Okane ga Nai

Alt title: No Money

Vol: 14+; Ch: 62+
2002 - ?
3.509 out of 5 from 389 votes
Rank #12,139
Okane ga Nai

Struggling with heavy gambling debts, Tetsuo Ishii comes up with a harebrained idea to sell his student cousin in an auction. Offering an unprecedented 1.2 billion yen, the highest bidder is Kanou - a successful company president. It seems that he has an ulterior motive for buying the innocent and naive Ayase, using the debt to keep the jobless student by his side. What does Kanou want from the beautiful Ayase? Does it go beyond offering him 500,000 yen a night for his body?

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Nocturnalgloria
7

Okane ga Nai is rather infamous for being a bundle of every single BL cliché known to man. And it is precisely that: we have a very feminine uke who is fey, sweet and weirdly innocent paired with an absurdly large seme who bullies him into literally becoming a sex slave to pay off a debt. Much raping follows. Given such a premise one can hardly expect brilliant plotting or deep character development yet Okane ga Nai ends up making up for its shortcomings precisely because it tackles the defining traits of the genre head on. It is unfortunate that the parody in the manga often goes missed. Okane knows how to mock the seme/uke dynamics like few other works, so much so that it reaches a level of self-awareness that is both hilarious and disturbing. This can be exemplified in one episode: Kanou, our resident hot tempered yakuza seme, already an explosive combination that gets even worse as the story progresses, finds himself very frustrated that Ayase, the sweet and terrified uke who he has just raped, cannot seem to return his love. Already this disconnect with basic human relationships is very telling for BL is known for its 'rape means love' formula but it becomes even stranger as Kanou asks for advice from an okama, a homosexual crossdresser, whom he hates with a passion. After much soul searching Kanou reaches the conclusion that he got the order of events wrong, first he was supposed to declare his love and only then jump on his target. Inthe  story it serves to show just how clueless Kanou is, on a meta-level it is a commentary on the whole genre. Okane's relation to BL as a whole is even more interesting when we take into consideration that it is a rare case of a non-bara manga created and illustrated by men. In a universe where female mangakas are the overwhelming majority it is refreshing to find males adding their contribution. The art takes the seme/uke dychotomy to such an extreme that one is not even entirely sure what to make of it but that too is fodder for comedy, Ayase's super deformed giant eyes often get commented by the cast and his being very much like a little animal even has Kanou reading a book on how to keep delicate pets as a reference for how to interact with him. The artwork goes so out its way to be unrealistic that it almost manages to be convincing. The sex scenes are the exception. There are many of these with varying degrees of coercion and almost always very detailed. Here the artwork keeps the oddball proportions for effect but ditches the comedy almost entirely. Instead it fuels much of the inherent creepiness as Kanou not only abuses Ayase's body as does quite a number on the poor boy's mind as well. Eventually the manga settles for what I call 'pseudo-justified Stockholm's Syndrom', the justification, or attempted justification, resulting from the main thrust of the plot: in virtually every single volume some nasty creepo will try to rape Ayase only to have Kanou save the day at the end and thus prove that he is the hero after all despite some really unsavory conduct on his part. In other words, Kanou may virtually kindap Ayase and keep him in reclusion, demand sex at any given time as payment, keep him from going to school and completely control every aspect of his life but everyone else is even worse. Which leads me to another recurring theme, every man on Earth wants to rape Ayase. Apart from Kanou's whacky troupe of followers, that is, and even some of these are very attracted to him. It is another piece of illogic in an already unreal manga and sets a pattern that could grow dull very soon; Ayase is attacked by lusty goons only to be rescued by Kanou who then proceeds to beat them into a pulp. The gimick only manages to work because it serves as character develpment, Kanou will up the antee each time while being forced to understand Ayase's motivations; as for Ayase he becomes more emotionally involved with every display of courage on Kanou's part. The interaction between the mains is of course structured in the seme/uke duality but the manga is original in that it switches points of view. Instead of the reader only having access to the uke's thoughts and feelings as per usual, in Okane there is a split perspective that allows one of see much of the seme's inner struggles and issues. By being so radical in creating the ultimate seme in the character of Kanou, someone who defines 'shoujo bad boyfriend' and the ultimate uke in the character of Ayase who spends most of the first chapters weeping and trembling, Okane should have written itself into a corner. But somehow and against all odds, the manga employs the huge disconnect between the main characters as room to grow.  After all, things can only get better for our pair: it is difficult to see how they can get much worse. But for them to become an actual couple both must face and overcome very deep issues that make them highly flawed characters. And this does happen, it is simply that the progress is so slow that readers will probably give up before the manga hits its stride. By framing the relationship in such terms every single act of genuine sweetness suddenly gains an importance that a less schizoid romance would not provide. Perhaps the most surprising aspect to Okane is that for all its craziness and whacky mixture of abuse and comedy it addressed issues that more consistent BL manga hardly touch upon. For example, the genre's hypocrisy regarding sexual identity is directedly explored in Kanou's blatant disgust for homosexuals even as he is raping Ayase on a daily basis. One of the supporting character, an okama, points this out more than once but to no effect. Even Ayase who is kindness incarnate later admits that he too had some difficulty in taking gay people seriously. Despite its committment both in aesthetic and contents to wishful fantasy, there is sexual discrimination in Okane and it is even an important turning point in Ayase's character growth. Which is not to say this is a manga that goes indepth into such problems but that they exist at all adds a level of realistic conflict that is very welcome. At its heart Okane is a parody of all things yaoi, something of a comedy of errors that both undercuts and reinforces one of the main tenents of the genre, that nonconsensual sex can replace communication. It accomplishes this through a combination of fluff, crack, violence, angst and comedy. While not for everyone it is more relevant than it is given credit for and suffers from being judged entirely on the OVA.

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