Picking up FAKE will feel like you’re at a party where everyone knows everyone, except you are the only outsider. This 1998 OVA is an adaptation of Sanami Matou’s manga of the same name, which had been running since 1994 and is still ongoing today. I haven’t read it, which often left me confused while watching this adaptation.
FAKE revolves around two New York police officers. Randy “Ryo” Maclean is a calm, goody-two-shoes type of half-Japanese descent. His partner Dee is more of a loose cannon; known for his womanizing ways and frequent altercations with his superiors. They have been a team since Randy first arrived and there’s been romantic tension between them ever since.
The OVA does flash back to this first encounter between the two, but leaves many other details of the backstory unclear. For example, Randy lives with a teenage boy called Bikky, who is explicitly not his son. It’s not stated who he is or why he lives there, so an explanation would have been much appreciated. There’s also a 4th main character in the female pickpocket Carol, who is not introduced at all. She just shows up in the plot at some point and everything carries on.
From what I can judge, this OVA covers a seemingly random storyline from the manga. Randy and Dee are headed for rural England to spend their vacation at a hotel. They are basically already lovers at this point, but Randy is hesitant to make the final step because he is unsure of his true feelings. Dee hopes that this outing will help to resolve any doubts (and get him laid), only for the hotel to become the scene of a crime. Strange, seemingly-paranormal events are happening and seek to disrupt the couple’s peaceful time off.
It’s certainly novel that a police series would use its animated debut to tell a story far removed from typical crime-fighting. Much of the mystery is uncovered through happenstance and supporting characters, while the main plot mostly focuses on Dee and Randy’s interactions. It does get quite intense towards the finale, including some unexpectedly brutal action scenes.
As a gay love story, though, FAKE is fujoshi as fuck; from the bishounen look of the characters to the stereotypical depictions of their romantic roles. My enjoyment of the romance was mainly hampered by Dee being overly forceful. Of the few romantic scenes we get, several are of Dee forcing himself on Randy in various states of drunkenness. In general, Dee comes off as kind of an asshole, who instantly reduces Randy to a helpless uke anytime he gets aggressive with his advances.
In one scene, Dee pins Randy down and starts tearing at his clothes while yelling at the guy. Meanwhile somebody peeks at them and doesn’t seem at all alarmed at Randy’s visibly distress and clear protests. Maybe that’s some thing they are into. Maybe that’s something Randy is secretly okay with. Lacking that context, however, it struck me as severely creepy. No wonder Randy has doubts when his partner is seemingly willing to rape him.
The story also has a habit of making Dee & Randy run into other bishounen hotties that can act as rivals. The most obnoxious of these is a manchild called JJ, who pines for Dee’s attention. He screams like a kid anytime he sees Dee and attempts to glomp the guy. At the same time, his only role in the story is to be a colossal, perpetual fuck up. No thanks.
FAKE mainly exists for the benefit of its existing fans, though it wasn’t too bad for a newcomer. I enjoyed its storyline, the art is nice, and the performances were pretty darn good. I personally didn’t enjoy the style of romance presented here, though I am all too aware that stories like FAKE have their audience.