RA-I

Sanami Matoh – Tokyopop – 2006 – 1 volume

I have no idea why the title is punctuated like that. The main character’s name is Rai, his sister is Rei, and his older brother is Rou.

I picked this up after I enjoyed Fake so much, and this is very much in the same vein. Romantic comedy manga circa the early 90s. This one is a straight shoujo romance instead of BL, and is heavier on the comedy than Fake was (Fake also leaned hard on the action), but it’s also only one volume, and is fairly charming.

Rai, a boy genius and also a psychic, seeks out the private investigation firm of Al Foster. Someone is trying to kill Rai, and he wants Al to find out who. Rai is accompanied by his older sister, Rei, who is obviously a romantic interest for Al from page one. Rai and Al also have a banter-heavy love-hate relationship similar to Dee and Bikky from Fake. The two slowly uncover the plot to murder Rai, and the finger points directly at his beloved older brother Rou, the heir to their family fortune.

The book consists of several self-contained stories. After the murder plot, Rai and Rei join Al’s PI firm permanently, and Rai does a solo investigation into a kitten who communicates with him psychically. The kitten is psychically linked to a little girl who is being held against her will by men that are blackmailing her father, and Rai stops the girl’s father from doing anything stupid. The girl, Rathe, is the equivalent to Carol in Fake. Rai and Rathe spend the story mostly as 13-year-olds, but much like Fake, the last story features them in their late teens, with their relationship in a somewhat more advanced state. The other story in the volume is all about getting Al and Rei together for good, and is more about Al spying on Rei’s fiancee than it is an actual mystery.

Unfortunately, both the storylines and the characters are fairly simple (again, a lot like what you’d find in Fake), so I don’t have a whole lot to offer in the way of commentary. I was a little put off by the psychic powers initially, but they aren’t really the focus of the story here. Rai occasionally gives people psychic blasts, and Rathe is gifted at telepathy, and there’s one other character later on that can do both, but other than that, mostly it’s about the relationships and the mystery plots rather than supernatural powers. Which is a good thing, because the powers aren’t that great.

It’s an enjoyable read, and an awful lot like Fake. The romances are cute, but the humor isn’t much my flavor. I can recognize that it’s a well-written volume, though. If you liked the humor in Fake, you’ll find more of the same thing in this volume. Despite the close of Tokyopop, this should be fairly easy to obtain, at least for the near future, and it was still in stock new at most online retailers when I bought my copy a few months ago.


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