In the conclusion of My Brother’s Husband, Gengoroh Tagame continues the story of a Japanese family learning to accept and embrace a new member in spite of cultural and social taboos in Japan, as well as learning to face personal fears and worries.

Mike Flannigan showed up on Yuichi Origuchi’s doorstep in Volume 1 and announced he is Yuichi’s deceased twin brother’s husband. Japanese hospitality trumped initial shock and Mike is welcomed into the Origuchi home where Yuichi; a divorced, stay-at-home father cares for his young daughter, Kana. Kana is instantly enchanted by her new, hulking, Canadian uncle, and the affable Mike is eager to learn more about his husband’s family and culture. Yuichi is much more tentative and guarded in his acceptance of the brother-in-law he never knew he had.

Volume 2 of the manga covers more of Mike’s extended visit. The family learns to accept the sweet-natured man and Yuichi begins a deeper look at his relationship with his estranged brother. It also features more incidents that reveal the status of gay relationships in Japan: Mike enjoys a night out with a closeted gay friend of Ryoji’s from high school and Yuichi has a tense meeting with Kana’s teacher about Mike’s visit and its effect on Kana.

My Brother’s Husband is Tagame’s first all-ages manga and his clean, simple characters and uncluttered backgrounds make this an easy and enjoyable read. The plot is dramatic–not melodramatic.

Kana, with a child’s innocence and honesty, instantly accepts Mike for who he is and quickly becomes attached. She eagerly introduces her uncle to her friends. Yuichi, initially uncomfortable with his brother’s sexual orientation, slowly warms up to Mike and learns to deal with his own uncertainty and possible homophobic feelings. It’s the family moments that have the most emotional impact in this final volume of the manga. A trip to an onsen (a Japanese hot springs inn) includes Natsuki, Yuichi’s ex-wife and Kana’s mother. It’s really evident that Kana gets her clear-eyed view of the world and her common sense from her mother when Natsuki tells Yuichi he’s definitely matured during Mike’s visit and says, “I think we can call us a family.” Mike, Yuichi and Kana also make a solemn trip to the Origuchi family grave. The Japanese reverence for their ancestors comes across and the fact that they absorb Mike into their observance obviously means a great deal.

The family has a bittersweet parting in the final chapter as Mike’s visit comes to an end and he returns to his life in Canada. No one remains untouched by the events, including me, especially by Mike’s heartfelt promise to see Kana again (after failing in his promise to Ryoji to visit Japan together before his death). The story ends on a hopeful note for the family and for Japan—where gay marriage is still illegal and many homosexuals live life in the closet.

This manga is one of the best all-ages titles published last year. Its honest storytelling, high-quality artwork, and cultural relevance address a lot of timely social issues in a way that makes this work an invaluable addition to any manga collection.

My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 2 
By Gengoroh Tagame
ISBN: 9781101871539
Pantheon Books, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: All ages

Browse for more like this title
Character Traits: Gay
Creator Highlights: LGBTQIA+ Creator

  • Lisa P.

    | She/Her Library Associate in Youth Services

    Reviewer/Editor

    Lisa is a library professional and part-time comic shop employee in Central Wisconsin.

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