Say I Love You Vol. 12 - Manga Review

The end of their time in high-school is coming up, and Mei and Yamato are striving to figure out what they want to do with their future. Mei’s slowly gaining confidence in herself, but something isn’t quite right with Yamato...

The Lowdown

Mei and Yamato have figured out what they want to do after they graduate from high-school - Yamato wants to be a photographer, and Mei wants to go into child-care. With help from gloomy Len, Mei gets the opportunity to help out at a child-care centre with Asami. However, she notices that Yamato is losing his confidence in his decision to become a photographer, and Mei decides to approach Megumi for help with an idea to help Yamato. Meanwhile, Rin has her sights set on Kai, and the two embark on a trip to Land together!

How Was It?

Say I Love You showed Mei and Yamato beginning to figure out their respective futures after high school in its previous volume, and I really enjoyed the way that this added some extra depth of character to each of them. This is continued in this volume in a strong way, with Mei trying to help Yamato gain some more confidence in his future. This was really refreshing to see, and I liked that it demonstrated the progression that Mei has made in her own personality - her worries are shown to be directed towards helping Yamato instead of worrying so much about her own place within their group of friends. Her process of finding a photographer for Yamato to speak to was also a really nice way of cementing this progression in a tangible manner, and I also liked that we got to see the effect this had on Yamato’s confidence crisis. Overall, this particular scenario did a great job fleshing out their relationship in a more mature sense as the two support each other, and I’m eager to see more of this progression moving forward.

Although I felt that Mei’s focus on helping Yamato was a strong part of this volume, I really enjoyed that we still got to see Mei’s process of independently sorting her own future out by volunteering at a daycare. It was really cool to see a more assertive Mei, and I thought this did a great job once again underscoring her character development in tandem with her desire to help Yamato out. This was accentuated really nicely in the art work, which did a great job of emphasizing Mei’s facial expressions to first show her nervousness while working at the day care before showing her smiling in enjoyment. I was also struck by the way her internal progression was shown through her facial expressions - earlier on in the series we only saw Mei displaying a few facial expressions which tended to be very reserved. In contrast, this volume displayed a much wider variety of smiles, and this did a great job of complementing the way her personality has become less tense. This did a really great job selling me on her progression, and I really enjoyed the way this was incorporated into this volume.

The previous volume introduced the twins Len and Rin into the storyline, with Len taking up much of the focus in becoming acquaintances with Mei. This volume continued that trend in an interesting way by spending time fleshing out Len’s character in terms of the alienation he feels as a side-effect of his sister’s popularity. I really liked the way this volume laid this out in stark terms so that we could really get a feel for Len’s predicament, and I enjoyed the way this arc paid off by giving Mei an opportunity to relate to him. This showed Mei’s growth in a little more of a tangible way compared to her usual self-reflections, and again, I continue to enjoy the way she has begun to reflect her own inner growth through her conscious interactions with other people.

Although Len got a bunch of focus in this volume, some of the best scenes were devoted to Rin in showing her courtship of Kai as the two head to Land. It was really charming to watch the two go on a date together, and I enjoyed Rin’s general assertiveness towards Kai throughout this arc. Rin and Kai’s relationship is probably the closest thing this series has had to following what might be called the “classic” shojo storyline in a condensed manner, but this wasn’t a bad thing at all in terms of providing a sweetly entertaining sidebar to Mei and Yamato’s relationship.

I was really impressed with the art in this volume, and I definitely think that this was the strongest artistic effort this series has put together on the whole. I’ve found the art of Say I Love You to be a mixed bag because of general stiffness many of the characters have moved with, but I genuinely enjoyed the art in this volume quite a bit. I noticed that the darker shading used earlier in the series has been deemphasized in favour of increased use of lighter shading, giving the series a brighter and more optimistic feel which complements the nuance in Mei’s progression well. The facial expressions shown by the characters also felt a lot less wooden, and the lines felt much more cleanly drawn that in previous volumes.

Final Thoughts

Say I Love You Vol. 12 does a great job showing a nuanced depiction of its characters slowly maturing. I really enjoyed this volume for the way that it cemented Mei’s development in a tangible way through her desire to help out Len and Yamato with their own struggles. Rin and Kai’s burgeoning relationship was another charming addition to this volume which definitely delivered some of the sweetest moments this series has seen so far. Combined with the strongest artistic effort this series has seen yet, shojo fans keeping up with this series will be sure to be pleased.


Say I Love You. 12
By Kanae Hazuki

Say I Love You Vol. 12 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on February 23rd, 2016. Authored by Kanae Hazuki, the series began in 2009 in Kodansha’s Dessert magazine. An anime adaption by Zexcs aired in Fall 2012 and ran for 13 episodes. Volume 13 was published in English on April 19th, 2016.

Verdict:

A

Date of Publication: February 23rd, 2016

Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley

Author: Kanae Hazuki

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka