Only the Ringer Finger Knows, based on a prose novel, is one of the best titles for introducing the romantic subgenre of shonen-ai/yaoi (boy’s love) in any library. The story follows Wataru Fujii, an ordinary junior struggling through high school and passing the time tracking the trend of students using rings as cues: couples wear matched rings on their left ring finger, singles wear rings on their right middle finger. Senior Yuichi Kazuki, admired throughout the school as handsome, kind and popular, is the object of every girl’s affection. Every time a girl screws up the courage to ask him out, however, he politely declines. Wataru can’t care less until he runs into Kazuki and the two boys discover they wear matching rings. Wataru is flabbergasted but relatively unfazed until Kazuki snipes contemptuously at him and rushes out of the room. Irritated but curious as to how someone so universally acknowledged as kind could be so rude, Wataru attempts to figure out where he took a wrong step. To complicate things, Wataru’s sister appears to succumb to Kazuki’s charms and sends Wataru on a romantic errand to Kazuki, starting a sequence of more confusing confrontations. In many ways this romance falls into the traditional pattern of two characters who can’t do anything but provoke each other until they realize the reason they’re so prickly is not repulsion, but attraction. These characters act like teenagers, full of awkwardness and confused by their own hormones, and the rocky road to love is understandable once all of the pieces fall into place and confessions are made. In terms of content, some steamy sexual tension and a few good kisses are all you get, but it’s just the right amount for the story. The art here is above par and the focus on slender hands and fingers both set off the rings as key plot points and gestures, ratcheting up the tension in a single touch. You understand why Wataru shivers.

Only the Ring Finger Knows
ISBN: 9781569709801
by Satoru Kannagi and Hotaru Odagiri
Digital Manga 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

    View all posts
Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!