Review – Don’t Call Me Dirty

Posted May 19, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Don’t Call Me Dirty

Don't Call Me Dirty

by Gorou Kanbe

Genres: Manga, Romance
Pages: 176
Rating: three-stars

After some time in a long distance sort-of-relationship with his crush, Shouji is crestfallen when weeks of getting ghosted finally result in a confession: his boyfriend just isn't gay. Having struggled with his sexuality for years, Shouji throws himself into his work to distract himself from the rejection — but when a young homeless man called Hama shows up at the shop, Shouji finds himself curious to learn more about him and, hopefully, befriend him. Attempting to make their way in a society that labels each of them as 'outcasts' and 'dirty,' the two men grow closer. Together, they begin to find they have more in common than either of them could have anticipated.

Gorou Kanbe’s Don’t Call me Dirty surprised me. It was available to read with a subscription I have so I gave it a try when I wasn’t really in the mood to read anything substantial. The main character, Shouji, is a young man who works in his dad’s liquor store and helps out next door in the snack store. He’s gay and everyone knows it, because his dad is a blogger who talks constantly about their whole life.

When he gets dumped by his bicurious sort-of-boyfriend, he gets interested in the life and actions of a local homeless man (Hama) who acts noble and kind despite suspicion. Initially it seems kind of insulting, like he’s interested to distract himself and then dis­placing his feelings onto his new friend. But there are some surprisingly affecting scenes in which he admits his fears (about being “dirty”, in part because of his ex’s behaviour) and Hama begins to reciprocate.

Ultimately the happy ending involves figuring out how to get Hama off the street, and Hama becoming a productive member of society again. The whole thing is not really subtle in the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ message, but… there is genuine sweetness between the characters — and the people around them. Shouji might have a dad who talks more easily to the internet than him, but he’s 100% fine with his kid being gay — even supportive, in his own way — and there’s a surprisingly strong bond bet­ween Shouji’s dad and the next door neighbour, which we also catch glimpses of.

Overall, I was surprised to find that I did get pretty invested in this one, after not really being encouraged by the title/concept.

Rating: 3/5

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