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Say I Love You Vol. #01 Manga Review

5 min read

Say I Love You Volume 1
Say I Love You Volume 1
Lanky love.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kanae Hazuki
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley

What They Say
Mei Tachibana has no friends – and she doesn’t need them! Ever since her “friends” betrayed her in elementary school, she’s sworn off friendship entirely. All it leads to is betrayal and heartbreak, and she’s well enough on her own. But everything changes when she accidentally roundhouse kicks the most popular boy in school! However, Yamato Kurosawa isn’t angry in the slightest – in fact, he thinks his ordinary life could use an unusual girl like Mei! He won’t take no for an answer, and soon Mei and Yamato embark on an unwanted friendship that will change both of them forever.

Technical:
The front cover is an okay image of our main protagonists, but it also shows off the main issue with the art. Simply put, the characters look incredibly elongated, with Yamato in particular looking downright ridiculous if you take a second to observe how he’s built. The back cover on the other hand fares pretty well, offering a quick synopsis and a solid image of Mei holding a flower over her mouth. Paper quality feels good, and translation notes are included alongside a bonus interview and a word from the author. Sound effects are translated with stylized text, text reads smoothly, and honorifics are used, though only sparingly.

The art used in the book is troubling. At first glance it’s a very solid style, with a good bit of detail and decent differentiation between characters. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the characters are drawn oddly lanky, with torsos that are simply longer than they should be. In a way it can be seen as a stylized take, and certainly it looks fine for most of the book. However, there are a number of scenes where the characters just look plain unnatural, and it’s a definite distraction. Hopefully the artist tightens things up for future volumes, as the potential is there for a rather nice looking book, but for now it’s just ever so slightly off.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Mei Tachibana isn’t the most popular girl in school. Not only has she never had a boyfriend, she doesn’t even have a friend in general. In her younger days she tried to make friends, but after having the buck passed to her in too many bad situations she’s essentially sworn them off. This unfortunately tends to only make things worse for her, and one day she finds herself the target of a pervy boy named Nakanishi, who’s hanging out with his popular friend Yamato Kurosawa. When Nakanishi plays with Mei’s skirt she goes for a roundhouse kick, but hits the wrong target and lands a foot square on Yamato’s face. Everyone gets angry at her for misplacing her assault, but the victim himself becomes interested in the strange girl. He manages to get Mei into a conversation and extends the hand of friendship along with his phone number, but Mei turns him down. Later on our heroine finds herself boxed in by a stalker who’s been hanging around her work, and when she can’t get through to her mom she reluctantly calls Yamato for help. He pretends to be her boyfriend and even sneaks a kiss in, which fends off the stalker but makes thing awkward for Mei. With this run-in she finally feels she can trust Yamato at least a little, and somewhat hesitantly accepts his friendship.

With the introductions out of the way, we start to get a better look at Yamato. According to the rumors around school, he’s fooled around with pretty much every girl except Miki Arai, his first crush. Mei ends up more jealous than she’d like to admit, and ends up taking on a bit of a stalker role herself. Meanwhile, Miki confronts Yamato and ends up insulting Mei in the process. Miki tries to bait him into falling for her, but instead Yamato ends up with Mei, and the pair admit that they have feelings for one another. With that issue done with we branch a little, taking a look at the pervy Nakanishi, who actually has legitimate feelings for a girl named Asami. However, Asami is the subject of a good bit of bullying for her well developed chest, and Nakanishi always ends up putting things the wrong way. Will he be able to get his feelings across, or will he just keep coming across as yet another pervert chasing her bosom?

Finally, Mei and Yamato go out on a date. Will Mei be able to hold things together when they come across another couple from school, or will she come crashing down?

In Summary
This book starts the series off with a bit of a bland opening, but it’s nothing too bad. Mei’s pretty whiny at the beginning, but fortunately that doesn’t last and she grows into someone who’s simply a little awkward. Yamato fares a bit better, standing in the interesting position of someone who’s popular, but knows what it’s like to not stand out. The side characters also come off pretty weakly here. Nakanishi in particular is awkward to watch somehow get immediate redemption after proving himself an absolutely terrible person in the first chapter. Asami’s problem also feels more than a little overblown, though she at least seems to be a decent character. Add in the awkwardness of the art style, and you get a bit of the rough start, but fortunately the potential definitely seems to be there to pass these growing pains and make something special of the series.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
MSRP: $10.99

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