Shards of Affection. By Duo Brand.
Warning: This is a Yaoi review. Yaoi is a form of Japanese graphic novels, a manga featuring gay romance. Usually written by women, for women, this stories range from sweet romances to extremely steamy sexual adventures between men. If this is not your cup of tea, well, you have been warned.
This is an intriguing little yaoi about a group of men tied together by their connection to a temple, and to the tools of their trade; swords used in exorcisms, and by their desires for each other.
Asigi is the Chief priest. He is highly perceptive, seeing the monsters and apparitions in clear, appalling detail. This is not a good thing, as they affect him more than they do his lover and backup, Tachibana.
Even though Asigi is the higher ranking of the two men, he is the Uke (or passive partner in the relationship) Tachibana is the Seme, or stronger, aggressive, top in the relationship. Tachibana is worried for his lover's health, and tries to assume more of a leadership role the better to protect him. However, Asigi holds the line, because he has to be self sufficient to feel worthy of Tachibana's love.
The next story is about Haruaki, a sweet little scatterbrain with more sex appeal than is good for him, and Ei, a (Catholic?) Christian priest. Haruaki has problems with his boss, who wants him to be neater and tidy. The reason for this, we discover, is that the boss is powerfully attracted to Haruaki, and attacks him, overcome by lust.
Haruaki feels dirty, and betrayed, and asks Ei to help him "overwrite" this deed. Ei agrees, eagerly, provided Haruaki quite his job and go into his family business. They make love, and Haruaki is healed, and they agree to become lovers. Then Haruaki takes up the family business...as a Shinto monk in the same shrine as Asigi and Tachibana! Quite a pickle there....
The next story gets into the matter of Goshintou. A Goshintou is a sword used in exorcizing spirits. They have spirits themselves, who look and live as men (and who wear western style coats and glasses so you can tell them apart from the priests and monks.)
The temple has four, Ninomiya, an ancient sword, Mikoto, Itsumi, and the modern made Nanaki. They are absolutely essential to the temples function of quelling evil spirits and laying ghosts to rest.
Ninomiya has feelings for the untempered Nanaki, but nothing much comes of it.
At least, until the saga of Toranosuke. Toranosuke is a sweet kid, whose brother was in a horrible traffic accident. One day, he walks into the hospital room to see a strange figure with fangs and talons standing over his brother's bed. "I ate his soul." the monster says, and then attacks Toranosuke. When the boy awakes, he is in a temple, being attended by Haruaki and Ei.
The boy "borrows" a Goshintou to hunt down the monster, Nanaki's Goshintou in point of fact. The monster seems strangely willing to be caught and killed. Toranosuke looks deeper, and discovers Shenjing is a monster trying to commit suicide. His touch is lethal, and he can not ever know love. He found himself falling in love with Toranosuke, and rather than kill the boy when his passion overtook him, Shenjing decided instead to die by his hand.
However, possession of the Goshintou protects Toranosuke from Shenjing's touch, and they become lovers. Happy ending, yes?
No. Because back at the temple Nanaki is weakening due to the loss of his sword. If he can not find it and return to it, he will die.
He could be bound to another sword, but they don't have the special metal to make a new one. Things look dire.
Then Ninomiya comes up with a solution. He will have his sword split in two and reforged into two smaller swords, one to house himself, one to house Nanaki. It will mean a great weakening of his spirit, but he is willing to do it, because he loves Nanaki.
Will Shenjing know true love? Can he convince Toranosuke to keep the sword? Can he if Toranosuke discovers the price it will cost Nanaki? Will Nanaki and Ninomiya become lovers, as well as matched swords?
This Yaoi has a very different sort of tale. First, it follows four different couples. The odd motif of swords plays through most, and religion. Of course there are other common themes; angsty Ukes, diffident Semes who have to face a crisis before they can make a move.
The uncommon things are the rather intriguing in their own right. The central theme is very Japanese, and is not well explained, the assumption being the audience will understand. This can be a little confusing, but is a fun glimpse into Japanese mysticism.
The art is elegant and sensual, very detailed, with extensive graytone shading, really quite detailed. It really makes the art stand out, and gives it a third dimensional pop.
And the sex is very sensual, but soft core. Japanese can be funny about censorship, often they deal with it by simply not drawing in the penis. Here, they use the soft core technique of careful positioning instead.
All in all, it makes for a very enjoyable read, if a little unfocused and confusing. The second read through is better than the first. It certainly makes for a fine change of pace.
Try these Yaoi reviews:
Love Circles *(801)*Maiden Rose 1 *(801)*Maniac Shorts Shot *(801)*Gay's Anatomy *(801)*Happy Yaoi Yum Yum *(801)*The Loudest Whisper *(801)*Lover's Flat *(801)*Wild Butterfly *(801)*Shards of Affection*(801)*Romantic Illusions *(801)*Ruff Love*(801)*Thunderbolt Boys Excite Vol 2*(801)*Thunderbolt Boys Excite Vol 1*(801)*Pathos*(801)*Pathos II*(801)*The Crimson Spell 2 *(801)*The Crimson Spell *(801)*Incubus *(801)*Incubus Volume 2*(801)*Incubus Volume 3*(801)*Love + Alpha*(801)*Yellow*(801)*Yakuza in Love 3 *(801)*Yakuza in Love 2 *(801)*Yakuza in Love *(801)*Beyond Scandalous Seiryo University *(801)*Return to Seiryo University *(801)*Scandalous Seiryo University *(801)*Wild Rock *(801)*Man's Best Friend *(801)*Shinobu Kokoro *(801)*Midaresomenishi: A Legend of Samurai Love *(801)*Stallion *(801)*Gerard & Jaques 2 *(801)*Gerard & Jaques 1
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