Goshintou by Duo Brand

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Maybe I am. I read the whole thing, after all…

Goshintou by Duo Brand is, in my opinion, very high concept, but low delivery.

The concept could have a lot of mileage, since it involves magical swords that can transform into humans.  I have, as it turns out, a thing for sentient swords. I particularly love, too, the conceit wherein there is an aspect of compulsion, i.e., there are certain commands that the sword/person must obey. This can lead all sorts of interesting places.

For my money, Goshintou doesn’t really go there.

But, probably you’re not reading yaoi for the plot?

SPOILERS

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The manga itself tells a series of short stories all connected to the magical swords, the goshintou–who were infused with the ability to cut down evil spirits by the Shinto priests who invented them.

The first story, “Absolute Command” follows the first swordmaker, Kikyou, and Kazuto, his creation. He apparently spends so much time “polishing the sword” that he falls in love with both it and its spirit. All that is fine until the Emperor makes a demand–give me the sword so that I might display it as a symbol of my power. The sword, Kazuto, is like, “Wait, you only want to look at me and not use me? Nope. I’m out.”

And so he kidnaps his maker/lover and away they go.

We return to them in a later volume, and discover the joys of living a life constantly on the run… and by joys, I mean, bandits trying to collect on the bounty on the Shinto priest’s head. Luckily, he is able negotiate his life for the secret to creating more swords.

The other stories involve how, after that whole kidnapping fiasco, it was decreed that swords should be made without emotions… and how well that works out. (Hint: it doesn’t, especially when sexy other swords are around to tempt sword-spirits with honeyed apricots.)

The story sort of slides through time, though, and so it’s not always easy to keep track of who is who and when everything is taking place. It doesn’t help that the swords always seem to wear pants (even in the Edo and Heian periods) and for some weird reason, glasses.

I am just as attracted to a guy in glasses as the next yaoi fan, but I do prefer it when the reason makes sense. What about being a living weapon means you’re myopic? There’s an implication in a later chapter that maybe the swords can’t really distinguish one human from the next, except when they are confronted with the one they wish to protect most. But, if that’s the case, why would glasses help if the impairment is metaphorical?

Plus, I’ll be honest, I was not particularly fond of the art. I have read one of Duo Brand’s manga before (Hakushi no Tsukurishi Inu/The Dog Created by the Professor), and I apparently had similar feelings about it. In that I loved the concept for the story, but not the execution.

There is, however, plentiful sex. My version was censored, so it was mostly invisible penises, which… I mean, I have a pretty good imagination, but it’s still always a bit of a disappointment.

Plus, as I have said, I can only take so much ‘wispy’ when it comes to my men.

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But this is a good concept, so you may enjoy it?

One thought on “Goshintou by Duo Brand

  1. In case you hadn’t already heard, I thought it might be worth mentioning that Futekiya, a relatively new website for online licensed BL in translation (apparently mostly from smaller indie-type publishers and/or self-published), is making its entire library available for free for the entire month of May. You have to fill out the registration form as if you’re signing up for the regular $6.99 monthly subscription and select a payment option, but the idea seems to be that they won’t actually charge you anything as long as you cancel by June 1st. Another odd wrinkle is that when you just google “Futekiya,” you wind up at the Futekiya blog instead of the main site, although you can get to the latter by clicking on “browse” at the top left of the page. Possibly googling “Futekiya library” would get you there more directly, but I didn’t think of that until I was in the middle of typing this.

    Oddly enough, so far one of my favorites of the featured mangaka is Ayu Yamane, who has such an un-yaoi-ishly cartoony-looking art style that I kept passing her works by until I finally decided to sample one at random. But all four of the ones that I’ve tried so far turned out to be quite good, in a mostly slice-of-life-ish way. The two volume-length ones, “The Stray” and “Necktie and Praying Mantis,” even featured realistic elements like coming out to parents and the strain family pressure to find a heterosexual partner and have kids can put on an otherwise happy gay relationship. There’s also little or no on-panel sex. (In the two Yamane shorts I read, I don’t think the guys even kissed, although for some reason Futekiya gave each of them at least a one-chili-pepper rating anyway.)

    Another Futekiya manga that I really liked was Poteto Ueno’s “The Man on the Other Side,” the slow-burn story of a rather awkward salaryman who unwittingly strikes up a friendship with a socially-isolated-by-fame young TV actor who’s been following him on Twitter. This one has a somewhat more conventional art style, but it’s still closer to Western-style indie comics than standard BL prettiness–although there are series like that in the Futekiya library, too.

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