I’m no yaoi expert or anything, but I dabble, and I figured with this theme I’d better include at least one! Yaoi = male/male manga (Japanese comics). It’s a genre of its own, with a lot of qualities I find problematic or just not to my taste, but I do have a major favorite: Fake by Sanami Matoh. It’s a seven-volume series originally published in 1993, featuring a romance between Ryo and Dee, two New York City cops.
Here are the reasons I love Fake…
It’s serious. There’s still that stylized manga spazziness in the characters, but there are also real crime plots and intense scenes. It works as a fusion of crime and romance manga, not just a police-themed story. The romance gets dragged out a little in the middle volumes, but for the most part it’s remarkably believable. Dee is totally open about being into Ryo and is constantly pouncing on him in true manga style, while Ryo is more reserved and not sure what to make of this new relationship. It makes sense for him to watch and wait, to question both of their sexualities and not be sure. Dee is openly and consistently bi, which I love since lot of characters are bi in manga but just come across as confused or flighty, or never use the word appropriately at all.
As usual, there are some random children thrown in to be cute, but it actually works! The cops interact with the kids as part of cases, and Ryo ends up taking in Bikky, who’s about 11, and most of the volumes include at least one solo Bikky chapter. He’s wary like a street kid, but naive like an 11-year-old. He’s so adorably punky and a perfect thematic addition to the plot — he ties into the crime elements, and he also very much disapproves of Dee’s advances and functions as Ryo’s human shield.
As an FYI while we’re on that subject, a lot of yaoi stories have major consent problems. Fake toes the line with Dee’s constant pounces and Ryo’s protests, but it stays on this side — Dee is always shown stopping if Ryo’s actually uncomfortable. In fact, aside from its general good writing, that’s probably the main reason I love this. Ryo and Dee are equals, one doesn’t run all over the other or compel the other one through sheer force of personality. I think the typical yaoi plot is something like “Ridiculous overwrought reason to be apart, overcome because one character is fundamentally unable to resist the other, despite his own protests,” but there’s no need for any of that. These are equal people who are falling in love.
Complete in English in seven volumes. ISBNs are below for easy location. If you’re new to yaoi or manga in general, I definitely recommend Fake, since it’s shorter than most manga and has that slightly-more-realistic quality. Oh, and despite Dee’s best efforts, only the last volume is rated Mature. 😉
- Volume 1: 9781591823261
- Volume 2: 9781591823278
- Volume 3: 9781591823285
- Volume 4: 9781591823292
- Volume 5: 9781591823308
- Volume 6: 9781591823315
- Volume 7: 9781591823322