Say I Love You Volume 18
Shojo manga series have the best conclusions. They’re formulaic, of course, usually jumping us just enough forward in time to see the lead couple have their happy ending, then spending the rest of the final book checking in with the various side characters and showing us their futures and (usually) pairings. Say I Love You volume 18, the last in the series, is no exception.
As I noted the last time I reviewed this series, author Kanae Hazuki has already begun showing us these kids becoming adults, so this finish feels more like a next step than a big jump. They’re in their mid-20s now, and there are enough of them that they can explore different ways of growing up, whether it’s marriage or moving in together.
Mei has been working as a preschool teacher. She’s very good at it, patient and understanding with the kids, although that sometimes makes her co-workers angry with her. Her boyfriend Yamato has been working as a photography assistant but dreams of having his own pictures recognized and valued.
Hazuki does an excellent job portraying the uncertainty of young adulthood, where they are impatient about wanting life to be more when they still have so much time ahead of them. They all choose different ways to “make a difference in the world”.
There have been enough years gone by that one of their friends has had a child and Megumi, the model, has decided to return to Japan instead of continuing her career at its highest levels. There’s something very comforting about going back to those who’ve known you all along, without having to explain who you once were to someone who only knows the later you.
Yet it’s just a dream for most of us. It’s nice to read about being able to settle down with your first love, but it’s unlikely. That’s what makes this such a charming fantasy. The “happy ever after” here is a fun dose of escapism that reinforces good feelings for others.