Love Me for Who I am is a series that treats its characters as devices to the identities that they identify as rather than letting them breathe as characters with any level of independence from whatever point the story wants to make. All discussion surrounding gender and the various identities the character have are cloaked in a level of discourse more befitting the angst youd find off people whining about nonissues on Twitter instead of given any level of nuance any character that in any way likes another character for a reason the narrative sees as negative is portrayed in a shallow stereotypical light with zero genuine depth. The series has the intelligence and maturity of your average old tumblr poster in how to approach these themes and instead immediately assumes a sympathetic perspective from the reader instead of attempting to portray its characters as being just that people who want to live by and just want their identities accepted by people around them and working hard to change the perspective of the reader. An absurd amount of the manga is split between characters bickering about clothing and melodramatically snapping at each other for not understanding each other. Theres no attempt whatsoever from characters who identify as something that doesnt fall within the binary to settle down and explain who and what they are in a calm rational manner the series dives into angstridden garbage about characters not understanding each other instead of them sitting down and coming together to understand each other. Character conflict being at the heart of a work of fiction in and of itself is not only fine but something I normally welcome the problem is that theres no breathing space inbetween arcs to let characters just breathe as people with lives of their own. Characters legitimately scream that people dont understand them refuse to clarify then run off one noteworthy and unintentionally funny example of this was a character breaking down crying in the middle of the street for inserting their expectations on someone being a woman when they werent. The characters are unlikable insufferable asswipes with no genuine personality beyond screaming at one another for the most part. Mugomo is an absolute idiot who repeats the EXACT same mistakes all manga long over refusing to explain or clarify their emotions to other people somehow gets surprised when theres a backlash runs into a corner and only is dragged out kicking and screaming by Tetsu who is more patient with them than any normal person ever can or should be. While it takes time for a person to break out of a certain pattern of behavior and especially if all theyve encountered is rejection theres very little that I can actually mention about Mugomo that doesnt fall into them being nonbinary or isnt defined by that in some way. What little there is for a character arc is defined by Mugomo somewhat becoming more confident in expressing themselves and confronting people who are portrayed as idiots for inserting expectations onto them but...why should I care? Why should any reader not already invested in the wider metanarrative over gender issues care? I have no answer to this question and neither does the series which continues with this rushed pacing unabated from beginning to end. Mugomo is never genuinely called out for running away from people and constantly assumes the worst in other people from beginning to end making an infuriating as shit read from a lead who is little more than a poorly explored selfinsert that some people may be able to identify with. Theres very little to their character and whatever is there is neither compelling nor interesting. Tetsu is a generic stereotypical male lead whose acceptance of others and unique perspective on gender is the only worthwhile personality trait he has. Theres no depth to him falling for Mugomo and he exists as the angst control machine to Mugomo and other characters in the cafe. His attraction towards Mugomo for being in his eyes an effeminate man is called out but while fades away as the center of attention that the narrative places under never stops being the center of attraction he has this means that in a weird way the series turns in circles over this subject and basically arrives nowhere. This is only exacerbated by the absurd amount of attention that the series places on clothing as a marker for characterization while this is true even for many LGBTQ+ people in real life who use clothing to identify themselves in different ways when that is the most memorable thing about the characters instead of some other defining traits that becomes a problem due to the lack of effort put into you know humanizing them in ways that arent tied to their identities. All the other characters are barely characters so much as they exist as angstridden devices to force outrage out of the audience. Mugomos backstory made me despise them even more than I already did the excessive and often senseless use of violence to emphasize a point and use more angst is tasteless at best and is just an attempt to garner sympathy from the audience with absolutely no effort as to why I should care about any of the victims. All sorts of series have used abuse and violence in more interesting and genuinely terrifying ways Chi no Wadachi The Gods Lie or Boys Abyss coming to mind. So then at the end of the road when a cast of characters have little to no characterization that humanizes them or informs the reader of anything genuinely thematically meaningful whats left? Theres some merit to Love Me for Who I am. Mugomo does undergo minimal character growth near the end of the manga. The artwork is fairly nice to look at and the paneling is nicely done. Suzumi is a likable if still shallow character and what little enjoyment I found in this travesty was when he was in a scene in question. Its kind of a shame that he and another character star in an abysmal hentai doujin...wait maybe that really does explain it all. A lot of the writing being overly obsessed with clothing the hypocrisy in the two leads falling for each other which is never genuinely addressed and the writing being centered on the characters physical traits instead of their personalities come off as fetishistic which isnt unusual for works in Japan depicting LGBTQ+ people. Normally Im fine with this to an extent I can laugh at politically incorrect jokes but this is something aiming at being higher than a mid2000s romcom and as such fails miserably at anything it does. Maybe thats the reason the writing is so poor the theming is so hamfisted and the characters have zero chemistry...because theyre written as though theyre hentai characters when in reality theyre in well a serialized manga. I recommend this to absolutely no one stay as far away as humanly possible from this. Thank you for reading my review. Any and all feedback would be appreciated.
20 /100
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