Hen (変) is a seinen manga which was the first work created by manga artist Hiroya Oku, who is best known for Gantz. There are two separate series of Hen, but they share the same setting, and characters from the first series appear in the second.
(黒): The original Hen plot was about a man transforming into a woman.
(変) Suzuki & Satō: The first series, 13 volumes—Ichirō Suzuki, a straight young man who becomes besotted with another guy, Yūki Sato, convinced his bishōnen love is a girl trapped in a boy's body. Interestingly, author Hiroya Oku is one of the characters in the story, the best friend of Satō. The first three volumes of this series collect Oku's early short stories, including prototype versions of both Hen series.
Ichirō Suzuki (鈴木 一郎, Suzuki Ichirō)
Played by Shinsuke Aoki
(Not to be confused with Ichiro Suzuki)
Yūki Satō (佐藤 ゆうき, Satō Yūki)
Played by Aiko Sato
Hiroya Oku (奥 浩哉, Oku Hiroya)
Played by Kazuma Shigaya
Takashi Saeki (冴木 貴仁, Saeki Takashi)
Played by Hideki Okada
Saena Suzuki (鈴木 早映菜, Suzuki Saena)
Played by Juri Miyazawa
Shizuka Yamakawa (山川 静香, Yamakawa Shizuka)
Played by Miho Kiuchi
Miho Takikawa (滝川 美優, Takikawa Miho)
Played by Tomoka Kurotani
(HEN) Chizuru & Azumi: The second series, 8 volumes—Sexy student Chizuru Yoshida, to her utmost horror, falls in love with another girl, the innocent Azumi Yamada. A prototype version of this story was published in 変(Hen)#2.
Chizuru Yoshida (吉田 ちずる, Yoshida Chizuru)
Voiced by: Atsuko Kichiya (Japanese); Sharon Becker (English)
, Live-Action: Asami Jō
A beautiful and perfect student that excels in everything she does, Chizuru is every man's dream and she knows it. Playing men for whatever she wants, the young high school model has a great life until she meets her current fling's new neighbors. Instantly Chizuru, a girl who has never known love, falls heavily for the young female neighbor, Azumi Yamada. Chizuru, refusing to admit it at first, quickly comes to realize she must be with Azumi at any cost. Now living with her fake boyfriend, Hiroyuki, just one apartment away from Azumi, she puts forth every effort to constantly be around her crush.
Azumi Yamada (山田 あずみ, Yamada Azumi)
Voiced by: Ayumi Sakurai (Japanese); Allison Keith (English)
, Live-Action: Miho Kiuchi
Azumi is an innocent and average looking young high school girl. However, after moving from Kyushu to a new city and new apartment complex she meets Chizuru. At first the friendly Azumi tries to be nice to Chizuru, only to be harshly rejected. Eventually though, the two become friends, although Azumi fears that there might be something weird about Chizuru. Azumi, who wishes to become a screenwriter, one day attempts to join the drama club. There she befriends a young, amateur film maker named Ryuichi Kobayashi.
Ryuichi Kobayashi (小林 龍一, Kobayashi Ryūichi)
Live-Action: Yosuke Kubozuka
Ryuichi is also a newly transferred high school student that enjoys making movies in his free time. Upon meeting Chizuru in the infirmary, he quickly falls in love with her face, wishing for her to be an actress in one of his movies. Ryuichi eventually befriends Azumi as they attempt to join the drama club. As evidenced from chapter 38 he has an enormous penis.
Sushiaki Karasawa (唐沢 寿明, Karasawa Sushiaki)
Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese); Vinnie Penna (English)
, Live-Action: Hiroki Okayasu
Karasawa, who appears as the main character for several of the opening chapters, is a new teacher at Chizuru's high school. He quickly falls in love with her after recognizing her as a model. After a little effort, Karasawa is able to trick Chizuru into admitting she is a model, infuriating her. She then convinces Karasawa to let her sleep at his apartment for the night, where she enacts vengeance through teasing him to some degree or another throughout the night. His name is written with the same kanji as Toshiaki Karasawa.
Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese); Hideo Seaver (English)
, Live-Action: Shinsuke Aoki
A young Japanese rockstar, living in his parents mansion (a large Japanese apartment considered to be more like a suite) and on their money, he was yet another fling of the beautiful Chizuru. However, when his new neighbors moved in with their daughter Azumi Yamada, Chizuru quickly claimed him as her boyfriend. Hiroyuki, realizing that Chizuru has a crush on Azumi, but truly believing that she loves him, has formed a plan to seduce and sleep with Azumi, ruining her for Chizuru.
In 1997, the "Chizuru & Azumi" chapter was turned into a two episode anime OVA series. It was released in North America by Central Park Media under the title Strange Love. This release was marketed as a hentai anime, but the original manga is seinen. Hiroya Oku did not approve of this OVA, because in the anime there is not a lesbian love relationship between Azumi and Chizuru just a friendship. Still, the anime follows the manga fairly closely through chapter 17, and Chizuru, while not normally a lesbian, is clearly infatuated with Azumi. As said Naoko Takahashi, the OVA's writer, this choice of censure was intended by Group TAC, the animation studio where the anime was drawn.
In 1996, Hen was turned into a live action television series. The first half starred Shinsuke Aoki as Suzuki, actress Aiko Sato as Sato, and Shigaya Kazuma as Hiroya Oku. The second half starred Asami Jo as Chizuru and Miho Kiuchi as Azumi. The VHS release had more explicit sex scenes than the broadcast version. The TV version was released on Region 2 DVD in November 2006.