Say I Love You Volume 9
It’s been a while since I’ve caught up with the mismatched couple, school prince Yamato and shy Mei, at the center of Say I Love You. I liked the emotions she expressed as she began to understand the value of friendship and feeling loved, but I wondered how the series could continue for this long (14 volumes in Japan, 11 so far here) with just them at the center.
That’s a hint, since the series doesn’t stay focused on just those two. Author Kanae Hazuki has expanded her cast significantly. The two volumes previous to this one put a lot of emphasis on teen model Megumi, who has a possessive crush on Yamato, and introduced Yamato’s older brother Daichi, a hairdresser who helped Mei put together a stylish look.
In Say I Love You volume 9, most of the book focuses on those two characters. Megumi has beaten Mei in a school beauty contest, winning a date with Yamato. (It’s a stupid idea, for a school to put together an event picking the prettiest and most popular boy and girl, then sending them out on a date, but it may be more honest than a school council election.) The forced time together is supposedly what she wants, but she has finally learned to be honest with herself about her emotions and those of others, including Yamato. In short, you can’t force someone to be your boyfriend, even if you’re pretending to be on a date.
It’s a bit odd to me that everyone’s so eager to be with Yamato. Sure, we see him caring for Mei in considerate ways, but for all the emphasis on feelings in this series, he’s the one I’ve got the least sense of, internally. He is drawn attractively, though, as are the other characters, particularly when it comes to distinctive hairstyles.
Perhaps that’s why Haruki made Daichi a stylist. Much of this book focuses on his backstory, a previous romance with Suzu, a woman he pursued over a number of years at the same time he was establishing his own salon. Daichi’s assistant, Kyoko, has a crush on him, and she narrates how skilled he is, and how he selects his customers based on being able to give them a look that makes them happy.
Kyoto wishes he would cut her hair, but he refuses. That’s in contrast to his previous love; he wanted to style her, but she refused. This volume explains why, in both cases. It’s a nice three-chapter side story on the nature of appearance and caring for others and the way people try to protect themselves once they’ve been hurt when it comes to love. (The publisher provided a review copy.)