I have disappointed a HUGE number of my friends by not loving Saiyuki. I have one friend, in particular, who is so hopeful that I will eventually love Saiyuki that she’s loaned me all the manga and keeps showing me different arcs of the anime, hoping against hope, that THIS TIME I will see what she sees in it.
I never have.
It’s clearly a personal failing.
However, by chance, among the many manga that I’ve randomly picked up over the years, it turns out I have another of Minekura-sensei’s works, Wild Adapter. And, I like this one, probably for reasons that may become obvious…
He’s definitely something. I mean, given the flat affectation of our main, Makoto Kubota, I suppose there’s plausible deniability, aniki, but you’re the one who kissed him, so you tell us.
Also later Makoto picks up a “stray cat,” who is clearly not a cat (though he does, for reasons of plot have a bestial arm,) but is, in fact, a handsome young man. Long time readers of Mangakast already know why this is a giveaway to Teh Gay, but, if you’re just now tuning in, neko (ネコ) is the actual gay slang in Japan for ‘bottom.’ (Uke is only used in manga.) Neko (said the same way, but spelled in Kanji: 猫 ) is the Japanese word for cat. There are tons of yaoi that love to play around with ネコ/猫 homonym puns.
Because Minikura-sensei is so famous, Wild Adapter has its own Wikipedia page. The article notes: “Although originally serialized in a boy’s love anthology magazine, the content of the manga mixes seinen action and mystery with shōnen-ai themes and thus does not fall clearly into either category.” I sort of feel like the person making this claim hasn’t read a lot of yaoi/Boy’s Love. There are plenty of yaoi that are well written and full of high octane adventure and complex relationships worthy of seinen.
Also, an editor once told me, “It doesn’t really matter what you think you’re writing. If you’re published in a science fiction magazine, you’re a science fiction writer.”
I realize that no one wants to sully the great Minikura-sensei by dragging her down into the ghetto of yaoi, but it seems to me if the story was serialized in a BL anthology, girl is writing BL.
So okay, the story.
Our very odd duck hero, Kubota, loves games. He’s good at them. Even though he’s just a high schooler, he’s making a sweep in the Maj Jong parlors. He seems to generally have a kind of predictive skill, combined with an almost Sherlockian eye for details. This, of course, catches the attention of the the local yakuza boss, Sanada. Sanada tells Kubota that what he really needs to do with his life is run the youth division of Sanada’s operation and he should start now by assassinating the previous head.
Which Kubota does effortlessly because, really, he’s kind of a sociopath.
Kubota runs the youth gangsters by mostly having them play video games with only the occasional drug run, and this goes along pretty well until one of his subordinate’s moms gets in trouble. She’s a sex worker who’s addicted to pills. Her son joined the gang basically so that he could be her supplier, get her the thug discount, as it were, and, you know vet the quality of the goods for her. Except, addicts are addicts and some times can’t wait on their nice mafia sons to bring them the drugs. She calls him one day because things are getting hot–the current dude she’s banging is going nuts. Son heads over to help out, only the dude? He’s a real beast.
No, literally, a REAL beast. Like dude is now mostly an animal.
Thus, the plot begins in earnest. We discover that the streets are being flooded with a drug known initially only by its initials: WA. But, given the title of the manga, we can presume this is the titular subject: wild adaptor. It seems to have a random side effect of turning people into animals.
Delinquent dutiful son and Kubota are now on the trail of this drug. Unfortunately, whoever is supplying it is willing to kill to keep it out of enemy hands. Thus, Kubota’s dutiful delinquent subordinate is killed when he tries to deliver a sample.
Kubota promptly quits the organization.
And randomly picks up a
boyfriend stray cat from an ally, Minoru Tokito.
That’s where the first volume ends. Somehow, the volume that I had on my shelves was actually volume two. The story in volume two is told from the point of view of a pregnant runaway who runs into Kubota a year after he quit the yakuza and has been living in domestic harmony with Tokito. They meet because he helps her out of a shoplifting charge and decides she’s another sort of stray to take in. Tokito doesn’t like this at all, but in the end the two of them try to help her find her lover… only that leads them to be further entangled in the WA drug plot.
The second volume, the one I actually own, wasn’t nearly as interesting to me as the first, which I ended up reading online. It’s clear that Minekura-sensei isn’t so sure herself that she wants to write yaoi, so the gayest things get in the second volume is a lot of people referring to Tokito as Kubota’s cat and some vague implications of coupleness between them from the runaway’s POV.
Even if I don’t end up keeping the physical copy, I’m probably going to keep reading this manga. I’ll be curious to see if we ever get anything more than a kiss. Given what Wikipedia says, I kind of doubt it, which is a bit of a bummer.
If you are familiar with the art style of Saiyuki, you know what this manga looks like. The main character smokes CONSTANTLY, which is clearly some kind of kink for Minkekura-sensei. The other thing that’s striking about it is that the panels are all surrounded by black instead of white (a lot of ink died for these volumes) which supposedly is usually used to denote a flashback–though I can’t say that I’d noticed that before.
So, keep it? Maybe not since it’s #2, but recommend it? Most certainly.