So this manga is a TRIP.
It's a gothic mystery/horror/romance set in 1950s Japan about an (arguably non-binary(*)) sad loser, Taichi, who gets dragged into a Mysterious Treasure Hunt in an Old Tower Full of Deadly Traps by Tetsuo, a cool and sexy trans man with Secrets. It has a whole bunch of queer characters, written with a lot of complexity and compassion.
It's also incredibly violent, has All The Triggers, and is really, really
into contrasts between gender/body/presentation, especially ogling Tesuo's breasts (but also the cis women's breasts). It's a big mess of psychosexual gender issues, and the treatment of characters who are feminine and/or afab is...patchy, especially the Very Unfortunate Trans Woman.
Also the plot is increasingly batshit ridiculous, including a bunch of stuff I generally dislike, like it starts
with an Implausibly Deadly Treasure Hunt and Bizarre Serial Killer and things just escalate from there.
But I also quite enjoyed it?? It's exciting, with lots of twists and turns, and also has that thing some horror has of just...finding peace and compassion in the grotesque, where everyone is a gross weirdo covered in (literal or metaphorical) blood and it doesn't judge. A lot
of people suffer and die, but there's connection and kindness and happiness too, even between people who have done horrible things to each other. And while the treatment of the queer characters is certainly not Ideal, they get to be real complex people, and their sense of themselves is respected. Like, at one point Tetsuo has to wear a dress, and this is 100% drawn as sexy, but also
as a horrifying violation. (I mostly found the art ugly and unsexy, but it's not subtle in it's aims) And Taichi is also
forced to dress as a woman (which he finds way less violating than he expected, though he does experience some harsh lessons about sexism in 1950s Japan) and you get mild cheesecake chapter art of him like this
The treatment of disability, when it comes up, is similar: the disabled chareacters are kinda freaky and horrific, but everyone's
kinda freaky and horrific. People do go Violently Crazy, and it's not actively trying to talk about disability the way it is queerness, but it doesn't feel as ableist as a lot of horror.
And like...it's not really a story about
being queer, it's a Tropey Adventure where a bunch of the characters happen
to be queer. And that's rare.
So yeah. I saw a rec for this years ago, when it ended, and thought "I bet I'd enjoy that but only if I was in EXACTLY the right headspace", and happened to be reminded of it by torachan's review
and sat down and read pretty much the whole thing in one sitting.
(*)This is less unambiguous than the binary trans characters, but it feels like that's just because people from the 1950s had nothing approaching a concept of what being non-binary would even mean. He's unambiguously not
a straightforward cis man.
Spoilery content details/warnings and reactions under the cut.( Collapse )( Collapse )
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