Although I knew of the existence of switch, I hadn’t been motivated to read it until David Welsh likened it to Wild Adapter fan fiction. Since I’m pining for new Wild Adapter rather ardently, I decided to check it out.
switch tells the story of a government-run Narcotics Control Division, specifically a pair of rookie investigators, as they attempt to get dangerous drugs off the street. Prickly Hal Kurabayashi is the more senior of the pair and friendly Kai Eto is his new partner—together they pursue leads, conduct busts, and go undercover in sting operations. In addition to smaller cases, they’re also involved in the ongoing investigation into Dragon Speed, a stimulant coming out of Hong Kong.
To judge this series by its premise alone, one might think (as I did) that it sounds pretty interesting. I’m a fan of detective fiction, after all, as well as stories with long mystery arcs. Unfortunately, switch falls flat in its execution. None of the cases is particularly captivating so far, with the possible exception of a popular actor who’s hooked on Dragon Speed, but what’s more disappointing is that none of the characters are, either. Kai possesses a violent alter-ego that activates when he is injured, and normally this would provoke speculation about his mysterious past, but it just comes across as bland cliché. Hal doesn’t do much except act surly. The tone’s also rather strange, with frequent gag panels and scenarios that are supposed to be funny but just really, really aren’t.
All that said, David did not fail to mention that switch gets off to a lackluster start but that he found a later volume to be much improved. Aside from some superficial similarities, there’s not much of a Wild Adapter vibe so far, but it’s pretty clear that Hal and Kai are going to become closer and learn to rely on one another eventually, so perhaps it will develop in future volumes. In the meantime, if you’re hankering for something like Wild Adapter, might I suggest simply rereading the original?