May’s manga is only one book: the first volume of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame! Available in English as of yesterday in hardcover or digital! The English version combines the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The manga is seen from the point of view a straight Japanese man named Yaichi, who learns not only is his twin brother dead but he was married to a white Canadian man for ten years. Mike, the husband, moves in with Yaichi and his daughter Kana. Yaichi must confront his prejudice in a story of family, discrimination, identity, and cultural difference. Be warned this includes depiction of heterosexism/homophobia, slurs, and death of family members.
Gengoroh Tagame is the most prolific gay mangaka. He was born in 1964 and began his art career at 18 years old by submitting under pen names to various magazines. At 30 years old he became a full time artist of gay erotica with the magazine G-men, but he’s also a scholar of Japanese historical gay art. He is openly gay and lives with his long-term partner. In the past few years his work has been published in English in the US, such as The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame that collects various stories. Most of his work (Standing Ovations, Endless Game, Gunji, Fisherman’s Lodge, Contracts of the Fall available in English) features themes of BDSM. Our book club choice is his first manga for all ages, but please only look up his other work if you are an adult.
My Brother’s Husband came about from Tagame wanting to write an ongoing manga about gay social issues for a straight audience. It took years for his idea to be picked up by Monthly Action, a manga magazine founded in 2013 that covers a variety of genres and demographics. To give you an idea, Monthly Action also serialized the Eisner-nominated Orange and is currently publishing Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. My Brother’s Husband began serialization in 2014 and has been collected into three volumes in Japan. Now it’s being translated to English by Anne Ishii, who also edited the anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It Tagame was a part of.
Further Reading (expect NSFW images)
- Tagame’s official website
- Tagame on Twitter
- Ishii on Twitter
- Tagame on Facebook
- Tagame on Tumblr
- Interview: Gengoroh Tagame on his new manga series
- Japanese Gay Art: Interview with Gengoroh Tagame
- The Erotic Antagonism of Gengoroh Tagame
- Size Matters: An Interview with Anne Ishii
- Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It
- TCAF 2015 – Gengoroh Tagame Talks Gay Manga, “Bara,” BL and Scanlation
- What are your overall thoughts on the book? How did it make you feel?
- Are the characters believable? How do you feel about Yaichi, Mike, and Kana and their motivations? How do differences in orientation and culture influence their interactions?
- What chapter or moment stood out to you?
- Are you familiar with Tagame’s other work? How does reading this compare?
- Tagame created this manga for a straight audience. How does it read from your point of view, straight or not?
- What observations does Tagame make about heterosexism/homophobia in Japan?
- How does this manga compare to Western fiction you know about gay issues?
- What are your predictions or hopes for future volumes?
- Any other thoughts?
- Any discussion questions you have for fellow book club members?
You may answer as many or as few questions as you like.