The latter part of what you just read above is narrated by Sakura Seino, one of the main characters featured in a Japanese coming-of-age drama 17.3 About a Sex released in 2020. In Japan, like any other male-centric Asian country, sexuality is often perceived as a topic of either very worldly or otherworldly matters girls should not explore. Nonetheless, 17.3 About a Sex, therein, grasps such a tangent by simply illustrating how three highschoolers manage to learn about one another and loved ones while tackling with their boisterous nature of age.
It is not just about the sheer talk where only a cis-heterosexual person owns the light, but the people who identify themselves with asexuality or pansexuality are explicitly represented in a warm and welcoming environment. “I think it’s a privilege if there is no name attached to it. Because it is thought of as being natural,” said a pansexual boy to two heterosexual girls who do not know that there is a literal word to describe their heterosexuality, and agreeably nodded by an asexual person.
It is not often that the asexual identity frequents the mainstream screens. When we encounter new words, we spot the divergence between nothingness and something. That is how Tsumugi Hara discovers a valid reason behind the gut-spitting moment they undergo after being confessed to, and it is not anyone’s job to feel guilty about something they do not see coming. Being a queer entails vulnerability because we feel rejected constantly. Just like how Tsumugi struggles to compete for a scholarship to flee from what might use to be home thanks to their dad’s idea of them being a good wife to their future husband.
Or even for a gay person who later becomes aware of how bisexual or, in the end, pansexual is the most fitting label for themselves. Since life is full of uncertainties, an uncertain heart is the most certain thing in this world. The drama suggests how life can introduce different events that lead to changes in identities, and that fruits fluidity in orientations.
What matters is how hearts are primarily wrenched but eventually recovered. Misunderstandings towards queer people are depicted, but ways to comprehend are shown. The room to better how one cares for the people they love is always there, and that does not require any formidable force but the dismantling of the norm-abiding thoughts. The same notion goes for how men are bound to ‘lead’ and be ‘experienced’, and fatally, they must not show the so-called ‘sign of weaknesses.’ Normative masculinity disheartens popular boys to speak their mind, yet it is only clear communications and courage that can wreck the wrath of the man-up attitudes portrayed.
The series, 17.3 About a Sex, further approaches human sexuality in consonance with the promotion of sexual wellness. Safe sex is of the relative concern to how a pansexual or asexual person can live safely in their own community. The dynamics of consent is, too, discussed more than a few times, along with how STDs and means to handle or prevent them are brought up out of cowardice.
“When we talk it over properly and both feel we want to do it and without forcing it,” said a heterosexual girl to his pansexual boyfriend about having sex.
Throughout the story, it is a biology teacher who helps embolden students to be comfortable with their desires, knowledgeable of their choices, and empathetic of the journeys of other people that coincide with theirs. She demonstrates how a woman can defy male higher-ups who carry the loudest speaker. The importance of a healthy support system is highlighted to play a part in securing one’s stance with themselves, and how it essentially could bridge the relationship between family members.
17.3 About a Sex marks the diverse shapes of love and the peculiarity of what is held to be natural. Parents spark anxiety of the potential that their kids might enter the otherworld if sexuality is exchanged amidst an open space under the roof. Yet, let’s not forget that parents do also need time to reacquaint what was taboos when their youth prevailed. The road continues to stretch as we still have to learn to listen to each other more.
“People have all kinds of relationships. There’s no real standard for what is normal. For that reason, there’s no reason to fit in with others” Sakura Seino concludes as the series, 17.3 About a Sex, has come to an end.