February 25, 2012
Yugi Yamada – DMP / June – 2010 – 2 volumes
So… Saitou’s a seme. I mean, it’s not that big a deal, but reading so much BL lately, it was somehow wrong when a character that fits all the traits of the textbook bottom climbed on top. It short-circuited my fangirl brain a little. That’s not even really part of the plot, nor does he even actually have sex. But it was shocking all the same.
Anyway. This book was just as good as I hoped it would be. It really is a war between Honda and Saitou, with Nagai caught in the middle. He can’t find it in his heart to tell Saitou about his relationship with Honda, since it would change Saitou’s perspective of him. But Honda thinks Saitou is beginning to put the moves on Nagai, and is less happy with Nagai’s obsession with Saitou than he normally is.
This sounds like drama, but Close the Last Door manages to avoid all that and continues to put a light, humorous spin on the love triangle in this series. A lot of the chapters are about Nagai getting drunk and he and Honda having stupid contests with one another. Who gets the other the best Christmas present, who gets more valentine’s chocolate from women… it’s all very funny, and I loved every page of this nonsense. They’re like two squabbling children, and Yamada nails their dynamic perfectly.
There’s the Saitou subplot, too. Nagai and Honda fight about a lot of things, but Saitou is paramount among these things. There’s a serious fight between them over Saitou mid-volume, where Honda tells Nagai to stop apologizing for his friendship with Saitou if he doesn’t really mean it. Then, Saitou manages to get Nagai by himself and… well, that’s when we find out he’s an aggressive seme, which is totally wrong, but that’s the only way that scene would work.
And I think the rest of the volume might be full of Nagai drinking, Nagai and Honda fighting over stupid stuff, and Saitou intentionally antagonizing them again and again.
It’s really, really great. I want to read everything by Yugi Yamada now. Well, everything except the related volume to this work, Open the Door to Your Heart. It’s… about Honda’s brothers. I just can’t do it. Not even if they’re not “technically” brothers. Not even after how much I liked this volume.
Besides. The older brother seemed like a sourpuss. That’s no fun.
February 22, 2012
Yugi Yamada – June – 2006 – 2 volumes
I’ve wanted to read something by Yugi Yamada ever since I read her book Spring Fever. I’m not sure what was keeping be, but I’m glad I waited since the second volume of this came out recently. I don’t even remember what Spring Fever was about at this point, I just remember I loved it, and I’m happy to say that whatever was great about Spring Fever seems to be present in this book as well.
Salarymen again! This time, the office isn’t a theme, though. The book opens with Nagai giving the best man speech at his best friend Saitou’s wedding. The problem is that, of course, Nagai can barely stand to be there since he’s had a crush on Saitou since they were students. He drowns his sorrows at a bar, where he is comforted by another member of the wedding party, Honda. Turns out Honda was in love with the bride, and is in much the same situation as Nagai. But Nagai is already very drunk, so Honda winds up having to take him to a room and listen to him cry and whine about Saitou. And one thing leads to another. Both men stop the momentum before they get very far, but Negai can’t get Honda out of his head. And what’s worse, Saitou’s wife winds up leaving him, so Saitou comes to rely on Negai more and more. The gist is that Nagai has to decide who he likes more, the adorable friend that he’s had a crush on forever, or Honda, who always shows up at the right time and seems to return his feelings.
I liked this story a lot. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that the characters drink heavily before doing anything. I have never read a manga this full of lushes before. The setups are usually just that one has to be with the other because he’s throwing up, or that alcohol is what spurs on sudden romantic advances. Sometimes, it’s a double whammy of drowning sorrows in excessive alcohol, followed by drunk advances. It keeps happening, and it gets funnier every time.
The other is that these characters are just too much. Negai is my absolute favorite. He’s a pretty open guy, and apparently popular and charismatic around women, but when Honda is involved, he turns into a real crank. Everything Honda says gets under his skin, and he reacts accordingly. It never stops being funny and a little sweet. Likewise, Honda is a real jerk, but not in a bad way. He mostly just needles Negai rather cruelly, but he is otherwise a nice guy. He does try to nudge Negai towards Saitou at the beginning of the book, thinking it’s what Negai wants. He also seems to always lend an ear, and drops everything when Negai needs something. In other words, a nice guy with the mouth of an asshole. I love characters like this. Also, he’s a readily available drinking buddy, so that ties nicely into the first point.
Saitou is a little less developed than Negai and Honda, but he’s still pretty great. His (admittedly, fairly one-dimensional) best trait seems to be that he’s adorable. Not only does he constantly do things that push Negai’s buttons, he’s also completely oblivious to the fact that he’s doing it. Watching Negai dissolve into a sea of hearts and nosebleeds when Saitou gives him puppy dog eyes is also hilarious.
The book does take some time to deal with the fact that neither Honda nor Negai are gay. Granted, it’s still not terribly realistic, but most BL doesn’t bother to address that at all. Negai insists that he’s straight, save for Saitou. And it takes almost the entire book before he can accept his feelings for Honda and what the two of them do together. It’s the main issue between them.
It’s also got a great sense of humor. The romantic parts always dissolve into fits of crank, given the dispositions of Honda and Negai. And it doesn’t really spare the readers, either. One of my favorite scenes was a make-up oral sex scene that started as these things do, then ended with Honda choking and gagging, and the two of them fighting about protocol.
And it’s a great romance, which is most important. It balances romance, cranky characters, and its sense of humor wonderfully. As I said, I was very pleased that there was a follow-up volume, because I really couldn’t get enough of this. Even better, the set-up in the last chapter is that Honda and Saitou are apparently ready to fight over Negai. EXCELLENT. Highly recommended.