Day 5: My Brother’s Husband by Genoroh Tagame

 

Pantheon Books brings Gengoroh Tagame’s award-winning 2014 series “My Brother’s Husband” to English-reading manga fans. This unique slice of life presents a deep conversation on family and love.

Even with the advanced notification, Yachi wasn’t prepared for the arrival of Mike Flanagan. About a month ago, Yachi’s twin brother Ryoji passed away and his Canadian widower planned to visit the family he left a decade ago. Some things changed since the last time Ryoji was in Japan.

Yachi now takes care of his daughter Kana after things didn’t work out with his marriage with her mother Natsumi. He oversees the apartment building his parents left them after their death, but raising Kana is his full-time job. He worries how the little girl will be having the openly gay foreigner in their home, but she surprises him with an accepting and loving heart. Kana wants to learn more about her Canadian uncle but it is Yachi who discovers a lot.

The long-time veteran of the manga industry brings his experiences as both an illustrating storyteller and a gay man into this emotional series. Tagame shows the differences between the traditional values of the older Japanese generations and the liberal Western countries. Along with sexuality, he also shows how Japan handles divorces and smaller issues like tattoos. Unless the readers took time beforehand to understand their customs, the way Yachi and his community treat these matter might be eye-opening. The Japanese government does not recognize gay marriages as legal unions and does not allow divorced parents to share custody of their children. Tagame reveals the internal struggle within Yachi including the realization that someone who should be very close to him became a stranger.

The compelling work in “My Brother’s Husband” earned Tagame an award of excellence at the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival. Fellow artists who have works involving LGBTQ identities and topics Akiko Higashimura (Princess Jellyfish) and Takako Shimura (Wandering Son and Aoi Hana) also received awards that year.

Pantheon Books released their first installment of “My Brother’s Husband” as an omnibus volume containing the first half. The publisher did not provide a date when the second part will hit shelves but visit their page about Tagame for more information including when the artist will be visiting.

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