Say “I Love You”
Original title: 好きっていいなよ
Genres: Romantic Drama, Slice of Life
Director: Hyuga Asako
Mei (Kawaguchi Haruna) meets Yamato (Fukushi Sota), and the story starts off in typical high school rom-com fashion. The two are from different worlds, Yamato being the popular kid at school and Mei the anti-social outcast who is the target of bullying.
One day, Yamato is walking with his homie Kenji (fellow ex-Kamen Rider Nagase Tasuku) behind Mei, and Kenji starts bullying and harassing Mei. Well, homegirl doesn’t take bullying lightly, and spins around to kick the offender. Yamato accidentally steps into the line of fire, and gets knocked down from the force of Mei’s mighty foot. He instantly falls for her because, well, sometimes the popular kid falls in line when someone puts him in his place.
Let’s start off with the first thing this film was bound to have trouble with – it’s a two-hour film based on a manga that is 13 compiled volumes long and counting. Second, it’s a girls’ comic, so there are bound to be characters up the wazoo who provide little to the story other than teenage sexual angst.
Admittedly, I have not read the original girls’ manga. The reason? I prefer material that involves in-depth stories and unique characters who don’t fall under too many cliches. But, if there is one thing I enjoy watching as much as bad horror films, it’s bad romantic ones.
Before we dive into the roasting of Say “I Love You”, let’s give credit where it’s due and applaud Hazuki Kanae, the original author, for trying to add depth to the main characters, who are otherwise pretty stereotypical.
We have Yamato, who is your usual popular kid, but his armor shows cracks when confronting anything regarding his past regrets. Then we have the anti-social Mei, who is apprehensive to Yamato’s advances, but gradually opens up and starts to let friends into her life. Well, now that we’ve said that, there is nothing really unique about Mei…
But now, let’s talk about the supporting characters, carved from the mold with cookie cutters. In this film, we have all the archetypes ones can ever find in teen rom-coms. We have the loud and stupid friend, the big-boobed nice girl, the bitch of an ex, her current generic boyfriend, the hot model, the best friend who is the source of the main hero’s regrets.
Name it, this film has it. Nothing new to look at here.
The most hilarious thing about this film is that it takes romantic feelings and unrequited love to the extreme. Just about every character who is in the lead cast is bound to fall in love with someone, and chances are that person is one of the two leads.
Oh! A new girl has appeared. I bet you she’s going to try and steal Yamato away….Yup. Called it.
Oh! One of Yamato’s friends. I bet he’s going to fall in love with Mei somehow…Yup. There it is.
A number of characters equivalent to the amount found in a typical X-Men film inhabit this story, and they each put the two leads’ private parts on a pedestal. On top of that, the film kills its two hour runtime by trying to develop and resolve a story arc for each and every one of them. That kind of formula works better for a TV drama, anime, and (obviously) manga.
The dialog is spoon-fed to us – from every emotion a character is feeling, to their reasoning – as if Mama’s is sitting down nearby. There is no need for a brain to interpret or decipher a character’s actions, because they are ready to explain themselves in the next scene. Why tire one’s brain by trying to analyze characters? Psh.
If there is anything this film probably does without fail, it is cater to the demographic of love-hungry pre-teens who are all about sugary rom-coms. This film has all the angst that will make the audience go “Why the hell did you do that?”, but not many moments that make them say “Yeah! I want to hang out with Yamato!”
So, if you’re a pre-teen, in love with One Direction (they did they theme song, “Happily”), are as gloom as Mei, and prefer candy over a full meal at dinner, then you might enjoy this film.
Watch this film…
…if you’re depressed and need to be fed the word “love” as if it was vanilla ice cream.