The co-founder of last year's rocky Japan Expo 1st Impact talks about all the dramatic changes to this year's event, what went wrong last time and what to expect from this year's show at the San Mateo Event Center.
It's purely by accident that this review is being posted a week after national Gay Pride day (which came to my attention in the form of a bookstore display that included "Daddy's Roommate", "Heather Has Two Mommies" and a Tinky-Winky Teletubby stuffed animal). Being a fairly accepting person, I probably enjoyed Fake a bit more than the average American guy.
Dee Laytner is a NYPD cop. His partner, half-Japanese pretty-boy Randy "Ryo" McLane is the object of his affections. Dee brow-beats his boss into letting them go on vacation at the same time. We all know where THIS one is going, right??
Well, no. First of all, he has to bribe the live-in pain-in-the-ass Bicky into NOT coming with the two of them on their trip to the English countryside, then there's actually getting in the mood and getting Randy to take him seriously. Then there's those weird dead bodies that keep surfacing in the lake adjacent to the hotel and that weird guy that seems to be popping up in odd places. Turns out the two have a real murder mystery on their hands. Will Dee ever get to romance Randy? Well, this follows the typical shoujo manga love comedy plot line pretty closely, so my guess is... probably not until the very end of the manga, and this little OAV probably doesn't even cover one volume.
Fake can't resist being overwhelmingly silly at times (a Ghost Story? With NYPD cops?! Come on..) but the relationship between Dee and Randy is very well-presented, and never suffers from the "huh huh/eww... they're gay!" point of view, nor the "they're two men and this is okay" soap box that so many non-Japanese films involving homosexual relationships resort to. Like most "shonen-ai" (boy-love) anime, this one is totally non-judgemental and takes the relationship as-is.
...But is it something straight guys will like? Sure, girls will probably like the love story/mystery aspect of the show, and of course gay men will find nothing wrong with any of this, but us straight men can probably get into it if we're liberal enough. If the sight of two men tongue-kissing doesn't bother you (and having watched everything from Cool Devices to Violence Jack to Ai no Kusabi--not to put those in the same category or anything--without flinching, this wasn't a problem for me) there's enough fun in Fake to keep you interested.
The dub, the second release from AnimeWorks by Bang Zoom! Productions, is actually excellent. None of the characters sound stereotypically gay (which would have stripped ANY respectibility from the show), and all are well cast and acted. (There is a VERY slight amount of the lame mixing we saw in Ninja Cadets, but not much.) Kudos to another dubbing studio that has its act together!
So, yeah, women will like it. Gay guys will like it. Homophobic straight guys should probably avoid it. Accepting straight guys... you'll probably like it.
Overall (dub) : B+
+ Fairly funny. Respectful of characters without being preachy
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