Though I do try to keep my posts pretty positive here on Watashi Wa Bucho!! (there’s already enough negativity in the world without me adding to it), every so often I watch an anime so unpalatable that I feel it’s part public service to warn people about it. Say “I Love You”. is one such show. The way I look at it, time is a finite and, therefore, valuable resource. Anime, even shorter ones, represent a significant investment of your time. So aren’t you better off investing in those actually worth your time? Here are three reasons why Say “I Love You”. is not one of these shows…
The first reason why Say “I Love You”. isn’t worth your time is as follows… This anime revolves around the blossoming romance of two young, high schoolers: Mei Tachibana and Yamato Kurosawa. We watch as, over the span of 13 episodes, they meet, begin to date, and overcome various trials and tribulations. It’s a simple premise, one that’s found success in literally hundreds of other shows. However, what prevents Say “I Love You”. from being equally as successful is that it’s almost impossible to comprehend Yamato’s attraction towards Mei. The problem isn’t that he never says why he likes her. Feelings are often messy and difficult to unspool, and sometimes something is lost when trying to do so. No, the problem is that, even when I try to put my finger on these reasons, they seem… silly, at best.
One reason why Yamato might find Mei attractive is that, before they began dating, she was the only girl in their school to have never shown any interest in him. Perhaps, in his mind, this singles her out as unique. Or maybe, because of this, she represented somewhat more of a challenge for him. Another possible reason might be that, after receiving a roundhouse kick straight to the face, Yamato was drawn to Mei’s fiery personality. Or perhaps Yamato’s attraction towards Mei stemmed from the fact that she paid little heed towards what other people thought about her. If you ask me (and, since you’re reading this, I assume that you’re at least a little interested in my opinion), these reasons seem pretty silly, hardly the basis for a long-lasting relationship. Admittedly, they’re high schoolers and high schoolers have never needed a good reason to start dating anybody. That being said, once they begin dating, Mei becomes yet another Yamato fangirl, her once fiery personality rears its head once, maybe twice, more the entire show, and she suddenly starts to care what others, particularly her newfound friends, think about her. Yet Yamato’s attraction towards her persists. Why? Lord knows. Theirs is a relationship that defies all logic.
Another reason why Say “I Love You”. isn’t worth your time is that it was, at times, extremely frustrating to watch. Every single one of Mei and Yamato’s problems stemmed from their inability to communicate with each other. Here’s an example of one of the trials our young couple face: Yamato began spending time with another girl behind Mei’s back. He may not have cheated on her, but when she learned about their secret meetups she was still, understandably, shaken. Now, I don’t take issue with the problem itself. Sure, it’s a little “high school”, but, again, our couple are high schoolers, so that makes sense. No, what I take issue with is the fact that the solution to this, and the other problems that Mei and Yamato face, is so simple: just bloody well talk to one another! Here’s what ought to have happened in this scenario: “Hey, Yamato, have you been cheating on me?” “No.” “OK, cool, but you probably shouldn’t have secret meetups with other girls.” “OK, yeah, that’s a fair point. I’m glad that we had this conversation.” The two hug it out and live happily ever after. But, no, instead Mei spends several episodes moping, feeling insecure, and distancing herself from everybody around her. Maybe this is a realistic depiction of how high schoolers face hurdles in their relationships and I’m just old and out of touch (no, it’s the kids who are wrong), but, all the same, it was, at times, physically painful for me to watch.
A third and final reason why Say “I Love You”. isn’t worth your time is that almost all of its side characters exhibited more growth than our young couple. Megu learned that it was better to have one good friend than hundreds of fair-weather friends, Kai realised that his childhood bullies weren’t worth his time and gradually let go of his anger towards them, and Aiko learned that self-harm through punishing beauty rituals wasn’t the way to a man’s heart and that she was worth far more than what her no-good exes thought of her. By way of comparison… By the show’s end, Mei would still push Yamato away whenever he tried to act affectionately towards her, Yamato still hadn’t got a good grasp on what made Mei uncomfortable, Mei still hadn’t begun to understand Yamato (as evidenced by the fact that she took his little sister’s lies about him at face value), and Yamato still hadn’t learned to trust Mei (after hearing that his friend was seeing a girl who worked in the same store as Mei he immediately jumped to conclusions). Come to think of it, almost every time Mei and Yamato hit a stumbling block in their relationship, it was the advice of their vastly more insightful and emotionally mature friends that helped them over it. All this left me feeling that I’d much rather watch a show about Mei and Yamato’s friends than about them, which, as I’m sure you’d agree, is a pretty significant problem!
So, all in all, Say “I Love You”. was an extremely frustrating experience. Its main couple, Mei and Yamato, were unconvincing and their issues needn’t have taken episodes for them to overcome. No, not when all that was needed was for them to have a simple, straightforward conversation. The show wasn’t without its merits, namely its many interesting side characters, but these didn’t make up for its lacklustre protagonists. Given that there’s no shortage of excellent romance anime out there (hit me up for some recommendations), I’d strongly advise against spending your time on this one.
I agree with you. The anime is quite frustrating because the developments that should have been there aren’t. I’m glad I went and read the manga because it was more interesting and the characters get the development and attention they deserve. Shame the anime just skimmed over it all.
It was kind of cool, seeing Mei and Yamato enter into a relationship so quickly (since that’s the point at which a lot of romance anime end), but it seemed like, once that happened, their development staggered along at an agonisingly slow pace…
That is true :’) First couple of episodes were not bad but then it felt quite slow and dare I say repetitive.
One of the ways I’ve come to view Say I Love You is not as a romance but rather a story about different people learning to love themselves and recognise the supprt system they have around them. Romance just happens to be part of it. I think reading the story that way allowed me to appreciate it more. Especially the manga since it focuses on so many different relationships. :’)
That’s a really interesting way of looking at Say I Love You! Thanks for sharing your perspective with me!