Satoru Kannagi – DMP/June – 2006 – 5 volumes
this is a novel

I’m a sucker for these BL novels.  I’m sorry they weren’t more popular, because I inhale them like peanuts.  There are still a few I haven’t read, but this is probably the most well-known of all the June BL novels, so I thought I’d give this a try.

Wataru hooks up with Yuichi, the most talented and good-looking guy at his school.  Unusually, the story is told from Wataru’s point of view, but Yuichi is the one who nursed the crush longest.  The first half of the novel is the story of those two hooking up.  Admittedly, it didn’t make much sense, since Yuichi was terrible to Wataru (presumably to mask how he felt), but Wataru fell for him anyway, and everything worked out in the end.  The second half of the novel is set a little later, and is about a bet between the two of them about their relationship crossing physical barriers if Yuichi can rank on a national exam.  While Yuichi is studying, a girl tricks Wataru and it looks like the two are dating.  Also somewhat unusual is the fact that Yuichi is more mad that he isn’t spending time with Wataru than he is about the rumors of Wataru dating the girl.  He knows they aren’t true.

The titular theme of rings is very prominent.  Weirdly so.  It’s a thing at their school for couples to share rings.  Wataru wears a ring because he likes it, not because he’s a couple with anyone.  Yuichi steals it one day and has a copy made, but because they’re in different years, nobody notices they wear the same ring.  When Wataru nearly finds out, Yuichi picks a fight and is generally terrible to him for a couple weeks, until they hook up.  Where either boy wears the ring (on their ring fingers, versus their middle fingers) is the subject of much rumor and speculation.  Before they start dating, Yuichi is forced to call attention to the fact they have the same ring in front of several people, which is the subject of much speculation.  And the whole second story is about a girl stealing Wataru’s ring, and Wataru not wanting Yuichi finding out because he knows Yuichi will be really upset that the symbol of their love has been tampered with.  It’s a little weird.

Overall, this novel was… okay.  It was pretty straightforward, the characters were pretty regular guys, but mostly likable.  I have a low threshold of quality for these, so I liked it well enough to continue the series.  But DMP has better novels… my favorite is probably still Lonely Egotist, but if you’re looking for a cute, earnest relationship with a couple of nice boys, Only the Ring Finger Knows is pretty great.

And Yuichi has the same birthday as me.  That never happens!

Also, like Lonely Egotist, this book has awesome spot illustrations.  Lonely Egotist had illustrations by Masara Minase (I LOVE HER), but Ring Finger is illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri.  She’s more famous for The Betrayal Knows My Name.  Her art is very good, and a lot like having CLAMP illustrate your BL novel.  Realizing she did the illustrations was what put me over the edge for buying the series.  A small detail, but still.

Gasp!  This has gone through three printings!  That’s almost unheard-of from DMP!