As with The World is Still Beautiful I’ve been revisiting Say “I Love You” recently and have a few thoughts to add to my original reviews. I get a little ranty about episode 13 at the end, so there are spoilers ahead.
First up, despite the problematic start to the series, Say “I Love You” is a surprisingly mature look at high school life. Whilst many of the shoujo tropes around shy high school romances are in play for Mei and Yamato, there is a refreshing dose of reality in several other characters.
Yes, teenagers have sex sometimes, and yes, sometimes they get hurt by it, and by each other. Whilst not explicit Say “I Love You” at least acknowledges this, and shows some of the hurt that teenagers can inflict on each other. I think that’s healthy, and it only raises my opinion of Say “I Love You”.
Second, and related, is the serious attention given to bullying, isolation, and related issues such as eating disorders that can be exacerbated by the like. In a very real sense this is the core theme of Say “I Love You”, one that isn’t often seen, and one that is handled consistently well by the show.
Bullying is tackled from several angles including the passive enablers. Yamato, for all that he privately helped Kai, passively enabled the bullying by keeping quiet when it was happening. And Yamato explicitly calls this out as a failure on his part, and it puts his later support for others in context as redemptive acts.
Mei cut herself off from human contact as much as she could get away with, Kei left town to get stronger for revenge, Megu-tan built a cute Genki Girl façade to generate popularity, Nagi was heading further in the direction Mei went.
At its core Say “I Love You” recognises that children and teenagers can often be reprehensible little shits to each other and that the Happy High School life is often a myth. On the other hand, Say “I Love You” also recognises that teenagers can grow up sometimes, and that maybe with friends around you, things can get better.
The problem sometimes is finding those friends, or knowing who they are when they’ve always been there.
Overall Say “I Love You” presents a fairly nuanced view of life, and one that I think could help a lot of people (and not just the teenagers it’s aimed at).
Say “I Love You” has 12 good episodes, and episode 12 I’ll Protect You would actually work as a solid finale for the series.
Then there’s episode 13 Say “I Love You”. There are not words to express my hatred for the repulsive putrescence that is episode 13.
Nagi shutting out Mei when Yamato is sick?
NO, NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO.
This is a girl who crashed one of Mei and Yamato’s dates because meanie big brother wasn’t bringing Mei home often enough. Who has been teaching Mei to cook. We’re supposed to believe that if Yamato was sick, that Nagi would kick Mei out and prevent her visiting Yamato out of jealousy?
No. Nope. Not buying it. What would happen in that case is that Nagi would invite Mei over, find a way to make Yamato rest, and then cheerfully monopolise Mei’s time. That would be believable, instead Nagi’s fit of jealousy shatters the suspension of disbelief.
From there episode 13 of Say “I Love You” only manages to get even more stupid.
The subplot with Kakeru, who Mei already explicitly rejected? STUPID.
Yamato’s mobile phone running out of battery at the exact moment to make it look like he’s rudely hanging up on Mei? STUPID.
The sole purpose of this Idiot Plot is to waste 23 minutes to ensure that Mei doesn’t say “I Love You” until the final 30 seconds.
According to the Say “I Love You” Wikipedia list of episodes there’s an OAV which involves Mei, Nagi, and the other girls baking cookies as Mei’s house. Oh, and Nagi chases Yamato out of the house to get him out of the way.
Now THAT I can believe, and would happily watch. The shambling mound of incoherent ravings of a madman that make up the “story” for episode 13? No. In future I’m going to skip that episode completely, not even the final 30 seconds can make up for that decaying fungus of poisonous gas passing for an episode.
OK, I feel better now. 🙂
Say “I Love You” is a great series overall, with a lot to say about life that I think many could benefit from, and one that I think rates highly for repeated viewings. Just skip the final episode. I can’t find a decent copy of the really pretty OP on YouTube, but I did manage to find the quite cool ED:
 Nagi is best little sister. I will fight you if you disagree.
 As noted before: Nagi is best little sister.