Man, I wish I could find myself an Otomen-specifically Asuka-kun! He's great at kendo and karate and yet he likes to knit and sew?! Apart from creating delicious pastry creations!!! Honey, there's no need to be shy...it's laudable. Trust me. Oh, if only more guys were like that.
Some may find Asuka to look too feminine but that exists in other manga due to Japanese culture-the most attractive man is the most femininely beautiful man. I.e. bishies, at first when you start reading mangas and manhwas you might not be able to discern the male! This is not the problem with Oto-men, Asuka remains visibly male throughout.
As a side note when I went to Japan I discovered that there existed a subculture that started when females first became dominant during the end of the Showa period continuing on to the Heisei. Their society is usually strictly traditionalist but after we occupied Japan men were no longer pushed to be strong and full of brash testosterone and women began to usurp their power (in a societal sense). This trend continued on contemporaneously and if a woman is the breadwinner in the house, or earns more than her husband, he does the atypical female role.
I stayed in one such house, I remember I had the misfortune to be asking the husband about if the word for city was pronounced "shifu" and he looked mightily offended. My dictionary of Japanese to English had it as city but nowadays it means hausfrau (dutiful housewife). What strange and embarrassing coincidence because it did fit this odd yet delightful Japanese man. Unlike the protagonist in this manga he had a shy and retiring personality, to the point that he felt embarrassed talking to me (another female), he was not allowed to drive the car, and he was only permitted to go pick up their daughter from daycare and go to the grocery store (walking distance). It was this absolute control. In contrast his wife was supremely cosmopolitan, traveled, and cultured. She dressed in the best of designed clothing and like any woman went on decadent shopping sprees while her husband cleaned the house daily and cooked admittedly scrumptious meals that make me drool in recollection. Her husband wandered around in old stained jeans and looked tired and unkempt though always sweetly docile. Such a docility despite her screaming at him to hurry up and do the laundry because she changed her mind and wanted to wear something else.
It was a complete role reversal in actuality. The manga is amusing because while it may seem to the American viewer that Asuka-kun is a complete female in reality he is not. We ascribe the notions of cooking, sewing, and cutesy stuff to the feminine gender but it is our societal perception that views these actions as such. He is physically strong, intelligent and diplomatic enough to know how to get his point across. He is not however the typical insensitive brash male. I must confess something else-my own brother is similar to Asuka-kun which is why I find the novel so amusing in part. My brother is over 6ft tall, intimidatingly muscular, and has a swarthy masculine countenance that makes many female think of Latin Lovers (we are Hispanic) however underneath this tough and intelligent exterior is a soul much more sensitive than mine and I am a girl. My brother loves to sew, and knit and he has made my mother a lovely case for her reading glasses made of cloth as well as stitched my pants when they get holes, or even fixed my trousers when they are too long! I can't sew or knit and my mom tried to teach me for years. My brother as a male was never encouraged or taught, and yet he learned.It is perplexing. My brother does not like cooking even though he is quite good at simple meals that always come out perfect. My mom however is embarrassed by my brother's abilities and claims they are mine (those aspects). This despite the fact that he is a rugby playing, rock climbing, cave exploring, bicycle freak. Basically if it's a sport he's into it. My mom was worried when he got into yoga (he's more FLEXIBLE than me! ~_~) thinking it feminine but soon relaxed because other men do Yoga as well and they're not gay. My brother's not gay but if he were I would have supported him but my mother's a tad homophobic and doesn't want society to even label him as a "maybe".
Why must we assign these gender roles in our society? When an ecchi calendar came in of sexy barely clothed guys and the mailman remarked to my mother upon the partial nudity of the calendar my mom at first thought he meant that it was a calendar of barely clothed females, and my brother being the only male in he house meant he had to have bought it. (Yes, she misunderstood the whole gender thing and then we both enjoyed the calendar...hehe.)
It was me, I wanted smexy eye candy, my brother bought an aesthetically beautiful, if boring, calendar that depicted the natural Chinese landscape and poems of serenity and reflection (he's trying to learn Chinese now, it's like his 9nth foreign language apart from the Spanish and English we both know(0_o). My mother made assumptions because of gender roles.
Personally, I find Otomen to be tastefully delightful and slightly comedic at times and would like to find a man like that in the future. AI ai ai men like Asuka-kun!! ^_^
Free scanlations for all 14 bks if you care to look for it. ^_~