Kindred Spirits United in Love
Sanami Matoh created a believable world of men (and women) searching for a sense of who they are while balancing romantic advances toward them. With a plethora of emotions flowing forth, the inhabitants of FAKE are only human. (Well mostly.)
The Fake series became a forerunner of U.S. released yaoi titles, a growing genre in manga and anime. Fans got a taste of this fascinating tale in 2003, and for nearly a year, they anticipated one volume after another. The story is a simple tale of emotional bonds between people, yet revolves around an intricate web of relationships.
Inside NYPD’s 27th Precinct, things aren’t always what they seem, especially in the criminal investigations unit. Randy MacLean is new on the force, and by the end of his first day, chaos consumes life. His first so-called problem is his new partner, Dee Laytner. He is an in-your-face punk cop who asserts himself whenever he feels that it’s necessary, which is the majority of the time. Although he is tough and wild, he is also observant. From day one, he calls Randy by his Japanese name, Ryo, whose eyes are the only indication of his heritage.
Ryo’s second problem is a boy named Bikky, who is tied to Dee and Ryo’s case. Ryo can’t turn a blind eye on this poor kid, so he invites him into his home. This comes with the added bonus of having Dee stay there as well. Before the end of the first volume, Ryo’s house grows with the addition of a girl named Carol, who is part of another case. He also has to deal with constantly being wooed by Dee, and with balancing every hectic second without letting himself become too open.
It only took seven volumes to complete the manga run of FAKE, but a lot can happen in that small amount of space. Several exciting new cases arise, and relationships deepen. There’s rarely a relaxing moment; Sanami Matoh fuses just the right amount of emotion together. Serious moments give way to a hilarious scuffle, and vice versa. One of the most interesting parts of the series is the character interactions, which boost this manga to the top of the yaoi list.
A hectic jumble of relationships is the key to the story. Ryo works great with children, and his relationship with Bikky and Carol is very fatherly. He also has to evade advances from Dee and his superior officer, Berkley Rose. Although he seems reluctant to accept Dee as anything more than a friend or co-worker, Ryo begins to notice a change within himself.
Dee has his own problems: Bikky is not his biggest fan, nor is he of Bikky, an old acquaintance from his academy days is fawning over him, and he has to protect Ryo and himself from Berkley. Only naturally, Bikky and Carol find themselves in peculiar situations.
The characters grow and develop along the manga’s run. Ryo becomes a tad more assertive, and he begins to unfold his tragic past in front of his new friends, as his parents were murdered when he was a teenager. One of his cases happens to take him to the brink of insanity when he finds out what truly happened to them on that fateful day. Dee, Bikky and Carol help to keep him sane. This case also serves to strengthen the connection between Dee and Ryo.
It has been a long trip for FAKE in Japan. It began its manga run in 1994 in Be-Boy Comics, and concluded in 2000. In 2001, a sequel of sorts entitled Like Like Love was published in the Colour artbook. In it, Sanami Matoh reviews the on-going saga of the life and love of Ryo and Dee. This is the definitive end to the mesmerizing tale.
Another piece of the Fake series saga is a one hour, one shot OVA centered on the plot of the second volume of the manga.
In the Fake OVA, Dee and Ryo go on vacation to England together, thanks to some begging from Dee. It's just the two of them at a nice hotel far from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, when the two of them are out on a boat, they notice a body floating on the lake. Dee wants nothing to do with the case, but Ryo can't help but feel guilty for not helping the local police. This wasn't the first murder at the hotel in recent times either; it was the fourth murder, and each victim was of Japanese descent. As night falls, romance blooms as the guys try to push the case out of their minds. A few kisses later, some unexpected guests arrive, as Carol and Bikky interrupt a "touching" moment. The murder case takes an odd turn when Dee and Bikky spot the crying ghost of a young girl. Ryo is reluctant to believe them, but then JJ shows up, causing even more pandemonium. By this time, Ryo has become the next target, and he is attacked one night, leaving a cut in his arm. Happily, Dee saves him from becoming the next fatality. By the time the OVA ends, the case is solved.
For many fans, it is a disappointment that this is the only anime version of FAKE. Although the Fake OVA has been released in the US, the artbook has not.
As for Sanami Matoh, she began her career in 1990 with the release of Techni no Sob. Some of her earliest works are doujinshi for series such as Slam Dunk. Since then, she has released at least a dozen more manga titles in Japan, a few of which are being released in the US (Until the Full Moon, By the Sword, TenRyu: The Dragon Cycle, to name a few), with a popular following of her own.
In typical fashion, FAKE has spawned numerous fan sites on the web. Some are devoted to the manga as a whole, while others obsess over individual characters in writing fanfiction, an effort to create a never-ending FAKE. Now, if only the original shonen-ai series would continue...