In prolific Japanese graphic novelist Tagame’s (The Contracts of the Fall, 2015, etc.) first “all-ages” manga, a Japanese man confronts his internalized homophobia when his deceased brother’s husband visits from abroad.
After the death of his husband, Ryoji, white Canadian Mike arrives in Japan to connect with Ryoji’s twin brother, Yaichi, his young niece, Kana, and his hometown. Readers are quickly introduced to single father Yaichi’s hesitations about interacting with a gay man, distilled in panels that parallel his stifled gut reactions and his politer actual responses to certain encounters, from Mike’s hugging him (uncomfortable for cultural reasons in addition to his homophobia) to Kana’s inviting Mike to stay. Kana helps open Yaichi’s mind about Mike through her shameless curiosity and immediate affection for the foreigner. This slice-of-life tale of cross-cultural connection skillfully balances moments of bigotry or mourning with delightfully light scenes as Yaichi, Mike, and Kana grow closer. Inviting black-and-white illustrations deftly capture the characters’ wide range of emotions, from joy to grief and beyond. As he gets to know Mike, Yaichi starts to question whether he truly accepted Ryoji’s sexuality when his brother was alive. Though he never verbally rejected Ryoji, he avoided discussing his sexuality and allowed his brother to fall out of his life. The final pages make it clear that Yaichi still has a lot to learn and will leave readers eager for the sequel.
Endearing and enlightening. (Graphic novel. 13-adult)