Saturday, January 28, 2017

Collection Review: Fake

Fake by Sanami Matoh is the first yaoi series that I read--if one discounts Descendants of Darkness (which many critics do, placing it in the "too complicated to label" genre).

I believe that I read the first volume through the local library system, which owns nearly all of Gravitation, a series I quickly lost patience with. Memory being what it is, it is possible that I initially Interlibrary-loaned the first 6 volumes (I know I had to order the 7th from Amazon--I then worked backwards to collect them all). 

I was immediately enchanted. I love police procedurals, for one thing (Blue Bloods, The Closer, Law & Order). The series is also exceptionally well-translated; I'm convinced that the translator, Nan Rymer is also a Law & Order fan. The slang, interoffice grumblings, in-office arguments, use of expletives and contemporary allusions are entirely appropriate to the genre and to Law & Order specifically. (I have elsewhere compared Dee to Mike Logan from original Law & Order. Ryo, on the other hand, is the archetypal dreamy hero.)

Dee in Mike Logan-mode
In some ways, Fake was an entirely appropriate introduction to yaoi: the high jinks, ADHD ongoing action, the entire lack of reality despite the realistic setting: everyone in the police department is completely blithe about Dee and J.J.'s sexuality. Eh, so they're bi and gay, hey, who cares?! FYI: The series is set in 1996, not the distant future.

In some ways, reading Fake first was a little misleading. I had no idea until much later that having Dee and Ryo be tall, obviously masculine, and equally aggressive (cop-wise) was in any way unusual for yaoi, especially yaoi in 1996. Dee is the pursuer while Ryo is the pursued--but again, I didn't realize until much later that their seme/uke roles are quite unlike those in much other yaoi. Dee is always trying to kiss Ryo but there is no non-con, and he accepts Ryo's apparent disinterest with grace and surprising maturity (this is Dee we're talking about). As for Ryo, he isn't a straight man falling in love against his will with another guy. He's a gay man coming to terms with being gay.

I had no idea that any of this was outside-the-box. All I cared about, then and now, was the stories and character development. Each volume has several "cases" from a serial bomber to several serial killers to a couple of drug lords. Each case is well-plotted. There's an overarching plot with a sweet resolution. As for character development, I discuss Dee and Ryo here.

The series does end a tad abruptly. Matoh had clearly decided that she needed to move on to a new project. After all, the panels are densely packed with illustration: the series (of 7 volumes) must have involved a great deal of work.

Matoh's art changed slightly later on--I'll discuss this when I get to Until the Full Moon. For now, I will state that Matoh continues to represent for me the powerful enchantment of art-in-motion (see post about Good Manga Art).