I’m a fan of just about every genre and style out there for anime and manga – but shoujo romance is one I’ve always enjoyed a little more than the others when it’s done right. Sadly, it being “done right” is pretty rare. I’d say Sukitte Ii Na Yo – or Say “I love you” – is one of those few times that it is.
In regard to spoilers: As usual I will avoid them and there won’t be many, fair warning though spoilers up to episode 2 are untagged– aside that and some small irrelevant ones scattered about the only actually big spoilers are the whited out portion of “The Problem” section so read away without worry unless you want to watch it 100% blind, which is up to you and personally what I enjoy so I understand. Not my best review but I was sort of trying to lay it out in a simpler less focused way and wanted to see how it worked out. If you follow my reviews you’ll notice I always change how I review stuff, so hopefully this way wasn’t too bad.
The Story and Pacing
The story took a nice approach – instead of being about a girl and guy ending up together, it’s about a girl and guy’s experiences as a couple. What makes it truly special though is that it’s handled in such a great way, everything feels believable and real. There’s no JOE popping in and interrupting, there’s no LOVE TRIANGLE, there’s no “he’s talking to a girl, oh goooooddddd!!!!” bullshit. No. Everything is handled extremely well and the entire show pays off for it by making everything from the romance to the characters and their interactions something you can become more connected with because you don’t need the usual suspension of disbelief. They are together, they kiss, they hold each other, they hug, they are a believable couple throughout the entire show and go about things at a pace you’d expect from this kind of couple. It was refreshing.
The story itself benefits from this greatly as well, not just the pacing, because it makes you really care about what’s going on through being so believably done and it makes you love just watching these two interact and the development of their relationship continue. It’s too sad the series is only 13 episodes long, but in that time it still felt complete at the end.
Basically it’s a show about two people learning what a really loving relationship is, and we watch them figure things out and deal with their faults and all that.
Mei and Yamato
These two were my very favorite, I knew they were both gonna be great from their first moments in the show. Mei is actually why I wanted to watch the series, she’s pretty cute and totally my type. While I prefer tomboys, she fits the secondary dandere interest and looks wise is very cute. While watching the show though I realized what a great character she really is aside just being ‘my type’. She’s a strong but lonely girl who was really scarred in her past, and while the reasons are entirely different I can totally relate to her hate of people and fear of trusting another human being. Seeing her trying to overcome that was nice, especially when I’m the type of person who even if I try my hardest can’t manage to truly trust anybody anymore. Because of how well they managed this aspect of her it made me happy seeing her make progress – much like Inami in Working!! with her Androphobia.
On top of that, she’s more than just a dandere. Much like real girls she’s got sides to her she doesn’t show outwardly all that often – but with a boyfriend? He’ll see that side, and we as the viewer get to too. She’s very shy but aggressive towards the guy she likes, she’s tsundere but in the flirty and lovingly ‘dere’ and shy way. It was a perfect balance and made her very likeable. There was no EEEE BAKA HENTAI smacking bullshit or anything like that. She might call him a pervert but then she goes along with it – clearly enjoying everything and wanting to do all these things. Her moments of being forward were awesome, but all her fake-resistance followed by entirely submissive stuff was irresistibly cute, she’s very much the cutest possible M.
That actually ties right in to what makes Yamato and this couple as a whole so great. They have great chemistry. Yamato, after they get a little closer and he starts getting to know her, will push right through her shy act and little tsuntsun bouts straight into her going full mushy lovelove for him. He’s a total S.
He always knew the right buttons to push, the right things to say or how to tease her, and the right way to handle her at all times. Bigger than that though is the fact that he actually understood her as a person; he could tell (aside one big time) when she was bothered and just avoiding bringing it up – so he would. He could tell when he had done something wrong and would talk to her about it so it wouldn’t linger. He could tell when she was sad from something else and do what he could about it even if she didn’t ask. And she just falls more and more in love with him because of it. And no worries, luckily Yamato is a good guy – he doens’t take advantage of her at all. It was actually romantic which hilariously enough is a hard thing to find in most romance shows aside in the last couple of episodes of them. Every little interaction between them was adorable and fun.
Much like Mei, Yamato is also a good character who could stand on his own. It was great FINALLY seeing an OPENLY possessive male lead in a shoujo. Most are very much possessive but behind the scenes or to themselves or they hint at it – but that’s because most of them aren’t actually in the relationship yet. Yamato is one of the few who is actually in a relationship and won’t let anyone fuck with it or hurt her.
I loved these two and I loved watching them, they truly made the show into that special gem that it is.
Asami and Nakanishi
Asami the big boobies deluxe character of the show and Nakanishi the lover of oppai! They are also a cute couple and their short story in the first two eps was handled pretty nicely, they also evolve their relationship in a pretty real-to-life way for some couples – especially one with a massive pervert involved, as the show implies they are having sex and all that a short while after getting together. The show doesn’t waste much time on the whole ‘group’ aspect like most others of this type and instead focuses on Mei and Yamato – so we don’t see them as much as I’d have liked, but they were good people and a nice side couple.
Aiko and Tachikawa
I actually didn’t like Aiko at first but she grew on me as the show went on, especially once she got that hairband which was really cute and reminded me of one of the Team Hippo girls in Garupan. She’s one of the only fully aware characters in the show who can smell shitty people a mile away because she is kind of one herself. Tachikawa is a fun guy who doesn’t get much screen time but he’s had a thing for Aiko since a long time back and it’s cool that they are pretty much a couple – even if she won’t admit it and wants another guy’s D. He knows and he isn’t bothered by it at all and is fine just being her fuck buddy for now. I couldn’t go with that – but he doesn’t mind so there’s no problem, but I hope they end up actually together in the manga or something as it’s only kind of implied in the show. Aiko really does take a while to grow into her own, but I found her probably being my fourth favorite character after the next guy by the latter half of the show.
I knew I’d like Kai from the moment he showed up – much like how I felt about Mei and Yamato. He’s such a dudebro doritos eating gamer type that he’s just likeable in that way. He’s got a good personality and fills a necessary role in the series, showing up with good timing to do so. I actually liked him more than Yamato for awhile and found myself wondering if I’d prefer him over Yamato for Mei. He’s very much a bro of bros and a good guy, he’s got a well played and developed personality that adds a lot to the show all on it’s own. His interactions with Yamato, Mei, and even Mega-slut really helped progress the series and were interesting. He, much like Aiko, is one of the few characters that really understands everything going on with the characters and their feelings. I liked his first appearance a lot as well, him freaking out over Land was great and Mei’s reactions were cute – this was another nice aspect, watching the friendship between these two develop. He and Mei have some things in common and can understand each other on a level Yamato and Mei can’t, and this really gave a nice opportunity to develop Mei’s character.
The Music and Art
The art and quality was pretty consistent and it was a style I liked quite a bit. Yamato looks very much like some kind of Final Fantasy protagonist or a character Oguri Shun would play in a live action version, but you get used to it. And Mei, well Mei was cute from start to finish. Her hair was also very moe – it always had a little bit of frilly spots and was just slightly messy enough to come off as extra adorable and fitting of her character who doesn’t put too much work into being attractive – yet you can notice when she does dress up it seems a little cleaner. Mei is extremely cute, but the rest of the cast was well designed too. They also were pretty attentive about details that most anime skimp out on; Mei’s hair actually grows throughout the series and gets longer, plus everyone has multiple outfits and we never see them (aside in their school uniforms) wearing the same thing twice often at all. Aside all that though – there were some very cute moments out of nowhere in a very simple but adorable style that really helped the mood.
This scene was one of my favorites between Mei and her mother, they go through several poses being all silly and yelling back and forth, it was really cute.
And this scene made me think of Nodame – probably from how Mei looks in that outfit and how she was acting.
The music is very nice and actually features Suneohair, who you may know from Honey & Clover, they did the wonderful very fitting ED and an insert song in a later episode. More importantly though is the opening song. A beautiful, very soft, full of warm feelings song perfect for the show. Something only the late Ritsuko Okazaki could manage so spot on – and she did even though she’s already passed away, which made it also feel like a nice little homage to her. If you don’t recognize her name please look up some of her music or her at all, you’ll probably recognize it. She did work in Princess Tutu, Fruits Basket, and so on. I never skipped the opening because it was just too beautiful all on it’s own, the song by itself was almost as touching as the story of the show.
This’ll get removed from Youtube some day probably so just look it up yourself otherwise: Friendship by Ritsuko Okazaki. Funny the title is friendship – it made me worry this would be another Kimi no Relationship Fucking Ever Even After 2 Full Seasons. But nope, nothing of the sort!
The rest of the music in the show was good and well handled too.
Yes, Megumi is THE problem, the one and fucking only problem with this show. This would be a 10 if it wasn’t for her existence. This isn’t me hating the character for fun or out of personal tastes, she is factually and objectively the problem with this show and what made me almost fucking drop it. Not only her – but the way they handled writing her in to the story, the way they handled her and Yamato’s stuff. It was all so distasteful and unsettling and out of place in this show.
You go from a very soft nice warm show with a lot of believability in it to a pseudo-NTR photoshoot where Megumi and Yamato are acting like more of a couple than Yamato acts with Mei – and being physically very touchy and close together. A problem made worse by the fact that Megumi has already come on to Yamato in private and Mei knows something is going on in secret between them. A problem made EVEN WORSE by the fact that Mei is there at the photoshoot watching because they asked her to come – which is where it becomes some sort of pseudo-NTR. Watching her boyfriend and another woman act like like that, and Megumi even actively trying to steal him away.
On top of that – and this is where it gets ten times worse than I expected at all after all the realistic and believable and non-fucking-moronic things Yamato had done through the show up to this point; Yamato goes to Megumi’s house after. Then again the next day. Again. Again. And again. He sneaks to her house for hours every single night after work completely secretly behind Mei’s back. Now this is horrible all on it’s own and pretty much unforgivable – but – to make it worse, Yamato knows Mei. Mei is someone recovering from trauma, recovering from a life of hiding from human beings, recovering from a life of believing people are all awful betrayous sacks of shit who will hurt her, recovering from an inability to trust. And here’s Yamato betraying her, being a piece of shit, and pissing all over her faith and trust in him. Yeah, he didn’t fuck Megumi, but he was sneaking there every night and spending all his free time with her during school, after school, and at night secretly. This is something I’d easily consider a form of emotional cheating and no matter how you look at it it is factually betrayal of trust at the very least, something I still can’t believe with his character he’d do to Mei. But he did. And I blame this on bad writing in ONE part of the show or the manga if it happened there – because it was as unbelievably out of character as it was horribly shitty and frustrating and genuinely upsetting to watch.
I don’t buy for a second the excuse the show gives of him just ‘being new to love’ and ‘not realizing’ that this would somehow hurt Mei. Not even the stupidest most ignorantly blind retards would think that. Only the sleaziest of shitty people would ever tell themselves sneaking to some girls house all night behind their girlfriend’s back is “probably a-okay with my girlfriend”. Fuck this part of the show. Seriously. I almost dropped it and gave it a 1 on the spot. This was almost completely fucking unbearable and I only managed to push through thanks to Mei being such a good character and Kai being awesome.
I have to say even with it’s flaws, Sukitte Ii Na Yo was a wonderful series that really brought back that feeling of being in love and going through your first relationship. Most romance in shoujo deals with a story where the main leads end up together at the end, in this case they are together from almost the very beginning. It was awesome getting to finally see more of a ‘slice of life of a couple’, and a couple with such a great chemistry, rather than something more typical or something with a lot of drama. Not only that but Mei being shy made it much more entertaining and interesting to watch than a more outwardly or normal girl in this situation.
It always felt pretty believable both in terms of the story, the progress of the relationship, and the way the characters acted, thought, and treated one another. Gone is the retarded male romance interest who is clueless as all hell, gone are the godawful misunderstandings, gone are the little mistakes turned from molehill into mountain. Almost every problem is brought up immediately and talked through, fixed, repaired, gotten over – aside the earlier mentioned problem, this relationship follows the idea of openness and honesty with each other and thus avoiding all the stupid shit you find in most shoujo. On top of that you have realistic pacing within the relationship, there’s no waiting till the last episode for a kiss or holding hands.
On that note there’s something else I really loved about this show that was a bit more subtle; the way those ‘special’ moments were treated. Most romance anime of any demographic, but especially shoujo, will go all out in making a kiss or a romantic hug or holding hands the first time be some fucking crazy event. FIREWORKS! FLOWERS! SOFT COLORS AND WINDY FIELDS! SPARKLIES EVERYWHERE! ALL FOLLOWED BY A DEEP INTROSPECTIVE MONOLOGUE ABOUT WOW WE…WE’RE KISSING!!!!…That isn’t the case here. It’s handled the way it is in real life. It is something special, but special moments in real life don’t have us seeing some big open field in Kansas, they have us there in the moment and a little shocked, excited, scared, and happily surprised all at the same time. The vision blurs a bit, she gets lost in it but still is very aware of where she is and what’s happening. This makes those moments much more powerful because they are shown through the actual eyes and thoughts of her going through these feelings rather than some sort of attempt at deep pretentious shit, it’s much more real and emotional that way as far as I’m concerned. Another way she reacts from time to time during more warm soft n fuzzy stuff is like she’s remembering being a child and being with her family before her father died, which seems believable enough to me as well. She’s being overwhelmed by a feeling of safety, relief, and being loved, so it makes sense she’d have memories like that come up sometimes.
As a side note, ignoring the fact Suneohair did music for this, the show felt a lot like Honey & Clover at times to me – I felt a new Spitz/Suga Shikao insert song would start up at some point every episode. If you enjoyed H&C you’ll probably really like this. Actually if you like romance at all you’ll love this.
I highly recommend it, I loved it, and it’s something that I can definitely say is one of the very best and most romantic shoujo I’ve seen.
Definitely one of the best romance I’ve seen as well, be it shoujo, seinen, or josei. It’s no NANA or Nodame, but it’s very high up there. In terms of lighthearted warmer type of romance I’d say it’s possibly second only to Nodame. Most of these anime and manga focus on drama to progress the story – this just focused on the characters learning to be together and being a cute couple. It was a very rewarding and fun experience watching it, full of touching moments and romantic stuff, I hope that ends up being the case for those of you who haven’t gotten a chance to see it too.
Oh and be sure to watch after the credits – there’s always a little thing with Mei talking to her cat in some awkward CG form.