Mike is still visiting Yaichi and his daughter Kana. (Mike was married in Canada to Yaichi’s twin brother, who has passed away.) Mike’s visit has caused Yaichi to start thinking about what it might be like to be gay and to begin recognizing the stereotypes and distrust visible in Japanese culture. As the book opens, Yaichi has had a dream about Kana perhaps growing up to marry another woman, and as is so typical, considering how discrimination might affect his daughter brings the issue home to him.
That leads to a key revelation — he grew apart from his twin because he wasn’t accepting of his brother’s coming out. He listened, but he should have been sure not to treat him any differently. Instead, they grew apart. Now, Yaichi is learning how to define family in ways that work for his loved ones — getting along with his ex-wife, for example, because they share a daughter — without worrying as much about what it “should” be.
The activities here are traditional for the Japanese tourist. They take Mike to an onsen, they view Mt. Fuji, they have ice cream. But it’s that time together in normal activities that have allowed Yaichi to grow in his view of what it means to be gay or accepting of gay people, until he’s ready to defend Mike against those who think his marriage is an inappropriate subject for kids.
There’s a lot of material here about secrets. Whether or not someone is out, and how it causes concern and discomfort if they aren’t. Mike meets a friend of his husband’s from high school, but the friend doesn’t want him to acknowledge him in public, as he doesn’t want others to know he’s gay.
I love the way so many conversations occur over meals in this book, reinforcing the concept of family and shared favorites. The characters can be themselves in their home. I also appreciate the art style, focused on the solid, chunky figures of our main characters. They’re substantial, which makes them feel more real.
Finally, Mike does have to leave, and Yaichi reflects on what he’s learned and how it might influence his acceptance of whatever happens in future. The real strength of this series is in the first book, of course, but like Kana, I enjoyed the chance to spend some more time with Mike.