Summary: Sweet Ayase has very little family left in this world... only his cousin Tetsuo, who pawns him to the mafia to cover some serious debts. Ill-tempered loan shark Kanou-san "rescues" Ayase by paying an extravagant amount for him; but in order to keep Ayase close to him, he will make Ayase pay it all back, with interest. So Kanou-san comes up with a way for Ayase to start chipping away at his substantial debt...
Makoto's Notes: First, a caveat and an anecdote, because I'm very fond of both. I haven't read the novels. I bought the Okane artbook a few years ago on a whim, because the cover art was so engrossing I was incapable of leaving it in the store. The bookdealer warned me the art was "kind of adult". I chuckled and handed him my Visa, because being able to purchase adult goods is part of my reward for surviving to adulthood. The bookdealer wasn't lying. This work is most assuredly adults-only. I struggled my way through the novel section in the back, resolutely deciding that there was no way I could handle the entire novel series and I should just be a whore for the pretty art. Then the manga was released, which solved that problem nicely.
So this is Kousaka-sensei's version, and I really have no idea how close it is to Shinozaki-sensei's novel version other than shared characters and the basic plot. And I had certain expectations going into a Gust comic that appeared to have a fair amount of bondage and not-so-necessarily consentual sex... I was, for the most part, wrong.
The art is much as I'd hoped, very nice and every page is quite busy, though the proportions are sometimes laughably off. The first tankouban is mostly notable because all the internal dialogue belongs to Kanou-san, the seme. I did not expect that in the slightest, but it makes it a much stronger book. Kanou-san is incredibly uncool. Remember when you played Final Fantasy VIII for the first time? And you thought that surely the beautiful Laguna would be cool and suave and stylish? But really, he was nervous and uncoordinated and geeky? That's Kanou-san as well. He thinks cheesy soupy romantic things, and then chides himself internally for being such a sap. He has no idea how to deal with a roommate, much less one that he wants to sleep with. He yells a lot and has many Evil Seme tendencies, but is really a big old softie. Ayase, for his part, is naive to the point of frustration and an emotional doormat, but completely lovable. When the POV shifts to his later on, I think the work loses a lot of its unique qualities, but it's still a fun ride.
Basically, Okane isn't as plot-light as I inferred, and it's rather literary, entertaining smut. It also hit my sweet tooth a lot more than I had expected, and the characters are all enjoyable as well-developed individuals. (Don't get me started on my love for the Kuba brothers.) There is select furigana for names and difficult kanji, but I had to put some real effort into following everything. That probably surprised me most of all.
Warnings and Suggestions: Okane ga nai is for an adult audience only. Very intense, explicit homosexual sex scenes. Some are not even arguably consentual. (Ayase is a college student of legal age, I feel I should mention.) Unsavory adult situations. A wacky Kansai AV director. Homare-kun almost dies in a horrible way. Do I need to go on...?
ISBN 4-7567-1418-8 (Volume 1)
4-344-80211-X (Volume 2)
4-344-80366-3 (Volume 3)