I am typically not a fan of manga series, although I do admire the art and storytelling style. In over a year and a half of blogging, this is my first manga review and Kathleen has only reviewed one manga title herself, Vinland Saga: Book One. But after reading this fun and affirming book, I will reconsider and try other series.
Author and illustrator Gengoroh Tagame is a well known openly gay Japanese artist whose previous manga series are extremely adult orientated. Tagame typically writes gay erotic manga, but in this case he decided to write an all ages book written to combat prejudices against gay culture. What results is a beautifully written book about preconceived notions and how to fight them.
We first meet Yaichi, a divorced dad to daughter Kana. He receives a visit from Mike, a hulking Canadian, who was married to Yaichi’s twin brother Ryoji. Ryoji has recently died, and Mike wants to meet his family and see where his husband had grown up. Kana is absolutely shocked to meet him, for first of all she didn’t even know her father had a brother as the twins were estranged, and secondly she did not know men could marry.
Yaichi had reservations about Mike, as shown by his early biased thoughts, but when Kana asks him to stay over Yaichi is shamed into offering the hospitality he would have given other friends or family. Slowly the three of them get to know each other better, and Yaichi’s learned bigotry starts to fall away. He is forced into confronting bias he was not aware he had, and learns much from Kana’s love and acceptance of Mike. While her natural curiosity can at times be embarrassing, Mike is a willing teacher and a model of decency to his new niece.
There are no major events in this book beside the three becoming a family unit. It naturally introduced gay acceptance in Japanese culture and showed how parents and children can acknowledge differences in a honest and sensitive way. I also liked how Kana’s mother was still shown in a loving maternal role, even if she broke gender norms by not being the parent that Kana lived with.
Tagame draws his trademark bearish men, and his artwork was traditionally manga-ish, but yet unique enough to stand out for someone like me who does not read manga. The only mis-step I saw in the illustrations was a pose between the two men in one panel that could be interpreted in a sexual manner. Normally, I wouldn’t even point this out, but for an all ages book this suggestive pose could be misconstrued.
I will definitely be on the look out for future books in this new series (edit- the series concludes with volume two), and will be adding them to the collection at my library as they are released.