For this month, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will spend some time with a late September release, Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura. Published by VIZ, it’s now available in paperback or digital format, as of September 19th. It’s an omnibus, like My Brother’s Husband, combining the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The story follows Fumi and Akira, both childhood friends who lost contact after one of them moved away. Ten years later, they reunite as they enter high school. They attend different schools but their friendship reignites as they both navigate the new changes in their lives and grow up. Warning: this volume contains incestuous child abuse and sexual harassment of teenagers.
For August, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will be having a change of pace. Our previous three books have been recent manga by LGBTQ authors, but this month we’ll be looking at a classic manga through a lens of current understanding of gender and LGBTQ concepts. It’s Princess Knight (volumes one and two) by Osamu Tezuka! Both volumes are available in English as translated by Maya Rosewood in paperback and digital from Vertical Inc. The manga follows Sapphire, a fifteen year old girl who was accidentally born with a “boy heart” and a “girl heart” given by God and his angels. She lives as a princess in private, but a prince in public to maintain the throne. Of course, be warned the story invokes gender essentialism and heteronormativity.
After two pricey new releases, this month the LGBTQ Manga Book Club is looking at an older title accessible for free: Rica ‘tte Kanji!? by lesbian artist Rica Takashima. The omnibus Tokyo Love is available to read online for free or for purchase in English by ALC Publishing. Although the protagonist shares a name with the mangaka, the manga follows the fictional adventures of a young lesbian who moves to Tokyo and meets her first girlfriend. Be warned it contains brief instances of sexual content, attempted sexual assault, and transmisogyny.
Happy Pride Month! Here is the second installation of the online monthly LGBTQ Manga Book Club: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata! The manga is available in English from Seven Seas Entertainment in paperback or digital as of June 6th. Nagata illustrates how her mental illness, employment struggles, and desperation for affection led to hiring a lesbian escort in this autobiographical manga. Be warned it contains depictions of self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual content.
After the positive response to our Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga panel and blog post, we wanted to engage with those anime and manga on a new level. It’s one thing to hear about a work of fiction in an overview of many, and another to experience it yourself. To encourage that we’re starting a monthly LGBTQ Manga Book Club! We say manga book club, but it will occasionally include anime. Discussion will take place in WordPress comments as well as a Goodreads group. Goodreads is a social network based around books, such as sharing what you read and writing reviews. The book club group has a forum for discussion and a reference “bookshelf” of manga with LGBTQ themes.
Whether manga or anime, the monthly media will be on the shorter side. May’s manga is only one book: the first volume of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame! Available in English as of yesterday in hardcover or digital! The English version combines the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The manga is seen from the point of view a straight Japanese man named Yaichi, who learns not only is his twin brother dead but he was married to a white Canadian man for ten years. Mike, the husband, moves in with Yaichi and his daughter Kana. Yaichi must confront his prejudice in a story of family, discrimination, identity, and cultural difference. Be warned this includes depiction of heterosexism/homophobia, slurs, and death of family members.
Thank you to everyone who attended our panel Beyond Yuri!!! on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga at Sakura-con 2017 (or wanted to and didn’t get in)! We didn’t expect so many people and were incredibly grateful for the support. We plan to run this panel again with better structure, hopefully new anime and manga to talk about, and actually time for questions and discussion! For now, here is the gist of what we covered at Sakura-con, including more detail on topics we had to rush through because of time. So even if you attended the panel, you should take a look at our full post:
The title isn’t a knock on Yuri!!! on Ice at all. (We hosted this panel cosplaying Yuri and Victor, after all.) Rather, we want to use its popularity as a springboard to bring attention to other anime and manga that feature LGBTQ themes and issues. To clarify, we mean to cover a variety of manga and anime that portray LGBTQ themes in positive, negative, and mixed ways. This includes some gross stereotypes and tired tropes, given that they can affect what may be seen as LGBTQ representation. (In other words, keep in mind that we’ll be talking about homophobic, transphobic, and gender essentialist content.) Anime or manga that use the words lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer are rare; but we’re working with those that come as close to it as possible. By the way, we won’t be including adaptations of video games, visual novels, and light novels because it would simply get too long. Those mediums have unique histories and formats that require analysis outside the scope of this panel. We’ll be making only a few exceptions as necessary.
Though as a disclaimer, when it comes to our criticism, we don’t mean it as a personal condemnation or attack on anyone who enjoys any work we discuss in a critical manner. Both of us love most of the media that we cover here, even when they’re deeply flawed. Obviously, fans aren’t synonymous with all the problematic ideas a story can contain and perpetuate. We think critical analysis of media is important and even when we love something or think that it’s important, doesn’t mean it’s excused from critique. If everyone can agree on one thing, it’s that media can have great impact, positive and negative, which is worth some discussion at least.
Also, when it comes to most of the Japanese creators we talk, we only know so much about their identities and private lives. Most of those that are openly out as LGBTQ are mangaka, and still, many mangaka who makes LGBTQ content work under aliases and are fairly private about themselves. Between this and the culture and language barriers, we try not to assume too much about the creators themselves. Rather, we can only judge them by the content of their works and how they may resonate or not.
We will also be including LGBTQ history and topics in Japan to give context and see how they connect to anime and manga. The only spoilers we’ll discuss will be relevant to the LGBTQ content. If you were recommended an anime on the basis it has a gay character but it turned out they were actually straight or they die you’d want to know beforehand, right? We’re sorry if we don’t mention your favorite anime and manga, but it’s impossible for us to know and cover everything. We’ve aimed to include a variety of works with major LGBTQ characters and themes, but more importantly manga by LGBTQ creators. We’re also prioritizing those that are legally available in the United States, unless they’re historically important or otherwise significant.
With that in mind, here we go!
It’s been a while… and it’s been quite a year. For now, Malia and Karleen are looking back at their favorite fiction from the past year. Not necessarily the best, but the favorites. In a year like 2016, our comforts and catharsis are all the more important.
Here’s my second lecture-style panel from this year’s Kumoricon. Again keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.
Among the many manga by Go Nagai, this tale of a virtuous young man with demonic power stands apart with chilling art and poignant story. Since the 1970s, the Devilman universe has expanded with spinoffs and adaptations as well as influenced modern creators. There is a lot of Devilman-related media out there and it would be impossible for me to talk about everything, so I’m sticking to ones I consider important or noteworthy or just a personal favorite. It will be difficult, but spoilers will be kept to a minimum in this panel. One big spoiler in particular cannot be avoided, so I’ll only partially talk about it. If you’ve already read Devilman, you can probably guess what I’m talking about.
Last weekend was my seventh year attending Kumoricon, but my first year there as a panelist. The first of my lecture-style panels was an Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani. I plan to bring this panel to future conventions with modifications and possibly a different title, but for now here is a blog post version of my script. Keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.
Yuhki Kamatani combines lovely artwork and progressive story in exploring adolescence, such as their best known manga Nabari no Ou. Their latest manga looks at LGBTQ identity, informed by their experience as nonbinary and asexual. Since this is an “introduction,” I will avoid spoilers for these manga. Some developments and reveals will be discussed, but nothing that would ruin your experience if you want to read them for yourself.