Getting impatient for more Yuri!!! on Ice? Here are some comics to read while you wait for the anime’s movie to drop.
1.Wandering Son by Shimura Takako
For those who liked the anime’s gender-noncomformity
Yuri!!! on Ice stopped short of genderqueer representation, but the portrayal of Yuri’s feminine skating routine in Episode 3 toyed with gender expectation in novel ways. It pleased many looking for LGBTQ themes. For more respectful handling of queer gender, it’s impossible not to recommend Wandering Son.
Shimura Takako’s deft coming-of-age tale about the lives of two trans children has the tendency to show up on any list of LGBTQ manga. This was partly out of critics’ desperation to keep the series alive; despite widespread critical acclaim, Wandering Son met with pitifully low sales in the West and soon went out of print. Nevertheless, it’s worth the effort of hunting this series down. Wandering Son is one of the best explorations of queer gender in manga, but the primary reason to read it is simply that the writing is excellent. Shimura’s gentle, human story handles pressing social issues delicately but unflinchingly, without ever letting itself get too didactic. For those who need more convincing, the English edition was translated by the utterly fantastic Matt Thorn. Her cultural notes are a joy to read in and of themselves.
If you don’t want to shell out $100 for battered secondhand copies of Volumes 1 to 4, there’s a good chance you can find them for free at your local library. This comic is well worth the search.
2. Welcome to the Ballroom by Takeuchi Tomo
For those who really loved watching the skating routines
Welcome to the Ballroom features everyboy Tatara Fujita, a directionless high schooler whose chance encounter with a local dance instructor pushes him to become a competitive dancer. Much like Yuri!!!, Welcome to the Ballroom focuses on men competing in a sport that’s frequently feminine-coded, although this manga is far more attuned to the male gaze. (The artist likes to throw in panty-shot panels, for one thing.)
Bringing its characters’ dance routines to life is where Welcome to the Ballroom really shines. Takeuchi Tomo makes ample use of speed lines and foreshortening to convey motion, splendidly capturing the passion and intensity of each performance. Khursten Santos has compiled some of the comics’ best panels over at Otaku Champloo to showcase Takeuchi’s dynamic visual storytelling. She, too, recommends it for Yuri!!! On Ice fans, so you don’t have to take my word for it. Plus with an upcoming anime adaptation, there’s no better time to start reading this comic.
3. My Brother’s Husband by Tagame Gengoroh
For those who want more queer men in cute slice-of-life scenarios
Tagame Gengoroh is best known for the kind of manga that can’t be read in front of polite company. This all-ages slice-of-life was a departure from his usual gay erotica comics. It won an Excellence Award in the 2015 Japan Media Arts Festival, one of Japan’s more prestigious ways of saying, “This comic is really darn good.”
Mike is the titular husband, a Canadian man who was once married to the protagonist Ryoji’s twin brother. “Was”, because Ryoji’s brother passes away before the story even begins. When Mike comes to visit to pay his respects to the family, Ryoji’s daughter Kana takes an immediate shine to her new foreign uncle, forcing Ryoji to confront his own prejudices. A different artist might have turned the story into a romance; Tagame is more interested in the ties that bind family together. The relationship between Kana, Ryoji and Mike builds up slowly but surely, creating a caring (if unconventional) household. Unlike Wandering Son, My Brother’s Husband does have a whiff of the after-school special, but Tagame’s quiet family drama has a humble charm that shouldn’t be missed.
4. What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Yoshinaga Fumi
For those who appreciated Yuri!!!’s foodie ad bumpers
From katsudon to pirozhki, the favourite dishes of characters in Yuri!!! on Ice play a surprisingly central role to their character development. And then of course there are those scrumptious-looking ad bumpers that render whatever international cuisine the charcters are eating in loving detail.
When it comes to manga targeting gourmands, it’s hard to top Yoshinaga Fumi. Yoshinaga is known for two things: her well-written characters, and her obsession with good food. At one point, she was even commissioned to create a series of Tokyo restaurant reviews, collected in the delightfully-named Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy. Not Love But Delicious Foods isn’t my pick for this list, however. Neither, sadly, is the phenomenal Antique Bakery. One out-of-print title per recommendation list is more than enough.
Instead I’d like to suggest her most recent manga, What Did You Eat Yesterday?, which focuses on the domestic life of a middle-aged gay couple. In the story, closeted lawyer Kakei Shirou finds it difficult to express affection as easily as his partner, Yabuki Kenji. He compensates for the gap by making hearty homecooked meals for them to share. Part recipe book, part dry comedy, What Did You Eat Yesterday? is filled with endearingly flawed characters who make you want to join them at the dinner table.
5. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi
For those seeking more thoughtful portrayals of mental health
While subtle, the hints that Yuri may be suffering from anxiety were not missed by viewers. Searching for more stories with sensitive portrayals of mental illness reminded me of the recently-released My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. The comic was originally published on Pixiv, before East Press made it available in book form. (The cover above has been amateurishly censored by yours truly, because My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is as frank about sexuality as it is about, well, everything.)
In this funny yet poignant autobiography, Nagata Kabi depicts her struggles with depression and an eating disorder. At the beginning of the comic her life is in shambles. She’s moved back in with her parents, who she loves desperately but can’t get acknowledgement from. Her body is falling apart, and she’s barely holding down a part-time job. Over the course of the story, she grapples with her sexuality and finds that it might just be the key to finally understanding herself.
Summarized like that, My Lesbian Experience sounds terribly grim. But in spite of its raw emotion, the writing has an unexpectedly light touch. Nagata’s cute, simplistic art uses humour as a counterbalance to the weighty subject matter. Her problems aren’t magically cured, but the manga ends on a surprisingly uplifting note. It’s well worth a read for anyone interested in accurate depictions of mental illness.