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Image courtesy of TV Tropes, Yamato and Mei

Image courtesy of TV Tropes, Yamato and Mei

Say “I Love You” (aka Suki-tte Ii na yo) has a satisfying resolution to the relationships in a distinctly unsatisfying final episode. NB: There are some spoilers ahead.

The Rivals and the Romance

As I mentioned in my first post, Say “I Love You” was risking losing focus by introducing romantic rivals.  Fortunately this was kept to a minimum, and indeed the arc with the model turned out to be (mostly) something else entirely.

For the most part the romance was kept focussed on Mei and Yamato, and worked quite well.

The Characters Out of Nowhere

A few characters appeared in the later episodes of Say “I Love You” without being established or introduced in any way. I suspect that this was largely due to the animators assuming that the viewers are familiar with the characters from the still-running manga [1]

This is bad writing that I’m becoming increasingly intolerant of: each version of a story should be able to stand on its own merits [2].

The biggest example of this was the apparent “best friend” of the model character Megumi who showed up when “Megutan” had her break down. There were some limited flashbacks that sort-of established her, but I was still left wondering “who is this?”

The Model and the Meltdown

Although initially presented as a romantic rival, Megumi rapidly turned into Mei’s mirror.  Both characters have similar histories of early unpopularity, and Megumi’s arc was used to look at an alternative way of dealing with this.

In Megumi’s case it was the false front of doing everything possible to become “pretty” and “popular”, and her modelling career was very much a means to that end. However, like Mei’s approach of withdrawal, Megumi’s approach ultimately did nothing to address her fundamental loneliness and isolation.

Megumi is essentially trying to leverage her popularity as a model/celebrity into popularity as a person [3].  At the same time Megumi makes the terrible mistake of not only reading, but subscribing, to internet comments about her [4].

When the efforts at school fail badly Megumi has a fairly spectacular meltdown that Yamato and the previously unknown best friend save her from.

The resolution to Megumi’s meltdown is surprisingly satisfying [5]. Megumi reconnects with her best friend, and alters her appearance to something that Megumi believes to be a more honest look.

This is accompanied by a more honest attitude to interactions with others, ditching the ego searches on the internet, and a more independent definition of her self-image.

The Final Episode

Oh dear.  As mentioned above the manga is still running, and in true shoujo form, has probably not had the resolution implied by the title.

So the animators contrived an ending, and oh boy did that episode feel contrived. It is full of clichéd tropes such as miscommunications, the jealous little sister, the mobile phone battery running out, and the desperate chase through town to meet up.

The “jealous little sister” part of the episode really grated with me as it was completely out of character for Nagi. Previous episodes had shown that Nagi adores Mei, going so far as to gatecrash a date between Yamato and Mei in order to spend time with Mei.

Having Nagi shut out Mei when Yamato was sick is the basic premise of the final episode, and simply doesn’t work given what has gone before.

However the final episode does eventually get to Mei saying “I love you”, and this does make the final episode worthwhile.

The Summary

Overall Say “I Love You” is one of the better series from 2012.  I do remain concerned about the Stolen First Kiss trope I discussed previously, but after that the gentle romance between Mei and Yamato is surprisingly sweet without being saccharine.

Using a shoujo anime to tackle serious body image issues in a non-exploitative way is also a major plus from my perspective. Recommended, but be patient with the final episode.

[1] Survey (i.e. Wikipedia) says that the manga commenced in 2008 and is still ongoing with 9 current volumes.
[2] Although the most egregious example of this (at least this year) was Sword Art Online.
[3] To a large extent this is why Megumi was chasing Yamato, and enticing him into a modelling career.
[4] An easy enough mistake to make under the circumstances, I know of many older people (myself included) who have to be reminded sometimes to not read the comments.
[5] Overall I’ve been impressed with how anime has tackled body/self-image issues recently. Between Tari Tari, and the other two examples in Say “I Love You” it has been a good year for this.