So, I started this manga today (5/23/18) because I saw it updated and thought “Why not I’ve been meaning to read this for a while,” not realizing that it was the final chapter updating. Now I’m writing this review in tears because I read the manga in one sitting.
A brief summary of what I enjoyed because I’m going to get long and personal after: Shimanami Tasogare is beautifully written with art that is gorgeous. The story is emotional, drawing you in, making you question how Tasuku will come to terms with his sexuality, showing personal issues LGBTQ people face, and leaves you in wonder
about who Anonymous is. I recommend it to everyone, no matter their sexual or gender orientation, to read this manga.
Now a more personal and longer take on the manga:
What got me interested was that it was a story about a gay teenager who tries to kill himself after almost being outed. As someone who is herself a closeted queer person (bisexual) who has a history of suicidal tendencies, I myself know what it is like to go through these feelings and events. Very rarely am I able to see what myself and other LGBTQ people go through, especially in manga form, so the plot interested me greatly. As I read it, I saw a lot of connections between the LGBTQ experience, especially when it comes to the community made through it. I loved reading and seeing how the different people vented their issues with their own sexualities, whether it be destruction, screaming, or keeping it silent inside.
One of the parts I loved the most about the manga was seeing the community portrayed in such a positive light. The story revolves around the queer community and the choices Tasuku makes after becoming a part of it and learning more about what it means to be LGBTQ. From my own personal experience and research, it was so important and heartwarming to me to see him find this community as it does (both in the real-life community and in the story) become another family. This manga is extremely important as it shows the positive of the community, as well as internal struggles they have (such as not understand each other sometimes), but still shows how the community acts as a family and cares for each other. I want to get more into this by mentioning actual scenes but as to not spoil anymore if it I will leave it there.
Moving on (kind of) from the story, the other major part I loved about this manga was the art. Incredibly beautiful (several times I just stopped reading because Tasuku’s eyes were drawn so beautifully I just had to stare at them), the art was so well done and used to its full effect, helping the story and represent what these characters were going through internally. One of the best examples of this (that is early enough in the story that I’m not spoiling much) was at the end of chapter 3 when Tasuku realizes what he is feeling towards a classmate. The scene shows Tasuku breaking apart like glass, with the glass reflecting in classmate. In that moment he also says “No one look at me,” and I cried for a good long while after this part, because as mentioned before, I’ve been where he has been. I’ve seen multiple depictions of what it feels like to be in the closet and realize who and what you are feeling, and that was the first time I’ve seen someone get it so dead on to what I felt, both the breaking and not wanting people to see.
Shimanami Tasogare is an amazing manga that captures a great look at what it means to be LGBTQ, and it’s a manga I would recommend anyone read no matter their sexual or gender orientation.
Across the internet, I see a lot of LGBTQ+ anime fans desperately crying out for well-written representation. I'm here to point the big blinking neon sign to this beautiful gem of a manga.
To start, Shimanami Tasogare is a very real, raw telling of what it's like to be queer in Japan. It's authored by Yuhki Kamatani, a *nonbinary* mangaka-- which is incredible in of itself-- who is well-known for some of their previous work, particularly Nabari no Ou (which even itself had just a tad of nice representation). This beautiful piece is by and for the LGBTQ+ community, but I also highly recommend those outside
of the community give it a read for a lot of reasons, especially if you have LGBTQ+ friends, family, or loved ones, or even just someone you know, OR if you consider yourself a fan of the yaoi and/or yuri genres, not because of content, but to give you a bit of insight as to how to act respectfully to real life LGBTQ+ people and to put into perspective the way they *really* treat the community in Japan.
For those of us in the community, it gives a no-holds-barred, viscerally relatable experience. No matter where you stand in the big rainbow, you'll feel a sense of closeness with the people of Anonymous' Lounge. Fair warning, some of the content will probably make you uncomfortable-- they don't hold anything back when it comes to the realism of the homophobia and transphobia some of the characters experience. Nonetheless, you'll find this manga to be the emotional rollercoaster of feelings that you've always wanted, and I guarantee you'll be waiting (im)patiently for the next of the (unfortunately rather slow) updates.
If you're not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I would still wholeheartedly recommend that you read this, just to do a little bit of learning on how to be more respectful to anyone you may know in the community. I know that especially younger anime fans have an unsettling fetishistic view towards LGBTQ+ people, likely because of yaoi and yuri manga (which, most of the time, are actually harmful to Japanese LGBTQ+ people because it portrays them in a played-up sexual, fetish-y manner). Read this to see the realities of what happens. It also makes a point to showcase how the little things people say and do that don't seem like transgressions can genuinely upset people. I'd particularly like to point to the ramen shop scene and Shouko's interactions with Utsumi for this one. I'm not trying to imply anything mean, but I do think it's good for anyone who would consider themselves an ally to check out for a very realistic walk in the shoes of someone who experiences this on a daily basis.
Kamatani's art is gorgeous, inspiring, and intricately detailed with symbolism and deep meaning. There's so many beautiful pages in this manga that I've lost track. You'll be completely entranced by the beautiful, frame-for-frame recreation of the city of Onomichi, a port city right at the start of the famous Shimanami Kaido, as well as the effort put in by them to discuss the city's issues with vacant, run-down houses making up a very large portion of their buildings. After reading through once or twice-- and yes, I can guarantee you that you'll read it more than once-- you'll probably wanna join Cat Clowder's restoration team too, no matter how adverse you are to physical work.
Overall, this is probably my #1 highest recommended manga of all time. I have very few complaints about it, but because of how utterly beautiful it is I can't even complain about the pretty much once-a-year releases of 3-5 new chapters. It's well worth the wait, even if I'm old and gray by the time it's concluded. Whoever you are out there, I definitely would like to see you reading this manga. Trust me.
This is something unique. It's really hard to find something like this, precisely because there are hardly any mangas which deal with homosexuality in a realistic way. To be honest, this is the only one I found.
Because, as you know, being gay is not as simple as it is on yuri/yaoi mangas.
This is about how it feels being gay in the society, about how hard is the process of self-acceptance, about how hard is open with your parents and your friends, especially when your sexuality is not "normal". Also includes issues like bullying and homophobia.
The art is good, the characters are
so realistic and humanized.
Althought there are only five chapters out, they are completely worthwhile. You should read it, you won't find something like this manga.
(I'm sorry if something I wrote was wrong, english isn't my native language)
For most of the western world today, tolerance towards homosexuality is almost unquestionable, with gay marriage being written into law with nary a controversy. But for Japan, a country that has traditionally isolated itself from the rest of the globe, attitudes towards homosexuality are noticeably different. Though a 2017 NHK poll indicates that a majority of Japanese people are supportive of gay marriage, two years later even civil partnerships remain non-existent, and people remain heavily closeted in fear of standing out in a fiercely homogeneous culture.
It is important to keep this in mind while reading Shimanami no Tasogare. Those familiar with anime, manga, or
Japanese media as a whole will be well aware that homosexuality is almost entirely ignored, or, if homosexual characters do exist, they are treated as a one-note running-gag-- tee-he, this character is gay/lesbian: so funny. Even Japanese television, which attempts to manufacture a vaguely tolerant image towards LGBT people by having a small handful of transgender hosts on variety shows, treats said hosts almost exclusively as comedy material. Matsuko Deluxe, most famously, for example-- most Japanese people would believe her cross-dressing and usage of female language to be a part of her character, a part of the joke rather than her actual identity. The general attitude towards LGBT people, among the younger Japanese populace, is to act tolerant on the outside, while shutting them out inside and avoiding their company so as to not stick out. For older Japanese people, outright discrimination is as ordinary to them as their hostility towards foreigners. And for children and teenagers, it is of course a reason to bully.
Shimanami no Tasogare is a statement about the reality of LGBT people in Japan. It is a touching and personal story about a wide array of people finding, and coming to terms with who they are, but it is equally the question of why these same people aren't allowed to behave themselves on the outside. Why must they stay closeted? Why can't people be free to love who they choose? They simply wish to live their life in peace without being harassed. Doesn't everyone?
The story begins with the protagonist being driven to the brink of suicide for being potentially ousted as gay by his classmates. He chooses instead to live, and eventually finds company among a volunteer group comprised of other gay people, of lesbians, cross-dressers, transgender and closeted/confused people. Nobody in this group is hostile towards society for not accepting them: they are content merely having found a space where they can make friends and be accepted for who they are. But even this is put into jeopardy by society, with regular and targeted harassment towards the group throughout the series. Sadly, such things had already been a daily occurrence in their lives before they had even joined the group. A shrug and a step forward is their only recourse.
Shimanami no Tasogare's writing is considerably subtle. There is a transgender character whose identity is never outright stated for the majority of the series, but by the time the dialogue explicitly reveals what they are, the reader has already known for quite some time due to their bittersweet conversations with old friends, hinting and nudging towards their past. There is as well a cross-dresser, though whether they truly fit somewhere in the LGBT spectrum, or are merely a puberty-stricken child fascinated by beauty, remains unanswered. It is not of much relevance. In the protagonist's own words, he wants "to live in a world where we don't have to understand each other." And that's quite fair enough.
There is some touching romance throughout the story-- particularly between the protagonist and another boy at school whom he has a crush on-- but this plays a secondary role to the two coming to terms with and accepting who they are, or even who they might be. There isn't necessarily an "and so they got together" ending, as whether or not they do was never really the point of the story. Much can instead be inferred from the manga's often symbolic imagery, with the art, stylistically simple as it may be, both figuratively and literally gouging at the characters with their fears and unrequited loves.
As somebody who is straight and even engaged to someone of the opposite sex, Shimanami no Tasogare comes recommended without reservation, a touching and courageous story despite its brevity. It is not just a story for LGBT readers to relate to, but for anyone who has ever felt alienated, or can empathise with those that have.
Because why should anyone ever be bullied for loving another?
A very honest, dramatic and engaging portrayal of LGBTQ characters from the perspective of a young boy coming to terms with his attraction to other men, meeting and starting engage with his small town's LGBT community and all the joy and pain this brings.
As an Asian lesbian and someone who is very involved in the LGBTQ community I've never related as much to characters in any other anime/manga or even Western media as much as these characters.
If you want a small but real glimpse into what life is like for LGBTQ people and who they are or you're an LGBTQ person looking to see
an earnest story about your community and yourself I would highly recommend this manga.
I’ve said in past reviews that the general societal conservatism of Japan makes it a fool’s errand to seek out good LGBT representation in media. Well, this manga proved me wonderfully wrong.
Shimanami Tasogare is a slice of life drama, but interestingly enough, the first chapter is framed almost as a mystery with some supernatural elements. These elements quickly fade once our protagonist, a gay high schooler who’s deathly afraid of being outed, discovers a tucked-away community of LGBT people. They come in all walks of life, from an middle schooler questioning their gender identity to an elderly gay couple. This should be a generally
happy manga, a story of self-acceptance even with some bumps along the road, but the initial framing renders it permanently bittersweet. By presenting the Cat Clowder organization with an air of supernatural mystery as previously mentioned, the mangaka establishes it as escapism rather than realism. If I’m reading the subtext right, this is meant to depict how LGBT communities can be so hard to find that one might as well just treat them as a fantasy, which is pretty depressing. This feeds back into the plot, with our main character desiring love and validation but being too scared of himself and society to pursue his true self.
When I say that Shimanami Tasogare’s organization is an LGBT community, I really mean all of it. Going into this manga blind, I expected it to be about gay men and maybe women. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Cat Clowder included all sorts of LGBT people, including bisexuals and trans people. There’s even a discussion about asexuality later on, which I never thought I’d see in any media.
Since this is quickly becoming my defining flourish, it’s time for some trans character analysis (In this paragraph I’ll go into some spoilers for the second volume). For once, this manga fares really well with its transgender representation! There’s a trans man who’s not explored too much but I’m glad is there, and a closeted trans girl in middle school who much of the second volume focuses on. Junior high is a terrible time no matter what, and trying to sort through your gender issues then may actually make things worse. This character is scared of going through male puberty, but doesn’t quite have the agency or security to come out as a trans girl. She talks to the main character at large about these anxieties and feels pained every time she has to gender herself or make a conscious choice about identity presentation. Near the end of her arc she finally musters up the courage to present as female and wear a yukata during a festival. This ultimately doesn’t go too well, and a few panic attacks later she flees and stops coming to the lounge for a while, and by extension stops dressing as a girl. All the characters end up concluding that they simply pushed her too fast and that now wasn’t the right time, but that she’d come back and figure herself out sometime later. This may sound like a depressing conclusion, but it’s a devastatingly accurate one, at least for me. When I was in high school, I started questioning my gender identity for the first time, but the lack of resources and self-agency made me give up and repress all those thoughts. It took until the relative freedom of college for me to finally come to terms with myself and start transitioning. Shuuji’s arc may not have been cleanly resolved in canon, but just like me, one day she’ll be able to come to terms with herself.
There’s an interesting dynamic at play with Cat Clowder being a demolition and construction organization. I read it as a metaphor for reconstructing personal identity, which is a sweet touch. In addition to character development and drama, there’s usually some big project to move the plot forwards as well, not to mention characters having to juggle their school and work lives as well.
I haven’t talked about Anonymous at all, the mysterious patron of this whole community, who funds their projects and gives them safe spaces to exist. There’s not too much to say about her, other than that I think she’s a nice role model to look up to. If I had time and money on my hands, I too hope that I would act as the maintainer of a big space for all my friends to hang out in if they’re having trouble.
Overall, even across cultural bridges, Shimanami Tasogare’s characters and their anxieties are extremely relatable, and it’s one of the most accurate depictions of LGBT identity in a country and medium that so often distort it. If you’re queer or think you might be, this is a must-read, and it’s a validating journey. Even if you’re not, it’s still a moving character drama and I cannot recommend it enough. We need many more stories like this.
This manga is not just unique because it stars a homosexual character, but a provides a glimpse into exactly how this affects his life. While the popularity of Yuri and Yaoi mislead outsiders on Japan’s treatment of LGBT members, in reality Japan is a very conservative place to live. It reflects how our characters can feel betrayed by our friends and our families, how they don’t feel comfortable with expressing or even being themselves. How they can hurt others due to their lack of understanding. So many manga focuses on the theme of “being yourself”, however this manga points out that for many people they
cannot be themselves.
This art is not stellar, but does a great job representing what the characters are feeling through the artwork alone. To provide any examples would be spoiling the manga.
I do realize this is going to be more of a rant, but bear with me.
From time to time, I check top 100 manga to see what's new. And Shimanami Tasogare kind of appeared out of nowhere. The cover art looked nice, so I gave it a try without even reading the synopsis.
Boy was I dissapointed. But no, not because it turned out to be unexpected shounen ai (though not reflected in MAL genres), but because it failed to be interesting, even despite the quite high mean score. The story can be summed up by "gay protagonist meets other non-straight people and sometimes also
people who are maybe straight". Of course, there are plenty manga that have simple idea, but are entertaining. But in case of Shimanami Tasogare that's it. There's not really more to it. It seems to have a reputation of "realistic depiction of lgbt folks" and "their struggles in society". Yet it all falls flat. It might be realistic but well, real life can get boring too. The characters are just thrown at the reader without really trying to make you like them, and most of the "exciting events and turns" consist of the characters turning out to be *insert not-straight gender/identity/whatever*. Mostly in form of those characters saying "Btw I'm this and that."
Shimanami Tasogare tackles the theme of not understanding yourself, searching for the true you and so on. But tackling an interesting theme doesn't warrant it being done in an interesting way. For example there is an arc about a crossdresing boy. *slight spoilers of said arc ahead, but just to show how plain it is* He reveals he's crossdressing to mc after mc doesn't notice, later proceeds to have to have mental breakdown how nobody doesn't uderstand him, not even he himself (basically he screams exacly that and again, that's it), later goes outside crosdressed, seemingly happy with himself, some guy at festival touches his butt mistaking him for a girl and when mc tries to comfort him, mc gets shouted gay slurs at by the one being comforted. Crosdresser (or whatever his identity is) runs away and that's the last time we hear about him. So what? What purpose did this serve and why should we as a reader care? Those questions are left unanswered. "And nothing of value was found."
I can't really say the story is bad though. It's not *bad*, it's just not interesting. It's... mediocre. What I can say is good is the art. It's pleasant to the eye, there aren't any out of model derps (and thanks god no yaoi fingers or similar) and some moments have a nice visual take to them. Unfortunately, those moments are quite rare. I wish the author would make better use of the visual medium that manga is. To work more with "Show, not tell" in mind. Less infodumping and more visuals would certainly do this manga good.
But going back to the mystery I mentioned before, how could manga that isn't interesting be rated so high? Well, it's same similar to regular yaoi manga that gets flooded with 10/10s from fujoshi just because it's yaoi. But this time, Shimanami Tasogare is flooded by LGBT users and LGBT supporters who seems to give it 10/10s just because it deals with LGBT issues. Or because they can identify with the characters. Okay, that's nice that there is the character with same orientation as yours, but that alone doen's make the work itself good. Nor should it warrant any bonus points just on the basis of the character existing. By slight hyperbole, I'm sure as hell not giving something 10/10 just because the main character is Straight Male the Person. I don't seek validation in fictional characters, I just want to read a good fiction. And before you're going to say I'm just whatever-phobic, I don't dislike it because it deals with issues - give me a good manga about that and I'll like it. I dislike Shimanami Tasogare because it's not good. In fact, I could give you exaples of other manga that does it better. Still not masterpieces, but certainly not bad - try My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and A Fine Day.
In conclusion, Shimanami Tasogare is the perfect manga to praise if you want to look like you're just sooo accepting, tolerant and supporting of LGBT issues. If you want an entertaining read, go look somewhere else. Althrought there still is a chance that Shimanami Tasogare will get better with more chapters.
Edit: Now that the manga is finished and I've finished reading it, I have to say that was one unsatisfying ending. The finale was just a conclusion to side character arc and it felt like rest of the story was cut of/mangaka has given up on finishing it. This manga certainly doesn't deserve the rating it currently has.
Maybe I am a little biased here but this story holds a special place in my heart.
This is a story about high school student Tasuku Kaname and the people around him as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. As a bisexual Asian woman that is living in the more liberal part of the world, my head and heart hurts thinking about how to live in such an oppressive world like Japan. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I think almost everyone can feel themselves as Kaname himself when he sees the rejection from the world for being who he is. It hurts me when
my beloved mom casually throw out homophobic comments and it hurts when everyone around me told me that my religion does not accept me.
I have grown past that and become stronger and gotten so lucky that I have people that loves me and that is why I love Shimanami Tasogare so much because that is what is about. It's about Tasuku Kaname and his found family of the LGBTQ+ communityj to foremost love and accept themselves before loving the world before them and finding happiness.
It is a slow build with realistic characters that are both wholesome and so very human. We are shown how easy it is for society and their cruel words to push someone to the edge but we are also shown how it can strengthen people (wholesome lesbian couple!!!).
So far, it touches the gay, lesbian, transgender part of the community. Maybe we'll see pansexual, aces and aros and so many other representatives. Combined with this there is also the background theme of magic that is keeping them all in one spot. That magic would a woman called anonymous who would listen to all your stories but would never ask. A grounding subject that makes everything in this manga magical and tells me that all my problems would not and should not be the end of the world.
Combined with absolutely gorgeous art and then the wonderfully written and lovable characters that all have their ups and downs, I personally don't see why anyone can't at least read one page.
I've been reading so many reality escaping manga that I can barely remember how it feels like to read a manga with meaning and purpose. It's been too long since I last read a manga that is more than just a manga. A manga that isn't just about the characters and the story but about the idea and symbolism behind the story and characters.
Personally speaking, I wouldn't say that this manga is realistic. Although it is more realistic than other manga, it still has the usual unrealistic story progression of a manga. I really wish they had base the story on real people instead of
an idealistic view of how people go through a gender and sexuality identification and acceptance.
Overall, the story is creative. Not exactly unique but creative. The author has put in a lot of thoughts to both the story and the art to draw out the best of the characters and their emotions. It is one of the few Shounen Ai manga drawn in a Shounen demographic art style.
God, how do I describe Shimanami Tasogare? Should I call it a masterpiece? Or should I wait until there's more chapters to say that? Well, for now, I'll summarize it in a few words: extraordinarily amazing, and a MUST READ for LGBTQ+ people.
Truthfully, I do not even know where to begin with describing this manga, much less explaining on why it's so fascinating and revolutionary. I guess I will start with talking about the basis of the plot: Shimanami Tasogare is a slice-of-life/drama manga about a group of LGBT people who find themselves all hanging out in a lounge. The story revolves around a
gay teenager who struggles with his sexuality and very slowly learns how to find comfort in it. Alongside him are other queer people-- a lesbian couple who wants to marry but find social obstacles in their way, a young cross dressing boy who hasn't figured out his identity yet, a transgender man whose old classmates aren't very accepting, and others. It's a story about the struggles of LGBTQ+ people living in Japan.
Now, I'll explain exactly what makes Shimanami Tasogare stands out from all the other yaoi/yuri/LGBT manga out there. One of the biggest reasons Shimanami Tasogare needs to be praised is that it's purely a story about queer people in Japan. Personally, I feel as if the lack of glamorization and sexualization in this manga is what makes it so refreshing. There's so many anime and manga out there that uses gays/lesbians purely for sexual desires. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but yaoi/yuri has become both awkwardly glamorized and fetishized, and people sometimes forget that gay couples aren't simply entertainment. There's also a lot of anime that use trans people for comedic effect/shock factor. But this manga doesn't follow these stereotypical cliches.
Another reason is that Shimanami Tasogare addresses the very real psychological, physical and financial struggles of LGBTQ+ living in Japan. Truthfully, I have seen very few manga that centers around what it is like being a gay person in Japan. And it does in such a modest manner that you cannot help but respect it. What this manga does is it creates very realistic and normal characters, but simply make them queer, and then place them in situations that any queer person in real life could find themselves in. These simple yet meaningful and eye-opening incidents can range from unaccepting family members or quitting a job due to the heavy social pressures of being gay or your classmates finding out you're gay when you haven't come out of the closet yet. This manga takes these elementary, almost mundane-like struggles of any queer person and somehow creates an entertaining, yet informational and compelling story out of it.
Though, what contributes to the overall success of a story such as Shimanami Tasogare is not only the story and characters, but also the small details and what is hidden in between its lines. Symbolism is a common trope found in this manga, yet it is never abused and adds a charming mood as the audience tries to figure out, often with not much struggle, as to what certain objects or drawings can mean. Also, something the vast majority of people can agree on is that Shimanami Tasogare is known for its beautiful, detailed and sensible art work, only assisting to its realistic atmosphere.
I can probably go own for hours, maybe even days as to all the little things I currently love about this manga. But I will wait until more chapters are released. Until then, if Shimanami Tasogare continues on its glorious path, then I can say with absolute certainty that it will become a masterpiece.
STORY: With only 13 chapters, it's hard to tell exactly how this story is going to turn out or really go in depth with the 'storyline'; there is an overarching narrative with little chunks of development in between - not bad by any means, but I do wish some more things... happened. However, it is still very good. A very accurate and nuanced portrayal of LGBT issues in Japanese society.
ART: A very pretty series; outstanding use of visual motif and symbolism - slotting in the artistic metaphors extremely naturally definitely adds to the appeal of the manga.
CHARACTER: Impeccable characters. There's a spread of different
perspectives; the main character, a gay boy exploring his own identity and how he feels about things and overcoming the heavy-set internalised homophobia, with the help of a few other people, providing examples for him and support and general companionship along the way. The characters are being developed in their own terms, too.
ENJOYMENT: Very high. It is difficult to find content, let alone a Japanese MANGA, with an interesting, accurate and not fetishised portrayal of LGBT characters and issues. It also explores themes that touch on some very important points, highlighting that doing something 'bad' doesn't necessarily make you a bad person - you can learn from your mistakes.
OVERALL: Very much recommend, particularly for LGBT+ anime / manga fans. Will be keeping track of this.
This manga is so dear to me since it's realistic and the main character is too similar to me. The isuues that had been dealt, emotional phase of the characters and the social life has been portrayed so well. Each character has their own issues and each of them has been told just right, no exaggerating nor sugarcoating. Also about the art, it really is amazing and the metaphores that mangaka use are beautiful. It's not even close to your typical shounen-ai/shoujo-ai manga even though it has LGBT theme. I tried my best no to be biased but honestly you should give it a try.
I have to warn it touches some sensitive contents like homophobia and transophobia so just be aware (or you might end up crying in the middle of the night while looking at your phone just like me)
p.s. I rate the character 8 because none of them are flawless, and that's what makes the story even more awesome.
Hands down the best LGBT manga I've ever read. If you're a part of the LGBT community, chances are that you'll find yourself in here.
Written by the nonbinary (or Gender X, as it's known in Japan) mangaka, Yuuki Kamatani, it features a wider range of gender expression in its characters than I have seen anywhere else, all the way from the tame, pussyfooting nonconformity found in many of the shoujo greats to the straightforwardly trans narrative of Hourou Musuko. There are gays of every kind, for every age, trans and cis, masculine and feminine and neither and both, and an asexual, too. They all
belong to a do-gooding club for gays, and they support each other as both friends and family.
Over the years, I have had a great deal of difficulty finding works that handle LGBT issues sensibly, and even greater difficulty finding works that I felt like I could relate to as a man. I could name quite a few fantastic yuri with groundbreaking LGBT themes, but I mean, they're yuri. They're obviously not focused on exploring, uh. Masculine themes. Yaoi is shamelessly marketed toward straight women, and bara remains ensconced in the underground world of R18 doujin, so where does one turn for recognition?
Shimanami is definitely a good place to start. Though it might immediately strike you as yaoi from the art style alone, it retains only the airy, poignant beauty of the genre, and dumps all the insensitive fetishism in favor of an audacious exploration of the average everyday gay lifestyle. It is a meticulously illustrated, anxious, elated, rambling train of thought celebrating the gay lifestyle. It is a frustrated shout into the open air, a desperate plea to be understood, a promise of compassion to everyone that is brave enough to try to understand. It expresses thoughts and feelings I have always felt somewhere below the surface but could never quite put into words. It confronts the vagueness of internalized homophobia without regurgitating unpalatable stereotypes. It even touched upon the unique and bewildering experience of being closeted in public with no way to speak out against hatred and ignorance in your company, only to find that a total stranger is willing to do it for you. That's something I've never seen done before.
Since Shimanami is a manga so devoted to the experience, it is more about the drama than the characters. I would say that each character has their own voice, and their stories carry them in a way that never makes them feel boring, but I can't picture anyone drawing 50 pieces of fan art for one of them-- If that makes sense. Their lives outside the club and the drama surrounding it aren't particularly relevant, and frankly, they don't have to be. It is maybe a yard of shallow water in an Olympic swimming pool deeper than your toes can touch. If you have even the slightest interest in LGBT lifestyles; If you are drowning in a sea of straightness, gasping for that fresh gay air; If you want to develop a more nuanced understanding of us and the way we live-- Give it a read. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
If you are looking for a story with realistic characters, and some good representation, read this manga. It is exactly that.
This if my first review. I just really need to put all the things this manga made me feel into words.
I love stories that give a nuanced and accurate representation of individuals in these communities, and Shimanami Tasogare definitely fits the bill. One of the things that really stood out to me was how each character had their own individual story and struggles revolving around
their sexuality. Even when multiple characters fit the same category, eg:homosexuality, each character was at a different point in life regarding it. This gives such a well rounded and complete view into what it means to be who they are. Maybe they are still coming to terms with it, maybe they have grown in the comforts of it, maybe they have just accepted it. Regardless, the depth and variety of each character is not limited by some umbrella term like "homosexual" or "transsexual". Beyond that, each character just felt so real to me. They all had their own goals, and wants, and desires, and no one fit neatly into a box or label. This was a lesson we learned several times.
There are two things that really stood out to me in this story, outside of it being a soul touching read.
The first off is summed up in a quote from it that really impacted me. "You can't gauge the sense of distance between people unless you're sometimes in conflict with each other." This really hit home for me. I definitely have relationships that I consider strong, but I know they are ultimately superfluous. They are people that I value, but that I could never talk to about sexuality, or religion, or any topic that is likely to cause a irreparable rift.
The second was the character who was a school friend of Natsuyoshi Utsumi. I can't remember her name. She seemed like a good person generally, but through miss-wording, or ignorance, or misunderstanding, she ends up deeply hurting out characters. I just thought that was something I could relate to. My own ignorance could easily hurt others, which is sad.
I don't think I can say much more without spoiling the story. This was a really great story, and I will be keeping my eye out for more like it. If anyone is looking for stories with actually good representation, that don't fetishize everything, these are two I've found so far. Hourou Musuko and Yagate Kimi ni Naru. There are a lot of cute love story type manga's that have same sex relations, but these are the ones that have effected me most so far.