Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4

Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4

Welcome to another midweek manga review here at Sequential Ink! This week I’ll be taking a look at Kanae Hazuki’s fascinating Shojo series in my review of Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4. First though, some news!

And now onto this weeks review of Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4!

Say I Love You, Vol. 3Say I Love You, Vol. 3 + 4
by Kanae Hazuki
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Older Teen (16+)

Since the first volume, Kanae Hazuki has used Say I Love You to take a more realistic and grounded look into the love lives of teenagers. Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4 continue this trend, but striking a balance between more conventional shojo and her fascinating and, at times, disturbingly frank look at teen love is beginning to show it’s strain. Introverted loner, Mei, finds herself fending off new obstacles to her tender and awkward romance with the popular Yamato. This volume sees her struggling with Yamato’s burgeoning model career and struggling with her own desire to be with Yamato in a more romantic and intimate manner than she’s ever dared before.

Kanae Hazuki’s done a fantastic job at crafting characters and situations which ring surprisingly true and tackle real issues in an engaging manner that’s honest and doesn’t feel cheesy or sensational. She’s provided a glimpse into the love lives of teenage girls, depicting their struggles with self esteem, body issues, harassment and more in a way many love storys don’t. These volumes feel like they’re dialing that back, but only a little. Yamato’s long been something of a weak link in the series, coming across as far too perfect despite being given some back story meant to humanize him. He’s popular, good looking, knows how to react in nearly ever situation despite dialogue and moments meant to show otherwise, and in this volume he becomes a model. Admittedly, this is intended to set up a situation for Mei to feel insecure and to tackle her lingering self esteem issues, but the immediate success his one attempt at modeling is met with just feels like too much. In addition, there are certain twists and turns in the story that echo the cliche handling of rivals in typical shonen series. Such elements feel at odds with the more serious tone that Kanae imbues much of the series with and, while it’s not unheard of for bonds of friendship to form between people who don’t initially get along, such relationships here feel forced and don’t ring as true as other elements of the series.

Hazuki certainly knows how to render emotions, and she excels at conveying them through her visuals. While there are a few too many borderless panels, splotches of toning and sparkles then I usually prefer, it’s hard to deny that she’s quite effective at using them to reinforce and emphasize the characters’ internal emotional states. Four volumes in though, and some of her artistic weak points are becoming apparent. While the drama, expressions and more are all rendering wonderfully, the moment a character’s hands appear things start to fall apart. I don’t think I had really noticed this before, but I found myself ripped from a wonderfully tender and important moment between Mei and Yamato when Yamato brought his hands to Mei’s face. What should’ve been touching and emotional comes off as creepy due to the fact that his fingers are more than just mildly reminiscent of a Facehugger’s legs. They’re just a little too long and thin, with the joints showing prominently. It may be a small nitpick, but it’s hard to ignore when things such as fingers entwining are focused on as important steps forward in Mei and Yamato’s physical intimacy.

With Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4, Kanae Hazuki continues to weave an interesting love story, full of believable and relatable problems. Her use of the cast to explore real word issues faced by teens, ranging from self esteem issues and harassment manages to come across as genuine and honest rather than a cheesey After School Special, something that it easily happen in the hands of a less talented creator. While her artwork has some issues, they’re not enough to detract from the heart she clearly pours into her work. If you’re looking for a different kind of shojo romance, something that might skew towards a slightly more mature audience, then this is the series for you.

Say I Love You, Vols. 3 + 4 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. December 5, 2014 at 8:54 am

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