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Kitty-chan seems to have no problem with a bit of boys’ love.

Barring the occasional zombie outbreak, Puroland, the Sanrio amusement park in Tokyo’s Tama New Town district, has the sort of little kid-oriented attractions you’d expect, like themed desserts, costumed characters, and a parade of adorable fan-made avatars. Puroland has also its own attached theater, and on January 10 will host a live stage reading of the novel Ikuta-san Chi no Kome-oji (“The Rice Prince of Mr. Ikuta’s Place”).

But Ikuta-san Chi no Kome-oji isn’t a children’s picture book or fairy tale. Its story follows Banri Tatsukawa, a young man who loses his job when the company he works for goes out of business. Unable to find permanent employment right away, Banri accepts an offer from rice farmer Amata Ikuta to take on the role of the Rice Prince, a regional mascot to revitalize Ikuta’s rural community. As the story progresses, the two begin to develop romantic feelings for one another.

Oh, and both Banri and Amata are men.

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Yes, the Ikuta-san Chi no Kome-oji novel fits firmly into the boys’ love genre, the subsection of Japanese fiction which deals with homosexual love between men. Despite the diminished importance of female characters to the typical boys’ love narrative, the genre’s strongest supporters are Japanese women, and the upcoming live reading seems to be designed to take advantage of the potential overlap between the demographics of boys’ love aficionados and adult Sanrio fans.

Anime voice actors Yuta Kasuya and Daisuke Kishio will perform the parts of Banri and Amata, respectively.

While the reading is being held on the Puroland premises, it’s unlikely that any unsuspecting kids will end up in the audience. On top of the regular Puroland ticket cost (3,300 yen [US$28] for adults and 2,500 yen for children 3 to 17), the Ikuta-san Chi no Kome-oji reading will require a supplemental admission fee of 7,000 yen, so it’s safe to say that only fans who are familiar with the book will be listening.

Puroland seems to be downplaying the novel’s homosexual content, billing it as “A success story of young men revitalizing a rural village through agriculture” on the event’s website. The website also refers to tickets to the event as being identically priced for adults and children, so kids apparently aren’t barred from entry, either. In addition it’s unclear just how much of the novel will be read aloud, but with a full 90 minutes for the two scheduled readings (the first beginning at 1 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m.), it’s a safe bet that some passages will at least hint at its boys’ love elements.

▼ Especially when the Puroland website features the book’s cover, with the burbling subtext of the characters’ poses

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Seats are limited, and tickets can be purchased here through the Ticket Pia online ticketing service. And yes, Hello Kitty herself will be in the audience, as Japan’s most famous cat is apparently a boys’ love fan herself.

Related: Puroland website
Source: IT Media
Top image: Puroland
Insert images: 1107