This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series My Frilly Secret. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to sexual assault, pedophilia/statutory rape, enforcing gender stereotypes, homophobia, unsupportive parents, and paid dating/escorts, as it appears in the manga.
Aoi is known as the gloomy kid with no friends, and he agrees. However, it’s not for lack of trying. He would like to have friends, but his insecurities regarding his hobbies make it hard for him to reach out. His hobby in question? He enjoys the art of cross-dressing. Since he was a small child, Aoi has always been drawn to cute and feminine things, which he expresses in his bedroom decor and his collection of dresses, wigs, and accessories. Unfortunately, due to his insecurity, Aoi is forced to hide his hobby at home, unable to express himself publically.
One day, Aoi sees a dress he is drawn to. Unfortunately, the dress is $300, which is way out of his price range. Disheartened, he is forced to leave the dress behind… until his sister and classmates mention a method of earning money through “sugar daddies,” aka compensated dating. Interested in the opportunity, Aoi signs up for a profile and mentions his hobby in the listing, which draws the attention of a rather enthusiastic customer. While on the date, the customer pushes Aoi into going with him to a hotel to take photos of him while cross-dressing, which has Aoi on red alert and panicking.
Things aren’t looking so good until Yuto, one of Aoi’s silent and stoic classmates, comes in and rescues him. On the way out of the rescue, though, Aoi ends up exposing his cross-dressing hobby to Yuto. Thankfully, Yuto doesn’t seem bothered by it. Instead, he almost seems interested. In exchange for Yuto’s heroic rescue, Yuto asks for one thing in return: date him while cross-dressing, so he can become comfortable with women. Grateful for all Yuto has done for him, Aoi agrees. Over time, though, Aoi begins to question why Yuto is so affectionate and kind, even though their romance is fake. Meanwhile, the enthusiastic “sugar daddy” continues to lurk around.
The artwork is amazing. It isn’t perfect, but it’s so, so cute and perfect 98% of the time. I love this style more than most I have ever seen. It is pretty and precious beyond words. Aoi, in particular, with his big shiny eyes and messy black hair, looks like an angel. I love this art style so, so much. I desperately wish I could find more of this creator’s work on other legal platforms because it has to be in my top ten as far as art goes. I am a sucker for cute and pretty artwork, and I personally think this is worth the price. If artwork is super important to you, then I think this is worth absolutely every penny.
The story is equally as cute. I love that our male lead is into cross-dressing and that his love interest actually wants to support him in it. We love that. Now, this isn’t the deepest story in the world as it is fairly short, and it has a surprisingly little amount of sex scenes. That is not to say there aren’t any sex scenes, but if you are expecting a non-stop raunchfest, look elsewhere. This series is definitely more reliant on the fluff and on Aoi’s self-reflection on who he is, why he does what he does, why he is scared to be who he is, and understanding his feelings toward Yuto. I would almost classify this as a coming-of-age story for both Aoi and Yuto as they come to understand themselves and accept what they find. It’s very cute, light, and an easy read.
However, there is a subplot where sexual assault does occur. Thankfully, the relationship between Aoi and Yuto is super fluffy and super consensual, which is, unfortunately, a rare characteristic of yaoi and BL these days. I don’t want to trick anyone, though, so I will be transparent and say that sexual assault occurs between Aoi and a potential “sugar daddy,” who desperately stalks and tries to corner Aoi. Aoi does escape, but the stalker ends up sexually assaulting him, so please be warned. It is an explicit scene. I would have really liked for there to be some closure on that subplot, but once Aoi escapes for the last time, that is pretty much it. Other than a good smack to the face, the stalker escapes scot-free.
One of the worst parts about this is that it ends, which is a good problem to have. I have been reading so much raunchy sex recently (not that I am disappointed in the least by that), so this was a breath of fresh air in that respect. I wish we could have gotten a bit more context about their relationship post-confession, but this was still a sweet read overall. I also wish we could have seen more of Yuto’s love for Aoi, such as the time he made sure to apply for the same high school Aoi was going to, etc. It would have really helped set the foundation for their confession to each other and made their relationship more substantial.
This is a sweet and wholesome story. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in yaoi/BL but hasn’t given it a go for one reason or another. I would also recommend this for degenerates like myself who survive off raunchy material and might need a palate cleanser. It’s a really fun one that you can binge in an hour or less and feel fluffy and satisfied afterward. Can’t really go wrong here.
Have you read My Frilly Secret? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!