Category Archives: Manga

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame . Translated by Anne Ishii

51rq4hPobXL Title: My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Translated from the Japanese by
Publisher: Pantheon Graphic Novels
ISBN: 978-1101871515
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

“My Brother’s Husband” is a graceful manga by Gengoroh Tagame. It handles homosexuality, homophobia and xenophobia (to some extent) very tenderly and not once did I feel berated being a gay man or an insider looking out while reading this manga. Tagame tells the story of parents and in turn of children and how important it is for children to learn, believe and accept alternate sexualities. At the same time, this manga doesn’t get preachy at all. It doesn’t sermonize or ask you to change yourself. It provides different perspectives and that’s that to it.

Yaichi – a single Japanese dad is forced to confront his painful past when an affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan shows up at his door, declaring himself to be the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin Ryoji. Mike wants to explore Ryoji’s past, his family and his growing-up years. Yaichi takes him in reluctantly and thus begins a relationship of understanding, apprehension and fear not only between Mike and Yaichi but also between Mike and Yaichi’s young daughter, Kana. It is how Kana begins to question and understands Mike and at the same time Yaichi’s overcoming of homophobia is what the manga is all about.

Japan as a country is quite conservative when it comes to the question of homosexuals. It isn’t easy to talk about it in the open – more so in traditional societies of Japan. Maybe that is why this manga is needed now more than ever. Tagame explores each aspect – alienation, small incidents of homophobia, questions about the relationship that wasn’t mainstream and the differences of perception between the East and the West tenderly and with much insight.

There are multiple viewpoints, which is great because he then doesn’t give only one point of view and leave it at that. It also talks of how relationships can alter feelings and how life as it goes along, gives you the opportunity to keep embracing the new, no matter how different it might be. The story is beautiful and the characters are so well-rounded.

This book is definitely for those who want to understand what the LGBT people face, no matter how basic it seems in the book. This could however be the perfect guide and also not just for adults but children as well. “My Brother’s Husband” embraces differences and talks of cultural clashes at the same time. I cannot wait to read the second volume soon.

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The Gods Lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Title: The Gods Lie.
Author: Kaori Ozaki
Publisher: Vertical Comics
ISBN: 978-1942993360
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Pages: 216
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

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This was the first book read this month and it has stuck and how. I never thought a Manga could leave me all emotional and almost in tears, but this one did and in the most wondrous way. “The Gods Lie” is about everything I think, as you are growing-up, it is also more than just a coming of age tale and yet the innocence and charm of the book isn’t gone at all, no matter how dire the circumstances. There is always some hope and light at the end of the tunnel and maybe that is why I could connect with this read.

Natsuru Nanao is a 6th grader who lives with his mom, loves soccer and isn’t what you’d call the popular kid in school or maybe he is. Enter Rio Suzumura and the both of them have an unlikely friendship, given how different they are. The soccer coach changes and Natsuru hates the new coach (there are several instances) and decides to not to go soccer camp. In all of this, he ends up staying over at Rio’s house with her kid brother. He does find it strange to see these two children living alone but then secrets start tumbling out of the closet – including a dark one which will test his love for Rio.

That in short is the plot of the book. It is a coming-of-age story for sure but there is so much more to it – the harsh realities of modern life, how one just hangs on to hope no matter what, and of course the bittersweetness of first love. It is a short-read. There is not much dialogue but I think when you are dealing this strongly with emotions, the need for dialogues doesn’t really arise. At the same time, you are vested in the story of Natsuru and Rio, that you just want it all to be fine for them. That to me is the power of a great book. When it engages you to this extent. I can’t recommend this book enough. Do read it.

Opus by Satoshi Kon

opus-by-satoshi-kon Title: Opus
Author: Satoshi Kon
Translator: Zack Davisson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 978-1616556068
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novels
Pages: 384
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: 5 Stars

Satoshi Kon died very young. When he was only forty-nine years old. In the course of reading his manga, “Opus” I researched and got to know more about it. I didn’t even know till then that he was a renowned filmmaker. I’m only too glad that I read “Opus” – a little too late, but better late than never.

“Opus” is about worlds that writers create; characters they rule over, plots they devise and how all of them affect each other. The manga is about a manga creator Chikara Nagai and how he is at a deadline to finish his graphic novel Resonance. Lin, his main hero does not want to die. He protests as he tears the last sheet of the manga and runs into the world created by Nagai. Lin wants to protect Satoko who is battling the evil Masque. Masque will stop at nothing. These are characters created by Nagai and he doesn’t want them to have a happy ending, though his editor and everyone else around him wants them to.

Chikara by chance or magic if you please enters his world of Resonance. The characters want to write their own story. Satoko comes to the real world with Chikara and things change drastically – with a lot of thrill page by page for the reader. Let me not say any further now or I will be giving away most of the plot.

Kon’s imagination is magnificent – as is visible through this manga. I haven’t watched his movies, so I really can’t comment on them. Having said that, this manga is brilliant beyond words. The anime has so much character, grace, personality and plot twists and turns that you cannot help but love this one. I wish someone would make a series of it soon. It would be epic.

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka Title: The Book of Human Insects
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
ISBN: 978-1935654773
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novels, Comics
Pages: 368
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 Stars

Osamu Tezuka was my introduction to Manga and I will forever be indebted to him for that. I remember the first time I read Tezuka. It was 2007 and the Buddha series had just released. Landmark was the only store that stocked it then and I became a fan. A true blue fan of Mr. Tezuka’s work. Since then, the love has only grown stronger – book by book and will not end anytime soon, because there is so much ground to cover.

Having said that, the book I read this time and absolutely loved was “The Book of Human Insects”. It is about so much that I don’t know where to begin with this review. Toshiko Tomura is a genius. She is everything anyone would want to be – intelligent, famous, a stage actress, a prestigious award winning writer, and also an up and coming architect. She is all this because she has the rare talent of emulating the skill of others.

She is also behind a series of murders – whether she committed them herself or led those people to doesn’t matter, a series of men, blackmail, treachery and loneliness as she climbs the ladder of fame. This in short is this graphic novel. It is edgy, sharp, witty and takes you to the extremes of despair and loneliness, but every turn of the page is worth it.

Now to the writing and the illustrations. The manga as visualized and incepted by Tezuka is beyond brilliant. Tezuka clearly knew what he was doing and this is evident in almost every manga of his. He made me a fan (Oh my God I say this with no reference to the recent movie) for life (even though he sadly isn’t around) and there is so much of him to discover through his works. Thank God for that.

Death Note – Volume 1 and 2: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Obata

Death Note - Black Edition - Volume 1 - Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata Title: Death Note – Black Edition – Volume 1
Author: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata
Publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421539645
Genre: Manga, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had heard a lot about “Death Note” from a lot of people and how utterly irresistible this graphic novel is. I waited for a while before picking it up. I also tried to not be too interested in it, given it is a series and once I am hooked, I am so hooked that I would not read anything else. Well I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series, but volume 1 and 2 sure did make an impact on me.

So “Death Note” is written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. “Death Note” is unique. It has the edge of a comic series that makes you want to turn the pages, and before you know it, you are done with one book and another and the entire series.

“Death Note” is about a death notebook that accidentally (or not) falls from the hands of a rogue Shinigami death god, only to be picked up by someone on Earth. Light Yagami is an ace student with a lot of prospects. He chances upon the Death Note, picks it up and it now belongs to him. The thing with the Death Note is that it works like a charm – you write a name in it, along with the cause of death, and the exact time the person is supposed to die and he or she does die, at the very same appointed hour.

Light wants to change the world to make it a better place. The Death God is there with him constantly (as per the condition of who the Death Note belongs to), and he takes no sides. On the other hand, criminals are falling like dead flies. The National Police Agency of Japan and the FBI, including an unknown name L wants to know who is behind the murders. Light is known as Kira. The battle of wits between L and Kira has begun. There is of course a lot more to this book, which I cannot give away but this will suffice for now.

The book is racy for sure. I took some time with it because I loved the art and wanted to soak it all in. Manga has after all always been a weak spot of mine when it comes to graphic novels and comics. The art by Ohbata is stunning in most places. The story was sometimes a drag but when you see it in its entirety then maybe it is well worth the drag. “Death Note” is nothing like what you have read before, simply because of the way the author describes the world we live in. It is bleak and depressing and yet somehow quite hopeful in most parts. A good heady mix to keep the reader going and engaged, for both the literary and not-so literary readers. “Death Note” is sure worth spending your time and brains on. It is different and I know that I will continue with this series and see it through to the end.

Here’s the first episode of the Death Note Anime. I would any day prefer the books.

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