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Wild Adapter, vol. 5 (Kazuya Minekura)

This entire volume is a flashback. We get to find out what happened right after Kubota picked up his "stray cat" at the end of volume 1 and learn how they became the odd but close couple we saw in volume 2 and thereafter. The story is told mostly in first person, from the viewpoint of young Iizuka Shouta, Kubota's next door neighbor. I don't recall seeing this viewpoint used much at all in the manga I've read thus far - it's rather interesting.

Shouta is a solitary child who doesn't get along with his classmates, doesn't play sports, and doesn't belong to any clubs. Both parents work, and his afternoons are usually spent alone in the family apartment, playing videogames and writing and drawing manga- and anime-influenced adventure stories . When his neighbor Kubota shows up one afternoon with another young man slung over his shoulder, unconscious, Shouta's life gets a lot more interesting. For one thing, the comatose guy has a hand that looks like an animal's paw, furred and clawed. For another, Kubota needs Shouta's help when the new arrival wakes up: he doesn't trust Kubota, but he's much less on the defensive with a child.

Minekura is good at portraying kids, and when Shouta's going off into his fantasies about what's really going on with his next-door neighbor, the story has a rather Neil Gaiman-esque feel to it. And although Shouta certainly learns a lot from this strange interlude in his life, Kubota and Tokito get a few lessons as well.

 

Wild Adapter, vol. 5 (review)

Oh boy! We see Kou-san wearing something besides his Chinese robe! He shows up at Kubota's wearing a maxi-length trenchcoat! I'm in Heaven!

OK, now that I've got that out of my system ... . But I really wish Minekura would do some more with Kou ... .

There are some funny scenes, but mostly, this was really, really beautiful and sad. Yet it ends with a feeling of fulfillment and optimism. The scene where Shouta explains to Kubota what he's been doing wrong with Tokito - via the ruse of asking for help with figuring out the motivations and personality of one of his story characters - is one of the sweetest, most poignant things I've read recently. And the scene where Tokito makes Kubota confess his feelings is all kinds of win.

Question for the manga experts: I've been tagging my manga reviews with categories such as shoujo or seinen. But where on that spectrum does Wild Adapter fit in?

• Oyceter's write-up on this (with spoilers)

Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
smillaraaq
May. 16th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
Ah, I loved this one SO MUCH...although I think I'd still have to perhaps give a slight edge to 4, because all the Toki flustered-jealousy and protective Kubo stoicism, leading up to that vulnerable little leaning scene, just squeezed at my heartstrings something fierce. But this is a very very close second! And oh, did I ever identify with little Shouta-kun...

As for classification...my understanding has been that it ultimately comes down to the main focus/target market of the original publisher, thus explaining all the weird cases that don't seem to fit the Western stereotypes of what shonen/shojo/etc. manga should be like. And since WA is initially serialized in Chara Comics, and Chara is definitely working a particular niche... *whistles* (And just look at all that cover art...nope, can't quite put my finger on what this is reminding me of...
avierra
May. 16th, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)
nd since WA is initially serialized in Chara Comics, and Chara is definitely working a particular niche... *whistles* (And just look at all that cover art...nope, can't quite put my finger on what this is reminding me of...

I can't imagine what you are getting at here, Smilla... ;X

I loved Vol 4 too. They practically confessed, I couldn't believe it (although I think that's as close as we'll ever see to any action per se ;P )
smillaraaq
May. 16th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine what you are getting at here, Smilla... ;X

I'm not sure either! I'm pretty sure I had a point in mind, but somewhere around the umpteenth cover picture of pretty half-dressed boys leaning on each other, it totally slipped my mind... ;)

And yeah, Vol. 4 was a lot like some of our favorite 585 moments; lots of squee and aww and "they're soooooo married...even if they don't know it yet".
chomiji
May. 19th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)

I think that perhaps what I liked about this one was that it wrapped up, and wrapped up optimistically. Vol. 4, it's clear that there's more trouble ahead. Also, I was just re-reading 5, and the scene where Shouta comes to have his little talk about the guy who adopted the cat is just a welter of cathartic resolution for me - Kubota's look when he tells Shouta that he's going to be a great writer, and Shouta's conclusion about love and cruelty being the same thing sometimes, just about have me losing it even on a re-read.

And then there's the great moment where Tokito comes and finds him in the alley.

freeradical9
May. 16th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
Really nice review! I just found a copy of this volume in the bookstore this morning. Shouta is adorable (oyceter's comment about Tokito being socialized by a kid is too true!) and the manga/reality fusion going on in his head and in his journal is really neat.

In closing, I have to say that I too would love to see Minekura-sensei do more with Kou. He's such a fascinating character. A real black box--one never knows exactly what might be going on inside his head. I'd love to know how his shop started, and where he learned about medicine. Maybe we'll find out more about him as the series progresses. ^_^
chomiji
May. 18th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)

Yes, I loved that comment of Oyce's! And the manga stuff was so cool ... and Kubo's comment at the end, that he wouldn't want to read Shouta's manga - presumably because it would remind him of too much - was very touching.

I also really loved the look on Kubo's face when the still-sleeping Tokito grabs him and snuggles up.

Kou is a bit sweet on Kubota - or at least he finds him charming. He also seems to be very lonely.

avierra
May. 16th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review, I just got mine the other day and haven't yet had a chance to read it (I've read the scanlations though, but it just isn't the same.) Looks like good times ahead. :)

I like the character of Kou very much, I am with you on that!

Perhaps Minekura is just in a category of her own. ;) Really, I have no clear idea how to adequately classify Saiyuki either, despite where she happens to end up having it serialized. Saiyuki and WA seem to combine a lot of different "types," but maybe that is why they are so cool. (I suppose technically they're BL... sort of... but not really.)

chomiji
May. 18th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)

So have you had a chance to read it yet?

avierra
May. 18th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
I have, indeed! Very angsty and, as you said, sad and beautiful. But I think it was quite hopeful at the end, and as if they had come to terms with whatever it was between them. I really liked the last few panels where Tokito reached out to Kubota and told him to take his hand if he wanted him, it gave me a happy sniffle.

Minekura seems to have a running "thing" about the value of touch and sensation. In Saiyuki, it's Gojyo who craves contact, but interestingly, in WA it's Kubo (who I consider to be more or less a Hakkai analog) who needs it and is afraid to ask for it from the person he wants/needs it.

And I liked that Minekura made it clear that the lack of physicality was emotionally painful for both Kubo and Tokito, and causing problems and misunderstandings in their relationship (which has barely started at this point).

The whole Kubota backstory about how he was unwanted and unneeded and how he shouldn't have existed in the first place was just heartbreaking (and again, very similar to Gojyo's story).

And Shouta was wonderful (and funny), wiser and smarter than both of the others even though he's much younger.

I like to think they both went home at the end and screwed each other to the mattress. >_>
chomiji
May. 21st, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)

Tokito is very odd in sweet ways - he apparently uses the most macho language to refer to himself in Japanese, and that sort of goes with what he does to Kubota in that scene, making him declare that yes, he needs Tokito. And I love the part where Tokito is talking enthusiastically about reading Shouta's manga some day, and Kubo isn't quite so sure he'll want to read it.

I think Shouta has learned a lot - much too much for a child his age, in fact - from listening to his parents fight, poor kid. I know how he feels.

Yeah, Kubo seems to have Gojyo's story and Hakkai's personality!

I think maybe Kubo didn't know that he had the touch thing himself until recently ... maybe when the unconscious Tokito grabbed him and snuggled up ... .

smillaraaq
May. 23rd, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
And don't forget, just like Toki, Kenren and Gojyo both tend to use "ore-sama" a lot, too...so they've got at least one linguistic affectation in common, along with those crazy eyelashes. :)
chomiji
May. 23rd, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)

But Onime-no-Kyo does that too, and he's a psycho!

(Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm told that Yukimura talks a lot more like Hakkai.)

smillaraaq
May. 24th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
I am *so* not surprised by either of 'em. Kyo obviously has a very high opinion of himself, and wants EVERYONE to know it...
chomiji
May. 27th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)

Well, that's true, but there's more to him than that ... his dynamic as a leader is surprisingly complicated, as are relationships to (just for a couple of examples that you've already met) Akira and Kyoshiro.

vom_marlowe
May. 16th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
I love Kou! After reading the first couple volumes (I got them in Japanese and then found translations), I decided to wait to read the whole of Wild Adapter when it was finished. I want a Kou of my very own. I actually used to draw pages of WA again and again, to learn manga drawing techniques, and Kou and Kubota were my favorites to draw.

I would characterize WA as boy's love, because it appears in Chara, a BL serial and also because the focus of the story is romance (G-rated romance, even if the assorted plot action is rated ZOMG bloody and violent!!). I read recently that Minekura was interviewed about whether there would ever be explicit BL action in WA and sort of wibbled and said she wasn't sure, because her characters are unpredictable. But I could be misremembering!
chomiji
May. 19th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)

I don't think I could take not reading them as they come out! Even in the case of Samurai Deeper Kyo, where I've read the scanlations through the end, I like to get the books as they show up in English publication. I think I rather identify with Kou - he seems so lonely and wistful, and he rather fancies Kubota.

Everyone seems to agree that it should be shounen ai, so I tagged it that way. Thanks!

smillaraaq
May. 23rd, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
Like you needed more evidence of just what that magazine's market is...The Crimson Spell also runs in Chara. (Raws from this month's chapter just showed up on the relevant community...it's one long Havi/Vald sex scene. *chuckle*)
chomiji
May. 27th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I started working my way through that - I think I'm up to chapter 7. I'm pretty cross with the magician - demon abuser! (Yes, he's very decorative - he's still a selfish bastard.) I like the little magical animal - he reminds me of something from Petshop of Horrors. I keep wondering when he's going to demand a piece of the action: he;s pretty cute in human form.

smillaraaq
May. 28th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
Havi is definitely a pretty cold self-serving type at the start (not unlike Sword, of course -- it's a pretty classic seme type!), but I've rather enjoyed watching him slowly thaw into developing feelings for Vald deeper than just idle passing lust and a bit of collector's-mania for a rare curiosity, and a bit of guilt over his past actions and worry for the future to go with it. And while the consent is pretty dubious that first time around, by the third chapter or so, the one where Havi's unconscious for days, it's pretty clear that the demon is more than willing at that point, and the magical restraints are mostly down to the bare minimum needed to keep him from getting rough enough to rip the frailer mage apart. So the big issue left is the whole shared-body situation with human-Vald not having any real clue about what's going on...but that will be addressed in the fullness of time plot.

Ruruka is definitely interested, but so far has not gotten any further than a bit of comic-relief indirect leching followed by smackdowns and threats of bunny stew for dinner from Havi. Mind you, in keeping with that fanworks-as-balancing-mechanism theory that kispexi2 and I have been discussing, most of what very, very little fic can be found for this series is either Vald/Ruruka or Havi/Hallein...
chomiji
May. 29th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)

Re the balancing mechanism and our discussion of my fluff writing: this morning, early, I was reading a comment from someone who's going through my fic back-catalog, and the Mr. asked "So, you're writing feelthy stories?" and I said "Well, I usually write fluffy stories, and I'm wondering if I'm stuck in a rut." And he said "You have a stressful life, so you write fluff. It's entirely understandable!"

XD

Yes, Havi is starting to care, but it's still more in a possessive "He's my toy - you can't have him!" way.



Edited at 2008-05-29 04:44 pm (UTC)
smillaraaq
May. 29th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
Heee, although by that logic I should be writing less soul-corroding angst and more fluff too! Although the angst does usually at least have a happy ending, so perhaps the balancing still applies.

Just keep watching Havi -- I don't think it's particularly spoilery for a story like that to say that his feelings do start to grow more human and vulnerable as it goes along. And Vald/the beast are both strong-willed enough and used to command that I don't think either aspect would tolerate being treated as just a pet or toy in the long run -- and demon!Val in particular seems to have seme-ish tendencies, and Havi doesn't seem to be completely averse to the idea. Remember that scene where he sort of refocuses the beast's attentions, not with an outraged "I don't do that" but with rather amused comments about how he's too weak for bottoming to a demon right this moment? I rather doubt we'll see anything much beyond that little tease given the genre conventions, but in my mind that sort of thing holds out a lot of potential that their roles are not going to be set in stone.
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)

Hmmm, I've run out of scanlated CS and now I need to do the raws. The Mac picture viewer is annoying as hell - it doesn't let you flip through the pix in alpha-numeric order - so I've been building quick little HTML pages for them. It doesn't taken but about 3 minutes for each (I reused the previous one as a template), but it's still a bit of a chore.

Her guys don't go in for too much variety in activities ... maybe Val's fangy mouth precludes that?   ;-)

And she really likes drawing pretty, smutty pix, doesn't she? The postcards at the end! Ruruka remains adorable, though.

smillaraaq
Jun. 6th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh, what a pain! When you finally slog through all that page-building, there are some raws and a quick summary of the latest chapter in the YA community; the plot's getting pretty interesting. (Hrm, actually, you may want to check out the rest of the chapter summaries as you poke through the raws...f-locked to comm members, natch.

And yeah, considering those fangs were drawing blood just from kisses, that would tend to put a damper on some things! ;)

I adore her color art -- I need to remember to see if Hisa or some other DJ vendor ever gets that postcard book in stock. The author's notes in the English edition are quite funny; the mangaka really seems to be having a grand old time drawing monsters and fantasy costumes, not to mention shapely male backsides...
chomiji
Jun. 10th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)

Yeah, I saw that comment of hers about the butts!

I applied to join the comm. I'll have to have their stuff not show up in my f-list, like I do with yaoi_daily ... springkink, on the other hand, is a mixed bag that way. A surprising number of them are G!

smillaraaq
Jun. 10th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
FYI, they don't seem to actually drop you a note once you're approved, and they do seem to process new members pretty quickly. So if it's been at least a few hours since you joined, go take a peek and you'll probably already be in.

(And yet another reason to just drop in there occasionally rather than watching the comm on your flist -- it's much more heavily focused on her older/longer series like Viewfinder, so you'd be wading through a lot of fic/icons/etc. for those books just to get to the more infrequent Crimson Spell bits. It's well worth joining just to get access to the latest raws, and the scanned goodies in their file directory, though...)
despina_moon
May. 17th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Nice review! I avoided this post last night because I just got my copy. I stayed up until midnight to read it twice. The end with Tokito was so... wow. Kubota is so fragile and that part about no one wanting him was heartbreaking.

Kou was (and is always) ♥

I think WA is BL, too.

Thanks! I love being able to fangirl with others.
chomiji
May. 19th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)

Please, come here and fangirl all you like! I am trying to read lots of different types of manga, but I definitely like things with BL elements or that are slashable. (Otherwise, I orefer shounen/seinen to shoujo).

I read and review some SF and fantasy too. And I also like Tanith Lee!

despina_moon
May. 19th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
I read a lot of manga, too. BL and horror are my favs.

I love Tanith Lee! Her Flat Earth series is some of my favorite stuff. Her rewrites of fairy-tales totally rock! Yay! It's very hard to find people who love her.
smillaraaq
May. 19th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC)
Hrm? I was reading Tanith Lee back when some of my F-list weren't even BORN yet! ;)
despina_moon
May. 19th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
Likewise! And watching raw, millionth generation VHS tapes of Anime before about half my flist was born.
smillaraaq
May. 19th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Hee, yes...I had a very facepalmy "I feel old" moment when a friend was talkng about some early-90s series being the oldest thing she'd ever watched. Me, some of my earliest childhood TV memories are of watching subtitled 70's shoujo on the Japanese station in Hawai'i...you know, back when dinosaurs walked the earth. ;)
despina_moon
May. 20th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Yeah - I always get "whoa!" When I tell the 'kids' about seeing Akira in the theater when it first came out. That's not even that old!

Annoying whipper-snappers! *shakes fist*
chomiji
May. 21st, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)

(Don't let smilla snow you - I'm older than she is! I remember miniskirts and white go-go boots and Supermarionation shows like "Fireball XL5"!)

smillaraaq
May. 22nd, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Bwah, so the dinosaurs in my day styled their hair like Farrah instead of Twiggy...we're both still positively antediluvian! ;-P
chomiji
May. 27th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)

Lol! I really need some type of old crone/older than you icon! I can't think of what I'd put on it ... Sophie from the Miyazaki Howl, perhaps?

smillaraaq
May. 28th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Sophie/Witch of the Waste faceoff, maybe?

Or a still from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? *ducks*
chomiji
May. 29th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)

I found a pic of the Witch of the Waste with her big hat and red lipstick ... tentative caption: "It's not age - it's richness of experience!"

(I figured that was a more positive spin than anything I could put on Sophie looking horrified at her reflection, even though the witch is a baddie ... .)

chomiji
May. 21st, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)

I think Death's Master is my favorite of the Flat Earth books. I'm also really fond of Anackire (although, of course, you have to read the first one in the series to get the full effect) and Tamastara (which I blogged here). The Birthgrave really rocked my world when I read it in college.



Edited at 2008-05-21 07:29 pm (UTC)
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