Sukitte Ii na yo – 13 (Fin)

The day after a long walk with Mei, Yamato catches a cold and stays home from school. Nagi also plays hooky to take care of him. Mei’s friends make her leave school early, but when she calls Yamato, Nagi answers, telling her he doesn’t want to see her. Asami calls her and the guys encourage her to see him. Meanwhile Hayakawa calls Yamato, telling him he has a new girlfriend. Yamato gets it in his head it’s Mei, and races to the bakery, just missing Mei. When she calls him his battery is dead. She wanders to a sculpture where they met up for a date, and he appears just as she’s composing another text.

Was this going to be an indulgent, feel-good epilogue showing Mei and Yamato, Yamato and Mei, the perfect little couple skipping around town having adventures and taking things nice and slow? Uhhh…no. Instead, “Say ‘I Love You'” put both Mei and Yamato and us through an emotional spin cycle for twenty-two minutes and fifty-five seconds. There’s drama. There’s despair. There’s suspicion, regret, and doubt. There’s a whole lot of unfortunate coincidences. But then there’s one more coincidence that works out: Yamato and Mei meet by that sculpture, and all the confusion and exasperation melts away with one big ‘ol hug and in this exchange:

– Sorry for what happened earlier. Nagi had my phone…
It’s okay.

We’re not so sure it was ‘okay’ back when Mei thought Yamato was mad at him for pushing him away when he tried to get lovey-dovey, or when Yamato, possibly delirious, got worried Mei thought he was gross and got with Hayakawa instead. These two lovebirds still clearly have much to learn about handling their love for one another, but with help and support from their friends (Asami, Kenji, Aiko, Masashi and Kai all provide nice assists), they’ll doubtless muddle through just fine. They’re already in love with one another, after all. All the jealous sisters and dead batteries in the world won’t alter that fact.

Our only teensy gripe with this otherwise great finale? It’s ambiguous whether Mei actually said “I Love You” out loud to Yamato. The reverb suggests it was in her head. C’mon, Mei! Ganbatte!


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

Sukitte Ii na yo – 12

In the first half, Yamato and Momo go to Megumi’s house, but she won’t come out. Yamato tries his best, but it’s ultimately heartfelt words from Momo that coax her out. Megumi goes back to work, weathers the storm of hate at school, and gets a hair cut to represent her new life without lies or shallow friends. In the second half, the summer festival arrives, and Yamato and Mei go with Asami and all their friends. They part ways early, but Mei’s mom insist she put on a yukata and go back. She meets Yamato at the shrine, who is very happy to see her, despite their missing the fireworks.

Megumi’s catharsis, while important, didn’t need a whole episode all to itself. Nor did the summer festival. Realizing this, the series shrewdly combined them to make this episode. We like the choice, because it made both stories move quickly and efficiently, without losing any of their emotional impact. Megu-tan had simply had her fill of the way she interacted with people and swerved off the road. Yamato and her best friend Momo are able to restore her confidence and get her back on track. She can’t live her life concerned with what others think about her. And her wild new hair rocks, so there’s that.

The second half shows us how far this circle of friends has come, and it’s nice to see them as one big happy group simply enjoying the summer festival (also efficiently illustrated via montage). Asami is the glue that brought them all together, and when she eats to much and gets sick, everyone kinda drifts away, though the night is still young. Mei, ever going with the flow, misses the opportunity, but we’re glad her mom gives her a well-needed nudge back out to see Yamato alone. The sight of her in traditional dress utterly floors him, and they share a kiss – the perfect ending to an episode that is equal parts redemptive and feel-good.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 11

Kai confronts and lambastes Megumi for trying to bring Mei and others down. When Asami and Aiko tell Megumi that Yamato and Mei are going to spend their first night together, she tries to bribe them and fails. Her attempt to banish Momo from her circle of “friends” also backfires, and they all abandon her. She leaves the agency before her shoot and pigs out on junk food in the dark. Meanwhile, Yamato and Mei spend the day at Land. Their plans are sidetracked when they’re stuck with Nagi, but they stay at the hotel anyway, and settle for spooning. In the morning the modeling agency calls Yamato saying they can’t get ahold of Megumi.

We knew Megu-tan would be in for a world of pain following her abortive scheming last week, and indeed, the hammer of reckoning comes down hard on her. However, we didn’t expect that witnessing her comeuppance would result in us actually feeling sorry for her. Damn you, Sukitte Ii na yo! Why can’t she just be one-dimensionally evil like King Oberon! We kid. Basically, Megumi’s current situation is the result of going down the wrong road to happiness: making herself cute and beautiful, becoming a model, and using her fame and wealth to make friends. The thing is, none of this is making her remotely happy. After a particularly bad day in which everyone gives her a dressing-down at once, she decides she’s had it, retreating to her flat to gorge on chips of various kinds.

The episode does a great job balancing Megumi’s downfall with the rise of Yamato+Mei, one more thing Megumi isn’t happy about. The episode teases us with the possibility of the lovebirds spending their first night together, but their chance encounter with Nagi puts the kibosh on that right quick. But as contrived as that happenstance was, we didn’t really mind it that much. We just couldn’t see Yamato and Mei jumping into the sack so suddenly considering their mutual nervousness, and their decision to take it nice and slow is true to their characters. They probably could have come to that decision if they’d had the room to themselves, but Nagi just made it that much easier. What we fear, however, is Megumi and/or Yamato feeling guilty for Megumi’s meltdown.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 10

Megumi gives Land tickets to Kai, and starts isolating Mei by intercepting and hanging out with Asami and Aiko, while spreading rumors about Mei and Kai that trouble Yamato. When he gets wind of the rumor that Kai is taking Mei to Land, he confronts them both. Kai stands his ground, telling him he’s not being attentive enough to Mei, and hasn’t changed from the calculating kid who never publicly acknowledged him. When Yamato throws a punch in rage, Kei blocks it and counters with his own, knocking him down, but Yamato won’t let him have Mei. Yamato backs down, apologizing and admitting Yamato’s inaction led to him getting stronger on his own. He leaves Yamato and Mei, who exchange apologies and decide to go to Land together.

Operation Sabotage Yamato+Mei commences, and the level of complexity and coordination in Megumi’s scheme is dizzying. If only she put this much effort into finding another guy, she’d have one, AMIRITE? But seriously, we always knew she was bad news. We just didn’t know why, beyond a shallow “I want what I want” mentality. In reality, and beneath all the good looks and social graces, she’s just as lonely, uneasy, and un-confident as Mei. One reason she may want to destroy Mei is because she sees a lot of herself in her. Get rid of that part of her for good, and maybe Yamato will notice her. But her schemes are simply the wrong way of going about it, and if Yamato ever finds out she’s behind any of it, he’ll hate her. Three people felt tinges of suspicion in her behavior, including Kai and Aiko, but only Momo (another classmate) called her out on her mood swings.

From what we’ve seen, every character in this series has wounds an a degree of inferiority, but they deal with it in different ways. Kai and Mei both know the pain of being alone and ostracized. Aiko and Megumi know the pain of hating their bodies and keeping up appearances  Yamato, meanwhile, has Megumi’s social graces, but has always strove to fit in, and has always been damned good at it; so good, it invoked resentment and envy from Kai. The whole climactic confrontation between Yamato and Kai, with Mei looking on, was fantastic. It not only ended amicably, but also completely torpedoed Megu-tan’s plan. Other than first reaching out to Mei, he’s been very passive. Kai calls their relationship “bland” and lacking in urgency. We agree with him. Their date to Land will hopefully move things along…especially if it turns out Yamato booked that hotel room! WOO yeah!


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 09

For Mei’s sake, Yamato quits modeling, and Mei notices Megumi isn’t happy about it. Yamato walks Mei to work and picks her up when her shift is over. She invites him to her house to dry his clothes. Just when Yamato is about to make a move, Mei’s mother comes home, but she’s impressed with him. The next day, Takemura Kai returns to school and says hello to Yamato. Kai is the bullied classmate Yamato couldn’t save. He’s back for revenge on the bullies, having visited Mei in the bakery a couple more times. Kai informs Yamato that he also likes Mei.

After all the awkwardness, missed opportunities, communications flubs and heartache threatened to explode in a frenzy of romantic incompetance, taking Mei and Yamato with it, but last week ended with a catharsis that was both satisfying and didn’t come off a cheap because of the hardships both parties went through to reach it. Much of this episode is a much-needed feel-good episode, where everything is peachy between Mei and Yamato. She’s still working up the courage to call him Yamato, but she’s getting there, inviting him upstairs and very nearly getting into something moste untowarde before her mom comes home, a mom who is both amazed and relieved her quiet, private daughter has such a fine young man by her side.

But clouds are rolling in from two sides: Mei’s rival Megumi doesn’t want to give up, and we wouldn’t put it past her to plan some kind of sabotage to split up the happy couple. That being said, considering Aiko’s very welcome transformation from Mei’s rival to her friend and confidant, Megu-tan isn’t totally irredeemable. A trickier situation rests in Kai, a kid Yamato was privately nice too but at school let him get bullied, is back, and he likes Mei. The easy thing to do would be to direct Kai to Megumi, so they can go have sex with a magazine camera happily ever after, but of course it’s not going to be so tidy.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 08

Mei kisses Yamato, but has nothing to follow it up with, and in a moment of shyness she pushes him away with her words, and he goes home. Rumors persist, and in a new magazine interview, Megumi all but declares her love for Yamato, though not by name. After pushing away Asami and Aiko, Megumi goes home alone. Aiko tells Yamato about the rumor, and he chases after Mei to clear things up. While at work, Mei meets Takemura Kai, who is transferring to her school. Right after accidentally breaking her bracelet, Yamato appears and apologizes.

This episode is called “New to Love”, and quite appropriately so. By the end, Mei learns that she’s not the only one new to love; Yamato is to. As such, they’re both going to make mistakes, and they’re both going to worry and not say what they should say or say what they shouldn’t say, and misinterpret each other’s words and actions, and see deeper meaning in trifling events. The difference is, Yamato is new to love despite being fawned over by the masses and having been involved previously (with Aiko). Mei is new new, as in she’s barely ever spoken to a boy before Yamato. Her newness is such that when the golden opportunity comes for her to tell Yamato what she feels about his modelling and Megumi, she just chokes.

She’s in her head too much, and that’s causing her pain, which is all she says she’s experienced since falling for Yamato, which makes part of her want to just quit by the end. But of course, pain isn’t all she’s experienced. She’s also experienced RABUJOI love and joy in her dealings with Yamato – and it’s mutual, despite her suspicions. Thankfully, the episode doesn’t end in an ultra-ambiguous mess of emotions – both Mei and Yamato finally gets to say what they should have said days ago, and with a well-timed kick in the pants by Aiko, Yamato spills the beans and assures her nothing’s going on with Megumi. But as last week’s kiss proved, one moment of clarity won’t be enough to maintain their relationship. There’s got to be an open dialogue.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Oh yeah, about Kai, the mohawk dude. He just kinda showed up. Grabbed Mei inapproprately, asked if he could have her key, and left. Is he going  to be competition for Yamato? We’ll see.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 07

Yamato and Megu-tan’s photo shoot is a big hit at school, and Megumi informs Yamato the studio wants him to come back for more modeling work. Mei doesn’t voice her real feelings, so he agrees, and starts spending more and more time with Megumi. When Mei hears the rumor that Yamato has been seen leaving Megumi’s house at night, she breaks down. Asami and Aiko give her a good cop/bad cop pep talk, both speaking from their experience with jealousy. Mei decides to take Aiko’s advice and act – walking straight up to Yamato in the hallway full of classmates and kissing him.

Last week we said Mei was in a world of trouble, and she still was for most of this episode, and as long as she keeps her feelings internal and wallows in the shadows. This week the aggressive Megumi’s edges are softened somewhat. Her actions – getting Yamato to work more at a job in which they’re always together; making too much food so he comes over to eat it – seem a bit too skewed in favor of what Megumi wants to be totally innocent, but unlike Aiko, she still hasn’t called Mei out, but that could also be a sign of hostility, as she doesn’t even deem Mei worth the trouble of a war declaration. She’s warm and friendly to her, but everything she’s doing just happens to work against Mei, and Mei is doing nothing about it except getting more and more emotionally bent-out-of-shape.

Well, this week Mei takes the first step towards changing that. She’s stopped herself from telling Yamato his text is late, she’s given him no sign that she has a problem with him hanging out with Megu-tan for large swaths of time (though you’d think he’d pick up on her body language), and she even postpones what should be a demand for an explanation vis-a-vis Yamato leaving Megumi’s house (while they’re just having dinner, it’s still…weird). Instead, she gives Yamato a big kiss in front of everyone. A reminder to him and everyone that yes, she’s still there, yes, she likes Yamato, and yes, he belongs to her.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 06

Mei is attempting to bake cookies for Yamato. A new student, Kitagawa Megumi, transfers to their class. She’s a magazine idol and immediately asks Yamato to be her boyfriend. He rejects her, but she comes back and hopes she can be friends with both him and Mei. As Megumi starts inserting herself into Yamato’s life, convincing him to model with her, Mei starts to feel worried, inferior and lonely. The feelings only get worse when she attends a photo shoot where Yamato and “Megu-tan” have to pretend to be lovers.

Another week, another fresh rival whom Mei feels she has no chance against. Mei’s never going to win any charisma contests, so Megumi has no trouble squeezing herself between her and Yamato, who shares her dazzling “aura” and instantly wins the hearts and minds of the school. Both her classmates and her photo shoot team agree that Yamato and Megumi make a perfect couple, and all Mei can do is stand there, and would smile and pretend it’s okay if someone noticed her. And no one does – not with those two lighting up the room.

This is just the latest instance of Yamato failing to comprehend the depth of his unlikely girlfriend’s sensitivity. She can’t even imagine a time when she’d feel comfortable calling him by his given name, so why would he think she’s okay watching him get close and personal with another, far more glamorous girl – and in photos that will surely be distributed around school? He says he couldn’t refuse to model, but that’s ridiculous. Of course he could. And he could certainly have told Megumi he’d think about it so he could discuss it with Mei in private. Mei is being totally outmaneuvered by Megumi. She’s in a world of trouble.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Sukitte Ii na yo – 05

Yamato is enjoying taking care of his kitten Kuro, which Mei found and insisted he take care of. He suggests Mei come over to his house with her cat Marshmallow to meet him. She comes over and meets Nagi, who doesn’t like her. Mei trips and falls into Yamato’s lap, and they maintain the resulting embrace when Nagi enters with tea and apple pie, and flips out. Yamato sends her to her room. Yamato tells Mei about Nagi’s situation, and when he briefly leaves to help Nakanishi out, Mei goes to Nagi’s room with her stuffed rabbit, Yamato #2. She tells her about her similar past, but also not to give up on making friends altogether.

The streak of Yamato leaving Mei alone with someone continues, but the streak of the ensuing confrontation being unpleasant thankfully ends, as Mei is able to come away in the win column with the initially-irritating Kurosawa Nagi. We’re still not sure why Yamato keeps getting called away in these situations, but that’s neither here nor there. Mei also learns not to panic and calm down when in a friendly embrace with her boyfriend, but unfortunately she’s one of those characters who has trouble dropping honorifics. Say it with us, Mei: Ya-Ma-To. Not hard. You won’t get divine retribution for calling a guy by his  given name.

It’s pretty easy for Mei otherwise, though, as Yamato isn’t really forcing her to have sex with him despite inviting her into his room, and Nagi, while initially dismissive, would have been hostile to Yamato’s girlfriend no matter what, because she’s going through a phase similar to a younger Mei in which she believes friends will only ever betray you, so fuck ’em. To her credit, Nagi has stayed productive in her time as a hermit, exploring her innate talent for both cooking and crafts. Mei wins her over and forms a bond through mutual experience, but Mei is now firmly on the pro-making friends team, and tells Nagi to give her and others a chance.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Marshmallow and Kuro’s parallel arc of tentative belligerents growling to best pals curled up together paralleled Mei and Nagi’s nicely.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 04

Yamato gives Mei a bracelet to match his as a public symbol of their love, and rumors spread about their going out, which reach the promiscuous Hayakawa Kakeru. He meets Yamato and Mei for lunch on Saturday, but Hayakawa suggests Mei go out with more guys, upsetting her, and she leaves. Yamato punches him. Back at school, Hayakawa whines to Aiko, but the conversation turns nasty. Mei overhears and has choice words for Hayakawa, who runs off in a snit. An off-guard Aiko calls her and Yamato a couple of idiots and also walks off. Mei meets Yamato in the courtyard, and when she asks him he admits he slept with Aiko. Mei kisses his bandaged hand.

Mei is in top form this week, amidst a barrage of caustic crap from the unpleasant  self-hating Hayakawa. She doesn’t let herself get fazed by that barrage, and wastes no time disposing of his number in her phone once she sees his true colors. He’s a tomcat and a cad, amassing a legion of FWBs but having no genuine happiness to show for it. He can’t have what she and Yamato have, can’t stand it, and so tries to destroy it. He fails spectacularly. He’s also a coward and a brute, lashing out at Aiko when she gives him her ear, and even grabbing/shoving Mei when she gives him a piece of her mind in Aiko’s defense (Mei’s brave “smacker” comment was pretty freakin’ boss.) Pushing girls around: NOT COOL. Not expecting thanks, Mei makes it clear to Aiko that if it’s a fight she wants, she won’t let her win. Aiko, who fired the first salvo last week, pretends it’s not a big deal…but we know better.

Then we have Yamato himself, the guy Aiko wants and Hayakawa wants to be. He first gets kudos for suggesting that things may get easier for Mei if she made more friends, which is easier to do when she’s with him. It’s a bit heavy-handed, sure, and maybe Yamato and Mei would be just dandy if everyone simply left them the hell alone, but this is high school and that’s not going to happen. Mei could use more allies. Yamato has some points deduced for agreeing to yet another date that’s not just the two of them, and for again leaving her alone with a wolf. Like last week, he comes out on top by promptly detecting Hayakawa’s knavery, slugging him, and making it clear Mei is his (a bit possessive, but his heart’s in the right place). One concern is the “Nagi” who calls him. By episode’s end he tells Mei the truth about him and Aiko. Here’s hoping he continues telling her the truth – it’s the best aphrodisiac.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Yamato’s a great deal taller than Mei – we were curious just how much taller. If Mei is a pretty average 153cm tall (5′), that makes Yamato 187cm (6’2″). Mei’s in for a lot of neck-craning. The image to the left is to scale (1px=1cm).

Sukitte Ii na yo – 03

Mei mentions she needs to go to the hair salon, and Yamato decides to make it into their first date, which Mei isn’t immediately comfortable with. Before going to the salon, he suggests they take their time, and bump into his friends Aiko and Masashi and go bowling with them. Aiko pulls Mei aside and tells her to stay away from Yamato if she doesn’t like him, telling her they’d “done erotic things together.” Mei runs off, and Yamato goes after her. He finds her with the stray cat, then shows her his middle school where he punched through a wall out of disgust with himself for not defending a friend, and tells her why he likes her. He asks her if he can kiss her and she lets him.

When you trust someone and get to know them, you’ll eventually learn about their wounds, too.

This is one of the lessons Mei gets out of her somewhat complicated first date with Yamato. She’s just looking to get a haircut, but he inserts himself into that innocuous errand. Yet she still worries about what to wear, and isn’t upset about him being with her. If anything, she’s worried about him being embarrassed to be around her, which is absurd on its face, as Yamato asked to spend the day with her. But with Yamato getting scouted and hit on by women left and right, Mei can’t help but continue going back to that thought prison of “Why is he with me? What does he see in me?”

Those thoughts are only reinforced and then turned to pure fear and panic when Aiko corners her, pretty much tells her she doesn’t deserve Yamato, and mentions she had intimate contact with him. Yamato loses points for letting Aiko do so; Mei is not used to social situations and especially vulnerable to head games, and in any case, suddenly turning a first date into a double date is just not something you do. Though watching Mei throw a Turkey was simultaneously awesome and not altogether unexpected, as she already exhibited hidden athleticism in the kick Yamato fell for. Yamato does get points for A): connecting the dots and realizing Aiko made Mei run away, B): knowing where Mei would run to, and C): asking nicely before kissing her.

But while there’s a symbolic image of Aiko stepping on glass vowing to destroy Mei and win Yamato back, she’s not altogether evil, just imperfect, and like everyone else, wounded. Some of those wounds are her own: losing weight and ruining her skin with cosmetics, all out of a self-imposed obligation to “work hard” for a boyfriend and appear as beautiful as possible when around him. She sees Mei as ugly, dreary, indecisive, and lazy – everything she fights not to be – and fumes over Yamato’s apparent attraction to her in spite of those traits. But we heard from Yamato’s mouth a very good explanation for liking her. Unlike Yamato and Aiko, Mei doesn’t hide. Like the stray cat, little by little Mei is getting used to the fact that Yamato is someone she can trust.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S.:  One the one hand, Masashi seems like just a placeholder for Yamato, and knows it, which is kind of awful; on the other hand, he (and she too) may well just be in it for the sex. Aiko certainly doesn’t seem that into him.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 02

Mei is still nervous around Yamato, as she ponders what his angle is. Asami is continually bullied by two “cool girls”, and Mei gets slapped standing up to them. Nakanishi, who always liked Asami, also defends her, and later tells her his feelings, and they start going out. Meanwhile Mei is curious about Yamato’s intentions with Arai, the only cute girl he hasn’t kissed. Mei goes to the Karaoke bar and sees Yamato outside. Yamato takes the opportunity to make his feelings clearer.

Kurosawa is the most popular guy in school and can have any girl he wants, even without asking in some cases. So the plain, introverted, taciturn Tachibana Mei has every right to rack her brain over the question: “Why does he seem to be pursuing her?” While she doesn’t quite get the thorough explanation Asami gets in Nakanishi’s confession (that was a quick, tidy pairing!), Yamato prefers to show rather than tell, specifically what kisses mean what. There’s a nice little moment when the initial tension between them is released, and Mei’s observation that the kisses tasted like fried chicken was both funny and poignant. Taste is a big part of a kiss.

Yamato can be an aggressive guy, as we see here, and he’s clearly more comfortable kissing someone than Mei. But the previously passive Mei is becoming more assertive by the day. Calling Yamato last week was an act of desperation (she needed rescue from a stalker), but this week she stands up for her friend (getting a slap for her trouble) and also decides to run out to the karaoke night she passed on to find out for sure what was up with him. She didn’t go there just to flee at the sight of him. If Yamato had left with the frisky Arai, well, that would’ve been that, but it turns out he wasn’t interested in Arai. But if Yamato is more than just a man-whore, he’s going to have to prove it to Mei, and not just with kisses.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. The OP’s a little dull, but nice. Simple, light and breezy.

Sukitte Ii na yo. – 01

“Everything starts when you start it.”

Tachibana Mei’s mom says this when she tells her about the wind chime she put up, making it sound like summer when it isn’t. We hear the chime again when Mei decides to execute a sweet spinning kick to the boy on the stairs behind her who pulled on her conservative knee-length skirt. Only she kicks the wrong boy.

This boy just happens to be Kurosawa Yamato. Girls want him, guys want to be him. But all the swooning girls look alike to him – except Mei, whom he thinks is “interesting”, perhaps because she’s so utterly uninterested in him. Wanting what you can’t have, or what doesn’t want you. Guilty over the kick, she apologizes to him, an act of kindness that opens a door. He gives her his number. She gives him band-aids.

Early in life, Mei decided to give up on having friends, because they would only ever betray and hurt her. This is laid on a little thick overall, but it’s not unreasonable to assume a regularly-teased girl who won’t conform to her peers would avoid relationships. So she’s naturally dubious of Yamato’s winning smile – she’s seen smiles before.

But when she finds herself in a (rather convenient) pickle by a stalker, and has no one to turn to, she calls Yamato, who rushes to her rescue, executed with a confession of love and a kiss. It may not be enough to change her mind about having friends, but it certainly starts something…which is when everything starts.


Rating: 9 (Superior)