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)

 

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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.