Welcome to Astral Animations, where we'll examine the imports of Japanese animation currently available in the United States.
This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the movie.
That said, on to the review!
Note: sorry about the quality of the images and how long it takes to load up, but I'm still learning how to use a digital camera and how to make thumbnails. Anime Works owns the rights to the anime, naturally, but I'm the one that took the pictures, so if you'd like to use them, please ask me for permission first. I'll grant it, most likely, but it's still nice to ask first.--XS
Dee Laytner and Randy "Ryo" McLane, two New York police detectives, have finally gotten away on a long-needed vacation, coincidentally being permitted to take their vacations at the same time. Their chosen destination? A secluded hotel in England where they can be alone together, free to spend as much time in each other's company as they want without interruptions from their work or their friends. For Dee it's the chance of a lifetime that he's been dreaming of ever since he met Ryo: he likes Ryo a lot and wants to finally have something more between them than just a strong, close friendship and a few kisses. Now's the perfect time to take that next step in their relationship.
At least, that's the plan. However, things start to go awry on the very day of their arrival. During what should have been a peaceful sojourn out onto the lake behind the hotel, Ryo spots something red in the water and--unfortunately ruining a special moment for Dee--points it out to his partner. Upon closer investigation it turns out to be a dead woman in a red dress, her body brought to the surface by the gases within her. The local constabulary are called, the guests and hotel staff questioned, and the threat of their mandatory departure looms overhead. However, fortunately for Dee--who isn't exactly enthused with the idea of leaving on the exact same day they arrived--the police let the guests remain and life goes on.life goes on.
Dee tries to proceed with his plan to seduce Ryo, but Ryo's shyness persuades him to abort his original mission, at least temporarily. He ends up downing nearly an entire bottle of wine by himself, forcing Ryo to trade rooms for the night while he sleeps it off in Ryo's bed. Out in the hall, however, Ryo encounters Arisa Bryan, a fellow American also staying at the hotel. She'd heard strange noises at her door and came out to investigate. Ryo searches the hall and finds nothing, but later, when he and Dee head down for some ice for Dee's hangover, they have a very strange encounter with someone in the kitchen...a someone packing a gun and holding it like he knew how to use it. Still later, they start picking up clues and facts about the hotel and exactly what's been happening around the hotel that causes guests to disappear, never to be seen again.
Fake is a 60-minute anime that tells a beautiful tale of love between two men. Although actually based on the second installment of the manga series, it doesn't require the viewer's knowledge of the first installment because it readily provides anything you need to know, such as the circumstances of Dee and Ryo's first meeting, their first kiss, and a handful of other little things. A couple of questions do arise, especially involving the roles of Bikky and Cal in the scheme of things, but a little background research here and there--namely, exploring the few Fake sites on the 'Net I could find--clued me in so I understood more or less what I was seeing.
Ryo and Dee are the main characters, and their relationship is truly interesting to watch. It's plain to see that they both care about each other very much--especially evident in Dee's desperate race on a commandeered motorcycle to get back to the hotel to save Ryo from a killer. What's also interesting--and fun--to watch are the various problems that get thrown in the path of their relationship. First there's the body Ryo discovers floating in the lake. Then there's the matter of two nosey, gambling teenagers betting on whether Ryo and Dee will go all-the-way or not and anxious to know the answer. Also, a junior detective with an obsessive crush on Dee shows up unexpectedly (and nearly gets Ryo killed). Then, there's the murderer with a thing against all Japanese in general, and we definitely can't forget the ghost that's inadvertantly the cause of it all!
Okay, moment of truth time. I originally watched Fake as a punishemnt because I forced the girl friend (not girlfriend, she has a boyfriend and I have a girlfriend already) who I watch anime with to sit through two episodes of Dragon Knight, which isn't the most suitable anime for women to watch. As a retaliatory strike she made me watch Fake and review it, undoubtedly hoping I'd be as uncomfortable with it as she was with the Dragon Knight videos. The joke's on her! I admit that some of the kissing scenes were hard to handle at first, but over the many times I watched it (how else do I do reviews and galleries) I became more or less inured to it. Or maybe it's just that I'm so totally "obnoxiously open-minded" as my girl friend says!
In all honesty, their relationship hardly fazed me (behold the rewards of cable television and well-rounded educational experiences with Greek and Roman mythology). The synopsis on the back was simple and straightforward, so I didn't plunge in blind. The relationship itself is presented immediately and handled without prevarication, but in such a way that it isn't forcibly thrown in your face. Well, maybe it is, but the storyline requires that Ryo and Dee be together at least some of the time and in fairly close contact, so it isn't really blatant, is it? At any rate, there's nothing worse going on than the two of them kissing. Well, there is one scene where a drunken Dee stumbles into Ryo from behind and claws his way up Ryo's torso to stand upright, just before he throws up in the toilet. Oh, and one scene where Dee attacks Ryo following Ryo's unexpected iniation of a kiss. But nothing more than that.
As I said earlier, there was some initial discomfort when I first watched Fake, but that passed quickly. I found myself wanting Dee and Ryo to get together (no, not in that way), despising everyone and everything that interrupted their chances to tell each other how they really feel. These are two characters who deserve to be together: obnoxious but sincere Dee and shy but loving Ryo. It's a good thing Arisa was there to observe their emotions and reactions toward one another and urge them--especially Ryo--to express their feelings openly to each other.
I certainly can't go without mentioning the excellent job the voice actors did on this anime, especially in establishing Dee and Ryo as real people in a real--albeit unusual--situation. Tomokazu Seki does an outstanding job giving Dee depth and believability. He also succeeds in giving what might have been a stereotypical character something more, transiting from obnoxious and boisterous to irritated and petulant to gentle and--dare I say it--loving to angry and fearful to worried and concerned. Whew! Nobuo Hida also shines, bestowing on Ryo everything we want to see: someone who can be strong and forceful when necessary to shy, submissive, and confused in an instant. Possibly the best thing he did for Ryo was allowing his voice to crack at just the right moments to highlight Ryo's confusion about his feelings for Dee. I have, unfortunately, not encountered these seiyuu--or any of the rest of the cast, I think--ever before, but if they did as excellent jobs on their other projects as they did on this one, then I'm certain that everything else they've done is equally outstanding.
There's more that could be said, like how and why poor Arisa can sympathize with Dee so readily and therefore urge Ryo to admit his true feelings to himself and Dee. Or I could talk about whether or not Cal wants to see Ryo and Dee become a couple. Or even whether Bikky wants them together or not: is he just against it in general or only because Dee is pursuing Ryo too aggresively and he wants Ryo to be able to choose? And of course there's the thing about the murderer and why he's doing it. But I won't. What I will say is that this is an anime that I truly enjoy watching. It depicts a male-male relationship with an exquisite gentleness and sincerity you sometimes never see even with male-female relationships. It's quite refresing. To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing any sequel that might possibly come out for this OAV.
You can purchase Fake on videotape at any video store that sells Japanese anime. You can also order it at the Anime Works website.
Visit the Fake Gallery to see more pictures from the anime!
Interested in buying this video? You can! Just follow the link to order the English subtitled VHS version or the English dubbed VHS version. You can also visit the Stellar Video Store for other titles.
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