Manga-ka: Akira Honma
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2006
Synopsis: “A leak to a legal office makes a case for government corruption. It is now the job of public prosecutor Kyou Sugiura to investigate Tatsuki Toudou, an arrogant politician riding on the coattails of his daddy’s success. But Toudou may be more clever than his sexually abusive, adoptive father was. He uses manipulation after manipulation to exact revenge against Kyou for that time, long ago, when the two boys shared an intimate bond… which Kyou betrayed.”
For those who follow the reviews on my site, it’s safe to say that I tend to give books positive reviews over negative ones. A simple reason for this is that I buy what I really want thus more often than not tend to like what I buy. In the instance of The Judged, I purchased it based on the manga-ka, Akira Honma, whose work I enjoyed in their other book published by DramaQueen: Last Portrait. Well, despite my purchase under inspired pretences, the series fell very short of expectation.
This is the kind of boys’ love story I really dislike. The kind that seems to toss all sanity out the window, plows over character’s souls and all in the name of having a relationship (if you could call it that here) being the do-all-end-all of the story.
The book begins with the introduction of Kyou Sugiua, a public prosecutor investigating corruption in the government. His main focus is a man named Tatsuki Toudou, a man in the parliament, and upon confrontation the men recognize each other from their youth. What follows then is a downward spiral of messed up to, well, more messed up.
Tatsuki Toudou blames Kyou for abandoning him in their youth, and he seeks vengeance. Though the some-what twist, is it’s not against Kyou. Instead, he blames Kyou abandoning him on his family, who Kyou left their orphanage to be with. In retribution, Tatsuki orders a couple sleazebags to sexually assault Kyou’s sister and then rapes Kyou himself. From then on readers will watch Kyou start to fall in love with Tatsuki. Oh yes. Not only that, but Kyou’s sister wants “nothing more than her brother to be happy” so she condones, and promotes, his ‘relationship’ with Tatsuki, fully knowing what Tatsuki’s done to her.
While a little twisted drama can add some spice to a story, this book was nothing but sour. I felt no real connection between the characters, and the only real passion that seemed suitable was outrage. Sure there was a little anger, but one bout of angry sex quickly turned the tables to some sort of loving. And the sister scene was too much for me. Even Tatsuki’s dark back story of abuse doesn’t condone what he did, nor did it leave me feeling any better about anything.
The story’s only real upside, in my opinion, was Tatsuki Toudou’s right-hand man and previous lover; a high-strung, dedicated and jealous man who wants Tatsuki for himself. After taking the fall for Tatsuki and landing in prison, he develops a surprisingly sweet, though not entirely romantic, relationship with another investigator. It kept me reading the book until the end and if I were ever to somehow feel the need to read this again, I would definitely flip right to his story and enjoy, then proceed to imagine that the rest of it doesn’t exist.
While Akira Honma’s art did continue to appeal to me with its overall darker look and strongly featured, though pleasantly rounded with a sort of realistic edge, characters, it was no saving grace for the story that starred two very unlikeable characters having a completely unthinkable relationship. Though finding a copy of this book wasn’t too hard for me thanks to a well stocked boys’ love section at a recent convention, I don’t consider it much of a loss that other readers may have a harder time finding a copy of The Judged.
All said and done, The Judged has been judged, and earns from me a definite thumbs down. May any others who come across a copy have tastes more suiting to it than mine.
Review written October 20, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at FanExpo 2008