Manga Review: Say I Love You. Volume One

Say I Love You. Volume One is a manga by Kanae Hazuki, and it was published in North America by Kodansha Comics in 2014. The series is rated “OT” for ages 16+. After reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.

Say I Love You. Volume One
Written by: Kanae Hazuki
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 29, 2014

The main character of the series is Mei Tachibana, a 16-year-old high school student who doesn’t have any friends. Over the years, what few friends she had made stabbed her in the back. Mei has taken a stance that she doesn’t need friends and doesn’t go out of her way to try to be friendly to anyone.

One day, she has a run-in that involves Yamato Kurosawa, the most popular boy in school. Even though Yamato has girls practically throwing themselves at him, he becomes interested in Mei. After Mei accidentally kicks Yamato for something he didn’t do, his interest only increases. He keeps trying to say hi to her, and he eventually has an awkward conversation with her. Yamato tries to have Mei trade numbers with him, but she won’t give him her number. Even though he doesn’t get her number, Yamato still gives his to Mei and tells her to call anytime.

Mei works after school in a bakery, and one night she finds herself being stalked by one of the bakery’s regular male customers. She slips into a convenience store and tries to call her mom, but no one is home. Out of desperation, she calls Yamato, and he comes to her aid. Yamato surprises Mei with the plan he has to get rid of the stalker: he kisses her!

After saving Mei from the stalker, Yamato begins trying to hang out with Mei. As can be expected, quite a few girls don’t like this and try to bully Mei in order to keep her away from Yamato. But a girl named Asami becomes friends with Mei, even though she’s had her own crush on Yamato since middle school. Asami is a victim of bullying at school as well due to her large chest size, and Mei sticks up for her. This was some nice character development for Mei, and shows that she is more capable of making friends than she thinks she is.

Mei finds out that Yamato’s first crush was on a girl named Arai, and she’s now one of the most popular girls in high school. Mei suddenly finds herself feeling jealous and doesn’t understand why. But Mei gets the biggest surprise when Yamato tells her that she’s his girlfriend. Yamato also makes it clear that he also a goal of hearing Mei say, “I love you.” From the title, I suspect that this goal of his will be a thread that runs throughout the series.

I have to say that Say I Love You. has a strong start for a series that’s about the two most unlikely people to end up together in a relationship. The bullying that takes place in the story comes across realistically and it adds another layer to the story. For a while there, I found myself guessing as to whether Yamato really liked Mei or was just using her. The various rumors being spread by some of the jealous girls certainly didn’t help! So far, he seems to be legitimate, but could this somehow be too good to be true? After reading the volume, I’m very curious to find out how this story will progress and I definitely have an interest in trying to get Volume Two from my local library at some point.

However, even though I’m really enjoying the story, I have to admit that the art isn’t grabbing me as much as I’d like it to. The way Hazuki draws her characters make them all look really thin to the point that they’re unrealistically skinny at times. This could be rather distracting to me as I read the volume. While I can say that the art stands out in the series, I unfortunately can’t say that it stands out in a good way. It’s not that the art is necessarily bad, but it just doesn’t look terribly impressive.

But even with my issues with the art style, I would still recommend Say I Love You. to readers who enjoy shojo stories that feature two high school students that make an unlikely couple.

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