LGBTQ Manga: Otouto no Otto, Volume 3 (弟の夫)

November 17th, 2016

ono3In Volume 1 of Gengoroh Tagame’s Otouto no Otto, we meet Canadian Mike Flanagan, who has come to Japan in search of his late husband’s early life. We also meet Yaichi, Mike’s husband’s older brother. Yaichi’s assumptions about life and the passive homophobia he feels are challenged by Mike’s very existence. 

In Volume 2, Yaichi begins to see his passive homophobia and start to examine it, in the context of his accepting daughter, Kana, Mike’s talk with a closeted young boy from the neighborhood nd a neighbor’s negative reaction to Mike. Volume 2 ended with Yaichi having a dream of Kana growing up to be gay and waking full of uncertainty.

In Otouto no Otto, Volume 3 (弟の夫), the volume begins with Yaichi’s mind full of that dream.  Kana doesn’t help by deciding that she, Yaichi, Mike and her mother Natsuki should all go on a trip to an onsen. When Yaichi shares the dream with Kana’s mother, Natsuki’s acceptance of that future adds to Yaichi’s confusion. And he’s sharing a bath with Mike. Yaichi is absolutely bombarded with things he has never before had to deal with.

Returning from the onsen trip, Yaichi is recognized by a classmate of his brother’s. As a reader, it was almost impossible to not instantly realize that the friend was himself gay. Mike, for the first time, is brought face-to-face with the uncomfortable tension of adult gay life in Japan.

The volume ends with trouble brewing. What, specifically will happen we don’t know, but it will involve Kana, which makes us angry.

In Volume 3, the honeymoon is over. Mike’s no longer the teacher, and Yaichi, the student is flailing in deeper water than he ever realized. There’s moments of sincere discomfort and, for me, anger, as so little has changed, or can even be done. 

Tagame-sensei’s deft drawing of expression and body language communicates so much more than the text itself. It’s very adult and subtle book and assumes an adult readership, attuned to adult society. Such a pleasure to read, even when it hurts, as it surely will.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 10
LGBTQ – 10
Service – 7 (Nude guys in bath, duh)

Overall – 10

This manga reminds us that the world is changed one person at a time. 

2 Responses

  1. Will says:

    I really enjoyed the dream and the very brief musing on it because I feel like it’s an interesting topic that isn’t broached enough. I feel there are a lot of people who are fairly accepting of the abstract notion of gayness, but instantly become uncomfortable with the reality that someone in their family might also be gay.

    I saw an interview where they talked to a young woman at a pride parade in Japan and she mentioned her mother voicing support on LGBT issues whenever she still sees her on the news, but still aggressively needling the daughter about how she needs to go out and find a husband so she can make babies. The woman basically pointed out that her mom is cool with the gays in theory, but never for even a second stopped to consider her own child might be one.

    I count myself lucky to have had supportive parents but I know a lot of other people who had parents that unfortunately weren’t as open minded as they liked to pretend they were.

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