Author Gengoroh Tagame provides a charming commentary about love, loss, and family in his manga, My Brother’s Husband. Tagame departs from his recent work in homoerotic manga to tell a deeply moving story about accepting others and negotiating feelings of grief. Tagame’s story focuses on a burly gay Canadian, an initially homophobic Japanese divorcée, and a young Japanese girl who is overjoyed to learn that she has two uncles.
Originally published for Japanese audiences, My Brother’s Husband takes care to both identify and debunk misconceptions about non-heterosexual relationships held by some members of Japanese society.
In the narrative, the young girl, Kana, is confused by the idea that men cannot marry other men in Japan, but that they can marry one another in some countries elsewhere. Her character’s innocence and curiosity helps to transform day-to-day monotony into something special.
Kana’s liveliness contrasts her father Yaichi’s rigidity and stoicism and provides readers with an even more dynamic plot. With help from his Canadian brother-in-law Mike, Yaichi comes to know more about what it meant for his twin brother Ryoji to be gay and the difficulties his brother faced while growing up in Japan before eventually moving to Canada and passing away.
Even though the story primarily takes place in the home, Tagame’s illustrations draw out the dynamic nature of the narrative. Tagame does this by providing illustrations that commonly depict domesticity and the mundane, but the internal and external dialogue of the characters complicates the otherwise quaintness of the illustrations. With splash pages emphasizing important moments in the narrative and memories from the past, Tagame carefully focuses on interactions where an assumption or stereotype is challenged or debunked. Overall, My Brother’s Husband provides a heartwarming account of one family’s journey towards understanding, acceptance, and closure.
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