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The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
I Want to Be a Wall

What's It About? 

Yuriko, an asexual woman, agrees to take a husband to satisfy her parents—which is how she finds herself tying the knot with Gakurouta, a gay man in love with his childhood friend with his own complicated family circumstances. And so begins the tale of their marriage of convenience.

I Want to Be a Wall has story and art by Honami Shirono and with English translation by Emma Schumacker. Yen Press has released its first volume both digitally and physically for $6.99 and $15.00 respectively.

Is It Worth Reading?

Rebecca Silverman


I wasn't going to give I Want to Be a Wall so high a rating until over halfway through it. In part that's because at first it looked very much like other books with an asexual character, meaning that it didn't look like it was going to get very many things “right,” and certainly the fact that it opens by defining asexuality as an inability to fall in love (which would actually be aromantic) didn't make a very good case for the story. But once the story actually gets into what it was like for Yuriko growing up in a world where falling in love and sexual attraction to some gender(s) or other is considered the gold standard of “normal,” well…let's just say that the volume moved very quickly into “so real it hurts” territory. All of the little cuts made every time someone says something about it being a “shame” that you don't have or seem to want a boyfriend, questions about how maybe you're just denying that you want a girlfriend, flippant comments about just not having met the right person yet – all of those are far too familiar and painful if you belong to the so-called invisible orientation. And all of them can make you think that you're broken somehow.

I don't often actually talk about which particular branch of the LGBTQIA+ tree I call home, but with this book that does feel like an important thing to acknowledge, because when this gets it right, it gets it right. Not all of us have someone who speaks up when the gossips are nattering or explains that if you wouldn't call someone gay or bi “broken” because of who they love or are attracted to, then why would you say that about yourself because of who you don't love or aren't attracted to? It also does a good job of explaining why someone who identifies as aro/ace might still enjoy consuming romance-based media, another less understood element of not being allosexual.

The volume does have its problems. I'm not crazy about the way that Yuriko ships her husband and the straight friend he's in love with, and I'm also not sure why she's so reluctant to let him read her BL manga. Gakurouta's whole plotline of being in love with his childhood friend feels more like something out of a BL book than anything more grounded, and since Yuriko's storyline is handled pretty well, that's a bit of a problem. The art also isn't great, although well within the bounds of readability. But I'm curious enough as to how Gakurouta and Yuriko decided to get married in the first place and how they'll carve out a life for themselves in a difficult world that I may pick up volume two. For now it's enough to know that there's at least one manga out there that gets it right.



Just as there are a plethora of different sexual orientations, there are also variety of different relationship dynamics that people can experience throughout their lives. Society very much establishes how certain relationships are supposed to have their importance informed, such as how marriage is seen to signify a union between partners that are romantically and physically committed to each other. Obviously that is not always the case, but I wasn't expecting to come across a book that would show how marriage itself doesn't define the strength of a relationship, rather it's in the specific pleasure that two people can foster between each other. This is a story about an asexual/aromantic person being married to a gay man yet finding complete satisfaction in that arrangement; in fact, it's probably one of the healthiest marriages I have seen in manga. There is no sexual or even romantic tension between our two leads, but there is a strong kinship that I would argue goes beyond what I think we typically expect from how friendship is portrayed in media. These two listen to each other's worries, try to do right by each other, and are very open about their doubts while trying to overcome them and do their absolute best to understand the hobbies of the other.

This is a marriage where the wife acts as a wingman to her husband who is in love with another man while said husband tries to study up on his wife's love of BL manga. I wish more relationships showed this level of commitment to each other, and it really does hammer in the fact that sometimes you just need to show a willingness to listen and learn from your partner in order for any relationship to work out, whether it be romantic, sexual or otherwise. Obviously this dynamic is informed by the trials and tribulations that come with having atypical sexualities in a typical society. There is a bittersweet aspect to the story when you start to imagine the lives these two must have led before getting married. You want them to relish in the things that make them happy even if they're not the things that make everybody else happy. But that just makes their marriage all the more wholesome because it truly feels like they have found life partners in each other even if there isn't really any romance between them. It's difficult to fully articulate the distinct appeal of this manga, but I really do think that's a testament to its strength and I hope that I'm getting people curious enough to try it out for themselves.

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