Book review: Only the Ring Finger Knows, v. 4

Only the Ring Finger Knows novel 4
Story by Satoru Kannagi
Illustrations (all four of them) by Hotaru Odargiri
Published by Juné
ISBN 13: 978-1-56970-124-9

Review by Ginger Mayerson

Well, here we are again in the midst of the Yuichi/Wataru romance and it’s still just as annoying and frustrating as ever. Wataru is still stressed out, Yuichi is still mean, and I’m still rooting for Asaka to take Wataru away from Yuichi and make the poor little guy happy. Well, I doubt that’s going to happen because Wataru is an idiot and this is one of those first love/true love 4-evah kind of stories. And, unless Kannagi-sensi surprises me very much, Wataru will be thrashing around with Yuchi in this angstfest until the end of time. Kannagi seemed rather shocked when I suggested that Wataru could have sex with Asaka at least once. She’d probably faint if I suggested Yuichi’s older brother, Shohei, should seduce Wataru. Maybe I’m just embroidering this twisty story with some twisty ideas of my own because there’s so much angst and so little action and then what action there is is somewhat frustrating. However, I love these characters, I’ve stuck with them for six years and there’s only one more volume in this series of novels. So I think I’ll stick around and see what happens.

In this novel, for those of us who’ve been diligently following along at home, we finally get to know with whom Yuichi was in love before he was in love with Wataru. I think it was just a crush, but Yuichi, being the center of the Yuichiverse, blows it into this huge romance when he was 15 and the girl was 23 (hey, someone call child protective services). I don’t know if Yuichi does this deliberately to be a jerk to the ever-adoring Wataru or it he does it unconsciously to be a jerk to the ever-adoring Wataru. Well, Yuichi’s child molester girlfriend turns up so we can have conflict conflict cha cha cha. Shohei is still trying to break Yuichi and Wataru up—yawn—and he doesn’t succeed, but Yuichi is acting like such an idiot, if Wataru wasn’t such a fucking doormat…oh! Don’t get me started!

Mr. Wonderful-Romantic-Complication, Masanobu Asaka, has a thuggish little brother named Masa’aki, who seems to have some sort of incestuous crush that causes him to stalk and threaten Wataru because Masanobu has been talking about Wataru and Masa’aki thinks Wataru is the reason Masanobu isn’t joining the family in New York and this is tipping Masa’aki dangerously into the sociopath zone. Was that sentence long enough for ya? Masa’aki isn’t so much a character as an exposition trigger: everything he says explains something that either didn’t need to be explained or shouldn’t have needed to be explained. I like these novels, but I don’t kid myself that Kannagi writes like Haruki Murakami. I really thought the Fujii family should have gotten a restraining order against Masa’aki the first time he showed up at their home. Masa’aki also thinks Karin is cute, and that’s a whole other level of creepiness.

So, lots of emotional things happen very slowly in this novel: Yuichi is as much of a jerk as ever, Shohei is devious as ever, Asaka is charming and tender to Wataru as ever, and Wataru is as pure and devoted to Yuichi as ever. They’re all idiots. But they’re my idiots and I love them and I can’t wait for volume 5! Squeeee!

Oh, and a note on covers: there has never been a cover with Wataru looking happy, relaxed and in love. Sad and strange, but true:

Wataru always looks just a little (or a lot) freaked out on these covers. Weird, but there you have it.

Sing us out, Tammy

Sometimes its hard to be a uke
Giving all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times
And he’ll have good times
Doing things that you don’t understand
But if you love him you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh be proud of him
‘Cause after all he’s just a man
Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely
Stand by your man
And tell the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man