Author: Kannagi Satoru
Illustrator: Odagiri Hotaru
Format: Novel, Blcd
I’ve updated the review with thoughts about the drama CD. This is the third novel in the “Only the Finger Knows Series”, one of the first series to be translated into English (perhaps). The English version is titled “The Ring Finger Falls Silent” and will be on sale in October 2006. The first two novels are already on sale (I may review them when I have time in the future) – “Only the Finger Knows” and “The Left Hand Dreams of His“. Please refer to my other reviews for my impressions on the first two stories. According to “rumors” (though very likely to be true), the next novel would be the finale to the series but there would be a side story. I’m looking forward to the all out battle between Asaka and Kazuki.
This novel begins a little later, when Kazuki Yuichi (CV: Sakurai Takahiro) is working at a cafe. After the part-time job, Kazuki decided to quit Asaka Masanobu ‘s (CV: Kamiya Hiroshi) circle even though he still likes construction. He does not like Fujimura Wataru (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) and Asaka getting even closer. Wataru is also troubled at the moment because he is facing the university entrance exams and so far, his grades are not good at all. Kazuki is also worried about Wataru’s grades but he is more worried because Asaka seems to have found a way to get close to Wataru and is becoming more serious. First, Asaka invited Wataru to a Chinese concert, then he offers to be Wataru’s private tutor. He also loaned Wataru English textbooks (with a message from his perished lover encouraging him). Apparently, Asaka’s actions are escalating but Wataru does not seem to reject Asaka. In fact, in Asaka, Wataru seems to be searching for shadows of the past Kazuki. Then Asaka brought Wataru to his “secret summer base” – a house which would soon be rennovated to a special book store. The project was funded by Kazuki’s brother Kazuki Youhei and executed by Asaka’s circle. There, Asaka kissed Wataru who then ran away leaving behind the textbooks he was about to get from Asaka. Wataru did not know that all the time, Kazuki as well as Youhei’s daughter Takako watched Asaka kissing Wataru. Even after the kissing, Wataru could not reject Asaka. He still wanted to see Asaka and Kazuki knew there was nothing he could do to stop Wataru. He then called Asaka to the “secret summer base” and told him that he wanted to join Asaka’s circle again. Asaka was surprised as he thought Kazuki would want to talk to him about Wataru. Kazuki said even after being kissed forcibly by Asaka, Wataru would not want to stop seeing him. That showed Wataru did not really “care” about Asaka. However, Asaka argued that it just showed how much Wataru liked him. Kazuki also knew from the bottom of his heart that Wataru liked Asaka more than he imagined. He was not terribly happy but he was confident that Wataru was merely searching for his shadow in Asaka and Asaka could not deny it. With a determination that he would find a way to not hurt Wataru but still win him over despite knowing Kazuki had already established a place in Wataru’s heart, Asaka was now ready to declare battle with Kazuki.
The second part of the novel was a side episode about the cultural festival at Wataru’s school. Wataru’s friend Kawamura (CV: Tsuboi Tomohiro) was in charge of the event and he wanted to hold an auction by selling things of the popular Kazuki senpai. Naturally, Kazuki hated the idea but his brother Youhei coerced him into accepting him by making it look as if Wataru was the one asking. Kazuki had no choice but to agree to the deal. Youhei was there that day to meet with Asaka and both Youhei and Asaka had reasons to separate Wataru and Kazuki. For Youhei, Kazuki was the elite brother whom his parents were proud of. Since he himself had been a “good-for-nothing” for a while when he was very young, his parents gave up hope on him and turned to the bright Kazuki to rest the family hopes on. Kazuki did not disappoint his parents until he walked down the path of homosexuality when he fell in love with Wataru. Youhei wanted his brother to be “straight” and have children. Asaka loved Wataru so he had reasons to win Wataru over from Kazuki but Asaka did not want to help or cooperate with Youhei. Just before the auction, Wataru’s sister Karin was troubled by Kazuki’s fangirls. Owing to the “ring” trouble in the first volume, many people thought Karin was Kazuki’s lover. Well, since Kazuki could not say the truth “that Wataru and not Karin” was his lover, they did not counter the rumors. However, this time the situation got out of hand and so Kazuki said he was in love with someone other than Karin, someone whose identity he could not make public. Owing to the affair, they were late and could not make it to the auction. Luckily, both Youhei and Asaka were there to attract the audience’s attention and so the auction proceeded smoothly even when Kazuki failed to turn up.
Kazuki fell in love with Wataru because of his smile (when he recovered the ring he thought he had lost). On the other hand, Asaka fell in love with Wataru because of his tears (those which he shed for Asaka when he imagined the pain Asaka went through losing his beloved girl forever). That was the structure of this novel and that was the ONE THING that made this novel so much better than the second. Asaka and Kazuki were similar in everything except the way they got attracted to Wataru, but whatever the “reason” they fell in love with, once in love, they would have to FIGHT to get the “man” of their dreams (laugh). To be frank, the second novel was a bit boring and I almost lost hope in this series but this third novel totally revived my interest. What’s most fascinating about this novel IMO is the revelation of Asaka’s “true face”. In the second novel, he pretended to be a kind senpai watching over Kazuki and Wataru and that was boring. In this novel, it’s obvious that he is a cunning fox behind that “good guy’s mask” and he is beginning to show his tail. Normally in BL, the third person takes a strong stance and forces his way onto the uke and the seme comes and saves the day. Here though, Asaka takes a different approach. He gets closer to Wataru step by step, exploiting Wataru’s weakness. Inviting Wataru to the concert renders him an opportunity to thank Wataru (which means meeting him later). Then he offers to be a private tutor because he knows he is good at teaching other people and no matter how jealous Kazuki will be, he will just not stop Asaka teaching Wataru because if he did, he would have admited defeat and it’s not a thing Kazuki likes to do. Still further, he realizes that if he teaches Wataru at his house (maybe he’ll lose control and destroy the balance in the relationship he so carefully built up), so he chose to teach Wataru at a cafe (which Kazuki passes by anyway). Step by step, Asaka is stocking up love points from Wataru and when there’s enough, he declares (?) war on Kazuki. He realizes it’s not an easy battle to fight but the spirit of fighting is enough to reignite the passion that died down since he lost his girlfriend.
Isn’t this setup fascinating? Rather than “love story”, I think I’m more interested in the BATTLE between Kazuki and Asaka. To make the battle even hotter, the brilliant Kannagi sensei introduced us to Kazuki’s brother Youhei. Youhei is an extremely interesting guy. He seems to bully his brother and Wataru (openly declaring Wataru is an enemy) but he really loves his brother very much and only acts in such a mean way because he wants his brother to lead a “normal” life. The one thing that ANNOYS Nanya in this novel is the fact that Youhei is already married TO A WOMAN T____T. The interactions between Youhei and Asaka are FANTASTIC. If he’s not married, I’m sure we’ll end up with Youhei x Asaka and Asaka being a cunning uke and Youhei a cunning seme. Ho well, let’s just hope Asaka will find happiness. Although I cheer for Asaka, I don’t want the U:V (Nitta sensei’s) ridiculous ending to happen here. So Kazuki x Wataru is still my royal pairing but we just need someone for Asaka as I can’t bear to see him left alone T___T. The CD only covers the first half of the novel and it’s quite loyal to the novel. The BGM is also very beautiful and fits the whole atmosphere of the story. It’s a pity the fun part of the novel (a.k.a. the side story) is not dramatized. It would be great if they included that as a side story or bonus CD but it’s MOVIC (sigh).
An alternative title for this series really is “Let’s hate Wataru”! This is because with every book, I come to hate Wataru more and more. In the first book, I liked Wataru as he was cute (though a bit girlish) at heart. In the second book though, Wataru’s insensivity began to annoy me. No matter how kind Asaka is to him, he should understand his duties as Kazuki’s lover and should keep a distance from Asaka, especially when Kazuki already showed dislike for Asaka. Then in the third novel, it really seems as if he’s dating both Asaka and Kazuki at the same time! Why would he go to the concert with Asaka? Just because he felt Asaka was lonely? However, you don’t go comfort another guy when he’s not your lover, especially when he seemed to show an interest in you. Worse, though he kept saying he loved Kazuki, he could not cut his ties with Asaka. Why? Is it because he like being comforted by Asaka, especially when Kazuki is in his “oresama mode”? It seems Wataru wants the affection of both guys and that’s NOT FAIR to both. Bad boy Wataru… bad boy. No cookie for you.
I must say I don’t like Suzumura’s Wataru (but I probably won’t like Wataru whoever the seiyuu is doing it). However, in Suzumura’s case, I think he FAILED TO HIGHLIGHT THE SUBTLE FEELINGS WATARU BORE FOR ASAKA. In order for a love triangle to occur, there must be 3-way love. From the novel, I can feel Wataru harbor feelings simultaneously for Asaka and Kazuki though Asaka is like the element that’s missing from Kazuki – the sweetness. However, in the CD, I don’t feel Suzumura portrayed that subconscious passion very well. To me, he managed to show sympathy but not love for Asaka… and that’s the KILLER of the drama CD. However, I must say Wataru’s character is the HARDEST of the three so I can’t blame Suzumura for his inability to portray the role fully. I’m still thinking who can and haven’t found an answer yet.
GET A GRIP OF YOURSELF KAZUKI!!!! It’s time to take off the stupid mask called “pride” and face reality. What’s more important? Wataru or pride? Why would he allow Asaka to come close to Wataru despite rumors already floating around? Also why would he not be gentle and Wataru if that’s all Wataru wanted from him? He is probably very confident that Asaka did not love Wataru but only saw him as a “replacement” to his girlfriend. He was also probably thinking that Wataru could not be serious with Asaka as he was all mellow mellow to him at the moment. However, I think Kazuki underestimated the risk posed by Asaka and therefore he will have a tough battle ahead. Happy End is still very far away, poor Kazuki.
I must say I’m really impressed by Sakurai’s performance here. Those who know me well also know that my attitudes toward Sakurai have changed over time and recently, I just feel I no longer listen to the “soul” in many of his works, but not this one. Probably because he dropped his voice a bit even lower, it created a stunningly sexy effect. In addition, his “seemingly self-centered but really cared” attitude emerged very well from this CD. I think he has an easy time acting this role because practically, he’s acting himself. He wanted to possess Wataru but he knew he couldn’t do it by force. He did not want to keep surveillance on Wataru like many stupid seme in BL too often would do. Instead, he would like Wataru to psychologically reject everyone aside from him and his goal would be to bring out that initiative from Wataru. Sakurai portrayed that quite well here. Also, the slight change in attitude when he was talking to Wataru and to Asaka was fantastic! I really like his confrontations with Asaka, especially in the last track, BRAVO!
I guess I have said enough of him in my Critique so I won’t repeat myself. All I want to say is … this guy is scary. He’s probably one of the most cunning rival seme I have seen so far in BL. Rather than the ones who force their way into their relationship, Asaka’s approach is much more dangerous. Even his confession is dangerous. He always puts Wataru in a position such that Wataru can hardly say no. For example, instead of asking Wataru to love him, he just asked Wataru to let him continue loving Wataru. Since a sincere confession Wataru could not resist and could only run away in silence. S.C.A.R.Y. He predicted Wataru and Kazuki’s every move and planned his battle plan that way… really dangerous. Hearing this sweet voice at this period of time is as good as drinking sweet poison that will gradually kill myself (laugh). Anyway, Kamiya’s Asaka is a bit YOUNG, to the extent I don’t feel his is older than Sakurai’s Kazuki. That was the problem I think someone raised long long ago and which I second. However, that young voice is more than compensated by the way he breathed out his words. I like his Asaka (compared to many of his other roles) because to emphasize the melancholy in Asaka, he chose to breathe out instead of just speak out the words. That also made the words sound sweet but leave a bitter aftertaste. Again, the best scene would be the initial challenge at the cafe where Kazuki was working and the last track when Kazuki called him out. However, the way he said to his perished girl friend that he wanted Wataru as well as the “Arigatou”… it’s really brilliant. Problem though is the chemistry between Suzumura and Kamiyan SUX… that’s why it’s really hard to FEEL this is a triangular relationship, haha.
I love Youhei! It’s annoying that he can’t accept homosexuality (that’s why I want him to fall down the path of homosexuality himself… ASAKA … come on, make Youhei YOURS but then I feel sorry for Youhei’s wife). Or maybe Youhei’s wife ran away with a better man and leave Youhei to Asaka… I have a feeling I might get bricked by Youhei and his wife for cursing their marriage but you just can’t help it because the dialogues between Youhei and Asaka are brilliant. Youhei even called Asaka by name (without suffix in private). Ahhhhh…. ahhhh….someone…. stop me fantasizing about Youhei x Asaka please!!!! The conversaiton between them… the auction part where Youhei dragged Asaka into auctioning his jacket… the relationship between this two are just WONDERFUL!
I have just one thing I want to say about Kawamura… if you cast Tsuboi and Kamiyan together, don’t just leave him in such a MINOR ROLE!!! Tsuboi’s a great actor (we all know) but given his talent, it’s a total waste on Kawamura T___T.
If you started to get bored by the second novel, don’t give up just yet!!! Like me, I’m sure the brilliant conversations (especially between Kazuki & Asaka, Asaka & Youhei, Youhei & Kazuki) will make you not regret buying this novel! Brilliant! I’m loving it! As for the third CD, if you’re a SakuSuzu fan, you simply can’t miss it. Even if you aren’t, Sakurai & Kamiyan’s acting are SO FANTASTIC you’ll be impressed.