Shimanami Tasogare, Volume 3 was fascinating. I might even go so far as to say riveting. It was also 50 shades of uncomfortable.
Tasuku has made a lot of progress with the team rehabilitating the cat mansion, but he’s a little stuck in his own life. He no longer wants to die, but he’s not having much fun living. The school culture festival is upon him and he’s being exhorted to participate when all he wants to do its get out of there. For better or worse, he’s put in close proximity with the subject of his crush who, when told, doesn’t seem to take it badly…and kind of takes a protective role towards him.
The work on the cat mansion is going well, volunteers are visiting, things are getting built when a classmate of Tasuku’s shows up to help. He confronts Tasuku about the LGBTQ folks; Taskuku denies that the group has people like that. But, a mother of one of the children recognizes the leader, Nanami-kun, as a former classmate at her girl’s school. Tasuku had never considered that Nanami might be trans and feels confused – he had perceived Nanami as an attractive man. Tasuku struggles with understanding how to handle his own denial and feelings.
Nanami-kun is invited to his school’s OG (Old Girl) get together. He goes, but leaves after well-meant but inappropriate, painful and clueless questioning wears him down. The scene is cringe-making, we feel sympathy for Nanami-kun, and are really embarrassed for how stereotypical the women are being.
At school, Tasuku confronts his his crush, Tsubaki-kun. For a short while, things feel better. But when Tsubaki starts to get passive-aggressive, teasing one moment, then discarding Tasuku another,it becomes a different kind of uncomfortable.
Tasuku runs into Nanami-kun, they have a heart to heart and I am once again reminded how critical it is for young LGBTQ people to have older folks to talk to, even in literature.
Work picks back up on the cat mansion. Tasuku confronts his classmate and Nanami confronts his former classmate, who insists on misgendering him, while the folks of the Consultation Room rally around one another.
As the book draws to a close, Tasuku and Tsubaki come to blows, and he learns that Tsubaki is wallowing in a fair bit of confusion, himself.
It was good, real, drama. The kinds of things mostly completely missing from BL and Yuri – the real-world issues that LGBTQ people deal with.
Art – 9 The art has genuinely sublime moments
Story – 10
Characters – 10 Real people
LGBTQ – 10
Service – N/A
Overall – 10
This volume was excellent. I renew my hope that an American manga company is able to license this series some day soon. It’s nice to be able to add this series to the short list of books with realistic gay, lesbian and trans characters in manga.