Much like the manga that this is spun off from, Don’t Call Me Daddy has a title that I think will give people the impression that it’s quite a bit raunchier than it actually is. A sequel, of sorts, to Don’t Call Me Dirty, Don’t Call Me Daddy is a touching BL romance by Gorou Kanbe that shows that you’re never too old for love.
When Hanao’s friend, Ryuuji, shows up at his home in a panic because a baby, that’s apparently his, was dumped on his doorstep, Hanao reassures him that he’ll help him raise the child. True to his word, Hanao shares in the responsibilities of raising Ryuuji’s son, Shouji, and the three of them become like a family unit, so much so, that Hanao begins to find it difficult to conceal the romantic feelings that he secretly harbours for his friend. As Shouji grows, Hanao begins to suspect that the child might be homosexual as well and, when Shouji innocently starts telling people at his day care that Hanao is married to his daddy, Hanao becomes convinced that his presence is warping Shouji’s perception of the world and abruptly decides to cut himself out of both Shouji and Ryuuji’s lives. 20 years later, Hanao and Ryuuji are reunited when Hanao returns to care for his ailing father and Hanao discovers that his feelings for Ryuuji still run deep. Will he and Ryuuji be able to return to being friends? Or is it possible that Ryuuji might actually want something more?
It’s not often that you see a Boys Love manga – or any kind of romance story, for that matter – featuring characters in their fifties and I enjoyed seeing a pair of distinguished men getting all awkward and embarrassed while they try to muddle through communicating their feelings. It’s a funny, sweet and deeply emotional story that focuses on the drama between the lead characters instead of on erotic content, though things do get a little sexy towards the end.
Hanao is absolutely certain that Ryuuji could never return his feelings and has spent years hiding them and trying to be satisfied with being friends, but, when he became a surrogate father to Shouji, it became harder and harder for him to deny the true nature of the love he feels for Ryuuji. Even decades spent apart isn’t enough to alter his feelings and he accidently winds up getting drunk and confessing to Ryuuji after they’re reunited. He tries to pass it off as a joke afterwards, but his words cause the pieces to start to fall into place for Ryuuji. Suddenly, events from years ago start to make more sense and he begins to reflect on his own feelings and how he longs to be a family with Hanao again. But even then, it’s a struggle for him to figure out what he really wants and, even after he does, it’s equally difficult for Hanao to accept that his friend could want him in that way.
It’s a little heart-breaking how internalized homophobia and the fear of society’s judgement, coupled with some straight-up cluelessness on Ryuuji’s part, kept these two apart for so long, but the conclusion to their story is moving and adorable and all the sweeter for the long, lonely wait they had to endure. These two are so cute when the do finally get together that I wish we’d gotten a chance to see a bit more of them as a couple. Hanao is smart and responsible, but tends to take things a bit too seriously, while Ryuuji is laid-back and good-natured, but could stand to think things through a bit more. They’re very supportive of each other and their individual strengths make up for what the other lacks. I’d love to see a sequel that shows them dating!
A tender and poignant tale of unrequited love finally being realized, Don’t Call Me Daddy stands out amongst Boys Love titles due to its unique leads and mature storytelling. I highly recommend this manga to BL fans, especially those who might be getting sick of reading high-school romances and are interested in seeing a story with adult protagonists.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Tokyopop’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Were you tricked by the title into thinking this was going to be a super dirty manga? Let me know in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out my review of Don’t Call Me Dirty, the prequel manga that focuses on Shouji and his boyfriend, and Like Two Peas in a Pod, another BL work by Gorou Kanbe: