July 21, 2009
Sanami Matoh – Tokyopop – 2004 – 7 volumes
This series is often mentioned as a BL manga classic, and… that’s all the reason I need to read it, I guess. It was also on sale, so I picked up the first two volumes.
I was extremely disappointed with what I saw in the first volume, though. This is mostly a matter of personal taste, since I tend to like drama in my BL stories, and Fake so far is heavy on the gags. Case in point, I just wasted an hour re-reading my favorite sections of Bronze. But anyway. The other big problem I had with the series was that it made numerous nonsensical plot points to advance the story. Dee and Ryo are police officers. When they first meet, they are interrupted by a young boy running through the station that happens to be connected to their case. For some reason, the care of this kid is left to the two of them, and even more mysteriously, this leads the three of them to Ryo’s apartment where they all wind up sleeping (innocently) in the king-size bed. Later, Dee and the kid are captured by people connected to the case, and instead of getting police help, Ryo concocts a homemade bomb and infiltrates the kidnapper’s house. In order to get a police presence on the street to notice the explosion, he calls into headquarters and pretends to be a terrorist threatening a bombing. At the end of the story, Ryo adopts the kid.
WHAT?! Why! Why is any of that okay?! It’s really, really not. Those aren’t even minor quibbles with police protocol, like Clarice Starling walking around questioning people by herself and getting caught by Buffalo Bill. Those are just… insane things that I can’t even pretend are going on. The first story is the worst about it, but faux pas like that continue throughout the book. Sometimes they’re easy to pass off. For instance, in a later story, a police sniper and former “friend” of Dee is partnered with Dee and Ryo, and consequently the three of them end up on a stakeout with Ryo also acting as a backup sniper since he’s also an excellent marksman… that’s impossible, but something I can overlook. The real problem is that, despite the gags, the crimes that Dee and Ryo work on are taken very seriously, which is why I find it harder to overlook these things.
The BL themes run through most everything, though I wouldn’t exactly call them the focus in volume one. Dee is apparently bi and enjoys making passes and tormenting Ryo, who maintains that he is straight. There are more and more encounters and hints as the volume goes on, but it’s not really a big part of the story at the moment.
Really, it reads like a kind of comedy sitcom with a police focus… like Police Squad or Naked Gun, except those didn’t take themselves serious enough that I questioned their methods. Also, Naked Gun would have made a hilarious joke about Leslie Nielsen and O.J. Simpson having to share the same king-size bed, whereas Dee and Ryo do it a couple times without comments either to the comedic or the serious here.