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Say I Love You, Vol. 2

Welcome to the latest review at Sequential Ink! This week I’ll be taking a look at Say I Love You, Vol. 2, but first, please enjoy some news-y tidbits!




With the news roundup out of the way, it’s onto this weeks featured review of Say I Love You, Vol. 2!

Say I Love You, Vol. 2Say I Love You, Vol. 2
by Kanae Hazuki
Kodansha Comics, 160 pp
Rating: Older Teen (16+)

With volume 2 of Say I Love You, Kanae Hazuki continues to use Yamatao and Mei’s growing relationship and their circle of friends to explore the rocky shores of teenage relationships. With the introduction of several new characters, she takes the opportunity to look at body issues, teen sex, and more in this fascinating shojo series.

Much of the volume is given over to teens and how they handle or view sex. It opens with Mei’s first overnight trip with Yamato and their friends, and the situation quickly becomes one where Mei finds herself struggling to deal with Yamato’s sexual history. Her insecurity comes off as genuine and unforced, resulting in a moment that feels all too real and is bound to resonate with many a reader. It also highlights one of the things that Kanae Hazuki excels at with Say I Love You, which is her ability to infuse these scenes and moments with a tenderness and openness that never feels exploitive or puerile. She mentions, in her afterword, that she’s infused a lot of her life experiences into the story, and despite cultural differences it’s easy to see, imagine and relate to such moments. Oddly enough, this volume also shines a light on what could be a potential shortcoming in Kanae Hazuki’s writing.

A large chunk of the book is spent introducing us to Hayakawa and developing him and his story. He’s a bit of a playboy with a reputation among the women, but is in fact using his desire for no strings attached relationships as a replacement for a meaningful relationship due to poor upbringing. He comes off as fairly creepy and slimy, but as his story progresses we learn that underneath that he’s actually an ok person. The thing is, this isn’t dissimilar to Nakanishi, who’s a fairly decent guy once he’s able to move beyond his slightly creepy and off-putting sex obsessed boneheadedness. Not only that, as we learn later on this isn’t dissimilar to the personality and history of Mei’s romantic rival, Aiko. She initially comes off as a fairly bitchy and cruel character, but the brief glimpse we’re given of her backstory here suggests that she’s secretly a decent person, but that it’s buried behind social expectations and insecurities. There’s nothing wrong with fleshed out characters who are well developed, but we’re only two volumes in and it feels like the formula is already glaringly obvious. Hopefully this will change as the series goes on.

The artwork continues be a bit lacking. While Hazuki imbues her characters eyes with a wonderful expressiveness, her characters’ bodies look so thin that it’s a wonder they don’t break under a strong breeze. While Hazuki does an amazing job at imbuing her characters’ faces and eyes with emotions, and she knows just when to let certain story beats hang in the air, and when to rely on toning and borderless panels to reinforce emotional moments, her figures stand out as the weakest part of her artwork. They’re long, lanky, incredibly thin and one can’t help but wonder how they’re able to walk without snapping their barely their ankles, or how they aren’t blown away with a wind gust, or where they keep their internal organs for that matter.

There’s a lot to like about Say I Love You, Vol. 2 and the series in general so far. The honesty and maturity shown in the handling of incredibly sensitive and touchy subjects is second to none, and I can’t imagine these issues being raised and handled better in any other shojo manga. The characters feel real, their emotions and reactions generally ring true to life as well. It’s shortcomings are in the art, and what appears to be a slowly emerging formula of “damaged person makes a connection and becomes a decent person” for every character we’re introduced to. But placing that and the artwork aside, Say I Love You has been a refreshing and surprisingly powerful read.

Say I Love You, Vol. 2 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

  1. Chris
    July 3, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I was wondering what the hell happened to your Manga in Minutes column. So you’re done at CBR? Any particular reason why?

  2. July 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    @Chris – Yeah, unfortunately I won’t be contributing to CBR anymore. I’d rather not get into why though. I’ll still be writing reviews here though, and might even branch out into comics and novels once again! Thank you for asking and tracking me down as well!

  1. July 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

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