There will be spoilers for the novel or novel series Until I Meet My Husband.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to homophobia, self-hatred, cheating, bullying, sexism, toxic masculinity, abuse, domestic violence, drug use, nonconsensual porn, alcoholism, gender dysphoria, transphobia, suicidal ideation, pedophilia, toxic relationships, dubious consent (dubcon), mental illness, and depression, as it appears in the novel or novel series.
This is the story of Ryousuke Nanasaki. From the time he was small, he always knew he was different. Whether it was the way he spoke, the way he walked, or the things he enjoyed, he never could mesh with what the world expected him to be as a little boy. This only became all the more apparent when he began going to school and was incessantly bullied for being a “girly-boy.” Whether it was by adults or his peers, he was always treated as an “other” until he met Tsukasa. Of course, Tsukasa was Ryousuke's best friend, but more than that, he was his unrequited first love.
This starts a journey of self-acceptance, self-love, and the journey for true love for Ryousuke Nanasaki. Ryousuke has never been what the world perceived as normal, but that would never stop him. He wants true happiness with the one he loves and wants that for everyone, no matter who you choose to love.
I read this after the manga. This particular review will be exclusively for the novel version. I have read the manga, as well, because these two are very different, and I think it's essential to explore what both of them show in their respective mediums. I was really impressed by the way the author presented himself based on the manga because he was candid about himself and his experiences as a person, whether it put him in a bad light or not. I actually now think the manga was very kind. Ryousuke is very honest, admitting to cheating, being cruel to his friends due to his self-hatred, and so much more. He was a real asshole for much of the novel, but I like how he bares it all for us to judge. It really gives credit to his character and his ability as a narrator for his own story.
Something that had been left out of the manga that was included in the novel was the section of his life where he dated Hiroki. Hiroki becomes addicted to drugs, and Ryousuke does everything he can to support him through his addiction and mental breakdowns. This “arc” of Ryousuke's life is probably some of the darkest over the course of his entire life. Ryousuke can only watch as the person he loves spirals out of control. It's punctuated poignantly with their break up, which ends with a conversation where Hiroki hopelessly declares that Japan will never come around and that they will always be seen as freaks. This is toward the end of the novel, and to have that deep hopelessness right at the cusp of the end was terrifying. Then, we get to the end, when we see Ryousuke and Ryousuke-kun (his husband) married in a religious and symbolic ceremony. It was a beautiful turn against the future that Hiroki had assumed. From the pit of hopelessness to the peak of hope – a beautiful story beat, indeed, and I wish we could've seen it in the manga.
One of the key differences between the manga and the novel is how much more emotion and internal monologue we get from Ryousuke. This is to be expected, of course, as manga is a visual medium, so it would be near impossible to include every minute detail, but that makes the novel so charming. For example, there is a moment in the novel when he sees Takuma for the first time. He refers to him as Zoro (from One Piece) until he learns his first name. I cackled. There are so many little quips and things like that scattered throughout that give the story so much more depth and help counteract the more negative moments we see of Ryousuke. It is a wonderful way to remind us that he is a real person, and this is a story about his real life.
The best part about this, though, compared to the manga, which does leave much of this out, was Ryousuke's pleas for equality, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It was eye-opening to see how gay men were (and still are) neglected and persecuted in society. For example, after being punched by his partner, Ryousuke tried to call an abuse hotline, only to be told they could do nothing for him since he was a man. There was also an instance where a police officer refused to assist after Ryousuke got his wallet stolen, claiming that because Ryousuke and the culprit were gay, they might waste “man-hours” hunting the culprit down only for Ryousuke to drop the charges because they fall in love with each other. It's a disgusting view into the ignorance and neglect Ryousuke has faced being out and proud in society.
This is an honest account of a real person on their journey of self-acceptance. This provides a view into the life of a gay man with stark and often painful clarity. The manga is heart-rending, but the novel goes so much deeper. It really hones in on the gay experience for himself and his partners. While the manga focused almost solely on Ryousuke and barely scratched the surface of the homophobia and discrimination Ryousuke faced. That's not to say this is the whole picture, as this is only one person's view, but it is powerful. I highly recommend this story to anyone, though not without warning: you must get through the rain to see the rainbow on the other side.
Have you read Until I Meet My Husband? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!