Sukitte Ii na yo: a slightly more realistic high school romance

When ‘Japanese high school’ and ‘shoujo romance’ come together, the first title that comes to mind is probably Kimi ni Todoke (Reaching You). Reactions to that manga and anime are different, though the most common one seems to be that it’s somewhat unrealistic in terms of how slow ALL of the relationships move, or, to put it another way, how pure they all are. I won’t get into that particular debate, but this was one of the reasons I decided to try Sukitte Ii na yo (Say You Love Me), as it had been promoted as a more ‘realistic’ look at high school romance in Japan. I would say that that’s a pretty good description.

Tell me that you love me...

Tell me that you love me…

Whilst the characters in Kimi ni Todoke really seem pure and innocent, Sukitte Ii na yo paints a picture of a range of teenagers. Shallow ones, earnest ones. Carefree ones, frightened ones. Kids who sleep around, kids who give that impression but who are actually quite dedicated, kids who are learning how to love, how to be considerate to the one they love. A friend did tell me that, in Japan, people are expected to sleep together pretty quickly after they start dating. How far this applies to teenagers I don’t know (though I know some real life stories that I won’t share), but I found it interesting and illuminating to see a number of characters behave in ways that are not unusual in Japanese schools, at least from what I’ve heard and read.

However, being a manga reader, some of the changes they made were a little frustrating. The relationship between Nakanishi and Asami is a good example: they started dating around the same time as Yamato and Mei, and their relationship seems to be a point of comparison for the latter’s. However, the anime glossed over a lot of it, and thus the significance of some of Yamato’s actions in particular was lessened.

When love hurts

When love hurts…

Another area that was somewhat frustrating was how Yamato was depicted. A fair amount of criticism was directed at him for the way that he behaved, especially when he modeled alongside Megumi but somehow didn’t realise that she was actively trying to isolate Mei. I can understand that it would be frustrating for viewers, who know what Mei is going through; Yamato, however, only knew of what Mei expressed to him. This included Mei saying that she thought that it was cool for him to model – even if that wasn’t how she truly felt, she actively tried to hide that from him, and unfortunately, succeeded.

This is probably the most important thing about any relationship: you can’t expect the other party to read your mind, you need to tell them how you feel. Yamato was also guilty of this to a certain extent; he wanted his girlfriend to show a little more possessiveness over him, but never really said that outright. For example, when Megumi first approached him, he was somewhat piqued that he needed to prompt Mei to ask him what had happened. But then, his reply of “Nothing really” would only have confused Mei more and possibly contributed to the miscommunication between them at the time. That said, such troubled developments are part and parcel of many relationships, and it is only when couples learn to overcome and eventually avoid them that they really become strong.

Sukitte-12-03 Sukitte-12-02
Sometimes, you really need to put your feelings into words…

Thinking about it, the excessive criticism directed at Yamato through the series greatly frustrated me as I was watching. Personally, I appreciated how subtly he was depicted – whilst the rumours were that he had kissed (or tried to kiss) everyone in the school, instead of having someone tell us that that was blatantly untrue, Yamato’s own actions showed that he simply wasn’t that kind of person. You might say that his ‘I do only want I want to do’ was ambiguous, but it is really important to determine whether he is serious or jesting. A good example of the latter was in episode 11 when he teased Mei for falling asleep really quickly when they stayed overnight at Land.

That said, I feel like I’m being a bit too positive about the show itself. I personally wouldn’t strongly recommend it, even though two of my favourite seiyuu were in it (Sakku is obvious, but my love for Kayanon has been growing in leaps and bounds), for some of the cliched developments were really frustrating in themselves. And they were only amplified by the final episode, a filler which the writers decided to construct completely with the same problems of communication we’d seen during the Megumi arc. Too darned obvious, people. Honestly, ending it at 12 would have made far more sense to me.

Sukitte-00 Sukitte-000
At other times, a smile and a glance may suffice…

p.s. That opening, however, is absolutely gorgeous…

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to Sukitte Ii na yo: a slightly more realistic high school romance

  1. Matts says:

    I really enjoyed the supporting cast and how they were developed in such a short time. I had similar problems as Aiko when I was her age, so I could relate to her the most. I tend to avoid the shoujo genre, but this series got me hooked after episode 2.

    As for Yamato, I only disliked him for 1 episode. When Mei gets the tickets and Megumi starts spreading rumors about her and Kai. His actions seemed unrealistic. Megumi was trying to get together with Yamato during the modeling gigs and dinners, and was exposed in a Magazine article, where she admitted that she wanted to get together with him. That Yamato trusted Megumi after this instead of going to Mei and ask her about the truth just didn’t go over well with me. Someone on AS wrote that they left parts of the manga out, but I think that the anime, even if it is an adaptation, should be able to stand on it’s own. The whole episode felt like it was rushed.

    And I agree, they should have ended it with episode 12. I was hoping for a second season.

    Like

    • karice says:

      I really like Aiko, probably the best out of all of them. She can be a little rough, but it’s more like ‘tough love’ and I think that’s particularly useful for someone like Mei.

      True, Yamato was a bit of an idiot not to ask Mei first. That said, I am also more forgiving of Yamato because of the manga, where it’s a lot clearer that Mei’s behaviour wasn’t without blame either. It really is an issue of the anime failing a little at the messages that the author had wanted to convey.

      Like

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