A Strange and Mystifying Story 1 by Tsuta Suzuki: B-

strangemystifying1From the back cover:
Akio’s family is tragically cursed. His bloodline has fallen prey to a mysterious, fatal disease. When Akio’s own health starts failing, he desperately summons the spirit of a strange, protective beast… or is he a ravenous wolf-man?

In order to survive, Akio must trust his very life to a monster who enjoys nothing more than feasting on poisoned blood… with a cold glass of sake, of course.

If you strip away its supernatural trappings, A Strange and Mystifying Story is actually pretty straightforward. Akio is extremely ill and, in desperation, summons the family’s guardian beast thing to help him become well. The beast, a wolfish fellow whom Akio names Setsu, begins to work on healing Akio, but the pheromones he exudes get Akio all riled up in the process so Setsu decides to sleep with him (over Akio’s objections) during each session. Akio claims to hate this and Setsu, too, but after he realizes all that Setsu is enduring in order to heal him, his attitude softens and he ends up telling Setsu not to go when his contractually obligated task—making Akio healthy again—has been completed.

I had a few problems with this story—a big one being that, when Akio confides in his boss about Setsu’s having sex with him and his dislike of same, the boss says “Oh, I’m sure he would stop if you really wanted him to” and advises him just to enjoy it—but overall, it’s actually kind of amusing. One big point in its favor is the supporting cast: Akio’s coworkers all meet Setsu and know about the healing he performs, so it’s not some huge angsty secret that Akio must hide. Furthermore, his middle-aged boss, questionable advice aside, is totally adorable.

I also really like Suzuki’s art; at times it reminds me of est em, particularly the character design of Akio’s friend, Tet-chan, who looks like he could’ve stepped right out of one of the stories in Seduce Me After the Show. It was actually the art and not the plot that attracted me to this title—I’m generally not one for non-human romance—because I appreciated that Akio doesn’t look like your typical wilting flower of an uke.

A few short stories round out the volume. They’re decent, but one’s a student-teacher relationship (is this supposed to be more palatable when it’s the student who’s the aggressor?) and the other involves a pretty big age difference, too, so neither is a particular fave. I did like the final short at the very end with Akio’s boss and Tet-chan, though. Is romance blooming there?

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    Nice review! (I pretty much agree with your take on the work, but ended up liking just a little bit more than you).

    I consider Suzuki an up and coming yaoi creator, but agree this work doesn’t exactly best demonstrate her skills. I hope some of other works are licensed so we can see her develop.

  2. I get the feeling I wouldn’t love this story, but you’ve definitely made me interested in looking for future works by the artist. And est em comparison is always a good thing!

    Great review!


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