Back when I was a teenager I started the CLAMP series Legal Drug. I read volumes 1 and 2…then never got around to reading volume 3. The series wasn’t officially finished. The magazine the manga was in closed, and it took years for it to get picked up by a different magazine. But I’ll get more into that later as it’s kind of interesting.
I recently saw the continuation of the series available in English. It’s called Drug and Drop, and I was so excited to get to it. With so many years of difference, I was curious to finish this first set off and move on. Unfortunately, I won’t be continuing on to it now as I DNFed volume 3.
It’s safe to say that I’m very disappointed.
Legal Drug follows two 17-year-old boys who work at the Green Pharmacy. They spend their days working as shop assistants, but every now and then, their boss, Kakei offers them a different job that only someone with psychic powers can complete. Kazahaya can touch things and see memories, and Rikuo can destroy things with a thought. You don’t really see much of Rikuo’s power, but it’s still there. Using these abilities, they’re trying to solve some mysteries connected to their own pasts whilst trying to earn extra money.
We’ll start with the good.
The art was as stunning as expected. Apart from the weird leg lengths, you can’t go wrong with CLAMP’s art. It’s always stunning, and you know what you’re getting, no matter which artist from the group is the lead. I loved Kazahaya’s design as well as Kakei’s. These were some pretty boys, and I think Kazahaya would be very fun to cosplay…if I liked the series. I think I’d probably want to rp him if I was more into this too. I will say the sister designs are…very similar though the two main guys look very different. I found that a little odd, but they weren’t featured enough to bug me too much.
The other good thing was the actual mysteries. The items they were finding and the paranormal shenanigans in the first two books, and I think the first one in volume 3 was great. I loved the designs of these spirits, and I’d like to have seen more of them. Like if they’d been stretched out to cover a few more chapters. Unfortunately, the only one that was stretched out was in volume 3 and…that’s where things get problematic.
I will start by saying there are aspects of this series that could be seen as homophobic. Some of Kazahaya’s attitude towards things related to guys is a little off. But when you remember that this was a series from the early 2000s Japan…it’s not exactly a surprise. I could move past that. I’m used to seeing that.
My problem was that there were some comments on rape and things in volume 3 that made me very uncomfortable. They go to an all-boys school, and there’s very much a comment on guys who only have each other? They’ll just all sleep with each other, and the bathhouse is dangerous as boys often get raped there.
I was flabbergasted.
In an all-boys school will you get more guys messing around with each other as there are no girls? Yeah, I can see that. But it was also suggested that in an all-girls school, the girls wouldn’t be. Which…not true. You get same-sex messing around in both all-boys and all-girls schools. You can’t just say oh, all teenage boys are horny, so they’ll just want sex no matter what.
I immediately had to put the book down at that. I just didn’t want to go further with it. I couldn’t read more of that and finish the volume. I skipped through and found some of the manga-typical cross-dressing, which I’ve also come to expect and don’t mind but…yeah. I just…it was problematic.
The pretty boys, the paranormal elements, the fujobait if not going fully down the BL route – which CLAMP sometimes do – I’ve seen done much better in other series from around the same time. Are they easy to get your hands on now? No, as those series are currently out-of-print. I hope a publisher will pick them up again, but if you’re looking for more series like this that are a lot less offensive. Check out Yami No Matsuei (Descendents of Darkness) and Tactics. Both are amazing and do even the paranormal elements so much better, as well as the err….fujobait haha.
Look, I like a lot of series that technically include fujobait. It’s fine. I know it’s somewhat problematic, but I still enjoy it.
The final thing I want to note is the target audience of this series and the magazines it was in. Legal Drug ended its original run in Asuka, which is a shoujo magazine. Other series I like that featured in it was Kyou Kara Maou and D.N Angel. Both are better series I’d also recommend. Though you will see the internalised homophobia in Kyou Kara Maou, Yuri does move past that. It’s just a thing. CLAMP always meant to carry Legal Drug on, and in 2013, they finally succeeded. Its continuation features in Young Ace, which is a seinen magazine.
So it started off as a series aimed at teenage girls. The finale was in a magazine aimed at men in their 20s. I don’t know if the finale had less fujobait in – doubtful – but it’s quite weird. There was a ten-year gap, so it would’ve made sense if it had moved to a josei magazine as the girls who’d read it as teenagers would be grown women now. But instead…it’s now being aimed at guys? What? I’ve noticed a few little moves of series like this recently, and it’s something I want to look into as it’s very odd.
I can sadly say that no, I don’t like this manga series anymore. But at least it’s a few books off my TBR…sigh.