Boys Run the Riot
Photo: Kodansha

Japanese manga about a transgender teenager ‘Boys Run the Riot’ is now in English

This English-translated manga about a trans high-school student crafting his own fashion brand is an unexpected triumph

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

There are more than a handful of books out there where the main protagonists identify as gay or lesbian, but the same can’t be said for books featuring transgender characters. That’s part of what makes ‘Boys Run the Riot’, a manga about a transgender high-school boy called Rio, the gem that it is. Not only does the manga help fill a gap in the grave lack of representation of transgender people in literature, it also delivers an engaging story that readers will find easy to relate to, regardless of their gender identity. 

Because the manga is authored by Keito Gaku, a trans Japanese man, the portrayal of Rio feels raw and genuine. The manga, however, doesn’t focus too much on the teen navigating his identity as a trans person. Instead, the story mainly revolves around Rio and his friend Jun who are working on starting a fashion brand together.

Sure, the opening chapter touches on Rio’s reluctance to come out as transgender to his peers. However, the manga also covers what it’s like to be a high school student, something everyone – including cis people – struggle with.

Through stories of success and setbacks, cringey stunts and admirable moments of self actualisation, this is a manga that will inspire wider audiences no matter their background. 

‘Boys Run the Riot’ was originally published in June 2020 and now features four volumes. You can find the English editions of the first three books here, along with the first chapter of the series which you can read for free online. The fourth volume will be released in English at a later date. 

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