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Manga Confronting Homophobia In Japan Getting Live-Action TV Drama

[Image: (c)田亀源五郎/双葉社]
[Image: (c)田亀源五郎/双葉社]

My Brother’s Husband tells the story of Yaichi, a single father raising his daughter, and Mike Flanagan, a Canadian man who was married to Yaichi’s twin brother Ryoji.

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Mike travels unannounced to Japan after his husband’s recent passing. Yaichi must face his deceased twin’s sexuality and overcome his own preconceptions, and Mike learns what caused the brothers to drift apart.

[Images: (c)田亀源五郎/双葉社]
[Images: (c)田亀源五郎/双葉社]
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When i09's Charles Pulliam-Moore reviewed the manga, he wrote:

While we often think of Japan as being a place with relatively progressive politics with regards to queer sexualities, My Brother’s Husband gently alludes to the sort of small, everyday aspects of homophobia that ultimately drove Yaichi’s brother to leave. Yaichi never explicitly took issue with his brother’s being gay but, in his conversations with Mike, he begins to realize that maybe, on some level, he wasn’t as comfortable as he originally thought.

There’s something beautiful in the careful way that My Brother’s Husband handles Yaichi’s coming to terms with his feelings about his brother that’s rarely seen in mainstream comics. Rather than treating the tension between Mike and Yaichi as a massively dramatic point on conflict, the book instead treats it like the complicated and messy holding pattern that it is.

This isn’t seen in mainstream Japanese television, either. On Japanese variety programs, there are numerous LGBTQ celebrities, but they are often portrayed as bombastic and overblown. But so are their straight counterparts. Typically on Japanese television, there isn’t much room for thoughtful subtlety.

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(In Japan, international relationships and ideas about foreigners are also often fraught with all sorts of misconceptions, adding yet another layer to My Brother’s Husband.)

The most common male-male relationships in manga and anime that Westerners know are typically aimed at women. My Brother’s Husband, however, was created by openly gay manga artist Gengoroh Tagame, famous for his work in the bara (“rose” in Japanese) subgenre that is aimed directly at gay men.

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[Image: Natalie]
[Image: Natalie]

According to Natalie, the TV drama will debut on NHK’s BS Premium and will star Ryuta Sato as Yaichi and former sumo wrestler Baruto Kaito as Mike (both pictured above). The three-episode series will debut next March.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am. 

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

I think if a guy wants to marry another guy then that’s his choice. It’s their life and not mine and doesn’t affect me in anyway. Having said that do I agree with it? No since they cannot personally procreate it’s a selfish act. Do I understand it? No and most likely never will.

Is it their right and choice? Yes. they have every right to choose what they want their lives to be and if that makes them happy then it’s only affects them. Just as I have every right to live my life whether religious or not. My issue I have is just because you accept that sort of life style, don’t force me to accept it. Just as I live a religious life style, I don’t force you to accept it. We can still live in peace in Harmony understanding that although we both live separate lives we both still have the right to live it as we choose without harming someone else. If you can accept I don’t agree or like your life style then I can accept that you don’t agree and like my life style.