Saturday, January 25, 2014

Legal Drug (manga, vol. 1) by CLAMP

Legal Drug is a mix of supernatural mystery, drama, and comedy. It was published by Tokyopop.

Review:

I found a used copy of this at my local entertainment store and bought it because series by CLAMP are always worth a try.

So far, this has a very episodic feel. At the beginning of the volume, Rikuo finds an unconscious Kazahaya in the snow and takes him back to Kakei, his boss at the Green Drugstore. Fast-forward a month, and Kazahaya and Rikuo are both working for Kakei. Sometimes the jobs he asks them to do are fairly ordinary, but sometimes they have a supernatural component.

This volume covers three of Kakei's special jobs. First, he asks Rikuo and Kazahaya to find a mysterious book. Then, he sends Kazahaya out alone to catch invisible fireflies. The third job requires that Kazahaya watch a black-and-white movie in order to determine what color jewel a woman is wearing in a certain scene. The characters have special abilities that help them do these jobs. Kakei can see the future, Kazahaya has visions of other people's memories, and Rikuo can break anything. Presumably, Saiga, Kakei's partner/lover/whatever, also has a special ability.

Kazahaya and Rikuo seem somewhat like an earlier incarnation of Watanuki and Domeki (characters in CLAMP's Xxxholic), only with more fanservice. Kazahaya constantly complains about Rikuo and hates being assigned to work with him. Rikuo is the cool guy who enjoys pushing Kazahaya's buttons.

The “fangirl squee” moments are everywhere. Rikuo frequently has to save Kazahaya: catching him when he faints, rescuing him when he almost drowns, helping him do a job he might otherwise have been too sick to do, etc. Then there were the other things, like Kazahaya's over-the-top reactions to Rikuo touching his hand or to realizing that Rikuo was looming behind him.

It's hard to tell, at this point, if the two of them will end up in a romantic relationship or if CLAMP is just having fun with readers. Knowing CLAMP, either one is possible, but I'm going to guess that the latter is more likely. Saiga and Kakei's relationship is another thing entirely. Those two are totally sleeping together.

The jobs were okay, but not really anything special. I enjoyed the visual of the fish swimming in the sky during the first job. My favorite job was probably the one involving the fireflies, although I swear CLAMP included something similar in their later series, Xxxholic. An invisible bird, I think?

If I continue on with this series, it'll probably be because the hints of an overarching storyline made me curious. All the characters and their pasts are a mystery. Who's the woman Kazahaya keeps remembering? What drove him to leave home and almost die in the snow? Who is this Tsukiko woman that Rikuo asked Kakei and Saiga to find? What does Kakei do with the things Kazahaya and Rikuo find for him?

I like the artwork, I'm somewhat interested in the characters, and I think it would be nice to see what other jobs Kakei sends Rikuo and Kazahaya to do. Chances are good that I'll read the rest of this series – the whole thing is only three volumes long. The one thing I'm nervous about is the ending. Since Legal Drug is continued by another series, Drug & Drop, I'm a little worried that Legal Drug will have a frustrating non-ending.

Extras:

Three full-color pages and a four-page extra story. The extra story is a silly re-imagining of Legal Drug's characters in which Kakei is Kazahaya's dad and Saiga is Rikuo's dad. Kakei announces to Kazahaya that he's remarrying and that Kazahaya should consider Kakei to be his mom and Saiga to be his new father ("It's too complicated if we're both fathers.").

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Xxxholic (manga series) by CLAMP - CLAMP includes character cameos so often that it pretty much goes without saying that you should try other CLAMP series. However, if you'd like to try one similar to Legal Drug, this would be a good place to start. The main character is a high school student who can see spirits. He makes a deal with a mysterious woman: he'll cook, clean, and do odd jobs for her and, once he's done enough work to pay her, she'll take away his ability to see supernatural things. All the jobs she gives him are strange, much like the jobs Kakei gives Rikuo and Kazahaya. I've written about the first season of the anime and volume 12 of the manga.
  • Land of the Blindfolded (manga series) by Sakura Tsukuba - Kazahaya's ability to see memories made me think of this drama/romance series starring a girl who can see the future and a guy who can see the past.
  • Descendants of Darkness (manga) by Yoko Matsushita; Descendants of Darkness (anime TV series) - Those who liked the potential romance between Rikuo and Kazahaya and want something else with supernatural elements and characters with secrets may want to give this a try. I'll just warn you right now: the manga series went on hiatus for a long time, so the portion available in English is unfinished. I remember preferring the anime, which, like Legal Drug, is fairly episodic, although there's some overarching stuff involving character secrets and a villain.
  • Sukisho (anime TV series) - The relationship between Kakei and Saiga reminded me of the relationship between a couple characters in this series. It's been a while since I last watched it, but I remember there being supernatural elements, occasional silly stuff, drama, and romance between male characters. FYI: this series is a tad steamier than Legal Drug has been so far.

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