Say "I Love You" is a 2008 shojo manga by Kanae Hazuki.Quiet and unassuming, sixteen-year-old Mei Tachibana has spent her high school years without making friends or getting a boyfriend after an incident in her childhood causes her to believe that all people betray each other. When she encounters popular boy Yamato Kurosawa, he becomes interested in her and it is through their tentative friendship and blossoming relationship that Mei ultimately begins to branch out and befriend others.An anime adaptation by ZEXCS aired as part of the Fall 2012 Anime season, with an OVA coming soon. Currently streaming on Crunchyroll and the Anime Network.Now with a Character Sheet that needs editing.
This series contains the following tropes:
All Love Is Unrequited: Yamato's middle school crush on Arai, who only shows interest once he gets more good-looking, but by then, he isn't attracted to her anymore. Asami, Aiko, and Megumi have unrequited feelings for Yamato; Kai has unrequited feelings for Mei. Subverted with Nakanishi's crush on Asami, Masashi's crush on Aiko, and Chiharu's crush on Hayakawa. Their crushes were initially unrequited, but they were reciprocated in the end.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Mei seems to have received one in episode 2 after she defends Asami from two girls who insult her breasts. Judging by the injuries on her cheek, they may have scratched her face as well during the slap.
Asami delivers one to Aiko in episode 7 after the latter is being too blunt with Mei while unsure about her feelings towards Yamato.
Birds of a Feather: Kai and Mei. They have both been bullied in the past, have difficulty with being looked at, being around a lot of people, or participating in group activities (e.g. karaoke), and thus they can understand each other fairly well and talk to each other easily.
Broken Bird: While all of the girls qualify, Mei is probably the biggest one. Due to friends betraying her when she was younger, she avoided making friends in high school, and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible to avoid standing out.
Episode 11 shows much more of Megumi's background, and how she was a lot like Mei, in that kids also made fun of her until she changed her image to match her friendly, Genki Girl facade. Which quickly begins to break down when she starts turning on the people hanging out with her.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Due to Yamato's popularity with most girls, Mei unintentionally causes several girls to fall into this trope. It only infuriates them further that Mei didn't seem to do anything special, such as losing weight or putting on lots of makeup, yet attracted Yamato's attention.
Yamato's sister, Nagi, acts this way towards Mei in the first part of episode 5. She does it again, although in a cute way, in episode 13, pretending to be sick so she could stay at home to watch over him, and attempting to keep Mei away from him, at least for that day, so she could have him all to herself.
Yamato does this with Mei in episode 8 after he finds out that his modeling job and the rumor that there was something going on with him and Megumi was affecting her deeply.
Death Glare: Megumi gives one to Mei when Asami was asking her to join them with tea. Her look ultimately causes Mei to turn the invitation down.
Disappeared Dad: Mei lives only with her mother. Based on the small memorial shrine in episodes 1 and 12, it seems he passed away at some point before the series. Discussed more in the manga, where he does appear in flashback. He died of cancer when Mei was in her first year of middle school.
Mei when she kicks Yamato after Nakanishi tried to peek up her skirt on the staircase in the first episode. Subverted, some girls immediately comment on how mean that was.
Inverted with Kai chopping Megumi on her head after she gives him a gift basket from the Land amusement park. He was excited to receive it at first, but then immediately questions why she didn't think about what those girls felt when they gave her the gift, and how giving it to him would be cheapening the feelings, even if she had no use for such a thing.
Divide and Conquer: Megumi attempts to steal away Mei's friends in order to isolate her in episode 10, then spreads rumors around to make it look like she's cheating on Yamato with Kai.
Fake-Out Make-Out: Yamato does this to Mei to get rid of a regular at her bakery who has been stalking her, unwittingly taking her First Kiss.
First Name Basis/Last Name Basis: Upon meeting each other, Yamato quickly refers to Mei by her first name while Mei formally refers to Yamato by his last name. It is only a while after they start dating that she begins calling him by his first name.
Fore Shadowing: In episode 3, Yamato tells Mei about his friend in middle school who was bullied and ended up transferring. Although he's seen at the very end of episode 7, and as a weird customer in episode 8 in the bakery Mei works at, he isn't formally introduced until episode 9, as Kai Takemura. Yamato then reveals to Mei that Kai was the friend who was bullied.
Nagi does one to Mei in episode 11 at the Land fairgrounds.
Mei does it to Yamato in episode 13.
Goofy Print Underwear: In the manga, Mei. Yamato makes a note to discuss her zebra-print underwear in the school hall after Nakanishi flips Mei's skirt. She's also shown wearing a cheetah-print bra in the opening of the second chapter.
Mei's first signs of having feelings for Yamato are through her jealousy of his first crush Arai. After learning from Asami that Yamato seems to be able to kiss any girl (including Mei) instead of his crush, Mei feels insulted. Her jealousy only deepens when she learns that Yamato and Aiko had sex in middle school, but she gets over it.
Hayakawa envied Yamato because all the girls love him while he has to sleep around to get their interest.
Aiko was jealous of Mei because, in her perspective, Mei effortlessly hooked up with Yamato while Aiko pushed herself to lose weight and make herself look pretty in hopes that she would be noticed.
Yamato is jealous of Mei's friendliness with Kai and how natural it is for them to talk and understand each other. Kai's implied feelings for Mei, as well as Megumi's attempt to sabotage Mei's and Yamato's relationship by constantly telling Yamato how close Kai and Mei are, also doesn't help their situation.
Megumi cannot see why Yamato would choose such a "plain" girl like Mei for a girlfriend when he could have her and is determined to sabotage Mei's relationship with Yamato, as well as distance Mei from her friends Asami and Aiko, so she can get rid of Mei and have Yamato for herself.
Limited Animation: During the previews for the next episodes, it shows Mei and her cat talking about it in this fashion.
Loners Are Freaks: Mei is rumored to be this due to her extreme isolation and non-interaction with other students.
Love At First Kick: Yamato tells Mei he fell in love with her when she tried to do a roundhouse kick to him after Nakanishi tries to peek up her skirt.
Love at First Sight: Megumi is instantly enamored with Yamato upon seeing him for the first time in episode 6. At the end of the school day, she waits for him at the entrance, then bluntly asks him if he has a girlfriend. Then she immediately starts trying to hook up with him, but he immediately rejects her, stating that he has no interest in girls who are only interested in his looks. She then takes it down a notch and tries to get to know him first, with the intention of breaking him up with Mei so she can snag him.
Possibly with Yamato as well, as he was instantly smitten with her after their first encounter. And unlike other girls who he tended to flirt with, he seemed very interested in getting to know more about Mei.
Love Dodecahedron: Both Asami and Aiko had feelings for Yamato before ending up with their love interests Nakanishi and Masahi respectively; Megumi also has unrequited feelings for Yamato, who ends up dating Mei, who is the object of Yamato's best friend Kai's affections.
Love Hurts: Mei starts to feel this when she sees Megumi spending a lot of time with Yamato when he first starts modeling. Her friends tell her she's not alone in this, and that they've felt this way as well.
Malicious Slander: Asami suffers from this due to her breasts, causing people to think that she Really Gets Around or is involved with Compensated Dating. Yamato's younger sister Nagi ends up in this situation when classmates at school tease her about having a brother complex to the extent where she refuses to return to school.
Manipulative Bitch: Megumi does a lot of things to try and break Mei and Yamato apart. While she does cause strife, she ultimately fails.
My God, What Have I Done?: Yamato starts to realize this when Aiko calls him out on the rumor that he was seen leaving Megumi's apartment. He initially doesn't think there's anything wrong with it, since he states there's nothing going on between them, and he's simply going there for dinner. Aiko then asks him that if the situation were reversed, where Mei was going to another guy's house without his knowledge, if Yamato would be okay with that. He runs off and begins searching for Mei, canceling his photo shoot with Megumi in the process.
Necktie Leash: In Episode 7, while internally working out her growing insecurities about their relationship, Mei wordlessly walks up to Yamato in the school halls, grabs his tie, pulls him towards her, and kisses him.
New Transfer Student: Megumi transfers to the gang's high school in hopes of becoming closer to Yamato.
Nice Guy: Yamato utilizing this trope is one reason many girls fell for him, in addition to his good looks.
Not So Different: After Yamato tells Mei more about his little sister Nagi in episode 5, she begins to realize that Mei was treated by her "friends" much in the same way she was. Mei's "friends" went over to her house often, and she often provided snacks for them, but they always left her out of anything they were doing, such as playing games. Eventually she started making up excuses for them to not be able to use her house, and then started skipping school altogether because of how they used her.
Mei finds this out about Kai, since both were bullied early on.
Although they never discuss this directly, both Mei and Megumi suffered from bullying. However, whereas Mei just accepted her lot in life, Megumi tried to put up a front to appear as someone that people would like, but never really changed, so all of her friendships were superficial at best.
Official Couple: Yamato and Mei, Nakanishi and Asami, Hayakawa and Chiharu, and Aiko and Masashi.
One Degree of Separation: Yamato has known Asami and Aiko since middle school. Hayakawa and Aiko are Friends with Benefits. Mei's co-worker Chiharu is the childhood friend of Hayakawa, who is also Yamato's friend. A regular customer at the bakery is Kai, who turns out to be Yamato's middle school friend who was bullied.
Poor Communication Kills: In a world where it's basically a rule for all romance anime to have overblown and convoluted misunderstandings without people ever resolving them, this anime awesomely averts this trope.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kai gives one to Yamato in episode 10, telling him about how the latter seemed to be ignoring Mei's feelings, and how he always secretly hated him for doing that when they were younger.
Kai, once again, gives one, this time to Megumi in episode 11. When they're discussing their love interests, Megumi tries to call him out on telling Yamato he liked Mei, but Kai tells her that her Bitch in Sheep's Clothing attitude she has is going to end up backfiring on her. Which it does when Megumi starts lashing out at the people she thought were her friends.
Relationship Sabotage: Megumi tries to pull this on Mei and her relationship with Yamato by trying to get closer to Mei's friends and twisting Mei's moments with Kai to seem as though she's closer to Kai than Yamato. Eventually, Yamato, as well as Asami and Aiko, see through what Megumi is scheming.
Yamato's first love Arai, who rejected him in middle school because she wasn't his type. She only starts expressing interest in him once he becomes "taller and cooler."
Megumi, who is pretty much introduced as a self-absorbed model, obsessed with good looks, and is only after Yamato because he resembles a prince. Her whole motivation revolves around having Yamato as a boyfriend and her Establishing Character Moment is bluntly telling Yamato, who she only just met at a karaoke hangout, that she wants to date him for his looks.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Mei claims she was merely taking a walk in episode 2, despite being right outside the karaoke bar Yamato just walked out of, wearing a disguise, and hiding behind a corner.
Sustained Misunderstanding: When Yamato gets sick and misses school in episode 13, Mei tries to visit him, but Nagi tells him over the phone that he doesn't want to see her. Some other misunderstandings occur, and both characters assume that the other must be mad at them for one reason or another, and the various misunderstandings that occur only add to their fears.
Through His Stomach: Megumi employed this tactic as a means to try and gradually win Yamato over.
True Companions: Surprisingly enough, not for Mei, but Asami in episode 12 after her breakdown, when one of her friends continues to stick by her despite everything Megumi did to shun her in the previous episode.
Villainous Breakdown: Megumi suffers one in episode 11 when she starts to lash out at everyone because they either have other plans, or resent the way she treats people behind their back. She simply leaves one photo shoot, then goes to a convenience store and buys lots of junk food and locks herself in her apartment.
Aiko: Why would he choose you over someone he's slept with?
Yamato's middle school friend Kai delivers one in episode 9, to Yamato, no less:
Kai: Tachibana Mei. I think...I like her...
In episode 11, after Yamato receives a call from Megumi's talent agency:
Yamato: Kitagawa, they can't get in touch with her!
What Does He See in Her?: Megumi's main reaction after Yamato tells her he's quitting his modeling job so as not to upset Mei anymore in episode 9.
What the Hell, Hero?: Aiko, of all people, tells Yamato in episode 8 that him going to Megumi's apartment for dinner and not telling Mei about it is really hurting her a lot. Then Aiko shows him the magazine interview of Megumi, who states that she still has a crush on a guy, and despite being turned down once, hasn't given up on him yet. He begins to realize what's going on
Wrong Guy First: Gender-flipped with Yamato and Arai. Yamato used to have a crush on Arai until she overheard her talking to her friends about how he wasn't her type. It is only once he's become "taller and cooler" that she shows interest, but by then, Yamato's already interested in Mei.