5 anime and manga about the LGBTQ experience

LGBTQ+ media is on the rise. And it should be — the narratives woven into such stories are chock-full of messages against our oft-oppressive society. Through simple love stories and coming-of-age masterpieces, they portray uprisings; fights against the all-too common lack of representation, not only in media outlets, but also in politics and healthcare.

We have these stories in the East too. Here are five anime and manga that break boundaries and give us an opportunity to veer into the lives of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, or whatever they identify as.

Wandering Son

Nitori and Takatsuki are not comfortable with their assigned gender at birth. And, being fifth-graders, that’s weird for them. Why does Nitori feel like a girl, and Takatsuki a guy? And why can’t they just act the way they want to act?

Wandering Son is an introspective look at transgenderism at a tender age and the simple, yet monumental struggles that come along with it: from Nitori’s desire to wear a dress, to Takatsuki questioning her need to wear a bra. Gentle, yet emotionally impactful, the anime series invites us to have a more open mindset and a caring disposition, as we never know what people may be struggling with behind the scenes.

My Brother’s Husband 

Yaichi is an ordinary man, living with his daughter Kana in a small house. He cooks, works, and sends Kana off to school as a single father. However, his daily routine is disrupted when his Mike, the Canadian husband of his deceased brother, comes over to stay at his house for a bit.

What results is a heartwarming, yet argumentative commentary on homosexuality in Japan, and a crash course on the idea of “family” for Yaichi. Wholesome and charming, My Brother’s Husband is an emotional manga series about two key components of the human experience: sexuality and family.

Doukyuusei

Doukyuusei is a film that explores the romance between two boys over the course of four seasons. Kusakabe (your average rebel — lots of ex-girlfriends, lead guitarist for a rock band, yellow hair) expresses himself with bombastic, effervescent showcases of physical intimacy. Sajou on the other hand (your average nerd — quiet, smart, bowl cut) prefers to keep his heart closed. Within the judgmental confines of an all-boys school, a question is raised: how do they work it out?

Wistful and colorful, Doukyuusei exuberates youth and the trials that come along with it.

Bloom Into You 

High school. Everyone has romantic expectations for it, right? As grade schoolers, we often view high school as the time when all our idealisms come true. And for this manga’s main character Yuu, it’s the time when all her shoujo manga fantasies come to life —  not.

Instead, she falls into a void of apathetic shock after receiving her first confession from a boy. She soon finds another girl with the same experience: the beautiful student council president Nanami, and together, they try to redefine their perspectives on love.

Bloom Into You subverts the fetishization of a typical yuri anime, and instead conveys a realistic, apprehensive story on what it means to really fall in love.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

28-year old Kabi Nagata is a lot of things: an aspiring mangaka, a lesbian, and also a self-deprecating, self-harming, socially anxious girl who hates her dependency on her mother.

In her autobiography My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, she details a particularly memorable event in her life: a visit to a lesbian brothel, her first sexual experience ever, and the events that preceded this monumental undertaking.

Ultimately a memoir of daily life, the manga sees Nagata opening herself up to us in the form of self-expressive chibi art and large and rambling essays on her thoughts on lesbianism, life direction, and self-care, among other things. As grim as she may sound sometimes, Nagata always carves out space for hope within her narrative, reminding us of our innate ability to live our best lives without fear.

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