Now if only that sword I spent so much money on eBay for became a hot guy who was into other hot guys. I’m kidding, I never bought a sword on eBay, but if it turned into a bishonen in a trench coat…
Writer/Artist: Duo Brand
Translation: Duane Johnson
Adaptation: Duane Johnson
What They Say
Toranosuke has sworn to avenge the death of his older brother, who was eaten by the demon Shunjin. A souleater, Shunjin can only be defeated by one divine sword. But when the time comes for Toranosuke to extract his revenge, can he really do it? Shunjin might be a monster, but there is something about him that draws Toranosuke's gaze. Could the demon slayer be falling for the demon? Can the quest for love triumph over the quest for revenge?
Dear god, this is how I got hooked into this genre in the first place. Innocently walking down the aisles of the bookstore when BAM! Bishonen, embracing each other, 18+, how could I not drool? This cover will definitely please the inner boy’s love fan in all of us. Two hot guys, both wearing glasses, one with silver hair and the other with curved purple tattoos? Yummy. Seriously, take all the pretty boy requirements, throw them in a bucket of paint, then splatter them on a piece of paper and you’ve got the cover to “Shards of Affection.”
This manga is 18+ for a reason. If you’re looking for sex then this is your book, because every chapter is full of demons, priests, shower scenes, and just all around delicious boy’s love. The one downside to this (and there is one, honest) is that besides the hot guys and the sex it’s hard to remember anything about this manga. This is one of those stories where you flip through the pages and stop when you see one guy’s head in-between another guy’s legs, then you sigh happily and move on.
The text is pretty standard, with kanji being kept in tact for sound effects with the translations being written underneath them, inner thoughts taking place in a text box or outside the speech bubble, and so on and so on. The only time the text deviates from this is during, “Anatomy of the Goshintou,” which is more of a documentary on the swords that appear as bishonen. It’s set up in a question and answer format and it explains the five swords in the shrine.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Wholehearted Frozen Moon
The manga starts out with the story of Asagi, a young priest who exercises demons. However, he’s a bit… weak--all right he’s very weak--and he can’t seem to stomach the job at all. He’s the only one in the group who can completely see the demons, the rest of the men only seeing a white light while Asagi is able to see all the hands, the eyes, and the tentacles (though its never illustrated in the manga). His lover, Tachibana, is constantly worrying about him, and wants him to give up his position as chief priest so that he can take over instead. Since this is a boy’s love manga, he decides to make Asagi agree to it by doing happy boy’s love things with his mouth, telling him that he’ll let him come as soon as he agrees. This doesn’t work, at all, and Asagi reveals that he wants to be as strong as Tachibana and that’s why he tries so hard. Happy, sappy sex happens (though if I were Asagi I’d be quite angry with my lover for trying to force me to give up my priesthood… if I were a priest…) and in the end Tachibana decides to hold onto Asagi and watch his back during his jobs, watching him become stronger little by little.
Dangerous Hazy Moon
You’re probably wondering what a priest and a scientist have to do with a manga about demons and awesome swords. Don’t worry, its relevant… sort of. Anyhow, this story is about Ei, a priest who is in love with a scientist who comes to see him during his lunch breaks. Haruaki (the clueless scientist) is always complaining about his lab chief because the man is always on his case about the way he dresses since he can’t seem to button his shirts properly (or at all). Eventually, the lab chief comes onto Haruaki and forces a kiss on him, saying that he’s purposely trying to tempt him. Haruaki goes back to Ei, confused about the situation, and Ei finally gives into his “I’m a clueless uke” charms and kisses him. Haruaki doesn’t mind, and a new couple is slowly starting to form.
This is, unfortunately, ruined by a rape scene.
Despite Ei’s warnings to be careful around the lab chief--because of course, sexual harassment lawsuits don’t exist in boy’s love land?--Haruaki finds himself alone with the man. So the poor uke is raped because he’s much too tempting for his boss. Soon he goes back to Ei to tell him what happened--because no one ever goes to the police in boy’s love land?--and after showering he decides that he needs Ei to overwrite what happened by sleeping with him. Church sex ensues, which is both very very wrong yet very very pretty, and afterwards Haruaki quits his job at the lab and decides to go into the family business as a Buddhist monk. This doesn’t stop their love for one another, and they decide to stay together no matter what.
Anatomy of the Goshintou
This is a quick question and answer section that explains what the goshintou are. The goshintou were seen in the first story; its one of the swords that Asagi used. Even so, this section should have been saved for the story that’s actually about the goshintou. There’s another story after this one that has nothing to do with the mythical swords, the main character uses it, but we don’t get to meet any of the characters mentioned in this blurb until afterwards.
Our loveable priest and brand new Buddhist monk return in this story, though they are just side characters who help out the main character, Toranosuke. After his brother’s traffic accident, Toranosuke is surprised to see a demon in his brother’s room, claiming to have eaten his soul. Shenjing tells Toranosuke to hate him, chase him to the ends of the Earth to seek his revenge, and after a demonic kiss full of fangs and tongue Toranosuke passes out. He wakes up inside a temple where both Ei and Haruaki are watching over him. Haruaki is worried about the sword Toranosuke has, since its obviously not an ordinary sword, and Toranosuke tells them what happened with Shenjing and his brother. Shenjing appears in the temple and attacks Toranosuke again--aka: kisses him--and he disappears, telling him that he’s glad to have him chasing him.
When Toranosuke wakes up he rushes to a park, seeing Shenjing in the grass, crying. It seems that Shenjing is always at the park on Monday, not at all looking like a deadly soul eating demon and instead looking like a mournful man full of sorrow and angst. Seeing this leaves Toranosuke torn, wondering why his enemy has to be someone like Shenjing, who seems to have a kind heart despite the whole soul eating thing. He rushes back to Ei and Haruaki and they try to tell him something about his brother, but Shenjing interferes and tells them to not say anything or else… dum dum dummmmm! They try to tell Toranosuke that the thing with his brother is a misunderstanding, but Shenjing attacks Ei and knocks him out. Fortunately, Haruaki gets the chance to tell Toranosuke that his brother’s soul is still in tact, in fact, Shenjing helped save his soul.
Toranosuke is happy to hear that he doesn’t have to kill Shenjing, but Shenjing turns into a big ball of angst, telling Toranosuke to kill him. Shenjing knows that he can’t be with Toranosuke because when he touches/kisses/is close to a person he steals their souls, whether he wants to or not. It turns out that Toranosuke is different; because of the sword he has he’s able to be close to Shenjing, so the two can now live sexily ever after.
Which leads us to our next story…
Chance Encounter Crescent Moon (1 and 2)
This is the goshintou story. Before we start I have to say that I was having flashbacks of Yami no Matsuei due to the hot guys in trench coats. Every single goshintou wears an awesome trench coat and a pair of glasses to make their priest--who I’m assuming is Asagi from the first story--look more… priest-like (which is the excuse given in the “Anatomy of the Goshintou.”). Whatever the reason, god bless the bishonen, because there’s an entire team of them in this story.
The story starts with one of the goshintou, Nanaki, losing his sword. This is a very bad thing because without the sword, he will disappear. You’ll recognize the overly concerned soon to be seme, because he’s the goshintou that Asagi uses in the first story. Nanaki goes out to find the blade, yelling at Ninomiya and telling him that he doesn’t need his help. It’s obvious that Ninomiya has feelings for Nanaki, but it seems that Nanaki is one of those cold-hearted, in denial, always saying “no” ukes. This is mostly because Ninomiya sort of forced himself on Nanaki, which we learn via flashback. Well… it was more like… he kept going even when Nanaki said stop? Whatever the case, Nanaki pushes Ninomiya away and goes off alone, much to Ninomiya’s dismay because Nanaki is getting weaker by the minute. Eventually Ninomiya goes after him and saves him from an attacking apparition, then he bows down in front of him and begs him to accept his help. This is where we find out Nanaki’s real problem; he’s the lowest ranking goshintou and Ninomiya is the highest, so he can’t believe that Ninomiya actually has feelings for him. He doesn’t want to burden him, so he pushes him away and tells him that he will handle it alone.
As Nanaki’s condition gets worse Ninomiya realizes what he can do to help Nanaki. He decides to split his own sword in half, giving Nanaki half of himself so he can live. Once Nanaki realizes that Ninomiya cares this much for him he agrees to his plan, and the two of them become paired goshintou.
Full Moon Linchpin
The final story of the manga goes back to Toranosuke and Shenjing, who are living a happy life together. That is until Toranosuke decides to return the sword to its rightful place. Shenjing doesn’t want him to of course, because that means that he can’t be with Toranosuke in fear of taking his soul. Shenjing takes him to the park he visits every Monday, and Toranosuke finds out that its actually a grave for a person that Shenjing loved a long time ago. It turns out that a building collapsed many years ago, and when Shenjing dragged his lover out of the rubble his hands took their soul away, killing them. He begs Toranosuke not to return the sword, but Toranosuke keeps seeing someone’s face in the sword and its obvious that the sword needs to be returned to its master. He decides to return it, and we find out that the sword is the missing sword that Nanaki lost. Asagi actually loaned it to Toranosuke (why he didn’t bother to tell Nanaki this, I don’t know) and after seeing how upset Shenjing is, Nanaki decides to give Toranosuke a shard from the sword. With the shard, Toranosuke and Shenjing are able to be together and everyone is happy in the end.
At the end of all things I really don’t care for the stories in this anthology. They’re very… blah. Granted, I know not to expect the best of the best in this genre, but these stories left me scratching my head or rolling my eyes too many times to really enjoy them. Why is it that Asagi didn’t get mad at Tachibana for trying to force him to give up his priesthood? If its, indeed, so important to him how could that not make him angry? And if Toranosuke was so angry with Shenjing, how did he fall in love with him so easily? And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why Asagi didn’t tell anyone that he loaned the sword to Toranosuke. How irresponsible can you be?! Especially when, without the sword, Nanaki was going to die! What kind of priest are you?!
I think my least favorite story was the one with the Ei and Haruaki. It blows my mind that boys in this genre can be hit on my their bosses and instead of complaining to the proper authorities, they go back into the lion’s den and get mauled. And then afterwards they can have happy sappy sex like nothing happened. And there’s the taboo of Haruaki loving a priest, which probably could’ve been built into a good plot (especially since Haruaki is going to become a monk) but it just ends with, “Whatever, we love each other, nothing’s gonna stop us.” On the one hand, I do like stories that don’t drone on and on with “Oh my god I might have the gay” but on the other hand… in some situations its more realistic if its an issue, like… when religion is involved, especially clashing religions. It was just very unrealistic to me, to the point of being un-enjoyable… which is a shame because the church sex was pretty.
The only thing this manga has going for it is the pretty factor. The boys are pretty, the sex is pretty, and this is definitely something I will flip through so I can drool over it. But as far as plot goes… I can do without it. Perhaps I’m too picky? Perhaps I’m tired of stories where the pretty is the only good thing? Or perhaps I just want to punch Asagi in the face for his, “Oh yeah, haha, I totally loaned out the sword and didn’t mention it while Nanaki was suffering.”