Creator: Honami Shirono
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Translation: Emma Schumacker
Lettering: Alexis Eckerman
WHAT IS IT?
A slice-of-life manga about the pretend marriage of two unlikely individuals and the unexpected bond of friendship between them.
Think The Proposal meets Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Yuriko is an asexual woman and life-long otaku* whose biggest source of joy is when her favorite boys’ love couples get their happy ending. Her new husband, Gakurouta, is a dedicated and hardworking closeted salaryman suffering from a life-long one-sided crush on his oblivious best friend, Sousuke. These two individuals have recently tied the knot and have no idea what to do next.
The couple suffers from a lack of life skills and relationship experience, but they are determined to try their best to create a happy home life surrounded by an abundance of BL manga and burnt dinners. Though their marriage will never be a romantic one, the friendship that forms between them is one of understanding and patience unlike anything either have experienced before, and their fabricated marriage may be more beneficial than either of them realize.
The story Shirono crafted is one of humor and honesty. The touching moments of reflection and self-discovery are moving, while the comedy is self-aware and realistic.
The illustrations are simplistic, with light shading and soft features. The characters stray away from traditional manga features, but still transition to the over-the-top comedy moments seamlessly.
Eckerman’s lettering is legible, appropriately placed within the bubbles/boxes, and is highlighted against dark backgrounds well without overwhelming the art in the panels. Even small details like article headlines and manga covers have their own fonts, which adds a nice touch to the slice-of-life tone of the manga.
Translation work is never easy, but Schumacker handled the story with care. The smallest of sound effects are labeled in English and the translation notes in the back are easy to understand and help immensely for those not familiar with the original Japanese/otaku terms used throughout.
Though Yuriko and Gakurouta’s tales of self-discovery only scratches the surface of what many LGBTQIA+ individuals experience, the way Shirono crafted this tale allows readers of all kinds to identify and relate with the story, especially in the latter half when we get to delve into flashbacks.
The comedy is organically woven into the story’s conversations, helping it flow in a realistic manner. It's the comforting kind of humor one would find after long chats with close friends, which enhances the authenticity of the narrative.
Yuriko and Gakurouta’s struggles are never used as the butt of the joke, with the romcom themes being a central point of the manga. It is refreshing to see the serious moments balanced with light humor as the characters learn how to find joy and fun woven in their respective journeys.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Casual conversation/focus on sexual themes and intimacy (though nothing explicit is shown, it is usually in regard to Yuriko’s manga addiction), some heavy themes and topics, and language.
Though the term asexual is used to describe Yuriko, it would be more appropriate to describe her as aroace. This may be due to the fact that they have only recently become more commonly understood in Japan, so the default term used was asexual.
It’s never explicitly stated why these two decided to get married, it leaves readers with a lot of questions as to how our protagonists got into the predicament they’re in (though one can assume it’s for tradition or possibly family requirements). It feels like quite a large oversight in the narrative.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A sweet and humorous slice-of-life manga about the importance of platonic relationships and finding people who understand you, I Want To Be A Wall is a light-hearted story of self-discovery and acceptance. This not-so-romantic romcom is both touching and poignant as Yuriko and Gakurouta finally discover what it means to have someone truly see you for who you are. Volume one establishes the relationships between our main “couple,” as well as those around them, and sets the stage for a moving story about the woman who plays wingman for her husband and the man who desperately tries to be supportive of her BL addiction.
This sweet, simple slice-of-life story delves into the struggles and journeys of LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as the weight that comes with the expectations of tradition, heteronormative gender roles, and societal pressure. It also takes a look at defying the cliches of geekdom and the importance of being honest with yourself, making I Want To Be A Wall a powerful series that dares to tell the truth and provides comfort to those who need it.
HOW DO I READ IT?
*otaku is a term used to describe a mega-fan, commonly obsessed with anime and manga.
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