Friday, January 30, 2009

Shards of Affection by Duo Brand review

Shards of Affection

Author/Artist: Duo Brand

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Grade: C

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***

In a shrine, in a forest, in the middle of the city dwells a priest who is the caretaker of the Goushintou. The Goushintou are swords that house spirits that battle evil. The priest is the one who runs the show for the Goushintou and makes decisions based on their abilities. Each story in Shards of Affection loosely revolve around these blessed swords.

Wholehearted Frozen Moon – Asagi is the son of a powerful priest. He has the ability to see spirits and to wield the powerful tachi Ninomiya (one of the Goshintou), but he has the tendency to be a bit squeamish when it comes to the actual evil spirits that he is supposed to exorcise. But thanks to his second in command, Tachibana, Asagi is able to get through, sort of. These two are not only partners in business but they are partners in the bedroom. But what will happen when Tachibana is approached to take over, unseating Asagi as the lead priest?

Dangerous Hazy Moon – Ei is a priest in a church. He has formed a close friendship with Haruaki. Haruaki spends his lunch hours with Ei and it turns out that Ei has a major crush on Haruaki. Haruaki's boss seems to have a thing for him as well. But Haruaki is a bit thick and scatterbrained and can't seem to absorb the vibe that his boss is putting out. Thanks to Ei's quick thinking he is able to warn Haruaki but will that warning be heeded?

Midday Linchpin – Toranosuke wants to avenge his brother's death (or soon to be death) by using one of the tachi. Shenjing is the monster that Toranosuke must defeat. Thanks to the help from Ei and Haruaki Toranosuke is able to continue chasing after Shenjing. But one day Toranosuke witnesses Shenjing weeping in the park. Toranosuke is conflicted. Can a monster like Shenjing actually be deeper than he originally thought?

Chance Encounter Crescent Moon – This is the main tale about the Goshintou. Ninomiya (the tachi from the first story) is in love with the spirit that inhabits the newest tachi, Nanaki. Ninomiya is the oldest and wisest of the Goushintou. It seems that Nanaki's home is missing. His home is his tachi. If the tachi is gone for too long then the spirit is overtaken by nothingness and will then disappear. Nanaki is determined to find his sword on his own but Ninomiya wants to be there for his lover. Will Nanaki disappear because of his own stubbornness won't allow him to ask for help?

Full Moon Linchpin – Shenjing and Toranosuke's story continues. They're now lovers thanks to the tachi that he's been loaned. Because of its spiritual nature it protects him from the power that Shenjing possesses. Whatever Shenjing touches has the tendency to die. Toranosuke wants to return the blade to the shrine but Shenjing doesn't want that because he doesn't want to lose another lover. Will a compromise be in order?

This is my first experience with a Duo Brand title. In my humble opinion the jury is still out on this manga volume. I've read through the book several times and I can't decide on whether I like this title or not. I very rarely come across this problem. I usually have an opinion right off the bat but I can't seem to come to one with this title. I found the idea of swords that house spirits a unique plot device and creativity is something that we need more of in our yaoi choices. The art is unlike any I've seen before and I can't say if I like it. Indecision yet again!

I have never had such a hard time writing a review in my life. I just can't seem to make up my mind. Did I like the stories contained in this volume? Did I like the art? You know, I just don't know. I can say, however, that this is the first volume that Juné has published without the dust jacket. It is still the larger trim size and the quality is still very high. Just as long as they keep to the higher quality standards that they have set for themselves I won't have a problem with the books being absent their dust jacket.

I know this review hasn't been helpful in the least. If you are a fan of Duo Brand you'll definitely want to pick up this title. If you're curious don't hesitate to pick up this title either. Maybe you can read it and help me out!

***Review Copy provided by Juné***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

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