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Vietnamese Historical Gay Romance Wins Bronze at Japan International Manga Award

A gay-themed comic from Vietnam recently won a bronze award at the Japan International Manga Award.

The winning entries were announced by the award committee on December 21. This year, there are one gold, three silver and eleven bronze awards, given out to authors from South Korea, France, Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, Spain, Indonesia, Brazil and Taiwan.

Bẩm thầy Tường, có thầy Vũ đến tìm! (Rain in a Moon Night), a web-comic-turned-manga penned by Vietnamese mangaka Hoàng Tường Vy, was among the eleven bronzes given out. It’s set in feudal Vietnam and follows the daily life and romance of thầy Tường, an apothecary, and thầy Vũ, a Confucian teacher. The honorific “thầy” was often used for educated men during the time.

Vũ (left) and Tường (right). Image via Facebook page Hôm Nay Vuy Vẽ.

The Japan International Manga Award was established by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007 to promote Japanese pop culture abroad. This was not the first time works by Vietnamese authors clinched the prestigious manga award: Long Thần Tướng (Holy Dragon Imperator) and Địa Ngục Môn (Gateway to the Underworld) both won silver in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Hoàng Tường Vy is currently an animation student in Germany. She uploaded the prologue to Rain in a Moon Night on her blog in April 2020, originally intended to be just a slice-of-life comic strip. However, as the world of Tường and Vũ grew, it inspired her to expand on their story into a narrative. The Vietnamese name of the manga was lifted from a line in the prologue by a young assistant at Tường’s traditional medicine practice.

The manga in physical form. Image via Facebook page Hôm Nay Vuy Vẽ.

The comic series received overwhelming support by local fans and resulted in a publishing deal with Comicola. So far, two volumes have been released with three more in the works, according to Tuổi Trẻ, the manga will also be published in English. At the moment, fans can read English-language translations of the series on the Webtoon app.

The popularity of Bẩm thầy Tường, có thầy Vũ đến tìm! reflects Vietnam’s openness regarding LGBT matters. While same-sex marriage is not legally acknowledged yet, homophobia in Vietnam is considerably less severe than some of its regional counterparts. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health issued a directive stressing that “homosexuality is not a disease” and urging medical professionals to be respectful and considerate while treating LGBT patients.

[Top image via FAHASA]

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