Fandom: Weiss Kreuz
Pairing: Takatori Mamoru and Naoe Nagi
Spoilers: Why yes! For the anime, manga and drama cds. I'm ignoring Side B for the very simple reason that I haven't read it and it's not officially available in the States.
Notes: Thanks to everyone who supported me on this. You know who you are. Special thanks to emungere for reading this through at the last minute.
Here are Nagi and Mamoru-- Nagi's on the left and Mamoru's on the right.
First, A Little About Weiss Kreuz:
Once upon a time there were four very famous voice actors. They sang together, did well, and somehow put together a manga and series of animes and drama cds about a quartet of assassins who sold flowers by day. (It is generally believed that one of the voice actors is on crack, but also generally felt that this barely scratches the surface of explaining the utter insanity that is Weiss Kreuz.)
Weiss is, then, about four pretty boys ranging in age from their teens to early twenties, struggling to balance their desire to do good with the very real fact that they're hired killers. They deal with this tension in a variety of ways: alcohol abuse, soul-searching, love affairs with mailboxes...it's a long story. All you really need to know is that the boys of Weiss are paid killers, but they're pretty unhappy about it. Their main antagonists, Schwarz-- "black" where Weiss is "white"-- are also paid killers, but they are never shown suffering from Weiss-like crises of conscience-- in fact, they rarely suffer from anything resembling a conscience. They are also mostly gaijin, which may explain their lack of morals. (Note that in Japan, white is the color of death; for the Western-led Schwarz, black is the cultural signifier of death.)
But I come not to discuss the many plot holes, melodramatic twists, and absurdities of Weiss (though they will surely come up in passing): I'm just here to explain my favorite pairing in Weiss, and why I love them so damn much.
Meet Nagi Naoe of Schwarz and Tsukiyono Omi, later Takatori Mamoru, of Weiss, the youngest members of both their teams and the only ones with an infamously suggestive canon image. But you really should get to meet them individually before I reveal too much:
Naoe Nagi: With Great Power Comes a Real Ability to Kick Ass
Naoe Nagi was raised in an orphanage and had mean kids throw rocks at him. He was taken away by a clever American and shipped off to Rosenkreuz, a school which is like Hogwarts for sociopathic, superpowered bastards. He probably killed his mother-- and possibly the rest of his family-- with his uncontrolled infant telekinesis. It hasn't exactly been sunshine and flowers for Nagi.
It would be easy to dismiss Nagi as just another superpowered sociopath, but he behaves differently. In the 'prequel' drama CD Holy Children, it's clear that Nagi thought the world of the nun who raised him at the orphanage; she was a source of reliable, unconditional love, and her care apparently gave him a belief in and need for love.
When Nagi's fifteen, he falls in love with a dangerous, mentally ill fellow assassin named Tot. Tot is visibly damaged, but oddly sweet, and Nagi falls solidly in love with her, risking his team's master plan for the sake of her safety. When she is fatally wounded by one of his team members, he pulls an entire castle down on himself, his team, and her body in an emotional meltdown.
Tot lives; but something goes wrong. The last time we see Tot-- in the closing credits of Weiss Kreuz: Kapitel-- she is alone, and when Schwarz reappear in a series of drama CDs that follow the series, Tot isn't mentioned. Did they break up? Did Tot wake up with no memory of her former life? It's never explained.
It's possible that Nagi simply decided to cut his losses. He may be capable of love, but he's also a sharp, cynical assassin, with a streak of sadism and a wry, dangerous sense of humor. Despite his teenage crush on Tot, he still follows orders, almost to the end, even when they mean neglecting her safety. And Nagi doesn't quite know what to make of Tot; she seems to know what she's doing, far more than he does, especially when they first kiss. He seems overwhelmed by her, and I'm not quite sure he thinks he 'deserves' her. At any rate, by the second anime, Gluhen, Tot is clearly out of the picture, and Takatori Mamoru is solidly in it.
Takatori Mamoru: From the Fucked Up to the Really Fucked Up
Takatori Mamoru was-- probably, the flashbacks are a bit hazy-- a happy kid with a distant father and loving mother and older brothers, until he was eight. Then, this heir to the politically connected and financially influential Takatori family was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded ransom; Mamoru's father, Reiji, refused.
Mamoru might well have died then, but instead he was kidnapped back by his uncle Shuiichi, renamed Tsukiyono Omi, and turned into a tiny, adorable killing machine with a doozy of a case of amnesia.
In the end, Omi became a pawn in the game between Shuiichi and Reiji. Reiji married Kikuno, Omi's mother; Shuiichi slept with her, and fathered at least the youngest son-- Mamoru. Reiji knew that Mamoru wasn't his, and so left him to the kidnapper's hands; Shuiichi assumed that Mamoru was Reiji's and turned him into an assassin in a sick form of revenge. Mamoru's grandfather Saijou either gave up on his son Reiji early, or delighted at setting the boys against one another-- it's not clear. (Kikuno committed suicide soon after Mamoru's disappearance-- that is, if she wasn't murdered by Reiji.)
By the end of the first series, Weiss Kreuz: Kapitel, Omi/Mamoru has regained at least some of his memories, watched his "uncle" Shuiichi die in his arms, helped kill his "father" Reiji and his brother Masafumi, and killed his middle brother Hirofumi by his own hands. He's also kissed, loved, and lost his cousin Ouka, who he is convinced is his half-sister. It's a lot for a seventeen-year-old to bear, especially on top of attending high school and leading the busy life of a florist-assassin.
Omi's relationship with Ouka is reminiscent, in some ways, of Nagi's with Tot; thought Ouka's pursuit of Omi is far more blatant than Tot of Nagi's, in both circumstances it's the girl doing the driving, and the boy who is confused and often blushing. In a neat little twist, Ouka is also killed by a member of Schwarz, though she gets no melodramatic resurrection, and her death seems only to focus Omi's anger at Schwarz and the man-- Taktatori Reiji-- who is giving them orders.
Weiss Kreuz: Gluhen-- The Pawn at the End of the Chessboard
Two years later, by the time of Weiss Kreuz: Gluhen, Omi-- now living under his original name, Takatori Mamoru-- seems to have come to terms with his past, and his path.
Mamoru has taken the role of Persia, the leader of the team of assassins he once served in, and he calmly arranges and manipulates their actions-- especially those of Sena, a brash, passionate teenager obsessed with finding his lost mother. Mamoru's actions would seem cruel and calculating no matter who was targeted, but the fact that Sena is terribly young, as naive as Omi had once been, and even physically resembles Omi is surely not a coincidence. Mamoru has put his old life to rest, and he drives a stake in it at the end of the series, when he says he fights as "crybaby" Omi one final time.
If a pawn reaches its opponent's side of the chessboard, it becomes a queen; and this, in fact, is what Mamoru seems to have done in the service of his grandfather Saijou. He is clearly powerful, but just as clearly trapped in the structure of Kritiker-- his final mission as Omi is without his grandfather's permission or authorization, and it's clear this is a dangerous breach. In the final scenes of Gluhen, he tells an agent of Kritiker that he is Takatori Mamoru, plain and simple; he has a heritage and a mission, and the rest of the world be damned.
But those final scenes also show that he has made accomodation for his old friends in Weiss, and that he is keeping secrets of his own from Kritiker.
This is where Nagi comes in.
Though Nagi is still on some level connected with his former teammates, he's clearly working independently; only Crawford, gifted with foresight, realizes he will be a part of Gluhen's final battle, and Mamoru seems surprised to see him as well. He makes a special point of telling Mamoru his participation is not a service to Mamoru, but for his own concerns. But Nagi is working for Mamoru, not Kritiker, though it's unclear exactly under what terms. And though it's not clear how much Mamoru trusts him, by the end of Gluhen, Nagi seems to be the only person whom Mamoru trusts at all.
Nagi and Mamoru's relationship, then, in canon, is a whole ball of mystery wrapped in an enigma; but there is a relationship, and at least some level of trust, even if it's one-sided.
And then there's the picture. Hardly any discussion of Nagi and Omi, or Nagi and Mamoru, can begin without it. As far as I know, it's an official image, but there's no real context, and the hair and horrible outfits date it as being from Kapitel, when Nagi and Omi don't really interact beyond Nagi slamming Omi's head repeatedly against a pillar. But hell, it's utterly cracktastic, so here it is:
Crack. Tastic. Image courtesy of the wonderful Lelola.net.
Everyone Needs A Little Black Dress: Why Nagi and Mamoru are Awesome Together
There are good, canon-based reasons to enjoy Nagi and Mamoru as a pairing: by the end of Gluhen, they're really the only significant characters left who are both demonstratably alive and visibly working together; they're the youngest of both teams, with matching issues over lost girlfriends; they look nice in their dorky matching coats.
But that's not what makes them such catnip for a fic writer.
What brings me back to Nagi and Mamoru, again and again, is their sheer versatility. Nagi and Mamoru are my little black dress pairing; they go with everything. One of the advantages of an unclear canon is that there are lots of 'holes' for an author to fill; are Mamoru and Nagi friends? Is it all strictly business? Does Nagi trust Mamoru? Does he trust him too much? There are no clear answers, so it's the fic writer's honor-- and responsibility-- to find his or her own. And how those questions are answered makes a huge impact on the tone of the fic: Nagi/Mamoru fics can be plausibly funny, sad, warm-spirited or knife-sharp.
Another great thing about the pairing is their youth-- not so much their physical youth, but their relative newness in their respective roles. At most, Mamoru has about a year's experience as Persia; at most, Nagi's been freelancing for an equally short amount of time. What has not been long maintained is more easily changed, especially as neither Nagi nor Mamoru seem especially comfortable in their roles. For a fic writer, of course, this is a delightful advantage; Nagi and Mamoru can settle into their roles and into old age or they can run away to Bermuda. The unwritten future is always the most tempting, and the possibilities are dangerously close to endless.
Nagi and Mamoru are two lost boys looking for a home; writing and reading about them can lead to the edge of despair, or the heights of delight. And good writers can make the journey heartwarming, heartbreaking, and-- at their best-- both.
Coda: Where's this Great Fic You Keep Babbling About?
So glad you asked. The sheer badness of Weiss-- all those plot holes and timeskips and seemingly drug-induced craziness-- is also catnip to fic writers. Here's some of the best Nagi/Mamoru fic I've found. (For the most part, these are writers who you should just read, period, end of story.)
I'll rec two absolutely delicious stories by daegaer:
Schwarzkinder began as a one-note joke and turned, very quickly, into a laugh-out-loud, funny, and heartwarming series, with a strong thread of Mamoru/Nagi running through the center. (Also some very sweet-- no, really!-- Schuldig/Farfarello.)
Without Words is a more serious take on the two.
emungere wrote My Bodyguard, smart, snarky take on how Mamoru and Nagi might have started working together.
penelope_z wrote My Hereness, Your Thereness, a story that stubbornly refuses to be Mamoru-Omi/Nagi but dances around the thought anyway.
toscas_kiss has a dark take on a relationship gone wrong in the Petshop of Horrors crossover Deliverance. Perhaps has a bit more hope.
And that's just a few places to start. There's a lot of good Weiss fic out there, so enjoy!