Becoming an adult isn’t easy, and Mei and Yamato are finding this out the hard way as they go to school apart for the first time.
Mei is worried – it’s been hard for her ever since university started with Yamato going to a different school to take photography. The two are busy as ever with their respective programs and associated clubs, but this has meant that there has been less time to see one another. Doubts begin to creep in for Mei after she hears about the troubles that Asami and Nakanishi are having, but what puts her over the edge with worry is a phone call from Aiko who spots Yamato out with his new friend Natsuki.
How Was It?
I’ve enjoyed seeing Mei and Yamato enter a new stage of their lives as they start university quite a bit, and it’s been interesting to see the way that this change in circumstance has begun to affect their relationship. This plotline takes up the bulk of this volume as Mei’s worries about her distance from Yamato really reach a head. One thing I liked here is how believable Mei’s feelings were made out to be – we see her begin to worry and doubt progressively more the further away from Yamato she is, and I liked that this build-up was gradual yet pronounced particularly when we see her worry intensified after seeing Asami and Nakanishi’s relationship go on the rocks.
Mei’s latest struggle with worrying about her relationship and her place in it is quite obviously not the first time (or even the second time!) that this has happened to her, but I was really impressed with the way that this volume differentiates this situation from the past in a nuanced way which emphasizes how this couple has matured over the course of this series. The conclusion is a little bit cliché – it all gets resolved in a standard airing of feelings and reaffirmation of love, but I liked that we get a clear sense for the way both Mei and Yamato have matured as they handle this conversation. Mei is much more direct about her feelings than she was earlier in the series, and Yamato is more self-aware about the way that he makes Mei feel. Overall, this really conveyed the way that these two have grown because of their relationship with one another, and it was an enjoyably human end to this little arc that emphasized the way the two do their best to make their relationship work.
Much as Mei and Yamato have issues because of the distance, those issues are shown to be even more pronounced in Asami and Nakanishi’s relationship. The previous volume set this up in tandem with Mei and Yamato when both of them respectively see the way that Asami and Nakanishi grow apart in a short period of time. This volume brings this to its climax, but I was bit surprised that things are left a little ambiguous after the two have a big blow-up. In some ways, I wonder if Hazuki-sensei intended to break them up but shied away to avoid ending a relationship that has been around since volume one, but I expected more resolution or at least more clear explication of the feelings involved to resolve this narrative (especially given that scenes years later make it unclear what happened).
As has become routine in the last number of volumes, Megumi gets many pages devoted to showing her storyline as she lives in Paris trying to make it as a model. Frankly, at this point I have no idea why we are still following Megumi – it’s been at least two volumes since her storyline was relevant in any significant way to the main plotline. Additionally, Megumi’s story seems to just go over the same emotional arc relating to her self-doubt with nearly the same results just as happened a few other times in the series, and at this point, I don’t know what her presence in the story has to offer in a positive way. Megumi's role used to make made some narrative sense when her story actually intersected with the main characters, but following her by herself for the sake of her own storyline over the past number of volumes has been tiresome and boring.
After Mei and Yamato resolve their issues, this volume concludes their time in university by fast-forwarding into the future by a number of years. It’s all just oh-so-satisfying here to see how these characters continue to move forward in their lives, and at this point is almost pure fanservice in giving us a satisfying portrait of the lives of these characters we’ve followed since their high-school days. In particular, there are a couple absolutely beautiful scenes for Mei and Yamato that had me grinning as they slowly realize that they have become adults and what the future of their relationship might look like. As the series prepares for its final volume, it seems apparent that Hazuki-sensei is setting up for a well-earned victory lap of sorts to bring Mei and Yamato’s conclusion to an appropriately detailed end that befits how far they have come, and I can’t wait to see the ending.
Much like the last number of volumes, Say I Love You Vol. 17 is at its strongest when it is focusing on Mei and Yamato’s relationship, and I appreciated seeing a more mature version of the same core insecurities that the two have been dealing with virtually since their first day together. There are bumps along the way, but this volume does a great job cementing their relationship in a way that feels true to the development that they have had over the course of this series. The subsidiary storylines are not nearly so well done – Asami and Nakanishi’s storyline is a bit undercooked in its ambiguous conclusion, and Megumi’s continues to be tiresome – but the final moments of this volume make it all worth it as we return to seeing how Yamato and Mei envision their future. It’s hard not to feel great about watching a couple we’ve seen grow for so long continue the process of growing up, and It’s definitely going to be hard to wait for the final volume to see their happy ending.
Say I Love You Vol. 16 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on February 7th, 2017. Authored by Kanae Hanzuki, the series began in 2009 in Kodansha’s Dessert magazine. An anime adaption by Zexcs aired in Fall 2012 and ran for 13 episodes.
Date of Publication: February 7th, 2017
Author: Kanae Hazuki
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley
Editor: Ajani Oloye
Publisher: Kodansha Comics