Title: Your Story I’ve Known
Author: Tsuta Suzuki
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Juné)
Volume: One-shot, $12.95
Vintage: 2008 by Ta-ke Shobo Co. in Japan, April 2011 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (16+), romance
The title story in Your Story I’ve Known is a rather sweet tale of a young male host and a middle-aged yakuza. When Hart Matsumoto was in high school, his mom dated a yakuza named Shibuzawa. His mother went through men quickly, and kind guys like Shibuzawa were rare and never lasted long. So when Hart’s mother beat him once again, he ran off to Shibuzawa (now his mother’s ex), having fallen in love with the small bit of kindness the older man had once shown him. Flustered by the boy’s appearance and not wanting to get involved, Shibuzawa none-the-less cleaned Hart up and told the boy that he could find sanctuary in his home the next time things got bad for him. A few years pass, and Hart is now a popular host while Shibuzawa has moved up the ranks in his syndicate. When Shibuzawa discovers that Hart’s mother has been killed, he breaks his personal rules and invites Hart into his home and into a relationship because he can’t stand to see the young man hurt and alone. He does his best to hide the mother’s fate from her son, but the truth always comes out somehow, and Shibuzawa realizes how much he’s scared of losing Hart, or losing the parts of Hart that he loves. The basic story is quite sweet and an enjoyable read, however the sexual elements are more silly than titillating, partly due to the fact that Suzuki never really defines who is the seme and who is the uke in the relationship. The dialog also has some strange and confusing portions, though I’m not sure if these parts are simply weirdly translated, or were confusing to begin with resulting in some odd English.
The rest of the book is broken into three short stories of more varying quality. All throughout the artwork is quite lovely, and the men are handsomely drawn, but the stories are not so expertly formed. “Sautéed Onions” is a simple story with occasionally confusing pacing (it jumps back and forth in time a bit), about two high school students named Negi and Tama. Negi and Tama have been friends since elementary school, and Tama has liked Negi for quite a while. Wanting his friend to be happy, Tama sets Negi up with the biggest breasted girl in their class. Unfortunately, the dramatic decrease of time spent with his closest friend causes Tama to feel lonely and depressed, and at the same time more sure of his romantic feelings towards his friend. A very short story with good characterization, but because of it’s length it doesn’t really get a chance to go anywhere. It’s an exceptionally small glimpse into a couple brief moments in the boys’ lives. “As Long As You Can Hear Me” follows, and after the yakuza story (which my bizarre romantic affinity for yakuza draws me strongly toward), it’s my favorite of the bunch. One day, after laying a beat down on some bullies trying to extort money from another student, Shota finds himself face to face with a bizarre man who looks and acts like he stepped right out of a history book. This man, a ronin (masterless samurai) named Zengo, is actually a wandering ghost who has attached himself to Shota as a sort of guardian spirit. In his excitement over the battle, Zengo was able to manifest himself before Shota. Zengo attached himself to Shota when the boy’s loneliness drew his attention one random day, and he has been by his side ever since. Now that Shota is able to see him, he is beside himself with excitement, happily chattering on about his life constantly, and eventually the lonely Shota grows used to having Zengo around, his presence filling a void in his life. It’s a little strange, because Shota is basically having sex with a dead guy; but in its way, it’s an incredibly sweet story, the way the two are drawn toward each other across time and beyond death. The final story is “Without the Gods Seeing.” Haunted by the brutal way he rejected a close friend who confessed feelings for him in his past, Narasaki once again finds himself confused by a love confession, this time from his coworker Wakakki. Wanting to go about things differently this time, Narasaki decides to take things slow and get to know Wakakki before giving him a solid answer. It’s a decent story, though again, it’s too short to really say much; it’s really just the very beginning of a possible relationship.
Overall, the book is a nice read. Most of it’s nothing special, but then, not everything has to be super deep. Usually the yaoi that lacks depth is super smutty and filled with ridiculous sex, but this one doesn’t really fall into that trap. There are yaoi with much sweeter stories, deeper stories, more gentle stories; but there’s nothing particularly wrong with this one, so if you’ve got the extra money and want another well drawn, short and sweet yaoi to add to your collection, Your Story I’ve Known is a good choice.