Otokonoko is a Japanese genre of romantic and/or erotic stories for men, focusing on Attractive Bent Gender male Crossdressers. The name is a pun. It is sometimes called '"josou" ("women's clothes"), a more generic term for male crossdressers.
Otokonoko features both girl-on-crossdresser and guy-on-crossdresser stories (it's one of the few places where you will find m/f stories and m/m stories side-by-side in the same magazine). The target audience is men who crossdress (or are interested), and men who have a fetish for crossdressers, and the art styles and tropes are typically those of male-oriented romance / Ecchi / Hentai material. There is also a significant Periphery Demographic of female readers. (Although guy-on-guy otokonoko is often mistaken for Boys Love Genre, anything targeted to women is not otokonoko.)
Although cute crossdressers in romantic situations have been an occasional theme in Shonen and Seinen since the 80's, otokonoko did not start as an identified genre until about 2004. Most works created before this are not usually considered part of the genre, although some have been grandfathered in.
An otokonoko character must be anatomically male (no Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders) but look convincingly like an attractive girl. Most identify as male, but even when the character identifies as female, few works try to deal with actual Transgender issues in anything like a realistic way. Since otokonoko is mainly an Otaku thing, otokonoko are quite likely to wear Sailor Fuku, Meido, Miko, Catgirl or Naughty Nurse Outfits as well as "ordinary" female clothes.
Some non-fiction magazines exist to provide advice and help with crossdressing for men who identify as otokonoko in Real Life and who crossdress to achieve the look (or want to).
The following works either technically aren't Otokonoko or precede the establishment of Otokonoko as a genre, but have been influential in its development:
- Maria Holic - The inspiration for dozens of "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" stories, although it's not the first to do this. It's not quite an example of the genre (in ways, it's almost a parody of it, actually).
- Happiness! - Jun is pretty much the type-model for the "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" plot. Doesn't quite fit into the genre, as Jun is only one of a number of possible Love Interests in the game and is mostly a side-character in the anime adaptations.
- No Bra - Like Happiness!, a model for the "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" storyline. Predates the genre, sometimes grandfathered in as it otherwise fits quite well.
- Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu - Hideyoshi is an icon for the subculture. Doesn't quite fit into the genre, as it doesn't focus on Hideyoshi's love life.
Anime and Manga
- Currently, there are a couple of magazines that focus specifically on otokonoko manga:
- WAaI! boys in skirts (more clean)
- Oto★Nyan (more raunchy)
- Otoko no Ko Comic Anthology (filthy)
- Brocken Blood: a borderline example, started off as a gag comedy with a crossdressed Magical Boy but has increased the crossdressing-fanservice levels to appeal to otokonoko fans.
- Mayo Elle Otokonoko: would be yet another "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" story, except that most of the "girls" aren't...
- My Cute Crossdresser: a guy who likes doing makeup convinces a classmate to crossdress so he can use him for practice, gets turned on by the result
- Onnanoko Tokidoki Otokonoko: yet another "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" story
- Prunus Girl: yet another "guy meets cute girl, finds out girl isn't a girl, decides he doesn't care" story
- The Secret Devil-chan: guy wishes for Horny Devil to take his virginity, gets cutie, freaks when he realizes he forgot to specify female cutie
- Sensei Anone: hapless high-school teacher (male) gets pursued by sexy student who wears girls' underwear (also male)
- A Wish Of My Sister: a blatant hentai manga about a bossy girl who forces her cute brother to crossdress, and gets turned on by the result
- Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru: Possibly the original "boy crossdresses to infiltrate an all-girl's school, gets involved in pseudo-lesbian sexual hijinks" story; released at a point where the genre didn't have a name and consequently advertised as "Girls Love" even though the main character is male.
- Otoko no Ko wa Meido Fuku ga Osuki: four cute girls open a maid cafe (spoiler: they're not girls)
- Wagahai wa "Otokonoko" dearu! (I am an Otokonoko!): A manga how-to guide for otokonoko hopefuls written by Nanami Igarashi, son of Shojo manga artist Yumiko Igarashi (Candy Candy) and himself an otokonoko.
- Otoko no ko club is a nonfiction magazine aimed at otokonoko which provides tips and techniques for crossdressing.
- The word "otokonoko" normally means "boy" (literally "male child"), but swapping the "ko" meaning "child" for a different "ko" meaning "girl" gives a compound that Japanese sites like to translate as "male maiden".