It Takes Two
I’ll be honest: I have not been looking forward to Dui’s story, which is why I let it lie for so long. On the surface, there is obviously nothing wrong with Dui, quite the contrary. He is by far the kindest god of the entire bunch, a quiet person who genuinely cares about his friends and the MC. But I’m not new to the Japanese approach to mythology, and there is one thing that is simply a given: the Gemini sign will always have the evil twin and/or split personality problem. Always.
My favourite anime show, Saint Seiya, managed to combine both concepts: Saga, gold saint of Gemini, did not only have a dark side within himself, but also an actual evil twin brother, Kanon. Now, in Saint Seiya, Saga was (and is) my most beloved gold saint, and in terms of favourite character, second only to Phoenix Ikki. But what I’m looking for in an action show is radically different from what I’m looking for in a romance story, and a split personality is pretty high on my List of Nope.
In everybody else’s route, Dui is depicted as a soft-spoken, friendly god who has everybody’s best interest at heart. As sweet as he is, I expect his evil twin to be all-out evil. And while I know that a story needs an antagonist, and that a fair amount of drama is to be expected, I really prefer enemies that are not, you know, oneself.
Okay. I’m sure everything will come up roses in the end. Let’s have a look.
This time, the choice makes sense: when the MC falls off that roof, she calls upon the kindest of the gods she has encountered, Dui. He catches her and teleports her to the mansion. He is nice to her, and concerned for her well-being. When the other gods arrive, he tells them not to scare the MC.
Alone in his room, however, he suddenly hugs the MC, much to her surprise. He is gentle and playful, and he smells amazing… And the MC’s heart is just about leaping out of her chest. But surely, he doesn’t mean anything by it? He is an exceedingly kind god; when there is a disturbance in her apartment complex, he offers to stay in her room to watch over her while she sleeps. Without the ulterior motives Ichthys or Teo would certainly have in this particular situation.
Things proceed as usual. Since the MC needs to be present for Dui to do his job in the Department of Punishments, she helps him cast his punishments by the reflecting pool. When he hands her a piece of paper, she cuts her finger on it. The tiniest bit of blood is visible – and here we meet Shadow Dui.
Shadow Dui is, of course, the Evil Twin. His existence was hinted at by the other gods, especially Scorpio and Ichthys. Shadow Dui takes a dim view of the MC and her “meddling” in Dui’s life. In no time flat, he decides to find a definitive solution for this problem and attempts to drown her in the pool. Just as the MC is about to hit the water, though, Shadow Dui falls to the ground, unconscious. This is when Scorpio and Ichthys show up, who take Dui up to his room, and explain the situation to the MC. Apparently, something severe happened with Dui, and his shadow personality was created. Clearly, it must have something to do with the great sin that got Dui exiled to earth in the first place…
Of course, once he comes to his senses, normal Dui urges the MC to stay away from him, as it’s far too dangerous for her to risk triggering the shadow self. Naturally, the MC, already in love with Dui, refuses. She intends to make him whole again, instead. The next time Shadow Dui appears, the MC is actually sensing that she is making a kind of headway: Shadow Dui exists to protect normal Dui, whom he considers a weakling. He will go to any lengths to keep normal Dui safe. In the meantime, however, he will help Dui with his work, replacing the soft punishments the latter had devised with, basically, horror and mayhem. Yet again, it takes Scorpio’s and Ichthys’ intervention to stop Shadow Dui before he kills the MC. Scorpio tells her to stay away from Dui in the future, but she can obviously not give up on him.
Ugh, mom, I don’t wanna, do I have to? Well. I guess I already bought the epilogue (for all the stories, for the sake of consistency), so I might as well read it. But if the main story is anything to go by, I won’t have much fun with it.
Quite typically, we’re at this juncture where the MC and the god of choice are together, but haven’t had sex yet. Partheno is the notable exception to this rule, and his purpose was nefarious. Things being as they are here, Dui and the MC have not done the deed, but the other gods don’t know that. Teo’s and Ikky’s wild speculations and inquiries on what it’s like between a human and a god make our MC blush furiously, of course. Ichthys’ assertion that Dui can tie cherry stems into knots with his tongue are not helpful. Oh, not normal knots; heart-shaped knots. Our besotted couple ends up fleeing the scene.
They decide to take a day trip to a cherry orchard together – cherries are Dui’s favourite food – where the MC realises that she really has two boyfriends, in a way. While Dui and Shadow Dui now get along and can apparently communicate with each other, they do not share the same memories. After repeatedly confusing the two, the MC walks away to clear her head and promptly gets lost in the orchard. After the mini-crisis is resolved, there is the usual hemming and hawing about being naked together, because of course she wants it, but cannot bring herself to admit it. It’s tedious. At least Shadow Dui talks the straight talk. There’s sure more chemistry here than in the main story.
Dui is everything we’re looking for in a person: sweet, considerate, thoughtful, polite, not to mention quite handsome, as they all are. How is one not to fall in love with him? One very positive aspect is that the confession comes early on, and from his part. There is much emphasis on his purity and innocence, and it’s actually lovely. What follows, though, is the MC being far too lenient with Shadow Dui’s behaviour, especially once she concludes that he must be “misunderstood” because he’s only trying to protect Dui. Which means that she starts taking crazy-stupid risks in order to save them both, of course.
Everything is kind of predictable: she falls in love with him, because he’s really easy to love. He falls in love with her, because the story demands it. Shadow Dui is evil, but is he really? Must he not be redeemable somehow? Scorpio is being Scorpio, Ichthys is being Ichthys, and they’re both really good at it. At chapter 10, I was wondering when Zyglavis was gonna drop by. And the King. Then Zyglavis makes an appearance. And the King.
And yet, there’s no… I don’t know. No palpable, chemistry, if you will. It’s all telling, no showing. In other stories, there was a rawness of emotion about the characters, that I feel is completely missing here – except where Shadow Dui shows up. And that’s just not enough.
The Love Meter
I suspected as much: I couldn’t get out of the Forbidden zone. Really, I’m not surprised. Sometimes, characters just aren’t for me. But sometimes I chose the answer that I really thought would push the needle back into Blessed, only to have it go deeper into Forbidden. I guess I should have been more accepting of Shadow Dui, but I have trouble getting into people who are repeatedly trying to murder me with their bare hands.
I’ll be honest: it took me eternities to finish this story. Not only was I not really engaged, I also find this trope a bit more problematic for me personally than a lot of others. That’s because we see a lot of that in real life: women who stay with abusive men for the times when they are treated nicely, or to save the men in question, or both. Now, I know, here it is not within Dui’s control when Shadow Dui appears. I know. It’s just not a trope I enjoy. Also, Scorpio blaming the victim is not my favourite thing, even if it is in keeping with his personality.
Apart from the above, I just have to admit I didn’t really feel it, if you know what I mean. Yes, Dui is super nice, and loyal to a fault. (No, really. You have no idea.) But there is not enough friction there that is not Shadow Dui. Look, I’m gonna say it: this was boring. Not out-of-my-mind boring, but just not interesting. Pity.