By the heavens above, thank you for FAKE. After years and years of reading the same type of BL-manga, I have come to realize what a rare treasure Sanami Matoh’s FAKE truly is.
When Randy ‘Ryo’ MacLean starts working for the infamous 27th precinct, he is immediately teamed up with Dee Laytner in hopes that he will be able to bang some sense into the boisterous slacker. However, Dee proves himself to be quite a handful, who instead manages to rile the otherwise calm and level-headed Ryo up.
What I love about this series is that the two main characters don’t meet and instantly fall in love with each other. You actually get to see them working on their cases, interact with each other as colleagues and friends, adopt a kid (well, Ryo adopts a kid) and fall in love with each other throughout the course of the series. Yes, there is sexual tension between the two of them and lots of heated moments, but the actual smut doesn’t happen until the last volume.
Also, while they possess some stereotypical seme/uke stereotypes they are not defined by these stereotypes. Dee is a very caring individual towards those he holds dear: Ryo, Bikky and Carol, the nun who raised him and the children at the orphanage, and once a year he goes to the graveyard to pay respect towards the man who was the closest he ever regarded as a father. Neither is Ryo some weak little wuss who needs his seme to take care of him. Yes, he is a bit shy and can be very naïve, but he is not a helpless damsel-in-distress. He is a very capable cop, is physically strong (even when drugged he managed to stand his ground). Also, he’s a terrific gunman and has the best aim among the whole precinct.
And this is what really makes FAKE better than most BL-manga. The characters feel more realistic than in most manga, not just the BL-genre but just overall. It was good back then, and it is good even now. It is not a product of its time, unlike most shows and series about LGBT-people from this time are.
If you are looking for sexy smut and nothing else, this manga is not for you. Don’t get me wrong, the smut is great, but you will have to read through lots and lots of character development before you get to it. However, once you get to the smut it actually feels earned. There are more emotions to it because it has been building up to that moment for seven volumes. Even though you knew Ryo would eventually accept his feelings for Dee, it still felt extremely rewarding when he finally did it.
This was one of my first yaoi series I ever read, and to this day, it remains one of my favorites. The story is interesting, but it's the relationship between the characters that really makes it worth reading. You get to see the two leads slowly get to know one another and fall in love, as opposed to so much yaoi where there is instant attraction and the whole "I'm not gay, so why am I getting aroused by this man?!" obsession dominates the story. Here, the mangaka takes the time to let the love unfold slowly and more realistically. Trust between partners as cops slowly leads into trust between friends and eventually, lovers.
Lest my gushing about the relationship bore you, there are some more great aspects to this manga. Bikky and Carol make such a fun pair, adding a bit of humor to a story that can sometimes get dark. Watching them "grow up" during the story is a treat as well! There is also a strong focus on the crime fighting aspect, so readers who like a bit of mystery would enjoy this series.
If you're looking for lots of nudity and hardcore yaoi action, this may not be the manga for you. If you enjoy yaoi because you like the relationship development, I would definitely recommend this series. I would also recommend it to anyone who is interested in trying out yaoi but might be scared off by too many sex scenes.