Shimanami Tasogare was recommended to me by a commenter, FacelessGrunt, as a true-to-life GLBTQ+ story.
I was skeptical at first, mostly because it was published as seinen, which made me worried that “realism” was going to equal tragedy and nothing more. But, Kamatani-sensei is, themselves, non-binary, so I needn’t have worried.
How do I even begin to describe this manga? I suppose it’s basically the coming out story of Tasuku Kaname, except that the story starts with him being outed by his browser history.and a group of nosy high school boys. He considers suicide, but by chance thinks he sees a woman doing the same thing in the distance, and runs off to try to save her. Only it turns out that what he saw was (a vision?) of Anonymous, who runs and owns a clubhouse for queer folks.
The manga follows all the people who are regulars there as Tasuku gets to know them all. A lot of gender and sexual identities are represented at the club: there’s a straight trans man, a lesbian couple, an androgynous asexual, an older gay man, and a lot of people just trying to figure out what they are, including a young boy who likes to crossdress, but who isn’t sure that means anything more than that.
They also all have a rehabbing construction company because the island they live on is full of a number of houses that are in need of repair…and that pulls in a number of people from around the island, including the boy that Tasuku likes.
This is probably the first manga that I would consider categorizing as ‘magical realism.’ There are a lot of scenes where the metaphors are drawn out as physical manifestations and there are times when Anonymous seems to be a magical creature who can fly and become transparent. The manga asks the reader to roll with it, much like Anonymous herself, expects the characters to accept her as she is, without questions.
There is tragedy, but there’s also love and acceptance. I cried both kinds of tears reading this.
I would recommend, 150%