Duo Brand, 801 Media, 2010

I don’t understand how a story about a hair fetishist (and a book named for same) could go so far wrong. Seriously. The first story in this book is about two servants at an estate where everyone is hired for their long, beautiful hair. One of the servants does very naughty things with the master – wink wink, nudge nudge. Delighted as I was by this premise (and that would be very delighted indeed), my reaction to the actual story can be summarized thus: Meh. There were long-haired pretty boys, sex, romance – but not enough detail in any area to sell it. The art isn’t quite good enough to stand on its own, either.

But I did not despair, because I had not actually bought the book for the hair fetish story. Frankly, I didn’t give a damn about the hair fetish story. Or the second story, whatever that was about. (I couldn’t tell you, literally to save my life, and I’m too lazy to get up and walk into the next room to pick up the book. Ditto stories three and four.) No, I cared about the guys on the cover, and they were in the fifth story, “Escape.” That’s the one I had my hopes pinned on.

My standards aren’t usually so low that four out of five stories in a compilation can suck and I’m just fine with that. (There was a sixth story too; don’t remember that one either.) This was a special case. It’s a Weiss Kreuz thing.

I’ve written about my Weiss Kreuz situation before, recently and less so. I have a major, major thing about two of the characters in that anime, which is insanely bad. Really – however bad you’re thinking it is, badify it about 75 percent, and we might be in the ballpark. It’s almost one of those so-bad-its-good things. Almost. Which is like jumping from the roof of one building to another and almost landing. We are not concerned about the shocking lack of quality offered by Weiss Kreuz, however. We are concerned with – me. Me, me, me. Me and my bizarre fixation with Aya and Yohji.

Because the guys on the front of this book (hey, we’re talking about the book again!) look like Aya and Yohji from Weiss Kreuz, who just happen to be my OTP (one true pair, fanfic-speak for the two fellows upon whom I have affixed the majority of my unhealthy erotic attention). I saw the cover and didn’t really care about anything else. Aya is an intense, redheaded, sword-wielding assassin. He often wears a long, swishy burgundy leather coat and a sort of S&M turtleneck with a leather strap that buckles across his throat. Yohji is an impossibly tall, lanky, world-weary blond who kills people by strangling them with a measure of wire he flips out across vastly improbable distances, from his watch. (God is in the details, people.) Yes, I hoped the story about those characters (not-Aya and not-Yohji, I mean) would be good, but such is my depravity that I was in fact willing to spend $15 or whatever it was (see above re. poor memory/too lazy to go look at book) just to have an image that looks like these characters but is slightly better drawn. I cannot defend this. Obviously, I am mad.

So, that fifth story. Not much happens, and it’s not entirely coherent, but it does not suck, at least not too much, and I do remember it. Huzzah! (We like to keep the bar low for celebrating our wins here, chez Kinukitty.) The sort-of redhead (the cover is murky and undecided as to his hair color, but I am morally certain it is red, based on the “because I insist” principle) is an assassin who is injured and shows up at a safe house run by a tall lanky blond. And, what do you know! The redhead and the blond were friends in high school! And apparently the redhead became an assassin to avenge some injury inflicted on the blond. All that is a bit lightly told and sparse on details, much like party mix is always mostly peanuts, hardly any cashews. I always wonder, in cases like this, if the author simply miscalculated about how many clues to leave for the reader – maybe in her efforts to avoid banging us over the head with unnecessary back story, she unwittingly left us with less a rich tapestry and more a moth-eaten sweater. Or maybe she just didn’t feel like fleshing out the details. I don’t really have any theories, but I do remember thinking the other stories suffered from a similar feeling of not being fully imagined. Whatever they were about.

Anyway, the initially grim assassin perks up under the care of the tall, lanky blond, who is sad to see his old friend go. And, basically just like that, the two wind up at the airport, flying off into the sunset together. You think I’m skipping over a lot of story there, but I assure you I am not. It’s a sweet ending, really. And sort of a sweet story, to the extent that there’s any story there. The important thing is that there are several images that look very Aya/Yohji to me, and because I am a simple creature, I am happy.

I don’t actually know anything about Duo Brand. Who is it? Is it a person? A collective? A person who houses a multitude, like the Borg? Whoever it/they is/are, I can’t help wondering if the hive mind is aware of and perhaps likes Weiss Kreuz, particularly Aya and Yohji. Because Crimson Wind? Redhead with a sword, with a tall, lanky blond. Shards of Affection? Murky redhead with a sword and a long, swirling burgundy coat with a sort of blond (his hair is white, which is of course almost the same thing). Isle of Forbidden Love? Well, not a redhead, but a lithe young thing in pigtails, a kimono, and geta, his legs wrapped around the hips of a blond pointing a gun – so I’m willing to ignore the lack of red hair and generally unassassinly air (Kinukitty is somewhat catholic in her kinks). Do I have all these titles? Yes, I do. Am I ashamed of myself? I would be, if I were familiar with this thing you call shame. Did I really just buy them because they remind me of Aya and Yoji? Er, yes. Shut up.

So, Kiss Your Hair. I don’t think so. Unless you need that picture of the Aya-like eyes. And I would support you in that.

EXCITING UPDATE! (July 4, 11:39 a.m., CDT)

I was doing the laundry and found Isle of Forbidden Love (don’t ask), and guess what! Pig-tail guy does have murky red hair! And a sword! My excitement cannot be contained.

That is all.

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