In Otouto no Otto, Volume 1, we meet Yaichi, a Japanese man whose entire life is turned upside-down by the arrival of his late brother’s Canadian husband, Mike.
In Otouto no Otto, Volume 2, (弟の夫) Yaichi is confronted by the existence of many things he just never wanted to deal with before, but which will not wait for his convenience.
But first, we meet Kana’s mother, who is a perfectly nice person. She and Yaichi are friendly and Mike thinks they suit each other well, and Yaichi has to admit the marriage failing was pretty much on him.
More and more we can see that Yaichi is a traditional Japanese man, who never really thought he’d have to think much beyond his job, and expected, in a sort of vague way, that things would be “normal” for him.
For one thing, Yaichi has never truly dealt with the fact that his beloved brother was gay and he never really accepted that. He’s confused by his own feelings about Ryouji’s death and Mike’s relationship with his brother. And there’s his daughter, Kana, who stubbornly refuses to be embarrassed by this hairy, foreign, gay uncle.
Mike continues on his quest to visit his late husband’s early life and as he and Yaichi become more friendly, by sharing stories of Ryouji, Yaichi begins to question a lot of what he thought and felt…and it’s making really him uncomfortable.
In the meantime, Kana is also starting to feel the effects of homophobia, as friend’s parents share rumors and keep their children from playing with Kana. Her distress is upsetting to Yaichi, who feels extra guilt because he himself was just as homophobic as the neighbors.
The damn begins to break when a neighborhood kid starts hanging around and finally breaks down to tell Mike that he too, is gay. Understanding that Ryouji must have felt that alone is the final push Yaichi needs to begin to empathize.
But as the book ends, Yaichi’s dreams are just getting weirder and weirder…would he be okay if the gay kid was his own? What if he started liking Mike “that way”? What if…?
I love this series. It’s covering everything all at once, and without anger, but with a calm, pleasant conviction that all the negativity needs to be surfaced to be understood and seen to be banished. Yaichi is everyman and watching him painfully confront his own bias and discontent is both satisfying and frustrating in equal measure.
I’m gonna say flat out there are not enough awards to give this series. It’s an excellent read. At the Tokyo Comics Showcase, Vol.1, Tagame-sensei (who is a lovely, lovely man) said that he doesn’t know what the average reader of Action Comics thinks of his manga, but that he is getting a lot of positive feedback. And that, I think, is the beginning of change.
Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 10
LGBTQ – 10
Service – 5
Overall – 10
Thank you, Tagame-sensei, for being part of the beginning of change.
2017 Update: Pantheon Books has released it in a gorgeous English-language (what will be 2-volume, so Volume 1 includes this Japanese V2) edition. My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 has launched!