Mei Tachibana starts out as a 16-year-old high school student who doesn’t have any friends. 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. After having some initial awkward conversations and finding herself having to be rescued by Yamato with an awkward kiss, Mei finds she’s starting to develop feelings for him. By the end of Volume One, these two characters are “going out.”
Say I Love You. Volume Three
Written by: Kanae Hazuki
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: August 26, 2014
At the beginning of Volume Three, Aiko tells Yamato that she’s in love with him, but Yamato gently rejects her. After this rejection, she sleeps with a third-year boy and the boy later talks badly about Aiko to his friend. Mei overhears them, and she surprises herself, as well as Aiko and the reader, when she stands up for Aiko. The two girls have a heart-to-heart. Even though Aiko may not be terribly grateful to Mei for what she did, she tells Mei that Yamato rejected her and she’s backing off.
I was actually rather surprised at how quickly this particular storyline ended, because I thought for sure it would have lasted a little longer. Of course, as a reader I knew that the lack of competition wouldn’t last long.
Sure enough, a new character named Megumi Kitagawa is introduced and becomes a new girl trying to get in between Yamato and Mei. Megumi is a model, and Yamato first meets her when Nakanishi takes him to hang out with Megumi and some of her friends. She tries to get him to be her boyfriend, but he turns her down. She gets his address from a friend and goes to him on Valentne’s Day to bring him chocolate. Mei sees them together and gets the wrong idea. Fortunately, Yamato is able to smooth things out. I thought this would be the end of Megumi, but I was wrong.
Megumi transfers to their school and ends up in Yamato and Mei’s class. Megumi claims to be sorry for what she did on Valentine’s Day, but I had my suspicions she wasn’t being honest. She then shows Yamato’s picture to her agent and convinces him to help on a shoot since they were short for male models. Yamato invites Mei and their friends to watch, and it turns out the shoot requires Megumi and Yamato to act like they’re a couple. As would be expected, Mei is very uncomfortable with this. I honestly believe that Megumi made sure to get Yamato in for this particular shoot, and did it with the hopes that if they worked that closely together that he’d become interested in her. I suspect that her plan will ultimately backfire, but could this still cause damage for Mei and Yamato’s relationship?
But before Megumi came into the picture, things were already going a little awkwardly for Mei and Yamato. In this volume, we see Mei becoming confused as to whether or not she wants to start progressing their relationship on a physical level. To me, this is very realistic, especially for the type of girl Mei has been portrayed to be. She’s gone from being a loner to now having a boyfriend, so her confusion and reactions make a lot of sense. When you combine this with Mei’s growing jealousy of Megumi, it wouldn’t be surprising if these issues cause a lot of trouble later on in the story.
Volume Three also introduced Yamato’s 10-year-old sister, Nagi. Nagi doesn’t seem to like Mei when they first meet, but they become closer after Mei learns that Nagi quit going to school because the kids were talking about her behind her back. Mei is able to give Nagi some advice and the two of them become closer. Nagi, who’s talented at cooking and making things, gives Mei some help when it comes to making chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I like the idea of Nagi’s character, but I’m wondering if she might have worked a little better if she was just a couple of years older. As a mother who’s already gone through two 10-year-olds and whose youngest is currently that age, Nagi doesn’t really act like my kids did at that age. To me, Nagi acts more like she’s around 11 or 12 years old.
I’ve really been enjoying reading Say I Love You., especially now that the story has been established and the characters are starting to evolve. I also appreciate how frankly and realistically Hazuki tackles subjects such as teen sex, self-esteem issues, and eating disorders. I’ve also enjoyed reading the translations of Hazuki’s write-ups at the end of each volume, because as a reader, they really give an insight into her thinking as she’s writing the series. I also think her write-ups also include sage advice for the teen readers that this series is aimed at.
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