My Brother's Husband
|My Brother's Husband|
The cover of the first volume of My Brother's Husband. From left to right: Mike, Kana, and Yaichi.
(Otōto no Otto)
|Written by||Gengoroh Tagame|
|Original run||November 2014 – May 2017|
My Brother's Husband (Japanese: 弟の夫 Hepburn: Otōto no Otto) is a manga series by Gengoroh Tagame. Serialized in Monthly Action from 2014 to 2017, and adapted into a live-action television drama by NHK in 2018, the series follows the relationship between single father Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and Mike Flanagan, the Canadian husband of Yaichi's estranged and recently deceased twin brother. The series, which focuses on themes of homophobia, cultural difference, and family, has been noted as a significant departure from Tagame's previous works, which focus on erotic and sadomasochistic subject material. My Brother's Husband has been widely praised by critics, winning an Eisner Award, a Japan Media Arts Award, and a Japan Cartoonists Association Award.
Yaichi, a stay-at-home single father, lives with his daughter Kana in suburban Tokyo. They are visited by Mike Flanagan, the widower of Yaichi's estranged twin brother Ryōji, who has traveled from his native Canada for three weeks to learn about Ryōji's past. Kana is fascinated by Mike and is immediately accepting of him, though Yaichi is hesitant to accept Mike as family.
While Yaichi is not overtly homophobic, Mike suggests that his tacit discomfort over his brother's sexuality drove a wedge between them that led to their estrangement. Mike's interactions with the family and neighborhood over the subsequent three weeks prompt Yaichi to confront his own prejudices around sex and sexuality, as his growing tolerance and eventual acceptance of Mike parallel his overcoming of his own homophobia.
Shortly before Mike's departure, he reveals to Yaichi that Ryōji expressed guilt over never reconciling his relationship with his brother, and promised Mike that they would one day travel to Japan as a couple to meet his family. As Ryōji died before the promise could be fulfilled, Mike traveled to Japan alone so that he could honor Ryōji's wish of becoming family with Yaichi. Yaichi and Kana bid Mike goodbye as family, and he returns to Canada.
- Yaichi Origuchi (折口 弥一)
- The protagonist of the series. A single stay-at-home father to Kana, he works as the landlord of an apartment building left to him by his parents. Following the death of his estranged twin brother Ryōji, he begrudgingly allows his brother’s widower Mike Flanagan to stay in his home as he visits Japan. Through his interactions with Mike, Yaichi is able to overcome his implicit homophobia, and realize that his silent discomfort over his brother’s sexuality led to their estrangement.
- Mike Flanagan (マイク・フラナガン Maiku Furanagan)
- The Canadian husband of Yaichi's deceased brother Ryōji, who visits Japan to learn about his husband’s past and family. Mike is kind and gentle, contrasting his muscular and bearish appearance, and a self-professed Japanophile. He is proudly gay and is frequently depicted wearing t-shirts that feature LGBT iconography, such as the rainbow flag and pink triangle.
- Kana Origuchi (折口 夏菜)
- Yaichi’s daughter. Though she was unaware of Mike’s existence prior to his visit, she is immediately accepting of him; her unconditional love of Mike frequently contrasts Yaichi’s more complicated feelings about his brother-in-law. Kana misses living with her mother, but attempts to hide her loneliness from her father, prompting him to include her mother more in her life.
- Natsuki (夏樹)
- Yaichi’s ex-wife, and the mother of Kana. Though the cause of their divorce is never specified, Yaichi claims fault for the breakdown of their marriage; despite this, they maintain an amicable friendship. Natsuki is accepting of Mike, and helps Yaichi to understand the persistence of homophobia in Japan.
- Ryōji (涼二)
- Yaichi’s twin brother, and the husband of Mike Flanagan. Ryōji came out to his brother as a teenager, though Yaichi’s discomfort over his homosexuality led to the fracturing of their relationship and eventual estrangement. As the series opens, it has been ten years since Ryōji last spoke to Yaichi before leaving Japan for Canada, and one month since his death in an unspecified accident. Ryōji previously promised to Mike that they would one day visit Japan, so that he could introduce Mike and Yaichi and mend his relationship with his brother. Ryōji’s inability to fulfill that promise prior to his death prompts Mike’s trip to Japan.
- Yuki Shinohara (篠原 結姫)
- Kana's schoolmate. Yaichi calls her an omasesan – a child who acts like an adult – due to her maturity in understanding Mike's sexuality. Her mother initially forbids Yuki from seeing Mike, believing him to be a negative influence.
- Tomoya Ogawa (小川 知哉)
- Kana's schoolmate. He has neither knowledge of, nor interest in, Mike's sexuality.
- Kazuya Ogawa (小川 一哉)
- Tomoya's closeted older brother, who becomes friends with Mike after coming out to him.
- Katō (加藤) or Katoyan (カトヤン)
- Ryōji’s friend from high school. He reveals to Mike that he is gay, and that while he had a platonic friendship with Ryōji based on their shared sexuality, he secretly harbored unrequited romantic feelings for him. Katō is closeted, and tells Mike that he intends to never come out.
- Mr. Yokoyama (横山先生)
- Kana’s homeroom teacher.
My Brother's Husband was serialized in Futabasha's seinen manga magazine Monthly Action from November 2014 to May 2017, and later published as four tankōbon. An English-language translation by Anne Ishii was released as two omnibus editions, published by Pantheon Books in North America and Blackfriars in the United Kingdom. A French-language translation was licensed in France by Delcourt, under its Akata label.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|1||May 5, 2015||ISBN 978-4575846256||May 2, 2017||ISBN 978-1101871515|
|2||January 12, 2016||ISBN 978-4575847413||May 2, 2017||ISBN 978-1101871515|
|3||October 12, 2016||ISBN 978-4575848632||September 18, 2018||ISBN 978-1101871539|
|4||July 12, 2017||ISBN 978-4575850055||September 18, 2018||ISBN 978-1101871539|
Live-action television drama
|My Brother's Husband|
|Otōto no Otto (弟の夫)|
|Screenplay by||Yukihiro Toda|
|Story by||Gengoroh Tagame|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Original release||March 4– March 18, 2018|
A three-episode live-action adaptation of My Brother's Husband was announced in December 2017, and aired in March 2018. The series, which was directed by Teruyuki Yoshida and Yukihiro Toda, starred Ryuta Sato as Yaichi and Baruto Kaito as Mike, aired on NHK BS Premium.
|No.||Episode title||Director||Writer||Original air date||English air date||Refs.|
|Teruyuki Yoshida||Yukihiro Toda||4 March 2018|||
|Teruyuki Yoshida||Yukihiro Toda||11 March 2018|||
|Teruyuki Yoshida||Yukihiro Toda||18 March 2018|||
James Yeh of Vice commented on how the series deals with the issue of gay marriage, which in Japan is illegal, and wrote that Tagame's artwork, writing and muscular male characters make My Brother's Husband "a beautiful, stirring, and deeply human work".
Charles Pulliam-Moore, writing for io9, commented on how the manga deals with homophobia in modern-day Japan, saying that, "My Brother's Husband gently alludes to the sort of small, everyday aspects of homophobia that ultimately drove Yaichi's brother to leave" and that: "The message the Tagame's trying to get across—that quiet, subtle bigotry can be just as harmful as loud, bombastic bigotry—isn't always an easy one to process. Tagame understands that and hopefully, as the rest of the book unfolds, readers will too."
Rebecca Silverman praised the series in Anime News Network, giving it an A− grade, writing:
My Brother's Husband is an honest, quietly emotional look at how prejudices and preconceptions can hurt not only the people we're biased against, but also ourselves. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this first volume is well worth reading, and Tagame's solid, clean artwork with attention to details like body hair that we don't often see in mainstream manga, help to ground the story in reality. It's the kind of book that you can devour in one sitting but wish that you didn't – not only because there's so much to think about, but also because it's good enough that you don't actually want it to end.
However, Silverman criticised the length of time it takes for Mike to develop as a character, and some issues with the artwork.
Ian Wolf gave the series 10 out of 10 in MyM, commenting positively on how the manga manages to confront homophobia, and how it stands out from most LGBT-themed manga released in the English, which are normally yaoi series depicting bishōnen.
My Brother's Husband received an Excellence Prize at the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2015. In December 2016, the French edition of the manga was nominated for the "Best Comic" at the 44th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival. In 2018, it received the Excellence Award at the 47th Japan Cartoonists Association Award. The first volume of the Pantheon edition of the manga won the 2018 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia.
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[...]and it arrives in the UK garlanded with praise from, among others, Alison Bechdel.
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