Graduation is only a few months away for Mei, Yamato, and the rest of the gang, and now that they’ve each figured out what they want to do in the future the hard part of struggling towards those goals begins in earnest.
Mei and Yamato have had success in figuring out their career plans - Mei plans to get into child-care, and Yamato plans to become a photographer. Similarly, Megumi has decided to go overseas for her final summer in high-school to try and build her career as a model internationally, and this finally comes to fruition when she takes off for Paris. However, she finds that actually finding work in Paris is much more difficult than expected due to a number of problems, forcing her to struggle onward in the face of rejection in a far-away country. Meanwhile, Kai is shaken after unexpectedly being kissed by Rin after their fun date at Land, and now the pressure is on him to sort out his feelings for her.
How Was It?
After exploring Yamato and Mei’s relationship at great length, Say I Love You has put the main romantic plots on the backburner in its most recent volumes to show its characters slowly maturing as they each to figured out their respective futures. This volume continues this process by focusing on the theme of “struggle” as they each attempt to move towards their goals and find that figuring out what they want to do is only the first step. Previously, Megumi had decided to go overseas to Paris to try and establish modelling career more firmly, and this story-line gets the majority of the page-space in this volume as her trip finally becomes a reality.
The prospect of spending so much time following Megumi would not have been palatable earlier in the series, but the time spent with her in this volume wasn’t wasted in the least because of the way that it portrayed her struggle to establish herself in a meaningful way. Her experiences in Paris getting turned-down because of her skin-colour as well as by the language-barrier is shown in stark detail, and I really enjoyed the way that this volume showed her inner thought process extremely clearly. Seeing her perseverance through her tribulations worked quite well in some ways because she had been a bit of an antagonist to Mei, and seeing her mindset slowly changing was quite interesting to see because of the way it showed her response to an unfamiliar and very different setting. Much like with the other characters, we see Megumi changing slowly as she attempts to establish her future, and I enjoyed the way this entire sequence demonstrated her efforts in this regard.
While Megumi gets the bulk of the attention in this volume, Mei and Yamato don’t get completely left out because they share a number of enjoyable scenes as they continue onward towards making their goals a reality. The previous volume prominently showed Yamato trying to advance his passion as a photographer, and this volume followed up on this enjoyably by showing Yamato and Mei taking pictures for his brother’s hair salon. Once again, we see Mei’s growth in terms of becoming more comfortable with herself illustrated in this sequence. I enjoyed the way that Yamato and Mei have reached an appropriate groove in terms of their comfort level and understanding of one another, and this was reflected really well in as scene which see Yamato figuring out exactly the right way to take Mei’s photographs for the advertisement. As a side note to this, I really liked that we got some added resolution to Yamato’s brother Daichi’s story from volume 9 in a feel-good moment that was wonderful to see. One of the best parts of this series has been the emphasis on all of the characters growing slowly, and I enjoyed the attention to detail in terms of continuing this process even for the side-characters.
Although the focus on Megumi, Yamato, and Mei’s respective efforts towards realizing their future goals takes up the main focus on this volume, I was pleased that we still got some romantic tension as Rin and Kai’s burgeoning relationship continued to develop. I really liked the way this volume presented Kai’s general insecurity at dating a model in a nuanced way by laying out his general thought process in a relatable manner. This was also nicely connected in a call-back to Mei’s feelings of insecurity and disbelief at dating Yamato from earlier in the series, and I thought that this created an interesting level of thematic symmetry given we’ve already seen Mei’s process of dealing with those feelings. It helps tremendously that Rin and Kai’s interactions are very likable on the whole, and I thought that made Kai’s confusion at what to feel more palpable as he tried to reason through. This has been a really enjoyable subplot over the last couple volumes, and I’m definitely still interested in seeing it through.
Much like I noted in my review of the previous volume, Say I Love You’s art continues to become more impressive with each volume. I’m really enjoying that the character designs have become more refined over time and are drawn much more cleanly compared to the rougher art which was present earlier in the series. Additionally, I enjoyed the way that little changes to each character’s appearance are added to show the change in their lives such as Mei and Megumi’s longer hairstyles, or Daichi and Kyouko’s new necklaces. All of this has complemented the series’ emphasis on character growth in a meaningful way, and I definitely enjoyed the lighter touch the art has continued to show.
As Yamato describes it at one point, we see the characters in this volume “struggle in the rift between who [they’ve] been and who [they’ll] become”, and I really enjoyed the way that Megumi’s story as complemented by Mei and Yamato’s scenes really emphasized this theme. Rin and Kai’s little romance continues to please because of the way that it progresses in a nuance way without losing any of its sweetness. seeing them slowly grow up as they plan their futures after watching their romantic experiences has been wonderfully meaningful, and I’m excited to see where this series goes as their final year of high-school goes by.
Say I Love You Vol. 13 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on April 19th, 2016. 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. Volume 13 was published in English on June 7th, 2016.
Date of Publication: April 19th, 2016
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley
Author: Kanae Hazuki
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA