“Girl” (short story) by Mariko Ohara
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)
Also found in Kosansha International’s Monkey Brain Sushi (1991)
Originally from Hayakawa SF Magazine, June 1985
Original: Japanese, 1985
Translated by Alfred Birnbaum, 1991
Synopsis: An avian-like man with mammalian breasts sips cups of nectar at a bar and receives unwelcome stares and free drinks from admirers around. Calling himself Gil, yet unrecognizable from his original form as Jill Abel, he leaves the bar and falls in love with a woman in ill repute; unfortunately, they make separate ways, leaving Gil heart-broken. Dancing an obscene dance on stage, Gil catches sight of the woman again.
Analysis: This is one of the most bizarre stories in the collection, so it’s not surprising that it’s difficult to pin down an analysis which fits most nuances of the story. Jill Abel seems to be a personality of some repute, regardless of this repute being ill or distinguished, Jill has some cause for celebrity which they have cast off in order to assume a lesser yet more flamboyant appearance. Assumingly and psychologically, Jill was a male but has since resorted to a female named Gil, though their physical being exists in the grey area between the sexes.
With Jill’s transformation to Gil, internal emotional luggage is carried along regardless of the exterior façade of sexuality. Their choice to assume a more ostentatious plumage, a more ridiculous exterior, does not quell the internal struggle that they had experienced prior to the change. Once proud of Jill’s fame, now Gil survives with being a dancer as gaudy as their chosen attire; but depression follows them in spite of any change. When this girl shakes their world, their life is momentarily changed and they’re unable to focus… possibly a symptom of their indecision or indecisiveness to choose a path for life, sex, or sexuality (IMHO, not that there are actually two separate, individual sexes, but rather a smeared grey between the two popular notions of male and female).