License Request Day: N.Y.N.Y.

June 5, 2009

Hey, did you know? It’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month! The President of the United States said so! We can’t marry in most states or openly serve in the military, but other than that, June is all ours, bitches! (In fairness, I have no desire to do either, but I would like the chance to decline both and have it mean something.)

NYNY1In the spirit of celebration, I’ll devote this week’s License Request Day to a title I first heard about in Paul Gravett’s essential Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics (Harper Design): Marimo Ragawa’s N.Y.N.Y. Here’s a bit of Gravett’s description of the book:

“It follows the lifelong relationship between Kain Walker, a New York cop who has hidden his homosexuality, and his younger blond boyfriend, Mel Frederics, an orphan with a troubled past. Ragawa portrays the strength of their devotion to each other as they face the challenges of coming out, of sexual jealousy, and of living as an openly gay couple.”

NYNY4If you’ve read any of my thoughts on Saika Kunieda’s Future Lovers (Deux Press), you’ll already know that this paragraph amounts to catnip for me. I just can’t resist yaoi where the protagonists are grown-ups with lives and where sexual orientation actually matters.

Ragawa is probably best known among English-reading manga fans for Baby & Me (Viz), one of the earliest Shojo Beat releases. It follows the ins and outs of a young boy who must help his widower father care for his toddler brother, and it’s got some really moving bits in it. (It’s also got some silly, horrifying bits that will have your hand twitching towards the phone to call Child Protective Services, but it’s fiction, so you shouldn’t have a problem stopping yourself.)

N.Y.N.Y. was published in Japan by Hakusensha, which has given the world such gifts as Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket (Tokyopop), Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club (Viz) and Kentarō Miura’s Berserk (Dark Horse). I note this only because I wanted to mention those three books in the same sentence. I’m having a little trouble pinning down precisely where N.Y.N.Y. was serialized, so if anyone has any pointers, I’d be happy to update with the information. Updated: That didn’t take long! Commenter Sean reports that N.Y.N.Y. was serialized in Hana to Yume, which has been the fertile soil for a number of impressive titles. Updated again: Commenter JennyN notes that the book has been published in France by Panini Comics, which led me to find that it has also been published in Germany by Planet Manga. Those might be the same company; I can’t really tell.

But back to my original point, it’s always nice to see some yaoi that’s got some real-world roots. (I think so, at least.) So come on, manga publishers! Don’t violate the spirit of LGBT Pride Month! Give us the four-volume N.Y.N.Y., or at least announce it!


P.S. Not that I’m anywhere close to running out of titles to feature, but if anyone would like to do a Special Guest License Request Day, I’m totally open to that. Contact me if you’re interested.