You put that roll of film where?!
Writer/Artist: Yamane Ayano
What They Say
While out on assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld, photographer Takaba crosses paths with the dark and mysterious leader Asami. Asami takes Takaba captive in an attempt to subjugate and possess him. But when the son of the Chinese mafia enters demanding evidence that Takaba may have, will Takaba be able to survive being caught in the crosshairs of a deadly underworld feud?
For those of you who might be looking at this series and thinking, "I've seen this before," well... you're absolutely right.
History lesson time!
Once upon a time there was a manga company called 'Central Park Media' who had a boy's love division called 'Be Beautiful.' Now CPM filed for bankruptcy back in 2009, but before that Be Beautiful got into some trouble when the Japanese company 'Libra' came out and said that they were illegally translating and selling titles that belonged to them. This is because Libra had bought out the Japanese company 'Biblos' the previous year, and Be Beautiful had been getting the titles from them before. Needless to say, the titles they had been releasing stopped being released, and one of them just so happened to be the Target Finder series.
Only three volumes of this series have been released in the U.S., and believe me when I say that it stopped at a very critical point in the story. But now, with DMP picking up the title, perhaps we can finally get some closure after all of these years. So fans of this series rejoice! And to anyone who is completely new to Target Finder... please to be reading it now.
Main story: Target in the View Finder
Freelance photographer Akihito Takaba always manages to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, which leads him into the seductive embrace of Asami -- who may be one of the hottest semes that ever lived. Akihito takes some incriminating photos of some activities going on at Asami's club, and even if his photos never made it to print Asami and his group demand to know who tipped Akihito off in the first place. Before they can get any answers Akihito fights back and actually leaps from the side of the building, catching onto the side of it and safely making it down to the ground. Wow. So much for the easy capture of the pretty boy, the chase is on!
Akihito goes to talk to Yama-san -- a friend of his who works at the police station -- to find out more information about Asami. Yama-san warns Akihito to be careful when it comes to Asami, because he is much more dangerous than he looks. But Akihito won't let that stop him, determined to always get a good story and do something different from everyone else. Perhaps some bondage and rough sex will make him change his mind? Asami gets a hold of Akihito and partakes in what I'd like to call a, 'shouldn't be pretty moment.' These are those moments in stories that you shouldn't be drooling over -- because Akihito doesn't want to be in this situation -- but the way Ayano Yamane illustrates it is just... hot damn, the woman can draw a sex scene. Asami tortures Akihito sexually, using various sex toys, devices, and... Akihito's roll of film?!
Asami is very much the big bad seme, but in a rather unexpected twist he isn't the main villain of the story. It turns out that Yama-san is a crooked cop who's working with the thugs he's supposed to be trying to catch. As Akihito starts to put two and two together Yama-san turns on him, but Asami protects him. Despite this, Akihito vows to catch Asami in the corrupt things he does, and Asami simply smirks and tells him that he looks forward to the chase.
In the next part of their story Akihito, once again, crosses paths with Asami when he doesn't want to. While posing as a waiter to try and get another story, he runs into a man who leaves him a disk, pleading with him to give it to Asami. When he attempts to bring the disk to Asami his guards don't let him in, tossing him out onto the street. As he's walking off a car pulls up, a man begging Akihito to come back to deliver the disk, posing as one of Asami's guards. Akihito doesn't fall for it, so he's kidnapped and brought to the Chinese mafia. Now here's something interesting in the way the text is done in this scene that the original didn't do. The text is in parenthesis when Chinese is spoken -- that part is the same -- but when the Chinese characters are speaking English (or rather, Japanese, since the story takes place in Japan) its written out in bad English. So we get lines like, 'Where is disk you get? It stolen -- belong to us, you give back.' On the one hand, this could probably come off as offensive. On the other hand, its obvious that these characters don't speak the same language as the main characters, so it wouldn't be spoken perfectly.
As the Chinese Mafia continues to try and get answers from Akihito we're introduced to hot hot seme number two: Fei Long. Fei Long decides to completely ravish Akihito until he's ready to talk -- its a popular form of 'torture,' apparently -- and he alludes to him and Asami having history together by mentioning a bullet wound in his chest. Eventually, Asami comes to the rescue, and the silent exchange between him and Fei Long is chilling enough to confirm that yes, there is bad blood between them. The story ends with Asami reclaiming Akihito as his, 'cleansing' him from Fei Long's touch. And Akihito, being Akihito, runs off the next day before Asami can keep a hold of him, continuing the chase.
There is a side-story with the two of them at the very end of the manga where Asami visits Akihito at home after running into him earlier in the day. Akihito is particularly jumpy that evening, having just masturbated to the thought of Asami's touch -- yum? Yes, yum is the right word. After the two of them sleep together Akihito grabs onto Asami when he moves to leave his apartment. Instead of admitting that he wants him to stay, he lets Asami go, denying the feelings he's developing for him.
Extra story one: Love Lesson
This is a short bonus story between two students, Yusuke Sakurai and Takahito Ichijyo. One his first day of school Yusuke is felt up by a perverted man on the subway, but is saved by Takahito before things can get too serious. It turns out that Takahito is the student council president at the school Yusuke is starting at. Yusuke is completely unaware of this until after the ridiculously hot sex the two partake in on the school roof. The plot of this story is very basic, the entire point is to enjoy the two boys doin' it on the school roof after one boy is molested by a train pervert.
Extra story two: Plants in Love
This story has more plot then the previous extra and is actually my favorite side story in this manga. Mizuno and Hiyama are two friends who go to the same school together. One day, while making a delivery, Hiyama sees both of their fathers sitting pretty close together, looking like they're sharing an intimate moment. The thought of their dads being 'homos' makes Hiyama rather uncomfortable, but Mizuno reassures him that it could not be possible. Hiyama decides that the two of them should work together to investigate the truth anyway, and its during this time that Mizuno realizes that he himself might have feelings for his best friend. Slowly, Mizuno stops making the typical teenage gay slurs and starts feeling upset every time he hears Hiyama make one -- something I really like about this story. As they investigate, they discover that their fathers are, indeed, together, much to Hiyama's dismay. The two boys end up staying the night at the hotel, Mizuno completely flustered by the idea because by this point he's pretty sure about his feelings. Eventually, Mizuno acts on his feelings, and despite Hiyama's objections it turns out that he's also attracted to Mizuno. The only downside to this story is that I wanted to see more of their dads being together. Granted, this is the story of the two sons, but their fathers... are they still married? Single? Best friends growing old together who finally realized their feelings for one another? What's the deal?
Extra story three: Risky Society
The final extra story has quite a bit going on, so much that it probably could've been expanded and made into its own manga. Akira Todo is a stunt agent by day, but by night he's part of an organization called 'Risky Society,' a government group for individuals with special powers. The other two main characters are Rei Yukimura and a child named Yuuto Miyashita. Each of them has their own unique abilities and Akira is a newer member to the group. In the middle of a case, the group runs into a man named Sashima, a doctor who's obsessed with Rei because of his rare bloodline and is becoming more interested in Akira's special abilities. Akira is constantly trying to prove himself as a valuable member of the society since he was added on only three months ago. There's also the fact that his power has recently shown up, whereas others have seemed to learn about their abilities much earlier in life. Akira is allowed to live his normal life, but is always ready at a moment's notice to help the organization.
One day, while doing a job, Akira is injured pretty badly. Despite this, he still manages to protect Rei from the gunman by using the power he has. In order to save his life, Akira is injected with a serum made from Rei's blood. After the job, Akira is worried that he'll be sent away for failing his mission and not being able to keep up with Rei, but Rei assures him that everything will be o.k. This leads to a kiss, which spirals into sex, which ends with a brand new couple being born.
Man, oh man, oh man... where to begin? Let's compare the original release with the DMP one. For those of you who read the original and remember each and every naughty detail that Be Beautiful had in their release, fear not, DMP keeps all of the deliciousness in tact. Then again, DMP was bold enough to release 'Under Grand Hotel,' so I wasn't too worried about the sex being censored or dumbed down. All the rough sex, the BDSM, the... film roll... all of it is still there. Honestly, all that's missing in DMP's version is the interview with Ayano Yamane and the character bios that Be Beautiful had.
And now, let's talk about the story itself. As much as I enjoy it, it isn't for everyone. The sex is pretty graphic and it is one of those stories where the uke seems to be prone to being molested by the men he runs into. But if you can look past that -- or if those are selling points for you -- then please, keep reading. Hell, even if you can't look past that, at least give it a shot. The story itself is very interesting and the characters are likable, especially Akihito. Now I'm not one who usually likes the 'let's forcibly sex up the uke every time we get a hold of him' stories, but something about Akihito just makes me love him. Maybe its because he's so... ambitious. He keeps going after that story, no matter what happens to him, and he also has this knack of fighting back when he can. He's not easy to catch -- something Asami is learning quickly -- and despite what happens to him he gets back up and keeps going. I also like how the situation is reserved. Instead of the seme sexing up the uke and the uke chasing after him, the seme is the one doing the chasing. Granted, Akihito is dealing with his growing fascination with Asami, but its definitely Asami who's pursing him.
As for the side stories, they're also quite enjoyable. On the one hand, I really wish there was more Target Finder to read, but the side stories aren't a bad consolation prize. A lot of boy's love manga with multiple stories only have one, maybe two, stories I like. This time around I actually enjoyed all of them. I may have wanted more of the two fathers in 'Plants of Love' and 'Risky Society' could've been its own manga -- or two, maybe three -- but all and all, I liked them all.
So in conclusion, this is definitely something to pick up. Whether you're a boy's love fan looking for a good story to read, or a Target Finder fan -- like me -- who is desperate to see what happens next and doesn't want to spend $60+ on Amazon trying to find the original releases. Please, DMP, go beyond three volumes!