High school may be over, but Mei and Yamato find that university provides its own set of problems to overcome.
Mei and Yamato have graduated from high school and are now pursuing their individual dreams at different schools. However, university comes with its own set of problems as the two venture forth separately meeting new friends and having new experiences. Mei finds herself having a hard time being away from Yamato more, and after seeing Asami have troubled with her relationship Mei begins to worry more and more. These fears aren’t unfounded though because Yamato finds himself getting friendly with a cool photographer as he gets used to his new school, making things more difficult for this couple than they might have thought.
How Was It?
After saying goodbye to high school in the previous volume, Mei and Yamato start taking steps towards their respective futures in this volume. The previous volume really felt like it could have been a thoroughly satisfying series finale in many ways, but this volume more than justifies continuing the story a while longer because of the way that it examines the effect that the transition out of high school has on Mei and Yamato’s relationship. Much as we saw both of them growing up in high school throughout this series, this process continues as the two face their own individual challenges in acclimating to a new environment such as Yamato struggling to figure out how he fits in with a new friend group. We also see Mei’s process of attempting to make friends as she begins university, and this was cool precisely because we’ve been able to see her progression all throughout high school in learning how to become less introverted. Even without the main romantic plot, it’s simply fascinating to watch characters that we’ve followed for so long continue to grow up in a new phase of their lives, and this definitely made for an interesting premise for this volume.
The main plot of this volume naturally follows the effect that being apart more often has on Mei and Yamato’s relationship, and this ends up being an interesting yet fairly predictable take on this idea. We see the two longing for one another while trying to process the way things will be from then on before the worries set in. Unsurprisingly, another girl enters the picture by getting friendly with Yamato in a plot point that could be seen coming from quite far away, and things pretty much go the way you would expect there as she clearly displays some romantic intentions towards him. It feels like versions of this plot have played out a couple times in this series already, but what saves this from being rather rote is the added distance between Mei and Yamato as well as the shared history the two have built up over the course of this series.
Mei’s feelings were portrayed in an enjoyably nuanced as we see her slowly begin to worry more and more because of the influence of her friends, and I liked that we got to see an interesting internal struggle between her trust in Yamato versus her doubts coming from the distance as well as overthinking things. We see very clearly the level of attachment she has developed with her friends so far in the series, and I thought it was interesting to see the way that this both gave her strength as well as made her worry. Yamato’s struggle with finding new friends was a strong contrast to this because we see that he clearly doesn’t have the same sort of support system, and in some ways this was an interesting reversal of the dynamic at the beginning of the series. This brought a lot more emotional resonance to a fairly basic plot concept, and I’m interested to see how the series will handle this going into the next volume.
In the background to Mei and Yamato’s plot we also get to see what the rest of the cast are up to, and this ranged from fairly interesting to a little bit superfluous. The dynamic between Asami and Nakanishi hasn’t been a chief concern in quite some time, but in this volume it provided an interesting counterpoint to Mei and Yamato’s relationship that felt relevant because of the impact that it had on our main couple. Not quite so relevant were Rin and Megumi’s storylines in this volume - although these provided other takes on the slow transition into adulthood, it felt a little bit disconnected from the main plot with little development really going on here. Hopefully as the series races towards a conclusion we’ll see some more movement to justify this storyline’s inclusion, but right now it felt like this could have been excluded.
It’s not too often that we get to see a series extend past high school to really take a look at its characters growing up, and this is exactly what makes Say I Love You Vol. 16 an interesting read. Although some of it is a little bit predictable, it succeeds on the whole because of the way that it draws upon all of the progression that these characters have experienced so far to provide a nuanced view of their feelings. This is particularly true with Mei because of the way we see her feelings and worries slowly progress over the course of this volume, and it'll be interesting to see how this couple will deal with the challenge of simply growing up as this series proceeds.
Say I Love You Vol. 16 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on October 11th, 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.
Date of Publication: October 1th, 2016
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley
Author: Kanae Hazuki
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA