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, 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).