When our local comic book shop recently began divesting itself of its manga stock, I started availing myself of the opportunity to explore some of the older series on the shelves (Battle Vixens, Comic Party, the Samurai Champloo manga) as well as catch up on some series that I'd let fall by the wayside (picked up five volumes of GTO, f'rinstance). One of these series, Sanami Matoh's Fake (Tokyopop), was of a genre of manga that I'd regularly heard about but hadn't yet read: shōnen-ai manga, whose main plot focuses on the growing attraction between its two male leads. It appears to be a popular storyline for girl readers, and Matoh's series, which was first published in Japan in 1994, has had a successful seven volume run. Tokyopop's translated version of the series debuted in 2003, and at present all seven volumes appear to be available in the U.S. Additionally, a new "second season" of the series has reportedly debuted this spring in a Japanese magazine called Hug, though it's probably too soon to tell if this second batch of Fakes will make it to these shores.
In any event, I picked up a copy of the first book in the series to see what all the to-do was about. The series centers on two young and dreamy NYC cops, Randy (a.k.a. Ryo) Mclean & Dee Layter (is English adapter Stuart Hazleton to blame for the puns in these names?), who work out of the 27th Precinct. Ryo is the newbie, a blond-haired androgynously pretty recruit who immediately attracts the attention of a female desk sergeant when he comes in to report for work. (First full shot we get of his face, the background of the gritty precinct is suddenly filled with flowers.) He's partnered with Dee, who we first see getting chewed out by the outrageously large-mouthed precinct Chief for what we presume are the usual Rule Bending Cop violations of procedure. Just yer typical NYC cop shop, in other words.
First case our duo gets assigned concerns a murdered mule named Dick Goldman, who was running dope for a local drug kingpin named Richard Feldman (when I initially read this chapter, I had to go back to verify that the editor hadn't made a slip-up – what's the idea of giving two characters names that are so close to each other?) Dead Guy Goldman has a son named Bikky, a roller-skating bi-racial street kid whose unruly blond hair pokes out from under his cap, making him look like a would-be Thompson Twin. Bikky is pugnacious and prone to sudden outbursts of temper -- a younger version of Dee, in a lot of ways -- but Ryo breaks through the kid's barriers by being his nice guy empathetic self. Though Dee protests ("he's still a kid out of the 'hood!"), the rookie detective decides to take Bikky in. Ryo doesn't know, of course, that the young kid is in possession of his dad's drugs – and, since no one seems to think of searching the little spud when they have him at the precinct, he's a target for Still Living Guy Feldman.