Manga: Okane ga Nai (No Money)
Artist: Tohru Kousaka
Author: Hitoyo Shinozaki
Status: Ongoing (8 volumes)
English Release: Not announced. Officially Japanese only.
Media: Okane ga Nai has a four episode OVA and a couple of drama CDs. It was originally a novel and has been adapted in to the Manga.
Come prepared. Okane ga Nai is not afraid to cross certain lines and as a result may leave some people cold. However, for those with the stomach to face it, Okane ga Nai is one saucy little manga. The Drama CDs are well worth a listen (good headphones are a requirement, ladies) and the manga has some quality yaoi scenes.
Readers, you have been warned!
Research shows that many people put down this manga purely upon seeing Ayase and Kanoh's distinct height difference. Though it echoes of shota-con, Okane ga Nai is most certainly not of that genre. At times it is difficult to look beyond (such as the rediculously over-sized bed in Kanoh's apartment), however I do not feel this is a strong enough reason to disregard Okane ga Nai altogether.
The level of detail used to depict Ayase is wonderful. Some people think its overly complex, however I found each panel to be an individual work of art. Kousaka has made his characters extremely individual, thus eliminating the common problem of 'who is who?'. Except, of course, in the case of the Twins!
If coercion, violence, rape and forced captivity are not your cup of tea, I can strongly recommend you don't try Okane Ga Nai. This manga treads a dangerous path through each of the aforementioned areas and dabbles in other equally disturbing activities as well. It doesn't bother to make excuses for its behavior, either.
The story opens with Kanoh remembering a chance encounter from years past, and incidentally 'purchasing' the boy from his memories at a slave auction – namely Ayase. Over the course of the current eight volumes Shinozaki guides his characters on a journey of self discovery. What I liked most about this manga was the lack of sudden realizations; even after three volumes or so, Ayase is still struggling to accept his position.
However. Some of the situations – and frequency! - that Ayase finds himself in can be a little tiresome.
I really, really liked the way the last released volume ended. To avoid spoilers, I will simply say the following:
It threw a hefty spanner in to the works, and made me as a reader question the seven volumes that came before. A manga that can do that is a manga worth the read.
Overall the characters in Okane ga Nai could do with more personal development. As it is they are all a unique bunch and combined with the witty and often sharp humor, become rather likable.
Ayase is overly optimistic and extremely naïve to the intentions of others and as a result he is often left with shattered illusions and tear stained cheeks. He has yet to develop properly within himself, yet his slow and obvious struggle to overcome his predicament makes for a tantalizing read.
Kanoh starts out as a cutthroat loan shark. He doesn't change much. His interactions with Ayase are excellently written and his eagerness to secure the younger boy's affections often has hilarious results. As a character he is deliberately very flawed, and designed to be the complete opposite to his love interest.
The OVA and Voice Actors
The Okane ga Nai OVA followed the first few chapters closely. Events do not happen out of order, nor is anything missed out. Overall the OVA stayed true to the manga. The animation was good and used some different techniques not often seen in other adaptations. For example, a memorable scene near the beginning of Episode One used boxed outs around the main image to bring the viewers attention to a particular action.
As for the voice acting I found it rather good. Jun Fukuyama did justice to Ayase's 'girly' voice and I found myself impressed on more than one occasion with his ability to pull off such a smooth sounding pitch. His voice didn't crack once, even during the heated scenes (I mean the arguments, too!).
The other most notable voice was Nobuo Tobita, who played the transvestite Someya Kaoruko. Bringing such a colourful character to life can never be easy, yet I felt Tobita excelled here.
Final word on the OVA: Good animation, good voice acting. Sadly with just four episodes, I would have mopped up a good twelve episode series of this. That may just be me though.
I have never come across a drama CD that has failed to deliver on the promise of steamy sound effects. Okane ga Nai does not fail here, either. Unfortunately I am at this time unable to identify the voice actor that plays Ayase in the Drama CD, however all the others are played by the same voice actors as in the OVA.
Unfortunately I am also unable to extensively comment on the Drama CDs due to a lack of English translation. From what I have listened to (repeatedly, some parts) it's quite different from the direction the OVA and manga took in some respects.