Manga Spotlight: Say I Love You.

Say I Love You. is an 18 volume manga series written by Kanae Hazuki. The series was published in North America by Kodansha Comics.

Say I Love You.
Written by: Kanae Hazuki
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Dates: April 29, 2014-December 19, 2017

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.”

The main focus of the series is on the relationship that develops between Mei and Yamato, and this also includes introducing other potential love interests. A famous model in Japan named Megumi Kitagawa transfers to their school and decides that she wants Yamato. Over the course of the series, two guys also become interested in Mei: Kei Takemura (Yamato’s classmate from middle school) and Ren Aoi (an underclassman). These obstacles provide some tension and drama for the overarching story. However, when it comes to Ren and his twin sister Rin, once their romantic storylines come to an end, they’re either put on the backburner or seem to disappear entirely. Rin at least gets some occasional passing references, but Ren just disappears completely. With the time skip that happens near the end of the series, it would have been nice to have found out what happened to Ren, even just in passing, so the reader wouldn’t have that dangling loose end.

But for Mei, it’s not just her relationship with Yamato that evolves and changes. We also see quite an evolution in her character from the start of the series until the end. Obviously, her relationship with Yamato plays a big part in that, but she also goes through changes after high school graduation and has to spend more time away from Yamato. And as they finish high school, Hazuki has a realistic portrayal of the various characters (but especially Mei and Yamato) trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives after high school. It’s a realistic struggle for young people that age, and I’m glad to see that Hazuki addressed this and made it a central plot point in the series.

As the series gets closer to the end, we also see a focus on the love lives of some of the other characters. At the end of the series, we get to see what happens with most of the couples. Obviously, there’s a happy ending or Mei and Yamato, since this is a shojo manga we’re talking about. But I have to give Hazuki some credit, though, because of the two to three volumes of the series that show what happens to the characters post-high school, with the characters being around 25 at the end of the series. Of the shojo manga I’ve read that features high school characters, the series seem to end with them still in high school. So getting to see more than just an afterword of the characters’ post-high school lives is something a little different and refreshing.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Say I Love You. Admittedly, it can get a little more on the saccharine side the closer it reaches its conclusion, but I found I could overlook that since I had been following these characters and had been invested in them for a number of volumes before the series took that turn. If you enjoy shojo romance manga, you might find that you enjoy Say I Love You.

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Say “I Love You”. Manga to End

The August 2017 issue of Kodansha’s Dessert magazine has revealed that Kanae Hazuki’s Say “I love you”. manga will end in the magazine’s September 2017 issue on July 24, 2017.

The story of first love centers around Mei Tachibana, a girl who has never made friends or had a boyfriend in 16 years. One day, she accidentally injures Yamato Kurosawa, the school’s most popular boy. For some reason, Yamato becomes interested in Mei and starts a one-sided friendship with her. He even protects her from a stalker — by kissing her.

Hazuki launched Say “I love you”. in Dessert in 2008. The manga was nominated for Kodansha’s 40th annual Manga Awards last year. Kodansha Comics is publishing the manga in English.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: Say I Love You. Volume Three

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
Publisher: Kodansha
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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Manga Review: Say I Love You. Volume Two

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 Two
Written by: Kanae Hazuki
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: June 10, 2014

At the beginning of Volume Two, Yamato and Mei take a trip to the beach with Nakanishi and Asami. During this section, we get some character development for Mei, where we learn about the relationship she had with her father and how he died. But even more important is a later scene, where Mei ends up asking Yamato whether or not he had had sex with Aiko. She gets the answer she doesn’t want to hear, but we get the reason as to why Yamato did what he did. This was a good Yamato character development moment, and it’s also an important moment for Mei and Yamato’s relationship.

This is followed with a story about Yamato’s playboy friend, Hayakawa. He sleeps with as many girls as he can without commitment, and seems to be jealous of how popular Yamato is. After Yamato introduces Mei to him, Hayakawa tries to make her one of his conquests. Also, we see that there’s a girl at school named Chiharu who is a childhood friend of Hayakawa and is in love with him. Through this, we get some character development for Hayakawa, and the story here ultimately evolves into one that focuses on Hayakawa and Chiharu.

The final story in the volume focuses on Aiko, and we get some character development for her as well. It really explains why she’s so obsessed with Yamato, as well as why she has the bitchy attitude that she does. By the end of the volume, Aiko appears to draw a line in the sand with Mei, and I get the feeling that future stories will focus on Aiko trying to find any way she can to try to break Mei and Yamato apart.

Sex ends up playing much more of a role in Volume Two than it had in Volume One. While sex may have been mentioned in the first volume, there are scenes in Volume Two that make it clear (without truly showing anything) that this going on between some of the characters. But the sex isn’t there for titillation purposes. It’s a very realistic portrayal of what characters in this age group go through. This is an element that will more than likely continue to appear throughout the remainder of the series. These scenes definitely warrant this series receiving the “OT” for ages 16+ rating.

In the previous volume, I had complained about how thin the characters looked in this series. With Aiko’s backstory, it makes sense that she looks as thin as she does due to some choices she had made. In this volume, it appears that Hazuki has noticeably added a little more “meat” to the male characters so they don’t look nearly as thin as they did in Volume One. I didn’t notice as drastic of a change with the other female characters outside of Aiko, though.

Overall, I thought that Volume Two of Say I Love You. is a strong continuation from the first volume. The characters are becoming more developed and more interesting, and I’ve really come to like and care about many of them. With the way the story developed in Volume Two, I’m really looking forward to reading Volume Three to see what will happen to Mei and Yamato and how any future events have an impact on their relationship.

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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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