In a galaxy far, far away, I mentioned that Wild Adapter is one of my all-time favorite manga series. And since 2013 is drawing to a close, now seems like a good time to show everyone why this series is amazing. So! Without further ado, let’s jump right into Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter.
Wild Adapter has six volumes, all of which follow Kubota Makoto and Tokito Minoru. We usually see the story through a side character’s eyes, but some chapters bring us into Kubota and Tokito’s minds. Because we see stories through these side characters, each volume contains that character’s particular story and their observations about Makoto and Tokito’s lives. Our two boys are investigating Wild Adapter (WA), a mysterious drug that gives people super strength at a cost – their limbs become animal-like, and they explode into “gory little pieces.”
Makoto, a cold individual who cares for nothing, found Tokito in an alley and brought him home (as one does). Tokito turns out to be extremely energetic, and he’s often referred to as a cat. Oh, and Tokito has a claw. Yup. It appears he was administered WA, but as he has few memories of his past, he can’t explain it. So a large part of the overall story is trying to uncover Tokito’s past, and because he’s so rare – no one who has taken WA has survived – he’s an object of interest to many parties…
Violence and drugs and sex oh my
The series is pretty violent. Makoto is a former leader of a yakuza youth group, and as we’re dealing with the yakuza world, we get many scenes of drug use, murder, and prostitution. Volume 1 details Makoto’s time spent as group leader, how he got that position, how he maintained the group’s reputation, and how he left that world behind (in quite a blaze of glory, may I say). We get run-ins with the yakuza in every volume, but nothing as extensive as volume 1. The police, the yakuza, and Makoto and Tokito are after WA, and every volume features someone who’s been terribly affected by the drug; sometimes we get to see the person lose their minds and attack those around them, and sometimes we just see the bloody aftermath of their death. Volume 1 sees Makoto visiting whorehoueses to collect money, and we get a lot of sexual innuendoes throughout the series. But don’t let that turn you off: these scenes are meant to further our understanding of Makoto, to show us how de-synthesized he is to things around him and how Tokito changed him. Which leads us to…
What makes this series so good is the relationship between Makoto and Tokito. Tokito doesn’t show up until the very end of volume 1, and even then he’s unconscious the entire time. Volumes 2 and 3 show us how the two are on good terms, how they play video games, go on quests to understand WA, and just generally watch each other’s backs. They tease each other, recognize they need each other…bottom line, we as readers take it for granted that these two are like this. Volume 4 starts to shake things up by separating our two (anti)heroes and having Tokito realize he knows nothing about Makoto’s past.
Volume 5 changes things up by taking us waaaay back and showing us how awkward things were when Makoto first found Tokito. It’s a very interesting structure because we’re always being told that Tokito used to be like some wild animal when he was first found, and the way he’s so dependent on Makoto in the first few volumes makes you really curious about his past. So when you get the volume 5 backstory, it’s just so bizarre to see the two of them being clearly uncomfortable with each other. Throughout the series, Makoto is always described as being detached; he doesn’t care for others, he’ll always choose himself, and he doesn’t trust himself. Tokito comes along and challenges Makoto’s instincts, making Makoto open up to him. At the same time, Tokito accepts that Makoto can be cruel and childish (Makoto once didn’t show up to yakuza headquarters for three days because he was playing a new videogame, and once he took another yakuza member to get ice cream). The overall structure of the series is designed to show us how Makoto changes and how he can revert back to his old ways to not protect himself, but to protect Tokito.
BL(ish) and Humor
Now, if you’ve read Minkeura’s work before, you know that she loves to tease her readers. She deliberately writes dialogue and draws scenes that could be interpreted in dirty ways, and when she reveals what’s really happening, you feel frustrated because dammit she tricked us again. So with Wild Adapter, the first thing to know is that this series was originally serialized in a boys’ love magazine. And boy, does Minkeura run away with that. Makoto and Tokito’s apartment is under surveillance in one volume, and look at this overheard exchange:
And now look at what’s really happening in that scene:
Do you see?! Minkeura is a brilliant mad scientist. Take a look at this scene from Volume 3, where Makoto and Tokito decide to go undercover in a cult to get some info on WA. Makoto’s suggestion for a cover story is this:
Yeah. Minkeura knows what’s up. At the same time, she can also draw really sweet scenes between the two of them. Tokito’s beast-hand occasionally hurts him, and one time it causes him to break Makoto’s cup. He runs to the shower to avoid questions, and Makoto follows him under the pretense of doing laundry. Tokito calls him a pervert and Makoto agrees. And then we get this:
This is something I think Minkeura excels in: she can get across so much with brief dialogue and a simple drawing. You can take scenes like this as something indicative as more than simple friendship, but I think every interpretation agrees that they have an incredibly strong bond.
Sadly, there is no anime companion for the series. But! But there is IS an OVA for a little something called Araiso Private School Student Council Executive Committee, which in turn is based on Minkeura’s doujinshi. It’s got nothing to do with Wild Adapter – Makoto and Tokito are on their high school’s student council and they just help the students. It’s weird (where is my dark and gritty plot?!), but it’s nice seeing some form of Makoto and Tokito brought to life.
And that’s that! Makoto and Tokito’s relationship is what really drives the story forward, and I hope some of you will check this manga out. If you do and you love it, you should most definitely check out Minkeura’s other work.
Have a wonderful holiday, and see you in the new year!