October 28, 2011

Bento Bako Bonus: Finder volumes 3 & 4

Title: Finder
Author: Ayano Yamane
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Juné)
Volume: Volumes 3 (One Wing in the Viewfinder) and 4 (Prisoner in the Viewfinder) (ongoing), $13.95 each
Vintage: 2005 and 2007 by Libre Publishing in Japan, February 2011 and June 2011 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (18+), drama, romance, yakuza

[Volumes 1 and 2 review.]

Akihito, Asami, and Fei Long are back and better than ever, because this time there are less one-shots and story setups, and more plot movement and character growth. There’s less sex this time around (though there’s still plenty of it), and more focus on the characters themselves. When we last left Akihito, he had made his way into Asami’s club where Asami stopped both him and his detective friend from biting off far more than they could chew. The bulk of the second volume, however, as made up of Fei Long’s back story and his past relationship with Asami. Volume 3 picks up with Akihito hanging out with some friends, but when he arrives home he’s greeted with a ransacked apartment, though oddly nothing is missing. When the same friends are later held hostage by Fei Long, Akihito turns to Asami for help. Asami denies his aid, and what’s more, refuses to allow Akihito to go after them either. In his own warped way, Asami uses sex to distract and protect Akihito, and then slips him a sleeping drug so that he can go an investigate the matter on his own. Akihito isn’t one to sit idly by while his friends are in danger, however, and when Fei Long’s goons show up, he gives them Asami’s location with hardly any hesitation in exchange for his friends’ safety. Fed up with being used by both men, and by having his friends put in danger, Akihito chases after Fei Long and attempts to pass the man’s location on to Asami in the hopes that Asami will take care of things once and for all. Unfortunately, he’s seen and is taken prisoner by Fei Long, and Asami is too late to stop Fei Long from carting his boy toy off to China. A couple of short stories wrap up this volume, the first a humorous New Year’s tale involving a drunk dialing Akihito and an increasingly annoyed Asami. This is followed by a cute but kind of weird story of an underwear salesman who is attempting to get his company’s product accepted by a notoriously tough to sell to store manager. After some “interviews” with the main cast of Finder, the volume wraps up with another quick story involving the politicians and their sons from the previous two volumes. This time we get to see how the fathers first met.

Volume 4 picks up right where the main story of volume 3 leaves off, as Akihito finds himself locked up in a storage room somewhere in China, and Asami’s personal aides are fretting over the injury he received during his brief shootout with Asami. Akihito seems to have been forgotten until Fei Long’s young caretaker, Tao, inquires about the stranger. He may have wished he had remained forgotten, as he is called to Fei Long’s personal rooms and threatened into…well, into basically being Fei Long’s sex toy. Fei Long threatens to sell Akihito off as a sex slave if he displays disobedience, and even if he somehow managed to escape, a tattoo on his wrist marks him as the personal property of the leader of the Chinese mafia. Things are a bit volatile in Fei Long’s gang, making things dangerous for Akihito even inside the compound. A Russian gang leader named Mikhail Arbatov wants the rights to a lucrative casino contract which Fei Long holds, and there’s a spy in the organization working for him. Fortunately for Akihito, Asami has a man on the inside as well, who has been charged with the young man’s protection. From all appearances, however, Akihito seems to have been abandoned, making it easy for Fei Long to plant seeds of doubt in his heart. On top of that, his conversations with Fei Long and those closest to him begin to change Akihito’s thoughts about the man. A dark twisted soul, and a complicated painful past have given Fei Long his hard edge, but Akihito begins to see for himself that there is more to the man underneath the surface. During a heated moment in a meeting to sniff out his gang’s traitor, Fei Long is confused by Akihito’s willingness to sacrifice himself without personal gain. Moved by Akihito’s passionate honesty (specifically his expression of emotion, which, as leader of his group, Fei Long cannot show himself), a drunken Fei Long takes solace in the other man’s body. Meanwhile, Asami gets his hands on the casino contract and arranges to exchange them for Akihito. The arrangements are made, and the exchange is set to take place on one of Fei Long’s casino ships out in the ocean, but Mikhail isn’t about to let the contract get away from him so easily and he makes plans to interfere. The volume wraps up with another side story involving Akihito and Asami, where Asami’s unscheduled appearance interrupts a photo shoot by Akihito’s boss.

Yeah, there’s rape in this one too, but fortunately we are finally getting out of that and into the realm of consensual sex with these two volumes. I won’t go into the psychology of Akihito’s eventual acceptance of Asami, as that is a problem that plagues the entire yaoi genre and is a post unto itself. As far as his psychological journey is concerned, a lot of it is fear based. He’s continually put into life threatening situations, and Asami is continually saving him, so when he’s scared, he begins to feel protected in Asami’s arms. I do want to say that in these two volumes, the sex doesn’t feel forced in any way. By that I mean that the sexual encounters don’t feel like they’re thrown in just to meet a sex scene quota. They have meaning, whether it’s manipulation, distraction, or domination; even desperation or, believe it or not, a tiny touch of tenderness. It’s a far more comfortable read compared to the S&M heavy first volume. It’s also very well drawn; Ayano Yamane is very good with a pencil, and there is plenty to feat your eyes on in the pages of Finder. Her characters have intense gazes, gorgeous bodies (man oh man, the pecs and abs on Asami), flowing hair (for Fei Long), and are (usually) impeccably dressed. My one complaint is a lack of consistency from panel to panel. There’s a sequence where Asami is taking off Akihito’s shirt; he’s wearing a striped shirt with a black t-shirt underneath, but Yamane sometimes forgets the overshirt or undershirt entirely. There are also panels where an injury disappears, or detail is left off of accessories (like a completely blank wristwatch) or the clothes of background characters (a character wearing patterned clothes is simply left with a white blank). I understand that it’s a lot of work filling in all those random details, but Yamane pays good attention to detail in other places, so it’s odd when she’s so lax on things elsewhere. I mentioned at the beginning of this review that we’re finally treated to some good story progression and character development. I’ve already mentioned Akihito’s growing acceptance of Asami and understanding of Fei Long. For Asami’s part, he’s beginning to realize just how much Akihito means to him, as he is completely taken aback by a moment of panic in regards to Akihito’s safety. He is, after all, willing to give up a hugely beneficial casino contract, that he retrieved with relative ease, in order to get Akihito returned to him. He’s still mostly possessive of Akihito, viewing him as his property, but he’s drawn to Akihito’s wild and youthful personality. Rather than taking advantage of Akihito’s fears, I almost got the impression that he was actually trying to console him. Fie Long, meanwhile, is finally starting to grow beyond his childish grudge against Asami, largely in part to Akihito. For whatever reason, Akihito’s innocence and honesty moves him, and the boy manages to talk a little sense into him. This in a world where no one would dare question or approach the more touchy subjects with their leader. Akihito is the first person to be up front with his emotions, and to try and draw emotion out of the outwardly calm and cold Fei Long. Everything has been progressing quite nicely so far, however, the events at the end of volume 4 could set everything back to stage one. Mikhail’s interference creates quite the deadly misunderstanding between two people who haven’t been able to simply talk things out with each other in over seven years.



One Comment

  1. […] of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu) Connie on A Fallen Saint’s Kiss (Slightly Biased Manga) Kristin on vols. 3 and 4 of Finder (Comic Attack) Connie on vol. 3 of Gorgeous Carat (Slightly Biased Manga) Ash Brown on Goth […]

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