligraphy teacher who has been coping with loneliness since her husband passed away a few years ago. On a whim, she picks up a manga with beautiful cover art from her local bookstore and is surprised when she discovers that the story revolves around a romance between two boys. Ichinoi is completely drawn in by the dramatic story and rushes back to the bookstore to buy the rest of the series. Her enthusiasm for the Boys Love (BL) genre leads her to strike up an unlikely friendship with Urara, the high-school girl and fellow BL fan who works at the bookshop, who is just as eager to have someone to discuss her favourite series with.
BL Metamorphosis is a gently paced story with a warm and quiet feel to it. Ichinoi and Urara’s friendship develops slowly and somewhat awkwardly over the course of the volume, as Urara’s a bit shy and initially hesitant to discuss her love of BL. She’s having trouble making friends at school and is clearly worried about being mocked for her hobby. She even keeps her BL manga hidden in a secret box in her room so her mom won’t see them (something I also did as a teen, at least until my collection became too large to fit in a single box). Ichinoi, meanwhile, has reached that age where not much embarrasses her anymore and she’s not shy about asking questions about Boys Love and is the one who initiates their friendship, inviting Urara to tea so that they can discuss manga in more depth. Both Ichinoi and Urara are a bit isolated and it’s heart-warming to watch them bond over their mutual interest in BL and enrich each other’s lives through the simple act of sharing their love of something with each other.
Another theme in this volume is seizing opportunities to experience things while you have the chance. Ichinoi has some regrets about not doing things with her husband while he was still alive and is determined to not miss out on things now. This resolve is put into action when Ichinoi and Urara decide to attend a fan-event together, something that neither of them has been to before and which I anticipate will be an interesting experience for them both.
I found BL Metamorphosis to be a delightful read and I’m looking forward to the next volume and seeing how Inchinoi and Urara handle the craziness of a fan-event. I’d definitely recommend this book to BL fans, but also to anyone who enjoys slice-of-life style manga and stories with an emphasis on friendship.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
For more information on this series visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Did anyone else have a secret box that they hid their sexy manga in as teen? Let me know in the comments!