LGBTQ Manga: What Did You Eat Yesterday, Volume 3 (English)

June 1st, 2015

41yIg-UGuKLYou know how it feels when you’re watching TV, say, with someone – like a parent or friend, who isn’t quite convinced that you’re getting life right, and you see a report on something you really care about or identify with, and the report is about the atrocious behavior of your in group and it makes you die a little inside, like when you’re explaining the importance of a LGBTQ Pride parade to a relative and the news report keeps showing gusy with massive codpieces in assless chaps or  you’re talking about your days in a fraternity and how meaningful it was and the news is rehashing some horrible hazing incident?

This is a little bit how I feel reading What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 3 by Yoshinaga Fumi. The main part of the story revolves around a family crisis for Shiro, and Kenji is so supportive and understanding that I started to really warm up to them as a couple. Look, I said, to myself, Shiro is acknowledging Kenji’s understanding and affection, look. They obviously really care deeply for one another.

Then a chapter with Kayoko, Shiro’s partner in spending cheaply, pops up and Shiro and Kayoko both basically admit that they don’t really *like* their partners, but think breaking up would be a pain in the neck and I find him obnoxious all over again. Worse, as the volume pages close, we’re treated to Shiro admitting flat out to us that he doesn’t really love Kenji, even while Kenji is basking in what he perceives as an act of love. Blecch.

I know that it’s kind of nice to see a gay couple with a more three-dimensional relationship than just sex, but good heavens, Shiro’s a jerk. He’s a jerk to his coworkers, mostly because he’s socially awkward and self-absorbed at the same time, but his relationship with Kenji is a flat out lie.

I am really struggling with this series. Everyone else seems to love it, seeing something that I am not seeing in it.

By the end of this volume the food didn’t even sound good anymore, I was so put off by the lack of genuine affection Shiro has for this guy who thinks he loves him. And there’s a pull quote by someone I happen to know raving that this was one of the “nicest depictions of a couple who just happens to be gay.” Sure, if you ignore the fact that Shiro is lying about his feelings.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – Started at a 8, but 5 by the end
Characters – Kenji is an 8, Shiro is a 5
LGBTQ – 8
Service – 9  The food is the service

Overall – Halfway through, this score was an 8.  Then…

Kenji: I feel so loved!

Shiro thinks: Actually when you put it that way, it’s not strictly true, but…oh well.

Overall – 4

I am apparently alone in thinking this but, screw you Shiro.  Kenji go find a nice guy who loves you.

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11 Responses

  1. Clarissa says:

    Aww, boo :( That sounds terrible.

    • But everyone else keep saying how amazing it is…and I keep thinking, “Are you actually reading it?” Even the publisher has looked at me like I’m crazy when I point out that Shiro is a jerk to Kenji.

  2. just me says:

    I like the series myself in part because it’s *adult* including a realistically flawed relationship, but I understand your not liking it!

    In fact, I’m totally cool with you not putting yourself through reading any more of it. You are a busy person with better things to do with your time. Sure I could go “it gets better, just keep reading! [vol. 4- Shoji deals with Japanese inheritance law for another middle-aged same-sex couple, vol. 5 – isn’t it annoying when straight friends think all their gay friends will be good friends with each other just because they’re all gay?, more of Kenji’s family backstory, and you’re not gonna believe who chews out Shoji for not beign better to Kenji…]” but it’s not getting to the better parts quickly enough for your reading preferences.

    If Yoshinaga loses you and keeps me for a reader of the series because of this, instead of keeping both of us for readers of the series, that’s her problem and not yours.

    • I’m not giving up, in part because I’d really like to see it get better. My complaint is not that the relationship is flawed, but that straight people keep telling me how wonderful it is…when the character himself says he’s not in love with his lover. Are these people in horrible loveless relationships and think this is normal? I have no idea, but it weirds me out.

      • just me says:

        I hear ya. Me, I’m reading for the adult content myself. How many other straight readers (especially in Japan) are in similarly loveless relationships (especially if they and their families are stricter about things like getting together and breaking up), how many aren’t and are reading for the food, how many are reading more for middle-aged characters taking central stage, and so on? I dunnooo.

        BTW, guess who is saving for whose retirement in vol. 6? Retirement, now that’s extra-adult adult content! ;)

        • Retirement. I am actually having real conversations with friends and relatives about that now. Weird does not begin to cover it. And just yesterday I had a detailed conversation with the plumber about which wall the new toilet will be closer to…and I had some insight that made sense and made a decision…like a fucking adult, which clearly I am not.

          • just me says:

            You could think of it more youthfully and say “…like a grown-ass woman, which clearly I am.” ;D

      • just me says:

        Just thought of something: how much of the men-shouldn’t-express-emotions-besides-anger stereotype in the U.S. is also in Japan?

        I wonder, is Yoshinaga trying to show Shiro the lawyer bowing more to that stereotype than Kenji the hairdresser does?

        Now that makes me wonder, how much of the hairdressing-is-a-career-for-women stereotype in the U.S. is also in Japan? I heard that in Vietnam they have a hairdressing-is-a-career-for-men-because-they-know-what-men-like-in-women stereotype instead. I dunno about Japan.

        • I can’t answer conclusively, but manly tears are a well-known trope of Japanese entertainment media. Perhaps in real life, not so much. Think of all the shoujo dramas with girls being taught to smile, dsepite the pain. I’d guess the real-life rule is guys show nothing, women must smile.

          Hairdressing is a career for gay men appears to be global. ^_^

          • just me says:

            The impression I got when I heard about hairdressing in Vietnam was straight women generations ago thinking “I want to appeal to men, a man will know what he wants in women” + the global presumption of heterosexuality as a default = generations of straight women choosing male hairdressers over female ones while assuming the male hairdressers are straight.

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