by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii. Pantheon Books, September 2018. 352 p. ill. ISBN 9781101871539 (hardcover), $25.95.
Reviewed June 2019
K. Sarah Ostrach, MLIS Candidate, University of Maryland, College Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 continues and concludes the three-week culture clash between Yaichi, a single father living in suburban Japan; his young daughter, Kana; and Mike, the Canadian husband of Yaichi’s recently deceased twin brother. As in Volume 1, the story follows the trio through largely mundane events, like cooking meals or touring, punctuated and interpreted with Yaichi’s internal confrontations of his own assumptions about homosexuality. Both Kana and Yaichi’s ex-wife openly welcome the “Canadian uncle” and challenge Yaichi to do the same. The process is not linear, encountering twists and barriers as any path to self-discovery must.
Gengoroh Tagame drastically tamed his pencil with My Brother’s Husband. Only Yaichi’s and Mike’s hulking, bulging forms betray his fame as a gay erotic artist. Here his style is tender and emotive. His artistry with framing; the balance of dialogue and internal monologue; and interplay between action, stills, and flashbacks create nuance in the black and white manga. The writing has simple, accessible language featuring neither profanity nor sexually explicit content.
My Brother’s Husband takes a firm stand on how we, as individuals, can and should approach those who are different. As an openly gay artist, Tagame’s agenda is unabashedly clear. He provides a platform for children, adolescents, and adults to consider homosexuality and homophobia on a level playing field, making this an apt title for public and K-12 libraries. The contemporary manga, themes of confronting cultural norms, and the volumes’ place in Tagame’s oeuvre makes it a worthy addition to an academic library.