The love triangle continues in the second volume! Honda and Nagai have been living together for a year now, but there’s trouble on the horizon: Nagai still has feelings for Saitou, and Saitou’s still hanging around, completely oblivious… or seeming to be…
By: Yugi Yamada
Age Rating: M/Mature/18+
Although I generally like Yugi Yamada’s work, I found the first volume of Close the Last Door a bit disappointing. The story centered on a love triangle between main character Nagai, Nagai’s co-worker Saitou (whom Nagai had been pining after for years), and Honda, who offered comfort to Nagai when he was getting blind drunk at Saitou’s wedding. Much like Yamada’s other work, it had a lot of humour and some vivid characterization, and although the plot occasionally got a bit wacky and soap-opera-like, it was mostly pretty fun. But it was let down by having such a strong focus on Saitou, the least interesting of the three major characters, who was weepy and clingy and spineless and generally a bit irritating. When I took a look at volume 2, I hoped that there would be less of Saitou and more of Honda. I was pleasantly surprised that even though volume 2 has quite a bit of Saitou in it, it’s still an improvement on volume 1.
As of the beginning of volume 2, Honda and Nagai are living together as an established couple. Now, this is a Yugi Yamada manga, so they still fight. (Yamada seems to specialization in characters who are prickly and sensitive and couples who bicker with each other to show affection; it’s one of the reasons I like her work so much.) And Saitou is still around, so one of the things they fight about is the fact that despite having chosen to be with Honda, Nagai still has feelings for Saitou, and Honda is bothered by how much time they spend together. And, actually, what Yamada does here is really interesting. Typically a love triangle story is resolved with one of the three main characters being definitively ruled out: they die, or leave, or fall in love with someone else, or the one who was wavering between two possible lovers decides that they were never in love with the one who’s not in the running. Close the Last Door takes a different tack: Saitou is still around, and Nagai still has feelings for him, but Nagai has chosen to be with Honda, and that’s the choice he’s going to stick with. Even though the execution of the story involves a lot of goofy humour, it’s a surprisingly mature approach to relationships, acknowledging that feelings can be messy and complicated, and there isn’t always a One True Love in a person’s life who eclipses everyone else.
Saitou himself reveals a devious, knowing side to his character that wasn’t evident in volume 1, and although he’s still sweet and slightly drippy, he’s not nearly as irritating as he was then. In fact, the way he behaves here rather suggests that some of his wimpy behaviour in volume 1 may not have been quite what it seemed, since he’s evidently capable of being quite manipulative, especially with Nagai.
I have to mark it down a little bit because of the chapters featuring Honda’s brothers. They made sense to me because I’ve read Open the Door to Your Heart, which goes into the details of their relationship, but if you haven’t, they’ll be pretty baffling, despite the explanatory notes. (Also, I am always annoyed by artists including incest as a garnish in a BL series that isn’t about incest, if only because it tends to come out of nowhere, so that if it’s something you seriously dislike reading, there’s no way to avoid it.)
On the whole, I liked Close the Last Door 2. Not only was it a fun read in its own right, it also retroactively improved the first volume by giving an extra layer to Saitou’s character. I don’t think this series is one of Yamada’s best, but it’s still worth a look if you like her other works.