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LGBTQ+ Manga for Pride Month: Part 3 – Queer Manga

This is the final post from Erica Friedman as a guest blogger this Pride Month. Thank you, Erica!

Part 3 – Queer Manga

In Parts 1 and 2 we discussed two genres of manga: Yaoi, aka Boy’s Love, which has been around since the 1990s in Japan, and the much newer Yuri. In both these genres, it’s not entirely unusual to have stories with queer content, but not queer identity, as the audiences for Yaoi and Yuri were initially presumed to be straight. This has changed quite a bit – audiences now demand more queer identity in their manga. As more creators and readers are now openly identifying as LGBTQ+, the last few years have seen a veritable explosion of what I’m referring to here as “Queer Manga.”

The titles I have chosen for this section are both: 1) by openly LGBTQ+-identifying creators, and 2) include characters, storylines and language that centers or discusses LGBTQ+ experience and identity.

There’s no way this list can be comprehensive, and more great new manga is coming out (no pun intended, but it’s not wrong, either!) every day. US manga companies really get that Pride month is a great time to put out queer manga, so get ready to keep those order lists open.

My Brother’s Husband
by Gengoroh Tagame
Pantheon Books

Eisner Award Winner! Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, and father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself to be the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.

This manga ran in a mainstream manga magazine for adult men, and spoke to the men of Japan about their own prejudices. A gentle and hopeful series.

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness (and sequels)
by Kabi Nagata
Seven Seas Entertainment

Harvey Award winner! My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an honest and heartfelt look at one young woman’s exploration of her sexuality, mental well-being, and growing up in our modern age. This intimately personal story and highly entertaining single volume depicts not only the artist’s discussion of her sexuality, but also her struggle with depression and an eating disorder.

This blockbuster hit started as a web comic diary, that got people all over the world talking about their mental health. The series is ongoing, and so is Nagata’s life. It’s been a journey both for her and her readers!

Boys Run the Riot
by Keito Gaku
Kodansha Comics


Harvey Award Nominee! A transgender teen named Ryo finds an escape from the expectations and anxieties of his daily life in the world of street fashion. This personal, heartfelt, fictional story from a transgender manga creator made waves in Japan. Kodansha has an all-trans localization staff for this book which was named Best Books for Teens 2021 selection, New York Public Library

Fantastically honest, uncomfortable and inspirational, I recommend this book highly.

Is Love the Answer?
by Uta Isaki
Kodansha Comics


When it comes to love, high schooler Chika wonders if she might be an alien. She’s never fallen for or even had a crush on anyone, and she has no desire for physical intimacy. Her friends tell her that she just “hasn’t met the one yet,” but Chika has doubts… It’s only when Chika enters college and meets peers like herself that she realizes there’s a word for what she feels inside–asexual–and she’s not the only one. After years of wondering if love was the answer, Chika realizes that the answer she long sought may not exist at all–and that that’s perfectly normal.

RELEASES OCTOBER 2022 – PRE-ORDER NOW!

Our Dreams At Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare
Yuhki Kamatani
Seven Seas Entertainment



The Harvey-nominated manga about a broad LGBTQ+ community. Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBTQ+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

This book is simply gorgeous, with a compelling narrative, realistic representation of a diverse queer community and stunning art.

I’m in Love With the Villainess
by inori, illustrated by Aonoshimo
Seven Seas Entertainment


In this critically acclaimed romantic comedy, a reincarnated gamer pursues her villainous lady love at a fantasy girl’s academy!

When corporate worker Rei Ohashi finds herself reborn as the protagonist of her favorite dating sim, it’s the perfect opportunity to do what she’s always wanted—seduce the villainess! Now, armed with her extensive knowledge of the game, and her undying love for Claire, will Rei finally be able to win over the woman of her dreams?

This book surprised and pleased readers with frank discussions of LGBTQ+ identity in a fantasy game setting. Also deals with issues like social inequality and justice, for added relevance.

Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It
Gengoroh Tagame
Fantagraphics

Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It is the first English-language anthology of its kind: an in-depth introduction to nine of the most exciting comic artists making work for a gay male audience in Japan. Get to know each of these artists intimately, through candid interviews, photography, context-providing essays, illustrations, and manga.

One of the defining moments, Massive single-handedly changed the landscape for gay manga in English. With tons of extra content, this a must-read for fans of gay comix.

Books About Queer Manga


Maybe you already have read lot of manga and you’re more interested in books about these genres. You’d like to know about their history and how they are changing as they move through time – and outside Japan. Well fan studies are thriving right now and for the non-fiction lovers among you, there’s been some recent writing that should interest you.


Queer Transfigurations: Boys Love Media in Asia
edited by James Welker
University of Hawaii Press


Queer Transfigurations reveals the far-reaching influences of the BL genre, demonstrating that it is truly transnational and transcultural in diverse cultural contexts. It has also helped bring about positive changes in the status of LGBT(Q) people and communities as well as enlighten local understandings of gender and sexuality throughout Asia. In short, Queer Transfigurations shows that, some fifty years after the first BL manga appeared in print, the genre is continuing to reverberate and transform lives.

This book celebrates the fact that Yaoi has become a global phenomenon and the changes within BL as a genre and BL readership as a result.

By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga
by Erica Friedman
Journey Press

The Untold Story of Lesbian Love in Japanese Animation and Comics. Erica Friedman has been writing and speaking about Yuri anime and manga for 20 years. This book is a collection of her essays, lectures and opinion pieces collected into one volume. By Your Side traces the history of the Yuri genre from early 20th century roots to the present.

I’m really pleased at how this book came out and I hope you’ll enjoy it, as well!

Erica Friedman has written about Yuri for Japanese literary journal Eureka, Animerica magazine, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Dark Horse, and contributed to Forbes, Slate, Huffington Post, Hooded Utilitarian, The Mary Sue, Anime Feminist, Anime Herald and Anime News Network online. She has written news and event reports, interviews Yuri creators and reviews Yuri anime, manga and related media on her blog Okazu since 2002 and is the author of By Your Side: The First 100 Year of Yuri Anime and Manga out from Journey Press.

HEADER IMAGE: Images: Yuricon; Design Elements: Sachi; Font: Euphoragenic

LGBTQ+ Manga for Pride Month: Part 2 – Yuri

This is our second of three posts from Erica Friedman as a guest blogger. Make sure you saw last week’s post, and join us next week for the final installment of recommended manga for Pride Month!

Part 2 – Yuri


While manga culture in Japan can be traced back about a century, manga is not static. Everything changes – from fashion, to art styles and even genres. Since the turn of the 21st century, fans and creators have been hungry for stories of girls or women in love and since 2010, they have created a new genre for those stories. Yuri is the only genre of manga that didn’t begin with a single age or gender as an audience. As a result, it’s growing pretty quickly by appealing to different kinds of audiences for different reasons.

A Yuri manga might be a first love in school story…or it could be two women learning about their true selves, women in the office and even, sometimes, actual lesbians. (^_^) The stories I’ve chosen here are notable for telling compelling stories that make you want to keep reading.

Whisper Me a Love Song
Eku Takeshima
Kodansha Manga

Bubbly, energetic first-year high school student Himari falls head over heels for her senpai Yori after hearing her band perform on the first day of school. Himari tells Yori she’s fallen in love at first sight, and, to Himari’s surprise, Yori confesses that she has as well! But when Himari realizes that she and Yori are feeling two different kinds of love, she begins to ask herself what “love” really means…

One of my favorites, this story is so wholesome and sweet, but not cloying. You’re really rooting for these two all the way.

Even Though We’re Adults
Takako Shimura
Seven Seas Entertainment


A heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing…until they fall in love with each other. Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Akari. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Akari is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Akari are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.

If you like messy relationships, or complex tales of adult life, this one is for you. There are no bad guys here. Everyone is trying their best.

How Do We Relationship?
Tamifull
Viz Media


Shy Miwa has always dreamed of finding love, but living in small-town Japan made finding the right match difficult—especially since she likes girls! Even going away to college didn’t seem to help, until one day her outgoing classmate Saeko suggests they might as well start dating each other since it’s not like either of them has other options.

At first it seems like things won’t work out as their personalities clash and misunderstandings abound. But when their casual friendship starts to become something more, Miwa begins to wonder—can a pragmatic proposal lead to true love?

This story goes way deep into two young women’s lives and does some things I’ve never seen a manga do before for an intense, but compelling read.

Doughnuts Under A Crescent Moon
Shio Usui
Seven Seas Entertainment

A yuri romance for the modern career woman! Uno Hinako throws herself into makeup, fashion, and falling in love, hoping that will make her seem “normal” to the other people at her job. But no matter how hard she tries, she’s a self-doubting mess inside, and her attempts at “normal” romance with men just keep failing. When she starts to think she might be alone forever, a new normal presents itself in the form of her relationship with Asahi Sato, a level-headed woman who works at her company. It starts as respect, and then it becomes far more intimate.

Another of my personal favorites, this is a tender story about two women who have never had a chance to learn who they really were, finding themselves as adults.

Bloom Into You
Nio Nakatani
Seven Seas Entertainment

Yuu has always adored shoujo manga and yearns for the day when someone might give her a love confession that would send her heart aflutter. Yet when a junior high school classmate confesses his feelings to her–she feels nothing. Disappointed and confused, Yuu enters high school, where she sees the confident and beautiful student council member Nanami. When the next person to confess to Yuu is Nanami herself, has her romantic dream finally come true?

A new classic schoolgirl Yuri, this series includes adult lesbians in a relationship who are able to mentor the young lesbian in the story, Sayaka. She gets her own 3-novel spin-off series, Regarding Saeki Sayaka, which is not to be missed if you enjoy this series!

Next week will be Part 3 – Queer Manga.

Erica Friedman has written about Yuri for Japanese literary journal Eureka, Animerica magazine, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Dark Horse, and contributed to Forbes, Slate, Huffington Post, Hooded Utilitarian, The Mary Sue, Anime Feminist, Anime Herald and Anime News Network online. She has written news and event reports, interviews Yuri creators and reviews Yuri anime, manga and related media on her blog Okazu since 2002 and is the author of By Your Side: The First 100 Year of Yuri Anime and Manga out from Journey Press.

HEADER IMAGE: Images: Yuricon; Design Elements: Sachi; Font: Euphoragenic

LGBTQ+ Manga for Pride Month: Part 1 – Yaoi

This week and for the next two Wednesdays, we’re welcoming Erica Friedman as a guest blogger. Join us every week for a curated list of recommended manga for Pride Month!

Part 1 – Yaoi

It’s Pride Month, and somewhere in between renewed activist rage and furiously demanding our space in the public sphere, you may have found yourself with some time to read. Whether you’re a novels kind of person, or you’re more into comics, today I’m hoping to introduce you to a whole new world of great queer reads from Japan.

Graphic novels from Japan, called manga, share the best qualities of both novels and comics. Manga typically keep the same creative team from beginning to end, allowing for character development and a complete narrative. Manga is popular for all ages in Japan, so you’re as likely to be able to read a story of a first love in school as you are a story of adult life or fantasy and adventure. And, most importantly, while manga about queer experience has existed for a while on manga shelves, queer manga by openly queer folks is a quickly growing category – helped along by a lot of creators and publishing companies on both sides of the ocean. I’ll talk about that more in Part 3.

The first genre I want to talk about is Boy’s Love, also often referred to in the west by a slightly older name, Yaoi. Yaoi is primarily manga about male/male relationships by women creators for a female audience; as a whole, Yaoi is a subgenre of girl’s and women’s manga in Japan. This is important if you, as a gay man, are looking for queer representation in your manga. It’s not that there isn’t authentic story-telling in Yaoi but, because Yaoi has been around for a few decades in Japan, it has developed specific tropes that may be targeted to a straight female audience more than a gay male audience. That’s changing a lot, though and Yaoi is definitely getting gayer in recent years. I’ve chosen a short selection of popular Yaoi manga that cover a variety of story styles – very explicit fantasy, young love and workplace romance – hopefully, something for everyone. If you’re looking for more gay identity in your manga, check back in Part 3 for queer manga by queer creators.

Dick Fight Island
by Reibun Ike
SuBLime

The tournament to choose the next king of the islands is about to begin. The rules are simple—whoever comes first loses! Participating warriors protect their mighty swords with armor that grows larger and more elaborate with each tournament. But one warrior has returned from studying abroad with a technique certain to force a pleasurable eruption! Is there a competitor alive able to withstand it? Or is this deft warrior destined to become king?!

This explicit —and hilarious— manga has exceptional, elaborate art.

Given
by Natsuki Kizu
SuBLime

Love of music unites the four members of the band Given: hotheaded guitarist Uenoyama, playboy drummer Akihiko, gentle bassist Haruki, and Mafuyu, a singer gifted with great talent and burdened by past tragedy. Their struggles and conflicts may drive them apart, but their bond to the music—and to one another—always brings them back together again.

A highly emotional Boy’s Love manga with heartfelt moments.

Sasaki and Miyano
by Shou Harusono
Yen Press

It all started like a typical old-school boys’ love plotline—bad-boy senior meets adorably awkward underclassman, one of them falls in love, and so on and so forth. But although Miyano is a self-proclaimed boys’ love expert, he hasn’t quite realized…he’s in one himself. Which means it’s up to Sasaki to make sure their story has a happily ever after…!

This is a touching romance between young men, for a wholesome story.

Cherry Magic: Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!
by Yuu Toyota
Square Enix Manga

Adachi, a thirty-year-old virgin, discovers he has the magical power to read the minds of people he touches. Unfortunately, the ability just makes him miserable since he doesn’t know how to use it well! And to make matters worse, when he accidentally reads the mind of his very competent, handsome colleague, Adachi discovers the guy has a raging crush on none other than Adachi himself! Things are about to get VERY awkward!

A ridiculous plot leads to a very tender adult romance.

Boys of the Dead
by Douji Tomita
KUMA

Introducing Zom-BL!

A collection of six zombie themed boys love short stories set in the USA. The English language debut of the 2017 Four Seasons Manga Award winning artist.

While queer horror is having a renaissance in novels in the US, manga is picking up the slack in Japan. There’s been plenty of vampire BL, but zombies deserve love too!

Next week will be Part 2 – Yuri.

Erica Friedman has written about Yuri for Japanese literary journal Eureka, Animerica magazine, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Dark Horse, and contributed to Forbes, Slate, Huffington Post, Hooded Utilitarian, The Mary Sue, Anime Feminist, Anime Herald and Anime News Network online. She has written news and event reports, interviews Yuri creators and reviews Yuri anime, manga and related media on her blog Okazu since 2002 and is the author of By Your Side: The First 100 Year of Yuri Anime and Manga out from Journey Press.

HEADER IMAGE: Images: Yuricon; Design Elements: Sachi; Font: Euphoragenic

22 Titles to Check Out For Pride in 2022

NONFICTION

POETRY AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

FICTION

YOUNG ADULT AND MIDDLE GRADE

Are you watching “Heartstopper” on Netflix? The final volume of the graphic novel series came out just this year, so if you’re dying to know what happens with Charlie and Nick before the next season…

From the author of best-selling “Red, White, and Royal Blue” and “One Last Stop.”

We’re incredibly excited to annound Robin Gow will be at our store on 12th and Pine for an event on Saturday, June 18th!

PAPERBACK AND RE-RELEASES

RELEASING IN PAPERBACK MAY 31st!

BACK IN PRINT JUNE 7th! PRE-ORDER NOW!

Book Review: “Queerly Beloved,” by Susie Dumond

If you watched a lot of YouTube, like I do, you might have noticed a trend among those who like to turn on their cameras and talk about pop culture: they miss romcoms. Where did the romcom go? they ask, the previous staple of the Friday night movie date is all but lost to nostalgic reboots and superhero sequels. And more and more people are interested, not just in the return of romcoms, but gay romcoms. After all, what better way to update familiar material?

Enter Queerly Beloved

In 2013, Amy is living in the deep red of Oklahoma, closeted while working her day job at a bakery (The Daily Bread) during the day and bartending at the local gay watering hold on select nights. Life is looking pretty bright when she makes a date with the newest soft butch stranger in town, but then she’s outed and fired from the bakery. 

But Amy is resilient, and a chance encounter-slash-conversation leads to a whole new career path: professional bridesmaid. For a reasonable fee, Amy will be the bridesmaid of your dreams. She will stitch up any tear, be careful of mascara while wiping away tears, and wrangle your drunk cousin at the reception before he ruins the toasts.

As her new business picks up, however, Amy is faced with the conflict between her genuine love for weddings and the raw fact that many of the people she’s assisting would fight against her right to ever have one. She’s just a closeted in this role as she was when working for ultra-conservative employers, and not all of her queer friends are wild about the connotations of her new job… including that new beau. Ultimately Amy will have to figure out how to marry her love of weddings — the fantasy, the fanfare, even the fondant — with her growing need for a more raw and unapologetic authenticity when it comes to her own queer identity. 

Queerly Beloved is the debut offering from Susie Dumond, a Senior Contributor from the mammoth online presence that is Book Riot. As a queer writer from Arkansas, she brings a wonderful specificity to Amy’s conflict: the conflict of any queer person living in a polically inhospitable state who still treasures their local community and culture. Queerly Beloved is at its best when it shucks the narrative that queer people should just “move somewhere else,” showcasing them as an integral part of those communities — and pointing out the hypocrisy, especially, in asking this of Native queer people. There’s a lovingly detailed portrait of Red State queer life in its pages that adds something unique to the expected meet-cute-leads-to-misunderstanding of the romantic subplot. 

The book is less sure when it deals with the issue of gay marriage as a concept. There’s a lot of meaty potential to be had in a story about a woman who isn’t legally allowed to marry the person she wants, making a career within the very industry that denies her. But that isn’t what Queerly Beloved wants to focus on — it’s having a lot more fun with stories of Amy’s last-minute saves and improvisational skills, true to its romcom inspiration. The disconnect between the potential seriousness of the subject matter and the book’s insistence on more lighthearted scenes can sometimes create an unevenness in tone, and Amy never really questions the depth of her commitment to weddings as a concept. Other people in the book ask questions like Why is marriage the chosen battleground for equal rights? or Are we chasing a heteronormative ideal when we pursue marriage equality?, but not Amy. When her friends bring up the political and social side of things, she dodges those issues with a straightforward affirmation: she loves weddings, and that’s all that is really important. Amy focuses on the things she can control, and in doing so creates a sphere of influence which can also give comfort and support to others.

Ultimately, Queerly Beloved is a celebration: of hot women in suits, of queer joy, of the diverse experiences and perspectives we have to offer as a community. Dumond urges you to fall in love with the fairytale, and to have hope for the future. Like all the classic romantic comedies, it makes the promise that, even with all the crazy ups and downs, everything will all work out in the end.

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again!

We’ve put together a list of the extraordinary, eye-catching, best-selling titles of our 2021 at PAT @ Giovanni’s Room (so far). These are the books that defined our year: true stories of incredible experiences, fabulous imaginings from diverse perspectives, gorgeous art and photography, and more. We’ve also included a brief collection of what’s always popular, regardless of the year, and of course our perennial CALENDARS!

Don’t forget to to keep our E-Gift Cards in mind when thinking of gifts (for yourself or someone else), and remember we have a CYBER MONDAY SALE! 25% off all website purchases AND free shipping, November 29th!

Wishing you a happy holiday season from everyone here at PAT @ Giovanni’s Room, and we’re excited to see what 2022 will bring.

STATEMENT BOOKS FOR THE COFFEE TABLE

MEMORABLE MEMOIRS

BREAKOUT BOOKS

(Kobabe’s book was a 2019 release, but 2021 was the year it was banned in school districts across several states and has been slated for investigation in several others. We hope this only helps to bring more attention to Kobabe’s heartfelt exploration of identity and gender.)

FICTION FAVES

(new in paperback!)
(new in paperback!)

EVERGREEN FAVORITES

THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES, AND THE CALENDARS TO MARK THEM

New LGBTQ Releases: Fall/Winter 2021

Can you believe we’re almost ready to close out the year? Before we send 2021 out the door, here are a few more releases to keep you entertained as the colder weather creeps in.

OUT IN OCTOBER

NEW IN NOVEMBER

DEFINITELY CHECK OUT IN DECEMBER

TRANS WELLNESS 2021: Poetry