If I were to have judged this DVD by its description on its cover, I probably would have taken a step back and walked away. After all, what red-blooded, straight, conservative Christian, American male would want to watch an anime about gay cops? If that's all there was to it, I might not even be writing this review now. However, Fake is one of the funniest shows I've seen in a very long time, and despite its risqué subject matter, it is an entertaining surprise that is really something special if you can get past the homoerotic content.
A rainy night. A young girl. A deadly cleaver. As Fake starts, we see all three and are left curious as to what sort of foul play we've just witnessed. It turns out it will take a while to find out, for next we are introduced to Dee, a wise-cracking adrenaline pumped cop and his naive, mysterious partner Ryo. Turns out Dee wants to make Ryo his partner in more ways than one, and he's set up an elaborate scheme for the two of them to vacation together alone in the countryside of England. Ryo's not certain what he thinks of Dee's advances--although he really isn't sure he wants that kind of relationship, he does have a strange attraction to Dee. But before anything too serious can happen, our boys in blue find themselves wrapped up in a murder mystery that might just turn a tad to the supernatural. And when the friends Dee bribed to stay away start showing up, things get really interesting. There's a killer loose--will one of them be the next victim?
Now, let's get the main issue out of the way right now: this show has homosexual overtones all over the place. There are a couple of intimate kisses between males, and there's plenty of benign references that make Dee's intentions clear. This is keeping in line with the classic concept of bishonen and shonen-ai anime, primarily not written for homosexual men but instead created for women in Japan. In Japanese culture, manga stories about homosexual men do very well among Japanese women; they essentially take the eternally-popular concept of romantic love and move it into a realm of safety and fantasy that seems to strike a chord in that particular culture. Bishonen stories such as Fake typically play off sexual tension between attracted males, though not much really serious happens, and such is the case in Fake too. Even the minor stuff like kissing will bother some viewers, though, and I would be lying to say that it didn't bother me a little here and there, whether or not it's politically correct to say so. However, the show is not just about that, and the other elements are so good that even those who might find this disturbing will still find things to enjoy.
The humor, in particular, keeps this show alive and kicking. At several points, I was slapping the side of my chair howling. This show has some of the funniest bits I have seen in an anime, period. The physical comedy here is particularly well done, and it added a great deal to the program. Meanwhile, the artwork was surprisingly good, even though the character designs were a bit too angular for my taste. The opening and ending themes were so good that I didn't even once reach for the remote to get through them, and the whole presentation was nicely done. Although the show didn't reach for the action hat often, when it did, it wore it well.
What's even more important here is that the characters--even Dee, who at times seems like a mind-on-one-thing jerk--are sympathetic and well-defined for an hour-long show. The characters here are multi-dimensional; they do not act at all like stereotypes Americans are used to seeing. Most one-shot OVAs rush through character development, but not here. By the time we're finished, we've even got a strong handle on the secondary characters, a testament to good development from the earlier manga series. From beginning to end, I was drawn in and interested in their story. If the show has any problem whatsoever, it's that the program plays like a very good pilot to a longer series that was never created. I would have been interested in seeing that series, actually.
Fake is many things--humorous, exciting, even a little daring at times. The subject matter will be too much for some people, and I certainly respect that. I didn't expect to like this show at all, frankly, but surprisingly found myself enjoying a great deal of it. If I have to put down a disclaimer, it's that your milage may vary depending on your personal views, but if you've got no problem with the concept, then you'll really like this one.
Fake -- homoerotic concepts and content, profanity, violence -- A-