Author: Satoru Kannagi
Manga-ka: Hotaru Odagiri
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: March 2006
Synopsis: “It’s the ultimate expression of love to wear matching rings with your significant other, showing the world that you are a couple. High school student, Wataru Fujii, also wears one even though he is single. When he accidentally switches rings with a popular and handsome senior, Yuichi Kazuki, they discover that their rings pair up! Since that moment, Kazuki – who is known for being kind to all – becomes strangely harsh to Wataru. They alternate between hot and cold, as in between clashes they begin to sort their feelings for one another. Are Wataru and Kazuki the worst of enemies or are they actually soulmates?”
This is most assuredly your typical boys’ love high school romance, with the harsh seme protecting his feelings by trying hard to hide them and the confused uke denying he even has them. What isn’t typical about Only the Ring Finger Knows is the way in which Kazuki secretly falls for Wataru and all out stalks him long before they ever even meet.
To Wataru, Kazuki is simply a respectable, popular upperclassman who doesn’t figure much on his radar otherwise. It never occurs to him that an older boy might have feelings for him. The issue of the two boys discovering how they feel and coming to terms with it is dealt with in an uncommonly sensitive manner in the story, and that appealed to me a great deal. It wasn’t a angst-ridden fest of self-loathing or a candies and popcorn, flower-strewn love either. It was realistic and honest, and in the midst of an otherwise ordinary story, that was a fresh take.
The ring featured in the series’ title proves to be an elusive bond between them, and I felt true authenticity in the naive importance the boys put on the physical object. It sweetened their fumbling first steps into love, reminding me of some of the silly things people do in high school.
I’m not sure if the translation or the original Japanese text is the source of the sometimes awkward phrasing in this story, but I did notice sometimes the wording seemed stiff. However, I also noticed some very simple and straightforward use of description that added to the sweet feeling of the whole story over all.
The illistrations I found quite sweet as well. There is a marked difference in the way the artist depicts Kazuki, being the older boy, from the wide-eyed uke, Wataru. I know this is a common technique, but I was impressed with the consistency of the character details. Some really lovely illustrations in this book helped made it a pleasure overall.