Gengoroh Tagame (田亀 源五郎, Tagame Gengorō, born 3 February 1964) is a Japanese manga artist who specializes in gay BDSM erotic manga, many of which depict graphic violence. The men he depicts are hypermasculine, and tend to be on the bearish side.
Born into a family descended from samurai, Tagame began his career as a manga artist in 1982, while he was studying graphic design at Tama Art University (多摩美術大学). Around this time on his first trip to Europe he discovered the American hardcore S&M gay magazine DRUMMER. It featured a drawing by Bill Ward, who made a strong impression on my art. In an interview with Vice he said "Bill had an exceptional quality beyond what I found in Japanese gay art at that time". Tagame's works have been published in several Japanese gay magazines, including Sabu, G-men and SM-Z. Since 1986, he has used the pen-name Gengoroh Tagame, and since 1994 Tagame has lived off the profits of his art and writings. In recent years, Tagame has edited a two volume artbook series about the history of gay erotic art in Japan from the 1950s to the present, 日本のゲイ・エロティック・アート (Nihon no gei, erotikku āto, Gay Erotic Art in Japan) volumes 1 and 2.
All his works contain "virile males, or youths, and their apprenticeship of physical and mental submission". Works of his include: Jujitsu Kyoshi at B Product; Emono, Shirogane no Hana (3 vol.) and Pride (3 vol.) at G-Project. Pride Focuses on a masculine power top who is discovered by his even more masculine professor as harboring masochistic tendencies. The professor and the student form a relationship with the professor being the dominant and treating the boy as a slave, using him as a human urinal by peeing in his mouth, and punishing him when he "deserves" it with ways ranging from beating him with a whip to defecating in his mouth to gang rape. Naburi mono, ("Laughing stock") serialised in G-Men in 1994, is about the kidnapping of a wrestler who refused a yakuza boss. One of the yakuza falls in love with the wrestler. They go into hiding together and eventually commit joint suicide to preserve their honour.
His manga Gunji (軍次) was translated into French in 2005, followed by Arena in 2006 and Goku in 2009. An artbook of his works has also been published in France by H&O Editions. An exhibition of his works was held in France in May 2009. Tagame is openly gay.
Tagame has been called the most influential creator of gay manga in Japan to date, and "the most talented and most famous author of sado-masochistic gay manga". Most of his work first appeared in gay magazines and usually feature sexual abuse. Tagame's depiction of men as muscular and hairy has been cited as a catalyst for a shift in fashion amongst gay men in 1995, away from the clean-shaven and slender bishōnen stereotypes and towards a tendency for masculinity and chubbiness. Tagame's work has been criticised by notable gay manga writer Susumu Hirosegawa as "SM gekijō" (S&M theater) for its violence and lack of complex storylines.
A small amount of Tagame's work has been licensed in English; a short story, "Standing Ovations", was included in the third issue of the erotic comics anthology Thickness, and in July 2012, Picturebox announced a short story collection, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, for 2013 release, which will be the first completely bara work published in English in a print format. The book will collect short works spanning 15 years of Tagame's career, including a new story commissioned especially for the book by book designer Chip Kidd. Endless Games was published in 2013 in an English translation by the German publisher the Bruno Gmünder Verlag. Gunji, Fisherman's Lodge (both 2014) and The Contracts of the Fall (2015) were published in English by the same publisher.
His work has also been featured in Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It (2014), "the first English-language overview of gay manga as a genre" according to Graham Kolbeins, who edited the graphic novel from Fantagraphics Books along with Anne Ishii.
His recent work, Otouto no Otto (弟の夫, My Brother's Husband), was awarded an Excellence Award at the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival on November 27, 2015. It is serialized in Futabasha's Monthly Action seinen magazine, and is about a single father who meets his brother's husband after his brother passes away.