Wild Act 1-5

Wild Act Volumes 1-5 by Rie Takada

It is tricky sometimes when you discover older manga series. The manga publishing business has been going along long enough that many early series are out of print. While it would have been hard for me to imagine not being able to track down a series on Amazon several years ago except for some of the earliest volumes put out by Viz, I can easily see myself running into issues finding full run for series like Wild Act. I enjoyed the first 5 volumes, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to easily track down the rest. This is a little disappointing because I don’t really picture myself getting into the habit of paying rare book prices for out of print manga (Volume 10 of Wild act is listed at $21.00 on Amazon by resellers), so I’ll just add the missing volumes to my wish list at Paperbackswap.com and hope for the best.

Wild Act combines two manga genres that I generally find interesting – thievery and show business.

Yuniko is obsessed with the dead actor Akira Nanae. She’s dedicated her life to tracking down the artifacts he left after his death. She’s been raised by the UAT theater company in the absence of her parents and her faithful companion is a flying squirrel named Kamui. Yuniko is watched over by UAT member Sanae. Ryu is an up and coming young actor, who is being called “the New Nanae.” Ryu resents the comparison with the dead actor so he is less than thrilled when he is about to receive one of Nanae’s old acting awards.

Yuniko targets Ryu’s award for her next job, making sure to prepare by leaping off tall buildings and assembling tricky disguises and grappling hooks. Unfortunately things do not go as well as she planned and Ryu identifies her as a thief. He retains possession of the statute but invites her to steal from him again. Yuniko and Ryu’s relationship starts out on an antagonistic note, but of course they end up falling for each other. In the world of show business love can quickly become complicated. His resentment of the actor Nanae and her obsession with collecting Nanae artifacts causes tension between them.

Sometimes I’m at a loss to explain why I find one series packed full of cliches charming, while another series with the same amount of cliches is deadly boring. I think in the case of Wild Act, it is greatly helped along by Takada’s workmanlike art. She really excels at portraying strong, plucky female characters. I was amused to see that Yuniko has developed her own brand of martial arts which she doesn’t hesitate to use to defend herself. She gets her gadgets from a perverted nerd and is often assisted on her jobs by her flying squirrel. The mischievous expressions on her face suit the character of a thief with an acting background. I also enjoyed the frequency with which Yuniko and Ryu don disguises.

As Yuniko and Ryu’s relationship develops they both start attending a high school affiliated with UAT. Maki Tatsumi is the child of a paparazzi photographer and he is their new classmate. He starts delving into their background and threatens to expose some shocking secrets. Yuniko hasn’t seen her mother in years, and when she discovers where her mother may be working she and Ryu take a trip to visit her. Unfortunately Yuniko’s mother has a horrible case of amnesia. She doesn’t remember her days as a model, actress, and sometime Nanae co-star.

I wonder how many times incest is used as a subplot to derail romantic relationships in manga. So far I’ve encountered it as a plot device in Wild Act, Marmalade Boy, and I understand that the works of Kaori Yuki are often plenty incesty. Just as Yuniko and Ryu become comfortable with each other, they discover the possibility that she may be Nanae’s daughter and he may be Nanae’s son. This might explain her Nanae obsession and his Nanae hatred. The specter of the dead actor looms over their relationship and they may have to steal even more artifacts in order to get documentation of the truth. Yuniko and Ryu are determined to cure the amnesia her mother is experiencing.

It is cute the way Yuniko and Ryu stand up for each other. He attempts to stage a distraction for the tabloid press that have staked out her apartment in order to shield her from attention but she decides to join him outside so they can deal with the paparazzi frenzy together. While they attempt to untangle the information about their parentage, Maki decides to retire from being a tabloid photographer and confesses his love for Yuniko. While Wild Act isn’t very profound, I did find it entertaining. I certainly hope that Yuniko and Ryo aren’t related and love will conquer all, but I guess I’ll have to wait until I can track down the rest of the series to find out.