Published: May 2, 2017 by Pantheon Books
Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.
CW’s: Homophobia (challenged), Grief
Representation 🌷 Gay MC, Japanese MC’s
This was such a heartfelt story about loss and unlearning prejudice 💗 My Brother’s Husband is about Mike visiting Ryoji, the twin brother of his deceased husband, and his daughter in Japan. Mike is still dealing with his grief and hopes to explore the place that his great love grew up in before immigrating to the US. This is a great commentary on the homophobia and stereotypes that are prevalent in Japan and how it’s often not safe for people to come out. Ryoji himself has a lot of internalized prejudice that he’s forced to confront when Mike stays with them. The book did a great job showing that he is already aware that some of his opinions aren’t right and slowly unlearning the harmful stereotypes he was socialized with. It was really well done and Ryoji went through so much growth, becoming close to Mike and speaking up instead of staying silent. It was heartwarming to see that Mike could also help another closeted kid in the neighborhood who didn’t have anyone else gay to talk to, which shows that having a confidate who understands is so important. There are other characters who aren’t publicly out (while Mike isn’t in the closet anymore), I was glad that the narrative didn’t demonize them and instead showed how their environment was what made it unsafe for most to come out. You can really tell that the author has personal experience with this, as it’s written with so much care & nuance!
The found family was so touching and the end made me cry 🥺 As Ryoji, Kanna and Mike grow closer together we get to see them become a small family. Kanna’s excitement for her Uncle Mike was so wholesome and I loved that they had such a supportive and loving relationship! Once Ryoji unlearns his internalized homophobia, he also begins to see Mike as a part of the family and someone who might have known his twin better than him in the end. Even though their relationship starts out strained, they become friends and explore the connection they have through Ryoji’s twin and their shared grief! I also appreciate the book talking about Ryoji’s ex-wife (and mother of Kanna) Natsuki and how there is no bad blood between them. Ryoji is doing a great job raising Kana on his own as a single father but also knows that she sometimes craves her mother. There’s a section when all four characters are going on a trip together and it was one of my favorite parts of the book 🥰 And then the end came and annihilated my feelings, it was very realistic but also made me so emotional 😭
IN CONCLUSION. ➽ My Brother’s Husband is a fantastic, nuanced take on unlearning homophobia, confronting grief, and speaking up for what you believe in. It had one of the best (unconventional) found families and such lovely, wholesome dynamics! 🥰
Have you read My Brother’s Husband? Did you like it? What is your favorite manga? ❤️