June 20, 2017

Tokyo Neighbors, Being Gay in Japan

Often the only LGBTQ narratives that we see are focused on the western and predominantly white experience of being queer, but a lovely new web series from Japan is here to change that. Tokyo Neighbors is a charming lo-fi short film series by Onabys Pictures and set in a Tokyo bar in Shinjuku’s Ni-Chome district, focusing on the lives of the bars’ inhabitants.
Delving into interpersonal relationships of this small group of gay men, Tokyo Neighbors is an intimate and authentic experience, with the first episode focusing on the everyday intricacies of dating and being in love as a gay man in Tokyo. The show is a refreshing spotlight on an often ignored segment of Japanese culture.
It has historically been hard to access Japan’s queer manga in any other form than fan-scans, but the publication of a translated collection of Gengoroh Tagame’s iconic gay erotic manga, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, began to change that in 2013. This year saw the English language release of Tagame’s gorgeous slice of life book, My Brother’s Husband, a moving look at the gay experience of living in Japan and the effects that culture and western influence have on being gay there. This year also saw the release of the heartbreakingly honest and beautiful My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kabi Nagata, whose matter of fact style of discussing being a lesbian struggling with anxiety and depression has taken the internet and comics community by storm. 

 Neighborhood bar

Tokyo Neighbors is a wonderful addition to the recent influx of queer storytelling from Japan, and is a great example of a well-made and engaging web series. You can watch the first short film with English subtitles right now! And for those of you who speak Japanese, there are seven episodes for you to enjoy!
Images: Onabys Pictures

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