The first rule of Ayano Yamane’s Boy’s Love manga series, Finder, is that intrepid photojournalist Takaba Akihito always finds himself in peril. The series centers around Akihito and the domineering leader of a Japanese crime syndicate, Asami Ryuichi, and their dark, twisted relationship.
Volume 5, Naked Truth, wraps up the cliffhanger of the Macao story arc from volumes 3 and 4, after Akahito is kidnapped and held in sexual captivity by Asami’s nemesis, Fei Long Liu. Asami and Fei Long reach a detente aboard Liu’s luxury casino ship, with the Chinese gangster agreeing to exchange Akihito for a valuable stolen casino deed. The trade is interrupted by a Russian gangster, Mikhail Arbotov. While the fifth volume of the series is devoted to resolving the plot, the next two volumes are lighter on content and build a slender bridge to what may prove to be the series finale, involving a new, mysterious villain that will threaten to destroy not only Asami and Akihito, but Fei Long and Mikhail as well.
Volumes 6 and 7 focus more on Akihito as his career becomes as exciting and dangerous as his personal life. His professional path crosses some of Asami’s enemies and allies, and the younger man knows he’ll eventually have to choose where his loyalty lies. Neither choice is a safe bet. His adventures (and misadventures) lead to a lot of soul searching about where he stands with Asami and whether he can maintain a relationship with him.
This series is seventeen years old and sticks closely to BL tropes and to its core strategy of “when in doubt, put Akihito in danger.” Ayano’s art work is solid and consistently good. But the plot gets tangled as allies turn on Asami and past enemies become allies. The series’ longevity is a testament to its creator and fans. A lot of manga artists pen thank you notes in their books for fans, but Ayano’s long missives reveal her emotional ties to the characters and the real joy she gets in creating the art. She also often apologizes for the time between chapters. (Although the chapters are serialized bi-monthly in Be-Boy Gold magazine, the tankobon volumes include a lot of bonus material that adds work for the artist.)
The time between volume releases averages a year and a half in the U.S. Although the wait between volumes 8 and the recently released volume 9 was an agonizing two and a half years, due, in part, to a change in publisher. The new publisher released volume 8 and then re-released the entire series in deluxe editions with updated English translations before releasing volume 9.
Besides the long wait times between volumes, another issue I have with the entire series is that the amount of plot in each volume varies wildly. Volume 5 stays on point with high action and only one side story—that of Asami and Akahito recovering from their ordeal at a tropical resort. Volume 6 and 7 both cram a lot of complex plot points into much shorter chapters, filling the rest of the book with excessive side stories and in one, a short that barely involves the two main characters at all. Volume 8 returns to the focused plot, with a lot of action sequences that set up another cliffhanger as Akihito is kidnapped (again) and sexually assaulted (again), only to be rescued by Asami. Then the lovers are attacked by unknown assailants in Asami’s penthouse and barely escape with their lives. It also includes only two side short stories, one involving Akihito investigating a drug dealer. He samples the wares (an unnamed aphrodisiac) and visits Asami in his office, with interesting results. And in the next, Asami surprises Akihito on his birthday.
As one of the longer BL titles out there, Finder (originally titled You’re My Loveprize in Viewfinder, so you can see why it’s been shorted to Finder) rests on aging tropes of the genre—namely non-consensual or, at least, dubiously consensual sex between men. None of the characters identify as gay or bisexual. It contains explicit sex scenes as well as violence and rape. I should point out that there are virtually no female characters in this entire series. This is a man’s world without even a secondary female character. And, like the majority of BL or yaoi titles, it is written and drawn by a woman for a mostly female audience.
That’s probably a lot to unpack, psychologically speaking, but I have chalked up the popularity of the genre up to cultural peculiarities and very specific tastes of the fans (myself included). The popularity of the title speaks for itself, and I do not judge what drives readers’ choices. Does this series belong in a library collection? If you’re curating a well-stocked, or extensive adult manga collection, I would recommend this series. Aside from the explicit content, the plot lines are darker and more complex, with more violence, offering a different type of reading experience than the modern, slice-of-life, or school boy romance. More BL titles are making their way to libraries’ shelves because of increased demand for the material.
The Finder series continues with volume 9, Finder: Beating of My Heart, which was released in October 2019. Volume 10 has been announced in Japan, and, although no release date has been set for an English translation, it’s a safe bet it will see a US release either late 2020, or early 2021. Ayano has one other current series, a fantasy BL titled Crimson Spell. SubLime has released six volumes of that to date.
Finder: Deluxe Edition, vols. 5-8
By Ayano Yamane
vol 5 ISBN: 9781421593098
vol 6 ISBN: 9781421593104
vol 7 ISBN: 9781421593111
vol 8 ISBN: 9781421593128
Publisher Age Rating: 18+