By Gengoroh Tagame. Published by Pantheon.
Hardcover, 528 pages, B&W, 2022.
A mesmerizing coming-of-age and coming-out graphic novel by the genius writer-artist of the Eisner Award–winning breakout hit My Brother’s Husband
Set in contemporary suburban Japan, Our Colors is the story of Sora Itoda, a sixteen-year-old aspiring painter who experiences his world in synesthetic hues of blues and reds and is governed by the emotional turbulence of being a teenager. He wants to live honestly as a young gay man in high school, but that is still not acceptable in Japanese society. His best friend and childhood confidante is Nao, a young woman whom everyone thinks is (or should be) his girlfriend, and it would be the easiest thing to play along—she knows he’s gay but knows, too, how difficult it is to live one’s truth in his situation.
Sora’s world changes forever when he meets Mr. Amamiya, a middle-aged gentleman who is the owner and proprietor of a local coffee shop and is completely, unapologetically out as a gay man. A mentorship and platonic friendship ensues as Sora comes out to him and agrees to paint a mural in the shop, and Mr. Amamiya counsels Sora about how to deal with who he is. But it won’t be easy. Mr. Amamiya paid a high price for his freedom of identity, and when a figure from his past suddenly appears, the situation becomes a vivid example of just how complicated life can be.
“Rich with visual metaphors, Tagame’s cartooning masterfully reveals the inner life his protagonist battles to conceal.”
—R. Kikuo Johnson, author of No One Else
“Only Tagame could create this deeply moving and original story that at first seems to be about an older gay man mentoring a younger one—and instead, becomes about how they help each other heal.”
—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiography
“Our Colors is a beautiful coming-of-age story describing the complicated inner feelings of characters whose coming out narratives are at least as nuanced as their day-to-day relationships with each other. This is a world full of grace and tenderness for people at all stages of coming into their own.”
—Bowen Yang, writer and actor, “Saturday Night Live”
“Tagame returns with an affecting coming-of-age/coming-out saga, presented in 21 episodic chapters . . . Tagame’s intimate narrative mixes pathos with a healthy dose of melodrama, and his supremely confident artwork, replete with genial character designs and dynamic panel compositions, lend it gravitas. It’s a poignant story that should delight devotees of queer comics, with nice crossover appeal for YA readers.”
“Japanese manga powerhouse Tagame follows the phenomenal success of My Brother’s Husband with another poignant, empowering, gay-centered narrative, again translated by queer manga expert Ishii . . . Tagame’s expressive, detailed, black-and-white drawings once more delight and gratify.”
“The Eisner Award–winning Japanese author of dozens of graphic novels and short stories translated into multiple languages, Tagame tells the story of an artist dreamer named Sora Itoda struggling to negotiate high school as a young gay man, who keeps up the pretense that friend Nao is his girlfriend until he meets openly gay Mr. Amamiya, a middle-aged coffee shop owner who becomes Sora’s mentor. But Mr. Amamiya has his own painful past to confront.” - Library Journal