Author: Ayano Yamane
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Juné)
Volume: Volume 1 (Target in the Viewfinder) and volume 2 (Cage in the Viewfinder) (ongoing), $13.95 each
Vintage: 2002 and 2004 by Libre Publishing Co. in Japan, 2010 (both volumes) by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (18+, explicit), drama, romance, yakuza, S&M
Akihito Takaba is a freelance photographer with a promising career. Unfortunately, his first big break exposes a yakuza connection. More unfortunately, is tarnishes the name of Asami, a dangerous and ruthless man of the underworld who doesn’t appreciate the unwanted attention. He attempts to capture Akihito, but he escapes like a wily rat, which only entices Asami further as his interest is piqued by the wild young man. Through a tip from a detective friend, Akihito finds himself waiting to photograph a big scoop, but when Asami suddenly appears, he quickly realizes it’s a trap. He realizes too late, however, and wakes up in a strange room tied up in a compromising position. Asami thoroughly has his way with Akihito, and blackmails the boy by taking a few pictures along the way. When he’s released, he finds his detective friend making an illegal deal, but when the detective threatens to shoot him, Asami pops out of nowhere and shoots him down. Although Akihito wants nothing to do with the man, he soon finds himself unable to escape from Asami’s shadow. Akihito next finds himself undercover as a waiter at a society gathering, taking secret pictures of the big names there. His eye is drawn to a group of men who don’t seem to belong there, and he soon finds himself involved in there mess when he rescued one of them and receives a mysterious disk from the already dying man which is supposed to be delivered to – guess who – Asami. Unfortunately, on his way to try and meet with Asami, Akihito is kidnapped (seems to be a pattern here) by a Chinese mafia group led by the enigmatic Fei Long. Fei wants the disk, too, but is also interested in the fact that Akihito may be Asami’s lover (or sex toy, more like), and takes the opportunity to use Akihito to get back at the man he hates. Remarkably, Akihito is once again rescued by Asami, and it becomes clear before he leaves that there is some very bad blood between Fei and Asami. Irritated that something belonging to him was befouled by another, Asami ravages poor Akihito once again, whispering words of dominance in his ear (lots of “you belong to me, I own you” and “you have no freedom without me” sort of dialog). Volume 1 ends the Finder story here, and breaks into a few unrelated short stories. “Love Lesson” is a quick high school story about a first year who ends up molested on the train and rescued by an upperclassman, who then seeks him out to give him a hand (ha ha). There’s not much to this one but the sex. “Plants in Love” follows two high school boys who discover that their fathers, both politicians, appear to be having an affair with each other. When they follow their fathers to a hotel to investigate, they end up having a little affair of their own. This one is actually rather cute. Mizuno already has a crush on Hiyama, but they are bitter rivals at school (mostly through sports); when they find themselves staying in a hotel overnight together, Mizuno decides it’s the perfect time to make a move, much to Hiyama’s utter embarrassment and irritation. “Risky Society” is a more unique tale about a group of guys with supernatural powers who work for a government agency that experiments on them and observes their powers in action. They’re sort of…well, they’re not assassins, I don’t think. Some sort of special agents, though. The relationship between the two main guys is actually rather moving…and there’s some sex. Also, there’s a short Finder bonus story with more sex between Asami and Akihito.
As volume 2 opens, Akihito is approached by Detective Imamiya, who suspects the photographer has some sort of connection to Asami, whom he is trying to investigate. The Detective invites Akihito to club Sion, an exclusive club owned by Asami, where the Detective hopes to uncover evidence of weapon smuggling. Akihito goes along, but soon realizes that Detective Imamiya is in over his head. He tries to warn the man, but is stopped by Asami (who must own some sort of teleporter). Asami appears to be trying to keep Akihito out of trouble (for some reason), but of course Akihito doesn’t trust him and tries to do things on his own again, angering Asami, who brutally informs him that the person he is trying to save doesn’t even trust him. A confused Akihito questions Asami’s motives, and Asami answers with another round of bondage sex and more words of ownership. That’s it for AkihitoxAsami this volume, however, as the story shifts over to Fei Long and the bullet wound scar on his chest he claims was given to him seven years ago by Asami. Flash back to those seven years ago, where a young Fei Long is working for his ailing stepfather’s organization, under the orders of his adopted brother who runs the group in his father’s place. The highly skilled and beloved Fei Long is treated as little more than his brother’s tool, following every order and often doing his brother’s dirty work, without question. Believing that his stepfather does not acknowledge him, he tries to be obedient and useful, wanting only the man’s approval. He continues on in this way until he meets a powerful man named Asami (oh ho). Asami has been working with a politician named Tou who is friends with his stepfather. Yan Tsui (his brother) wants Asami out of the picture, but Fei is swayed by Asami’s words. Enraged, Yan gets violent, and his twisted feelings of lust and jealousy lead Fei to pull a gun on him. Fei is punished by their father, and, angry at being insulted by Yan, he leaves he house without permission. Another encounter with Asami convinces Fei to leave his brother’s shadow and attempt to accomplish his goals on his own. Fei learns a good deal about Asami along the way, though he remains confused about the man’s true character and motivations. Soon, news comes from the main house that Fei’s stepfather’s health has taken a turn for the worse. Sensing it’s a trap, Asami tries to convince him to stay, but Fei is too distraught. Since he can’t convince him with words, Asami turns to a sexual distraction, and Fei finds himself lost under Asami’s surprisingly gentle caress. Unfortunately, Fei slips out and returns home anyway, only to be confronted violently by Yan. The series of events that follows is like a whirlwind, leaves no one unharmed, and drives an unforgiving wedge between Asami and Fei that still exists. A bonus story, “DNA in Love,” concludes this volume, and takes us back to the characters in the “Plants in Love” short story from the first volume. This time, Mizuno falls ill, and Hiyama’s father uses his son’s friendship as an excuse to go visit his lover while Mizuno (unwillingly) visits his sick friend.
Okay, here is the problem with Finder. The relationship between Asami and Akihito is based on rape. In fact, the story that appears in the first volume was meant to be a sort of S&M one-shot, which was expanded into the larger series. I wouldn’t exactly call it hard core (it’s more basic bondage than really violent), and it’s not unusual for this genre. It’s actually pretty typical. Asami rapes Akihito, who hates the act and Asami, but later finds himself unable to forget the man who debased and humiliated him, and even finds pleasure in the memories eventually. I think there’s a psychological term for that, when rape victims begin to have feelings for their abuser. Asami wants to control Akihito, but Akihito gets away time and again. However, Asami enjoys the chase, like hunting a wild animal. Poor Akihito mostly finds himself in the wrong place at he wrong time. Bottom line, if you don’t like or can’t handle the rape parts, stay away, because Akihito is pretty well abused. Their relationship changes throughout the series (we’re up to four volumes here in America), and I’ll review more volumes at another time, but for these two volumes Akihito is a victim to Asami’s whims and lust. Asami is undeniably a dangerous man. If there’s one really positive thing I can say about this series, it’s that Yamane draws Asami in such a way that you can see in his eyes how dangerous he is; it’s an overwhelming feeling that Yamane illustrates quite well. He also oozes with sexuality, though of course even that is tinged with danger. On the surface, this is really not a guy you want to involve yourself with. He does have a rather strong sense of loyalty towards those he cares about, but if you screw him over for a petty reason he’ll have no qualms about shooting you dead. Akihito doesn’t have a whole lot going for him in these volumes. He’s mostly a tool for those around him – Asami, Fei, Detective Yamazaki, and Detective Imamiya all use him for their own ends. For Asami, he’s presently just a toy for the most part (though there are feelings that develop, and there’s evidence of them already forming here). For Fei Long, he’s a tool for revenge. The detectives use him to help their careers. His individual personality is overshadowed by the fact that there’s only two (and a short side story) chapters of Finder in the first volume, and most of the second volume is taken over by Fei Long’s back story. We really just don’t know much about him yet besides his basic personality traits (stubborn, a little arrogant, reckless), because he’s a tool for sex during most of his page time in these two volumes (three sex scenes with Asami and one with Fei Long in volume 1, and another with Asami in volume 2). Hopefully he’ll develop more into a more substantial character through the other volumes. Right now, Fei Long is the most interesting. He has a complicated family history, and mentally he’s a tad unstable (not crazy, really, but he’s stuck in the past and his emotional level is not consistent with his age and experience (I wouldn’t call it juvenile, but he definitely lacks the maturity that Asami has). Asami is a bit blank right now. At least Fei Long has an excuse for why he’s kind of an asshat; Asami doesn’t have one yet. He’s the real mystery. The bonus stories (the ones unrelated to the main story) are rather inconsequential, but a couple do have their own charm. The story about the politicians and the sons who try to uncover their fathers’ affair is quite amusing, and appears in both volumes. Digital Manga has done a good job with these volumes. The covers are beautiful, and each volume has a gorgeous (if risqué) color page just inside the cover.
Review copies provided by Digital Manga Publishing.