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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.