A long-haired gardener provides special services to his employer but finds himself falling for the butler instead. A teenage houseboy (drawn too young for this reviewer’s comfort) catches his master in a compromising position with the head servant. An artist falls in love with his model and feels unable to sufficiently express his beauty through painting. These stories and more make up the anthology Kiss Your Hair, the latest in English from BL mangaka team Duo Brand, authors of Shards of Affection.
Though this anthology holds together better than some, it is unable to avoid the most common trap plaguing its kind—an inability to choose between romance and pornography. As a result, it ultimately fails at both. Loosely held together by the theme of master and servant (stretched to include relationships like senpai/kohai and employer/employee), each of the volume’s stories features grand declarations of love, almost none of which are well-developed enough to ring true. One possible exception is the story “Escape,” featuring two old friends who find themselves thrown together again in desperate circumstances.
Released under DMP’s adult 801 Media imprint, this manga is never coy about getting its characters into bed, but just as too much sexual content leaves little room for developing romance, the reverse is also true. Though the stories rush blatantly toward consummation (a few even begin there), these scenes feel hurried as well, like flashes of memory from a hazy, drunken night.
Duo Brand’s art is sketchy but expressive, with attractive character designs distinctive enough to provide genuine variety over the course of so many unrelated stories.
Without a clear allegiance to love or lust, Kiss Your Hair ultimately falls short on both counts.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.