Once, there was an island where it was always spring...
...An island somewhere in the South Seas, with green forests and wide lakes. And mountains, let us not forget the mountains. Tall mountains with deep roots, filled with one of mankind's most precious treasures: diamonds. The name of this island is Malynera, and its king is only a child.
Patalliro the 8th, King of Malynera, is ten-years-old. From the day he was born, everyone knew he was... unusual. He is a hyper boy, with flashes of genius, moments of thoughtless cruelty, and the ability to make a bad pun out of anything. Smart, but only a child and so he often does very stupid things.
Patalliro! is his story.
He lives in a world very similar to our own, but where the bizarre is commonplace. He manages to get into all kinds of trouble, from international terrorists, to space aliens, to accidental time-travel. His first challenge as king is to stay alive, when a group called the International Diamond Syndicate decides that they want control of the Malynera diamond mines. This is how he meets Bancoran, who was assigned to be his bodyguard during a trip to Britain. It's also how they meet Maraich, who was one of the assassins sent by the IDS.
Patalliro is almost always accompanied by his army of Tamanegi ("Onions," so-called because of their onion-shapped wigs). The Tamanegi all wear identical masks, wigs, and glasses, and are known only by numbers. They are Patalliro's protectors, but protect the world from him just as much as they protect him from the world.
What do you get when you combine a gag manga with a healthy dose of Boys' Love, then add buckets of puns, pop culture and manga references, and a large helping of psychedelic drugs?
This long running series (88 volumes) is by acclaimed author Mineo Maya, one of the rare (straight, he's married with kids) male manga artists to write BL. The title character is the 10 year old king of a tiny, diamond rich country called Malynera. An evil organization called the International Diamond Syndicate tries to assassinate Patalliro in order to gain control of his country's diamonds. Therefore during one of
his visits to the UK, the MI6 sends its best agent, Major Jack Barbarossa Bancoran to serve as his bodyguard. The first couple of volumes is about how they fend off several attempts by the Syndicate to assassinate Patalliro. One of the assassins, the beautiful teenager Maraich, was caught and umm... subdued by Bancoran to leave the Syndicate and later becomes his lover. From there on the manga evolves into an endless series of extremely random stories revolving around the hijinks of Patalliro and his cohorts. While repelling the efforts of the Syndicate and other villains, our prepubescent hero gets into all kind of weird situations such as traveling back and forward in time to meet his ancestors and descendants (as well as that of Bancoran's), encounters with all kinds of strange things (aliens, dinosaurs, vampires, psychics, etc.), building a lover for his lovesick robot, etc. If you think this sounds like a manga for little kids, then you wouldn't be more wrong. Patalliro! contains quite a few softcore scenes of Bancoran and other pretty boys getting intimate in bed, not to mention the depiction of pedophilia, ephebophilia, and rape involving said pretty boys. While most of this is shown in a tongue-in-cheek manner, it's still more explicit than its contemporary BL manga such as From Eroica With Love.
The main characters are all likable and interesting in their own ways. Patalliro is certainly one of the most outrageous characters you'll ever see. He's a child genius who can cook up any kind of bizarre invention, change into any disguise in a split second, travel through time at will (this is just tip of the iceberg of how bizarre everything about him is), but the quality that makes the biggest impression is his remarkable wit and the relentless way he uses such wit to rile up and annoy everyone around him, especially Bancoran and Maraich. I will not even get into his famous Cock Robin Dance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyD8j0IJ9GY), which I find inexplicably amusing. Bancoran and Maraich both have their quirks as well. Bancoran is kind of a parody of James Bond, except he's only into youthful pretty boys instead of women. He is dubbed the nickname "Bishounen Killer" because his eyes have the power to seduce any pretty boy and make them blush. Maraich is an extremely stereotypically effeminate boy who looks, dresses, and behaves like a girl. He gets very jealous and insecure whenever Bancoran gets involved with some other pretty boy. In later volumes he even gets pregnant twice and has a baby. (I told you the author must have been on drugs) In fact, most of the bishounen in this manga look very girly, Maraich just takes it to the next level.
The humor of this series is every bit as random as its plot. There are a ton of puns in every chapter, most of which only makes sense in Japanese and loses their effect for a non-speaker like me. There is a great deal of slapstick and dry humor. Even in serious and dramatic story arcs it never misses a chance to crack a joke or a pun. Sometimes this nonstop stream of jokes makes the story inconsequential, and this is more apparent in the chapters where the gags aren't quite as funny. To the author's credit these are few and far between. The series also frequently makes pop culture references, including references to contemporary shojo manga. While I don't get a lot of the more Japanese references, I really appreciate the nods to shojo classics such as Rose of Versailles, Kaze to Ki no Uta, and From Eroica With Love.
So there you have it. Patalliro! - hilariously insane BL nonsense, fueled by drugs.