Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Strange and Mystifying Story vol. 1 by Tsuta Suzuki review

A Strange and Mystifying Story vol. 1

Author/Artist: Tsuta Suzuki

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Supernatural

Grade: B-

Aki Yamane’s family seems to be cursed, everyone dies too young. While Aki’s grandfather is on his deathbed he tells Aki that if he ever needs anything the family has a protective spirit and all he needs to do is call upon it. But not long after his grandfather’s death he falls ill as well. He seems to be consumed by an unidentifiable illness and figures he’s not long for this world. Aki isn’t ready to die quite yet. Coming upon a fossilized tooth on the family shrine he summons the family’s protective spirit. Aki is in for quite a shock when the spirit materializes as a hunky wolf-man.

Once the spirit is summoned Aki must give him a name and tell him what he wants. At one time Aki’s grandpa summoned him and named him after his deceased wife Setsuko, so being the creative soul that he is calls him Setsu. Aki’s wish is for Setsu is to get rid of his disease but the way that Setsu goes about ridding Aki’s body is rather sensual and Aki becomes self conscious. Aki changes his mind and no longer wants Setsu around but doesn’t know how to go about it. But since Setsu is around Aki’s life doesn’t seem to be quite so lonely anymore and he does feel a lot better.

When Aki gets to the point of feeling pretty good he’s able to go about his business as usual and goes back to work. He’s a civil servant and works with an old childhood friend and his boss happens to be an old friend of his grandfather’s. But things are not bound to run smoothly when you have a sexy wolf-man living in your home. How is Aki to explain Setsu’s presence to his coworkers?

A Strange and Mystifying Story is just that, strange and mystifying, but is also intriguing, beautifully rendered, and humorous. But I do have a few hang-ups. The story is kind of confusing because we don’t get much back story into why Aki’s family is cursed and why Setsu has been protecting them all this time. It is a series, however, and I figure that answers will come in time. Another problem I found is Aki says one thing then behaves in another. This is a common yaoi plot device that can get somewhat tiring. Aki complains about being with Setsu but Setsu is the one who is healing him and Aki doesn’t really seem to appreciate it but then turns around and wants feel accepted by Setsu. Weird. Finally the secondary characters seem to be more colorful and interesting than the main ones (actually I should just say main character) especially Aki’s boss Minamura. It turns out that he met Setsu in his previous incarnation as Setsuko and was healed by him. He claims that Setsu was his savior and his first love (and seeing Setsu I can totally see it). It also seems that Aki’s childhood friend possibly has a crush on the boss. Interesting office!

Overall though I did find it rather enjoyable and it turned out to be a great escape. I don’t recommend this title to new yaoi readers though. Setsu has the cosplay thing going for him where he has ears and a tail but one of my first experiences with animal/human and human pairings was early on in my yaoi reading and I almost left boys love titles in the dust. He does go in and out of animal form (not much) and does have the ears and tail quite regularly, but can look like a normal human as well. Now if you are a yaoi veteran and can read anything then you’ll probably enjoy it.

Juné did a pretty good job. The translation seemed to flow ok and I don’t recall any spelling or grammatical errors. The dust jacket fits nicely. The only thing that sticks out is that the cover has an orange hue but then there’s the pink Juné branding strip (with their new look the second volume looks much better). It does take away from the cover illustration, but you get over it pretty quickly.

For anyone who likes their yaoi with a touch of fantasy and supernatural you may want to check out A Strange and Mystifying Story. If you are new to yaoi you may want to put it off until you become a little more familiar with the plot devices and conventions used (and I don’t mean conventions like Yaoi-Con) and tackle this title then. But it’s completely up to you, you may really enjoy it, but I’m personally glad I waited to read it when I was a little more familiar with the genre.

***Review Copy purchased through Yaoi Club***

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