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Wild Adapter, vols. 1-3 (Kazuya Minekura)

As this noir-ish urban tale opens, we see a young man with a strangely furry right hand apparently escaping into the streets of Tokyo. It's perhaps typical of this intriguing but frustrating series that we won't encounter him again until the end of the volume. The scene next shifts to Yokohama, where we meet Makota Kubota, an extremely cool-headed, disaffected young man who isn't attending school or working for a living or doing much of anything except playing mahjong. It's mentioned that he's the bastard son of someone important - the name rang no bells for me - and one of the city's leading detectives is his uncle. His personality and lack of occupation attracts a local Yakuza gang leader, who recruits him to be the head of the gang's youth division.

Kubota's utterly impassive personality is a source of much consternation to a number of people in this underworld community, from young gang members who are offended that this outsider has been placed over them to the prostitutes who are meant to serve as his incentive and reward. But they - and the police - have other things to worry about. Foremost among these is the strange new drug known as Wild Adapter, which has been killing people and leaving the victims with strangely animal-like features. Soon things are going seriously wrong in the gang, and Kubota wants out - but you can't just quit the Yakuza.

This is an odd series. To me, a huge Saiyuki fan, most of the characters look unnervingly like members of the Saiyuki cast. (Kubota, especially, looks like Hakkai's slightly younger brother.) There's almost as such violence as in Saiyuki, but it's played far more seriously. There also isn't much of a plot, thus far: Kubota, eventually accompanied by his strange friend Tokito, wanders about nosing into things that probably ought to be let alone, most of which offer up only tiny clues about the Wild Adapter drug. It may be that like many manga series, it's suffering from a slow start. I miss the camraderie of the Saiyuki boys: Kubota and Tokito can't really carry the whole thing on their skinny shoulders themselves, and although there a couple of other recurring characters, they're definitely not part of the main action.

Wild Adapter, vols. 1-3 (review)

The strange fugitive of the first pages turns out to be Tokito (and man, I wish he didn't have that name - it's shared by my least-favorite Samurai Deeper Kyo character), who is picked up by Kubota more or less as a pet. It's implied that they have a physical relationship, but this is never shown very explicitly: they spend a lot of time draped over each other, but that's about it. During the third volume, the whole idea is played for laughs a couple of times, leading to the funniest scenes so far: once, when they discover a surveillance bug in their apartment, they give the thugs monitoring them an earful of apparently hot sex - but when we see them in action, they're sitting next to each other on the couch, fully clothed, faces bored, hamming it up verbally for their unsuspecting audience. Shortly thereafter, when they're plotting to infiltrate a religious cult, Kubota thinks up a really good cover story for why they want to join: "We're seeking spiritual guidance because we're gay, sex-addicted couple who are half-brothers disowned by our family after consummation of our forbidden love." That oughta satisfy the cult recruiters!

I really wish that somehow, the boys would pick up another partner or three. It keeps almost happening: I love the strangely beautiful and androgynous Chinese herbalist Kou, who first shows up when Kubota needs medical help for Tokito shortly after finding him, and the runaway pregnant girl in volume 2 and the reporter in volume 3 both had possibilities, but thus far it seems the whole story is going to center around the two boys. It's rather frustrating, but I'm going to persist, just to see what happens. Presumably, sometime, we'll find out what Tokito's fuzzy hand and the Wild Adapter drug have to do with each other, and why he keeps having these grim flashbacks ... .


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2007 05:30 am (UTC)
You've nailed exactly what bothers me about Wild Adapter. I feel like I should like it, based on its tone and premise, but reading it is an exercise in frustration for me.
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC)

Yeah, it's pretty frustrating. I have this stupid loyalty though, and I know Minekura has been ill, so I'm going to keep trying with it for another couple of volumes. SDK didn't really get anywhere 'til thend end of vol. 3, IMO, so maybe she'll ass some more characters.

(And she needs to do something more with Kou-san - he's hot!)

Dec. 2nd, 2007 05:38 am (UTC)
I tried this one out, and really, really tried to like it, but I couldn't finish the second volume. Which was odd...I liked Vol 1, then I reread it and didn't like it the second time...then couldn't finish vol 2

OTOH, I did like Minekura's Bus Gamer a lot, and wish there had been more(it had a greater sense of comraderie, which is probably why, as it is one of the big appeals of Saiyuki)
Dec. 2nd, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
I feel the same way about Bus Gamer as compared to Wild Adapter. Bus Gamer has a more interesting premise and does more with it quickly. Plus the difference between the three series in terms of number of leads - 4 in Saiyuki, 3 in BG and 2 in WA - has a real impact on the possible character dynamics.
Dec. 2nd, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
That's a very good point. I don't really remember much of anything really happening in Wild Adaptor, whereas Bus Gamer was pretty fast paced. The main characters in Wild Adaptor also barely interacted with each other, while both Saiyuki and Bus Gamer started with the leads already working together and with an established vibe. Wild Adaptor, I think, was also a little too caught up in being dark dark dark and edgy, while Saiyuki and Bus Gamer eased you into it(well, what little there was of Bus Gamer, at least)
Dec. 4th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)

Yeah, I keep feeling as though the two of them are going to rattle around the seedy sides of Yokahama forever, never getting anywhere ... .

Dec. 4th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)

I remember your commenting on liking Bus Gamer when we were talking about Minekura at one point. It's available in English?

Dec. 4th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)

Hmm ... I may have to get myself a little holiday present with the next batch of Amazon ordering I do for everyone else ... thanks!

Dec. 2nd, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
Kubota's also got that scary detachment, like Tenpou or Hakkai at their most cold-and-calculating...and Sanada looks a fair bit like a middle-aged, mobbed-up Kenren (which made that chewing-gum-kiss scene particularly amusing)...normal eyes, though, Tokito's the only one with the crazy Gojyo lashes. It's pure fanon, I know, but seeing the younger-weirder Hakkai figure this time being the one to rescue a wounded younger-more-animalistic Gojyo figure makes it very, very hard for me to resist the temptation to see it as a prolonged Saiyuki reincarnation/AU piece. ;)
Dec. 4th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)

Well, my main problem with Sanada is that he shares his name with both my favorite SDK character (Sanada Yukimura) and my first LJ friend! Yes, that was a cutely kinky scene, with the gum, but nothing came of it - in fact, that's the problem with a lot of intriguing things in this series: nothing comes of them.

Huh, I hadn't thought of Tokito as Gojyo - he makes me think more of Goku - but not as noisy!

Anyway, she's wasting Kou ... maybe the detective uncle could get interested in him. You could getr some wonderful attraction-of-opposites going that way.

Dec. 4th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
Ah, between the EYELASHES OF DOOM, and the general impulsive-emotional side, and being partially inhuman, and the reversal of the saving-a-mysterious-injured-stranger thing, I just couldn't see Toki-kun as anyone but a Gojyo figure.

I do hope we see more of Kou, though, he's the most fascinating of the minor characters so far! And Kubo's uncle being a detective has a lot of potential, it reminds me a little of the dynamics of A Better Tomorrow, where the older brother is high up in a Hong Kong triad and the younger brother is a rookie cop. (So far WA is grabbing me more than BG, but I like the slower, more mysterious feel of it, and I've watched enough yakuza and HK syndicate gangster flicks that it feels like an interestingly fantastical twist on a familiar genre.)

(And on an unrelated note because I must squee to folks who will understand my giddiness...Backgammon Remix was on my doorstep tonight, all the way from TAHITI in a little under two weeks! And for all that the girl on BookMooch was warning me of damage to the binding and glue spots from her attempt at repair, well, I was expecting something in much worse shape and still would have been thrilled even if it was battered, but it's not -- it's in remarkably good shape. There aren't a lot of images here that I haven't seen before, but just having them in high-quality glossy print instead of scans is SUCH an immense thrill! *happydance*)
Dec. 4th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC)

Re the book: Merry Xmas! (How do you like my little angel, btw? ... I was in a sicko mood ... it was either him or Hazel!) I found out that the Mr.'s brother and his wife aren't allergic to shopping online, unlike all my other relatives, so I'm going to see whether I can score some Minekura art myself from animebooks.com.

I think that because I didn't feel that huge bizarre glompf of identification with Toki-kun as I did with Gojyo (and really, isn't it bizarre that a 49-yr-old woman, 22 years of marriage, teenaged daughter, 2 college degrees, should identify that much with a 22-yr-old smokin' drinkin' wenchin' male kappa???), I just can't see him as the same character. But then, as much as I like Kenren, I don't feel that way about him, either. He's just not as bruised and vulnerable.

Dec. 4th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
Ha, at least it's not Nii! (The matching angel wings on the bunny just KILL me...)

And that doesn't seem particularly bizarre -- I can see echoes of Gojyo in Toki and much more in Kenren, Kenren in particular I adore so much because a lot of his personality feels to me like it's what Gojyo is trying to be, and what he might have been without all of the trauma; but I don't *identify* with either of them the way I do with the kappa because, well, those particular traumas are a large part of what makes him feel so very familiar.
Dec. 6th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)

Hee, I hadn't seen that one! And in fact, poor Kami-sma with his white wings might be meant to go with that pic ... so who's the youkai below him? I've seen him in some other pix too.

Exactly - I like Kenren, and I wouldn't mind having him be my commander (hubba hubba ...), but I don't feel I can identify with him.

Dec. 6th, 2007 11:07 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that's meant to be Ensui, who was the main villain in the OVA that came before the first series. (They gave him magentaish hair in the animated version, but otherwise the haircut and glasses and all look the same.)

(The companion piece to that plate, with black suits and white wings, was Chin Yisou and Rikudo.)
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)

Wow, Minekura seems to have done even more incidental artwork than Kamijyo did for SDK. It's amazing the way stuff keeps showing up.

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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