REVIEW: DAKAICHI – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year (Episode 1)

DAKAICHI – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year | (抱かれたい男1位に脅されています (Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu)
Episode 1:
In the World of Show Business, It’s Eat or Be Eaten
Release: 2018

Big reveal: the official English title of Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu, the latest BL manga-turned-anime, is Dakaichi – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year, earning a spot in the ranks of currently trending long-sentence anime titles. What a mouthful.

The curtains open on our top two thespian bachelors in the Japanese entertainment industry. Takato Saijō, a cool and conniving A-list actor since childhood, knows how to play the game. He has carefully cultivated his public appearance to maximize his celebrity appeal, and viciously cuts down the opposition in the process. His handsome looks and top-notch acting skills have earned an array of accolades. But his most treasured achievement is his five-year streak of being voted “Most Huggable Man” in an annual fan poll in some random gossip magazine.

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But his world comes crashing down around him when a younger and less experienced actor, Junta Azumaya, beats him in this year’s “Most Huggable” poll, knocking him down to a humiliating second place. What’s worse is the pair have been cast to act together in an upcoming movie, and Junta, not Takato, will be playing the lead.

Ready, and action! (Yes, you’d better believe that’s innuendo.)

Takato couldn’t be more pissed off about working with the upstart punk who stole his goddamn huggable cred, but Junta, who has idolized Takato for a long time, is ecstatic. Junta begs him to go out for drinks after work to get a few acting pointers, and Takato reluctantly agrees when he fails to shimmy his way out of it in front of the director and production team.

Next thing he knows, he’s waking up in the middle of the night in Junta’s bed. Naked. (Oh come on, as if you really thought for half a second that he wouldn’t wake up naked in Junta’s bed within the first episode.)

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So, as you probably already unraveled, Takato got totally smashed after a pint or six with Junta, and Junta brought him back to his place. Don’t you worry, he’s only naked because he barfed all over his clothes. And in case you, along with Takato, are sorry you missed that, we got you, fam. Junta, as Takato’s adoring fanboy, filmed the whole hilarious debacle on his smartphone, including a drunken tirade in which Takato spews vitriol at Junta for stealing his rightful place as “Most Huggable” and sells him permission to advance to a first-name basis for ~$10.

Cunning Takato assumes he knows where this is going, and with a sigh, asks Junta what he wants in order to keep him from leaking the video to the public and ruining his reputation. It had not even occurred to Junta to use the video as blackmail, but since Takato is offering, he asks if they could just go ahead and have sex, in that case. Takato gives that a hard pass, but overcome with the possibility, Junta gets real handsy. After some decidedly non-consensual sexual aggression, kisses, and a short scuffle, Takato manages to lock Junta in a bathroom and goes home.

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I have a drinking game I like to play with BL anime. First I drink until the protagonist gets sexually assaulted, and then I drink some more.

At the following morning’s movie shoot, Junta tries to apologize and Takato brushes it off, deigning to take the route of never talking about that yaoi shit again. As a deflated Junta mopes about his scenes like a kicked puppy, Takato begrudgingly admits to himself that Junta’s kisses are pretty hot. Still, he’s annoyed at Junta’s pouting, which is ruining the scenes. He takes Junta aside and berates him as an actor, before telling him to just perform his lines without thinking too much.

Next, the two actors perform a scene together. A newly impassioned Takato improvises his lines and piles on the intensity, and even Takato admits he did okay. Lighting up at the compliment, Junta grabs Takato and pulls him into the nearest bedroom, where he proceeds to start molesting Takato again. But he does stop to ask Takato if they could please have sex, first.

Takato, who has been pretty turned on by Junta’s ferocity, gives in to the proposition, and the pair proceeds to spend the whole night fucking. The audience gets a fade-to-black there, but is also gifted a morning-after scene before the end credits where Takato laments Junta’s stamina.

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Annnnd, scene.

IS IT YAOI RAPE: AN ASSESSMENT

For those avoiding yaoi with questionable issues of consent, Dakaichi joins the lineup of BL titles that aren’t for you. There’s no way around it: Junta seems to attempt to force Takato into having sex, and he does touch and kiss Takato without consent, even while Takato is resisting. However, most of that is played off as comedic, and no rape actually takes place. In fact, on both occasions, Junta asks Takato if they can have sex (though on both occasions, he starts initiating it before Takato actually verbalizes an answer).

For comparison, though, we should note that in the original manga, Junta does rape Takato in the post-drinking scene. To be clear, the manga is a raunchy, hardcore erotica. Apparently, the anime adaptation chooses deliberately to redact that particular point and rework the story into something that is, believe it or not, way more grounded than the source material. So it seems, one of the ways Dakaichi is progressing is by willfully nixing rape, and if the result is dubious, it’s because the original was that much more explicit.

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For better or worse, erotic scenarios ranging from dubious to flat-out non-consensual is pretty much on par with BL, and romance fantasies in general. If you’re fine with letting yaoi be yaoi, then Dakaichi‘s first episode will probably seem pretty tame, all things considered for the genre at large. Junta’s aggression is angled as youthful enthusiasm for his idol, and to Takato, who has more power in their interpersonal dynamic, this is evidently more of an irritation than a threat.

On the flipside, if you come into Dakaichi intentionally looking for the shameless raunchiness of the original manga, you’ll also be disappointed. Assuming episode 1 is a fair indication, the anime is going to tone down the sex.

EPISODE 1 VERDICT: IT’S DUMB AND FUNNY

The premise is so dumb, but it’s blatantly self-aware. If nothing else, Dakaichi knows what it is, and runs with it. Dakaichi doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously which merits an audience that isn’t going to take it too seriously, either.

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Something Dakaichi had going for it was great comedic timing. Putting aside the whole assault business, the episode was well-served by its snappy humor and over-the-top melodrama. Takato’s indignant grousing contrasting his cool exterior made him an ornery delight as an MC. If anything, Junta’s probably the weakest link here, and not just for his problematic yaoi shenanigans. He’s just not as funny as Takato. Or as huggable. #TeamTakato

WHERE TO WATCH IT (LEGALLY): Crunchyroll

Next: Episode 2

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