Review: My Brother's Husband

My Brother’s Husband is a manga series by Gengoroh Tagame that started in November 2014 and published in North America in May 2017 by Pantheon Books. Tagame, who is openly gay, has been a manga artist for many years and became famous for creating homoerotic BDSM manga. However, My Brother’s Husband is 100% family-friendly, which is a change for Tagame, but one that's being highly praised for its honest depiction of LGBT topics.

The series follows protagonist Yaichi, a stay-at-home father, who lives in Japan with his daughter, Kana. Their everyday life is changed when a Canadian man named Mike Flanagan comes to Japan for a while to see some of the sights around Yaichi's hometown. Mike is not just a tourist, though: he was married to Yaichi's estranged twin brother, Ryoji, who recently passed away. Mike ends up staying with Yaichi and Kana and forms a bond with them that makes Yaichi start to realize he has been judging LGBT people more than he thought he was. The series revolves around the issues of homophobia and how Canadian culture and Japanese culture differ in their views of queerness.

One of the things I love about this series is how LGBT issues are addressed around Kana. Since Yaichi is still not fully comfortable with LGBT culture, there are times he thinks that Kana will find something hard to understand or will read too much into something. These scenes always have a panel that shows how Yaichi thinks Kana will react, confused or disgusted, but then instantly leads into a panel where Kana reacts in a much different way, full of understanding with maybe a few questions because she is curious. This slowly shows Yaichi that children are often much more accepting of new things because they're not yet influenced by outside ideas of what things should or should not be seen as normal. In turn, Yaichi realises that he may have been influenced into bigotry while growing up, and in turn begins to realize he is now an adult who can change to have views of his own. A couple of examples of this happening in the series can be seen in this tweet, but there are many others.

Another small but great detail is that Mike's shirts often have clearly depicted symbols of the LGBT community. These are later explained in the manga using educational sections between chapters where Mike tells readers more about LGBT topics with a few short pages of text. This allows readers who might not know where to begin learning about these topics a place to start off from, as they learn new terminology and names of events that they can research further if they would like to. Mike is not only a voice of education in these sections, though. He provides simple answers for Kana throughout the chapters and explains things in ways that are understandable for her.

My Brother's Husband is a series that, like What Did You Eat Yesterday? (a series I reviewed recently), shows a domestic viewpoint of LGBT culture. It demonstrates that while LGBT culture in Japan is still not widely accepted, it is becoming more normalized in pop culture content in a way that a lot of people are able to relate to. Any positive portrayal of LGBT characters or stories is growth, and My Brother’s Husband is a beautiful example of this in both its art and its message.

Danielle Solomon's picture
on June 29, 2017

I am from Framingham, MA and I love all kinds of video games, anime, and manga.

Follow me on Twitter @DaniBSolomon.