Reading Resolution: “My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1” by Gengoroh Tagame

17. A graphic novel: My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1 by Gengoroh Tagame

List Progress: 13/30

There is something so lovely about emotionally intelligent stories. The first volume of the manga My Brother’s Husband is all about a complicated relationship and a lot of twisted, snarled emotions, but author Gengoroh Tagame deals with them deftly, including a lot of shades of gray. Queer stories can often fall into “all angst” or “all fluff”, but My Brother’s Husband threads the needle of the intersection between the two, finding the joy and the pain that is part of every life, but especially queer ones.

Single father Yaichi has not spoken to his identical twin brother Ryoji in ten years, when said brother unexpectedly dies. Ryoji’s newly-widowed husband, a white Canadian named Mike, has traveled to Japan to learn more about his husband’s home and family of origin, but that is only made up of the estranged Yaichi and his young daughter Kana, who didn’t even know she had an uncle. Mike knew Ryoji better and more recently than Yaichi, and they are often clearly talking past each other when remembering the departed. But Kana is coming in clean: she is learning that men can marry men, that she has more family than she had thought, and that the world is a complicated place. Kana’s exuberance and innocence keeps the tone of the manga light, but it also serves a vital role in Yaichi’s journey. When he has to articulate why he is uncomfortable with Mike and Ryoji’s relationship and the life they led, he discovers things about himself that he had never investigated before. He didn’t shun his brother when he came out, but there was a coldness and distance there that never faded.

It is hard to determine depth in an ongoing series, but the only slight criticism in the first volume is that Mike is a bit too good; an inoffensive teddy bear of a man, so that the only objections Yaichi can have are based in homophobia or culture clash. But even then, Mike is never neutered and desexualized. A lot of that is down to the art style, as Tagame is one of the biggest names in erotic and BDSM manga, and while My Brother’s Husband is for all ages, the interest in the muscular male body is very clear.

The first volume of My Brother’s Husband serves as a great hook into the series, an emotionally deft story about finding family in the midst of tragedy. If the rest of the series is as strong as this first installment, there is a lot to recommend.

Would I Recommend It: Very much so.

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