Miscellanea and Ephemeron
05/08/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: A Strange & Mystifying Story 1"
Review by Ryes
I'll bet anyone who follows manga translations online know of Tsuta Suzuki. She's relatively new but she is one of the best debut manga artists, in my opinion. Licensing A Strange and Mystifying Story is one of the best decisions Juné has ever made and I am so happy to have a copy of it in my hands!
The main story in this manga is about Aki Yamane, whose family is cursed with a strange illness. Because of this, everyone in the Yamane family die young. Just when Yamane feels like he might be on his deathbed, he finds the strange fossil tooth that his grandfather pointed to before he died. When he held it in his hands, the tooth grew into a demon.
There's so many great things to say about this story, I suppose I'll just list. A Strange and Mystifying Story has an excellent original premise. I don't remember the last time I read about strange, mystical diseases. Predictably, that premise is just an excuse for sex, because Setsu, the demon, finds it much easier to locate the curse in Yamane's body when they're doing it. But surprisingly, there's not much sex shown in the story, and when it is shown, it only takes up a couple of frames. And even more surprising is the fact that it's not an angst fest. You'd think that with a storyline involving an incurable disease and a curse, it'd be full of angst. Instead, Suzuki produces a romantic comedy. The ending of the first volume is very sweet and there's an optimistic outlook for Yamane and Setsu.
Suzuki's characters are all fun to be around. Yamane is a bit prone to outbursts, but I'm willing to explain it away as his inability to accept the fact that a demon is living with him. And it's so adorable to watch him pretend he doesn't like having sex with Setsu when it's obvious he does. He might blame it on Setsu's alluring smell, but everyone knows he honestly loves being around Setsu. Setsu himself is a funny demon. He has a good heart, even though Yamane tries not to see it. It doesn't help his case that he comes off as a pervert, always groping Yamane and walking around naked and carefree.
There's also a host of helpful and supportive co-workers from Yamane's job. Tet is Yamane's childhood friend and the person Yamane has a crush on. He acts like Yamane's big brother and is generally a nice guy. Director Minamiura is a funny middle-aged man whose first love was Setsu. You'll see why because he loves telling people allll about it. Sasaki is their only female co-worker and gets easily offended if the guys don't include her in whatever they're up to. Yamane's friends are all funny people and they liven up the manga.
There are two more short stories in addition to the main one. "Nylon Vinyl" is about Kuroki, a teacher working in a high school. He notices a student named Tachikawa who's always aloof and hanging out by himself in the supply room, so he decides to become his friend. This story was also very nice. Usually teacher/student relationships are just lust --> sex, but this one is a bit different and has more depth to it. Kudos to Suzuki! The other short story, "Is There No God or Buddha?" is a historical piece. Ginta is a carpenter and works hard making carvings and woodworks. One day he comes home from work and finds a scruffy looking boy lying unconscious in his house. Ginta nurses the boy, Sohta, back to health and promptly kicks him out. But Sohta's persistent and the next day he's back at Ginta's house.
Suzuki has a way with characters that makes them realistic and come alive. Her style is also very appealing. The characters are tall, almost willowy, and I like the chiseled look, with the angular cheekbones and jaws. Very attractive. All in all, she puts together an excellent manga, with a deft style that compliments the storyline very well.
A Strange and Mystifying Story is a great first volume and I happily recommend it everyone. I know the second volume will also live up to this first, and hopefully we find out about how Setsu came to be helping Yamane and his ancestors.
The Wapshott Press
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