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August 18, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: Clan of the Nakagamis

Title: Clan of the Nakagamis and Clan of the Nakagamis: The Devil Cometh
Author: Homerun Ken
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Juné)
Volume: Two volumes make up this series, $12.95 each
Vintage: 2005 by Biblos in Japan (first book), 2006 by DMP; 2007 by Libre Publishing (second book), 2009 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi, supernatural, romance, comedy, student/teacher romance, 16+

Clan of the Nakagamis is broken up into two volumes, the second subtitled The Devil Cometh.  Both center on the Nakagami family, an eclectic group of relatives who are exhausting for any outsider to keep up with.  But they do try.  Clan of the Nakagamis follows high school student Haruka Iijima and his math teacher Tokio Nakagami, as they struggle to keep their relationship secret from the school and the Nakagami family.  Unfortunately, Tokio’s family is obsessed with the pint-sized, beautiful middle son, and they’re not quite ready to give him up to Haruka.  Most of the book involves various members of Tokio’s family interrupting moments of intimacy between he and Haruka.  Including his father, child-like mother, cross dressing older brother, possessive younger brother, and bizarrely young grandfather.  Because of the strain of hiding their relationship, Tokio begins to wonder if Haruka wouldn’t be better off free from him, but of course, Haruka will hear none of that.

That’s really all you get of the Nakagamis in this volumes.  It’s mostly nonsensical, but humorous, and occasionally quite sweet.  As is not uncommon in yaoi, Tokio looks younger than Haruka, but can also look quite mature when he’s being serious.  Of course, his entire family looks absolutely bizarre all around, so it works in the story instead of being a cliché yaoi device.  After some character concept sketches and notes from Homerun Ken, there are three short bonus comics about the Nakagamis, followed by two unrelated short stories.  The first is called “The Travails of a Struggling Assistant Detective,” and takes place sometime during the Taisho Era (early 1900s) in Tokyo.  Lured by the promise of free rent, and a desirable location close to his school, Akihiko Mita joins the Ohshima Detective Agency as an assistant.  The rather lazy Tohji Ohshima gives him the most difficult job on his first day – protect a rare jewel from the most notorious thief!  It’s very short; really, it’s far too short for much impact.  I wish there was a bit more of this one floating around somewhere.

The second short story is called “Thief x Thief.”  The young thief Robin goes up against The Bat Baron to steal the Heart of the Siren, a rare blue diamond.  Robin, who comes from a line of classical thieves, looks down on Bat Baron, a newcomer who uses fancy gadgets.  The two become partners when Bat Baron finds his most precious treasure.  Again, this story is much too short to really develop anything, but it is amusing.

The final short story here is “Going to Oikawa-kun’s House.”  Oikawa and Junnosuke have been going out for a month, when Oikawa invites Junnosuke over to his house while his parents are gone.  In the empty house, Junnosuke stresses out about having sex for the first time together.  This is definitely the most amusing of the three, as Junnosuke’s gut reactions are to kick or punch Oikawa when he makes a move.

The second volume, The Devil Cometh, has more traditional story telling and development.  The side characters (meaning not Tokio and Haruka, who are mostly absent from the volume anyway) get a chance to develop beyond their rather cardboard personalities from the first book.  Tokio’s cousin, Hibari Nakagami comes to visit, intent on bringing Grandfather Mitsuru back to the main house.  Unfortunately, Hibari was the first person Tokio was in love with, and Hibari plans on taking advantage of that so he can use Tokio to…well…I don’t want to ruin that little twist.  It takes the might of the Nakagami Tokio Fan Club to help Haruka uncover Hibari’s true plan.  Tokio and Haruka’s story is essentially over at this point, and the story switches gears to focus mostly on Tokio’s younger brother, Takamaru, and a bit on Hibari and Kijinojyo (the older brother).  When Tokio falls ill, his brothers and Haruka run off to find a (fake) cure – a rainbow colored mushroom.  Takamaru collapses in the forest on the island where he was searching, and is picked up by a young local boy named Kiyoshi Imaizumi.  Hibari and Kijinojyo set out to bring him home, but are forced to stay on the island while Takamaru recuperates.  But the island holds some strange secrets, and the Nakagami boys find themselves caught up in an old legend about a haunted pirate treasure.

I mentioned this already, but a lot of Clan of the Nakagamis is nonsensical and bizarre; but it’s a fun read, it’s entertaining, and the younger characters grow and learn about themselves…so do some of the older characters.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why it works despite how ridiculous it can be.  It’s fairly light on sexual escapades, particularly in the second volume, which is far more plot heavy.  Everyone ends up with someone they love, so it’s all nice and happy at the end, but it takes a bit of work to get there.  Interfering family members, strange curses, even stranger hobbies, old loves….  Plenty of obstacles stand in each couple’s way.  It’s mostly upbeat, and keeps up a good pace throughout, so things don’t tend to drag on or get dull.  It is a little predictable from time to time, and despite being so ridiculous, is actually pretty simple.  Even though some of the stranger things aren’t really ever explained (like the young physical appearances of the Nakagami family members, or how exactly Kijinojyo is able to make such a convincing transformation into a female).  It’s a fairly mild yaoi title, so if you’re new to the genre, it’s a good title to ease in with.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by Digital Manga Publishing.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga , Kimberly Saunders, Comic Attack, Comic Attack, Comic Attack and others. Comic Attack said: RT @girlg33k_Kris: New #manga review @comicattack: Clan of the Nakagamis 1&2 from @digitalmanga: http://comicattack.net/2010/08/bblclanofnakagamis/ #yaoi […]



  2. […] Davisson on vol. 4 of Alice in the Country of Hearts (Japan Reviewed) Kristin on Clan of the Nakagamis and Clan of the Nakagamis: The Devil Cometh (Comic Attack) Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of Dorohedoro (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Erica Friedman […]



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