This series is still pretty weird, and it still moves at an unnaturally quick speed for me. There were two cases in the beginning that were so short and abridged, there was none of the dramatic build-up they usually try for. The third case was pretty good… it was the infamous crossover with Suki. Dakara Suki, and I thought the pacing and situations on that one were good… and the ending of the volume was suitably cryptic and gory as a result.
This is touted as a shounen ai series. There’s the obvious pairing of KakeixSaiga, but Kazahaya and Rikuo seem really, REALLY forced as a pairing. The scene where Kazahaya gets mad about the first name thing, while extremely funny and cute, was kind of obvious as some element bringing the pairing closer together. Then there’s the blatant shounen ai in the back as the bonus drug… which also made me laugh ^_^ Actually, that one didn’t bother me, it was just funny, especially since such emotion was supposedly contained within Rikuo, the most stoic man alive, for chocolate. More bonus points going towards Kazahaya for freaking out so much about the obvious gay implications. And the language used in the translation was brilliant. You’d have to be pretty out of it in order to not immediately think of dicks when he says he needs something soft to lick in order to satisfy him (though it would’ve been even better had he been craving something… oh, I dunno, salty). It was so funny… rarely do I laugh when reading manga.
Overall, though the first part of the volume was kind of shitty, the second part made a vast recovery, and dare I say, made me look forward to volume three. Not one of my favorite series, not even by CLAMP, but it did make a marked improvement… though it does still suffer from fast pacing and a forced coupling.
I’m gonna have to get out of the bad habit of calling this series “Lawful Drug.” Anyway. Going into it, I knew it was sort of a shounen ai series that centered around the paranormal and some boys working in a mysterious drug store. Sort of par for the course for CLAMP, and because it was CLAMP, I bought it. I loved Tokyopop’s presentation, with the color pages and endpapers and whatnot. So there’s more love for Tokyopop. On with the content.
My main problem with it, along with many other series, is that the story moves way too fast. I sort of want these mystery-type stories to go into at least a little more detail. The general plot to each of them is great, and I like reading them, but they just move waaaaay too fast. They cram so much into so little space, and it needs to be expanded. At this point, after the first chapter where the drug store was introduced along with the characters, it seems like that framing device can probably be left behind and each new story can just start with the characters on the case, rather than messing around beforehand and not adding anything to that drug store setting. I’m getting a progressively lower and lower tolerance for this sort of thing as I see it more and more, but since it’s a CLAMP series, I’ll leave it be. A good example of the sort of pace and detail I like to see is Tokyo Babylon, which almost did it to excess, but at least it tried.
At this point, the characters just strike me as extremely two-dimensional. I realize this is to add another level of mystery to the story and we’ll get some more depth and dimension as the series progresses (and ultimately stops dead in its tracks), but at this point it’s annoying. However, I think I’ll probably wind up quite pleased with them in the end, particularly Kakei.
Those were two major bad points, but the rest of the series is pretty okay. Well, the only other thing I can think of to say about it is that the little mysteries from chapter to chapter were really interesting, as I said. They did engage me and make me want to see the outcome, even if they did move too fast. For that, I do like the series. Overall this is sort of a poor first volume, but I feel like I’ll be rewarded for continuing the series, so I’ll probably do so. And yes, I will admit that there are some truly terrible CLAMP series. “Please, 20 Masks!” is the one I just absolutely can’t stand, and had it not been two volumes long, I probably would have left it at volume 1, CLAMP or no.