My Twin Brother’s Super Muscular Husband

My Brother’s Husband Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame. Translated by Anne Ishi. Pantheon, 2017. 9781101871515. 352pp

I first read some of Gengoroh Tagame’s bara manga when PictureBox published The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga. Tagame was a guest at TCAF that year, and one of my friends, who’d stood in the huge line to get a signed copy, initially waved me off when I asked to take a look. I think she was less worried that I wouldn’t want to see explicit comics featuring large, hairy men going at it in every conceivable way than she was that seeing Tagame’s amazingly muscular men would give me poor self esteem. (Tagame also had a short story and was profiled in Fantgraphics’ Massive.) All of which is a strange way to start talking about an amazing all-ages comic, but there you go, context is everything.

Yaichi lives alone with his daughter Kana. One day a guest arrives, a muscular Canadian named Mike Flanagan who tells Kana that he’s her uncle. In Canada Mike was married to Yaichi’s twin brother Ryoji, who recently died. (Mike, who speaks Japanese, has come to see the places his husband told him so much about.) Kana had no idea her dad had a brother, or that men could marry in other parts of the world. But Kana’s openness to her new uncle leads to Yaichi offering Mike a room in their house. As they get to know each other Yaichi gets over a lot of the discomfort he has about Mike’s relationship with his brother, and just the idea of being around a gay man in general. By the end of the book they seem on the way to being friends and maybe family.

I will say that, given what I see in the slightly revealing bath scenes, Tagame seems to believe that beneath every middle-aged dude’s T-shirt is an incredibly muscular chest just waiting to see the light. For my own sake I wish this was true.

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