I Want to Be a Wall opens with a very unusual marriage. The bride, Yuriko, is asexual and only interested in relationships if she reads about them in fictional BL stories. The groom, Gakurouta, is gay and is in love with his heterosexual childhood friend. Both husband and wife know the truth about the other, but they have chosen to go into this pretend marriage, and they want to make it work.
They sleep in separate bedrooms, and during the day they attempt to figure out how to be a couple. Gakurouta tries to read BL to understand Yuriko’s hobby, but Yuriko is mortified by his interest. Yuriko watches Gakurouta with the man he loves and imagines them as a couple. They try to figure out how to do household chores and how to make each other happy.
The manga is quirky and has a laid-back, relaxed feel to it, even when it dips into melancholic moments. While parts of it are funny, and it runs with the premise of this surprising marriage, it’s actually really deep and endearing as well. There are flashbacks that show Gaku and his childhood friend, and these pages could come straight out of a real BL book in terms of feelings and yearnings.
There is also a theme where the different characters feel abnormal and struggle with this. Yuriko knows most other women aren’t like her, and she feels like a freak, especially when her otaku friend manages to act more normal and get into relationships. But when the friend reveals she doesn’t want children and all sorts of people are pressuring her to have them, it dawns on Yuriko that what’s normal and wanted for some people might not be normal or wanted for others.
The first volume of I Want to Be a Wall is relatively short at 140 pages, but it gets the job done. It’s sweet-natured, humorous and humanizing, showing how at the end of the day people just want to be understood.
Story & Art: Honami Shirono
Translator: Emma Schumacker
Publisher: Yen Press
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin. She is also the author of its upcoming sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.