By Annie Gallagher / February 21st, 2015
There are quite a large amount of strange anime subgenres out there. Probably one of the most interesting is the Otokonoko sub genre, a series centered on male to female cross dressers. Due to being a fairly new genre, the most influential examples of it were made before Otokonoko became an established genre. As a result, anime such as Happiness or Baka and Test have been influential due to the characters Jun and Hideyoshi respectively. The biggest example of the genre I can think of, however, is the 2009 series, Maria Holic. What makes this interesting is that these types of series are legitimately made to appeal to a small niche of people who like cross dressing as women, as opposed to mocking them or trying to appeal to Yaoi fans. Himegoto is a more recent series in this genre, and it consists of 13 episodes that are four minutes in length. So the question that is left is whether or not Himegoto succeeds at appealing to others outside its niche, or if it just comes across as gimmicky and awkward.
In terms of our technical aspects, the animation is fairly decent. The characters look nice and are pleasing to look at. The fanservice was also handled well, which I feel is worth mentioning seeing as how it is a major element of this show. However, I will need to take some points off for most of the characters looking like they use the same base model. The Japanese voice acting was fairly decent for the most part, but there was nothing particularly noteworthy about it. There is no English dub at this time however. The music was also rather unmemorable except for the opening theme.
The story stars Hime Arikawa, a boy wearing a pink wig and a maid uniform, who is rescued from a few thugs by the school’s student counsel. After he is rescued, 18-kin (the president of the student council and yes that is her actual name) discovers that Hime is actually male and is shocked to hear about such a thing. Hime explains that the reason he was wearing that maid outfit was because those thugs were going to sell him as a slave to a fetishist because his parents left him with their debt. The student council decide to pay off his debt, with the condition that Hime cross dresses for the rest of his high school career.
Right off the bat, there is already a major problem with this series; it is disturbing. Himegoto tries to present itself as a light hearted comedy, yet such a thing is nigh impossible to accomplish when dealing with an underage boy being sold into sex slavery. Yes the student council does help pay off his debt, but they only do so in order to have him cross dress so they can get their sexual kicks out of this. I am not even exaggerating either, 18-Kin openly expresses sexual interest and desire towards Hime and a majority of the jokes in the series revolve around sexual harassment. As a result, it becomes incredibly hard to find any of this funny when you think about how messed up it is.
However, I can at least give Himegoto credit in that it gets a bunch of other things right. First of all, the characters are fairly likable if you try to ignore their main premise. There are even a few moments of sexual objectification that are delivered in a legitimately funny way. Also, unlike some other poorly written comedy series, the only joke in Himegoto is not just “torture Hime”. In fact, there are characters who actively try to help Hime and protect him from his situation. These exist mainly in the public morals committee, which includes Hime’s younger brother who also voluntarily cross dresses. It is admittedly amusing to see the conflicts between the student council and the public morals committee, although that is likely due to just how whacked out the entire cast is.
Another thing that Himegoto does get right is its awareness of the whole “trap” phenomenon. The series seems to have a running joke with people who like male to female cross dressers. For example, probably the funniest moment of the show was where Hime was forced to enter a beauty contest against the other female student council members. Hime’s main concern is trying to keep people from seeing the bulge under his dress. The contest ends when Hime trips and everything comes right off in front of the whole crowd. Contrary to the typical expectation, this is what allows Hime to win the contest, despite being incredibly flustered afterwards.
What makes this work is that the series does not dwell on the concept of cross dressing being weird. It instead, embraces the odd fixation with the whole “trap” thing and even uses it as its own form of fanservice. Granted, this may be a bit on the awkward side for just about anyone else, but it does mean that the writers knew their target audience. However, at the same time, this is likely what made the writers think it was okay for the plot to be about sexually humiliating Hime. They think that if people are coming for the fanservice, they should put Hime in positions that the audience themselves would want to be in. However, it should not be hard to see why this approach does not work.
Ultimately, the one thing that prevents Himegoto from being a good series is that it forgets it is not a Hentai. While having an awareness of your fanbase is a good thing, it is not a good idea to create something that could appeal only to them. To be clear, it is not the whole cross dressing part that prevents Himegoto from appealing to others; it is the sexual harassment. Himegoto often feels more like someone’s fetish porn than a light hearted comedy series, and it is just too hard to overlook the over sexualized aspects. If you are specifically interested in this kind of thing, then I can recommend this series, especially with how short it is. Unfortunately, it is hard for me to recommend it to anyone else.