Legal Drug (aka: Gouhou Drug) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Megan Lavey
Review Date: Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Release Date: Friday, October 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:CLAMP
Translated by:Ray Yoshimoto
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kazahaya Kudo has a gift. When he touches a person or an object, he sees visions. But he has no money and no place to stay, so Kazahaya is down on his luck...until fate brings him to the Green Drug pharmacy. Now, in exchange for working in the store, he gets room and board. In order to make ends meet there's a catch - he must take on "special" assignments from his boss that can only be handled by someone with Kazahaya's gift. With the help of his co-worker and roommate Rikuo, who has unusual powers of his own, Kazahaya finds himself on missions most surreal.

The Review
Packaging:
This is a really slick book. The front and back are both a dark green and black that mesh really nicely with each other, with Kazahaya and Rikuo rendered in black and white on the front. The logo itself is a very simple font that keeps in tone with the rest of the book. A neat touch is the Green Drug's logo in the back. What really makes the packaging stand out above the others is the included onion pages in the front and back of the books. The pages themselves are green with the characters rendered in white. I was very impressed with TOKYOPOP going the extra mile to include these pages - not to mention replicating the original release of this manga. Plus, the opening pages of the book are in color, another positive notch in my book.

Artwork: The art, while similiar to Suki: A Like Story (both drawn by Mick Nekoi), seems to be a step above it. There are some strikingly beautiful pages in this book, such as when Kazahaya takes the message from Kakei to see where the missing book is. While this isn't the same whimsical style from CLAMP as we see in Cardcaptor Sakura, the art here is still very nice to look at. The scenes are pretty minimalistic and the layout is easy to follow.

Text: This is a clean read and I've seen nothing wrong with the translation. It's a solid, well-edited job.

Review (please note that contents of a review may contain spoilers):
Kudo Kazahaya is really a lucky guy. Homeless, he falls what he perceives to be his doom in the snow around Christmastime, but he is rescued by Himura Rikuo, who happens to work at a pharamacy called the Green Drug. Now, they're roommates and co-workers - despite Rikuo's aloof manner that seems to grate Kazahaya to no end. But, the boys are prompted to do a bit of overtime work that puts their powers to use.

This is the start of a series that is in some sense, a sequel to Suki: A Like Story, released earlier this year by TOKYOPOP. Legal Drug, Suki, Chobits and xxxHolic all take place in this same universe and the stories tend to overlap somewhat (such as Watanuki purchasing some vitamins at Green Drug in xxxHolic.)

And so far, Legal Drug reminds me a lot of xxxHolic. I have a feeling that Kakei, the manager of Green Drug, and Yuko would get along extremely well. The cryptical nature of the side jobs that Kazahaya and Rikuo do are also similiar to the jobs that Yuko and Watanuki go on in xxxHolic. For example, in the first job, they have to go find a book and receive very little information other than what's been sent to their cell phones. Then, Kakei sends Kazahaya out to search for an invisible firefly - another odd job.

What makes this series different is the high levels of shounen-ai throughout the book. There is a lot of sexual tension among the male characters that heightens as tidbits are revealed about their past. Also, Kakei is out to prove a point with these jobs - and it has hints of a maliciousness that Yuko lacks in xxxHolic. Indeed, all of the characters lack a certain quirkiness that made me really care for them. At times, they just seemed to go through the motions. This doesn't detract from the oddly intriguing plot, though.

As the book goes by, we really start learning some interesting facts about Rikuo's past. Unfortunately, though, just as it gets really good, the book ends.

Comments
In some senses, Legal Drug - which slightly predates xxxHolic - almost seems like a model for that later series. While the characters are interesting, they lack the quirkiness that sets the later title apart from other CLAMP works. But, like Suki - its predecessor - it does introduce a few mysteries that are very intriguing and leave you wanting to know more. It's a good, solid beginning, but with the series at two volumes and holding at the moment, it makes me wonder if the momentumn will be retained.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 188
ISBN: 1-59182-485-0
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left