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Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 20, 2013 by  



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“Say ‘I Love You’.” is no doubt one of the biggest surprises for 2013.  A delightful, addictive and wonderful teenage-romance anime series that I watched from beginning to end in one sitting. It’s that good!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kanae Hazuki-KODANSHA/Say “I Love You” Committee.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episode 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: December 24, 2013

Originally Created by Kanae Hazuki

Director by Takuya Sato

Series Director: Toshimasa Kuroyanagi

Series Composition by Takuya Sato

Music by Yuuji Nomi

Character Design: Junko Watanabe, Yoshiko Okuda

Art Director: Yuka Hirama

Anime Production by ZEXCS

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Ai Kayano/Caitlynn French as Mei Tachibana

Takahiro Sakurai/Leraldo Anzaldua as Yamato Kurosawa

Minako Kotobuki/Emily Neves as Megumi Kitagawa

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Greg Ayres as Kenji Nakanishi

Risa Taneda/Monica Rial as Asami Oikawa

Tomoaki Maeno/Andrew Loves as Kai Takemura

Yumi Uchiyama/Carli Mosier as Aiko Mutō

Friends suck, and trusting someone is just setting yourself up. That’s the lesson Mei Tachibana learned after her heart was ripped out and only a shell was left where a girl used to be. But unlike so many, she found an easy solution: she’ll never make another friend. Ever.

 

Okay, maybe that’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s worked for Mei – or at least, it did until handsome, charming and annoyingly popular Yamato Kurosawa came along. For some freakish reason, he seems to like Mei. He even gave her his phone number! As if she would ever call him. Except she did. But only because she needed help. Still, he came. He actually came. And now things are getting way too complicated.

 

Mei’s no princess in a tower. She’s not waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue her. So why did he have to kiss her and confuse everything? And why are those three little words so hard to say?

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In 2008, manga artist Kanae Hazuki created “Suki-tte Ii na yo” (Say “I Love You.”) which received a 13-episode anime adaptation in October 2012 and will be released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

Produced by ZEXCS, the series is directed and features series composition by Takuya Sato (“Steins;Gate”, “Strawberry Marshmallow, “Fate/stay night”), music by Yuuji Nomi (“Bokurano”, “Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise”, “Whisper of the Heart”), character designs by Junko Watanabe (“Blood+”, “Eden ofthe East: Paradise Lost”) and Yoshiko Okuda (“Gatchaman Crowds”, “Hellsing Ultimate”) and art backgrounds by Yuka Hirama (“Initial D: Third Stage”, “Street Fighter alpha”, “Boogiepop Phantom”).

“Say ‘I Love You.'” is a series that revolves around a 16-year-old teenager named Mei Tachibana.  She has been bullied since she was a child, never had any friends and often teased by the girls in high school for her look and not having had a boyfriend.    And because of a childhood incident in which a rabbit died at her school and the children all put the blame on her, she has since had a lack of trust towards people, thinking that people want to get close and then betray you.

Meanwhile, at the same high school is popular Yamato Kurosawa.  All the girls want to be with him and his friend Kenji Nakanishi wishes he can be like him, but Kenji is often says things without thinking and turns them off.  But Yamato Kurosawa is the guy that many girls dream of being with.

But one day, Kenji runs into her and when Yamato sees her for the first time, Kenji tells Yamato that Mei is the quite girl that never talks to anyone and is often looking out the window in class.

One day, while Kenji was behaving crazy, he sees a girl (which happens to be Mei Tachibana) walking up the stairs and tugs on her blouse.  When Yamato tells Kenji to stop, Mei mistakens Yamato Kurosawa as the pervert and gives him a roundhouse kick.

All the girls are dismayed of what Mei has done but instead of being upset, Yamato laughs it off.

Meanwhile, when Mei opens her locker later in the day, she sees a letter from someone upset of what she had done and tells her that she better apologize to Yamato.  Meanwhile, inside her locker are many thumbtacks as a warning.

Yamato then shows up and wants to apologize to her for Kenji’s action, but Mei does the apologizing and gives him many band aids for his cuts he received after falling after she kicked him.  But feeling uncomfortable about being around someone, she tries to walk off quickly away from him but yet Yamato keeps following her wherever she goes. Yamato tells her that he wants to be friends but Mei doesn’t want to be friends.  He wants to get her phone number but she is not interested in giving it out.  So, he ends up giving her his phone number and tells her to call him if she wants.

One day while working at her bakery job, Mei is freaked out when one of the male customers starts following her wherever she goes.  Mei runs into the convenience store scared and the guy just continues to stand there waiting for her to come out. Mei tries to call her mother for help but her mother is not home.  Not knowing what she should do, she has the paper with Yamato’s phone number and she calls him for help.

Surprised that Mei has called her, Yamato rushes to her rescue.  He tells her to hold on to his arm while they walk out.  The guy who was waiting asks if they are dating and while he looks, Yamato gives Mei a long kiss.  Making the guy leave!

Mei trembles after receiving her first kiss but is not sure how to behave or how to interpret it.  But Yamato tells her that he helped her out with her problem and now he has her phone number and wants to be friends with her.

The next day, Mei tries to understand what happened the previous night but wonders if that kiss meant anything but she can’t help but start thinking and dreaming about Yamato.

She eventually meets Asami Oikawa, a good friend of Yamato and Kenji’s and she learns from Asami that Yamato has kissed every girl in school except one girl, Miki Arai.  Hearing that, Mei is hurt that Yamato can just kiss any girl without meaning.  And thinking that why would Yamato go for a girl like her, when there are beautiful girls like Asami, who is popular in school for her big chest.

But when she and Asami head to the restroom, she hears girls talking bad about Asami and bullying her because of her breasts.  Later that day, Mei overhears two girls talking badly about Asami and tries to tell them to stop talking badly about her and in the process, Mei gets beaten up by the girls.

When Yamato sees her with a big bruise and scratches on her face, she tells him that she fell.  But he takes one of the band aids he has given her and puts it on her face. As she heads to the clinic, she sees Asami and the two start talking.  Meanwhile, the girls that were talking bad about Asami and beat up Mei, show up and Asami learns that Mei got in a fight to protect her.

Meanwhile, as Kenji who was hit in the face by a soccer ball, goes to the school clinic, he sees the ruckus and tries to defend Asami but once again, he starts talking without thinking about why he likes Asami’s big breasts and she runs out crying.

Kenji is devastated that he hurt Asami because he really likes her, but Mei gives him some advice and when Kenji decides to listen to Mei, he goes to Asami and comforts her but also confessing his true feelings for her.

Meanwhile, later that day, Mei follows Yamato to the karaoke and inside, Miki Arai starts flirting with him but he’s not interested.  When he leaves, he sees Mei hiding and Mei confronts him about about kissing girls for the fun of it and that kisses are meant for people you love and a kiss should be with only a meaning of love.

Hearing that, Yamato confronts Mei and kisses her, kisses her repeatedly showing her a kiss that he has given for fun, but a passionate kiss that he gives for love and that the kiss he is giving her is because he feels love for her.

And the girl who had been living a life without friends, becomes the big talk at school as word gets around that she and Yamato are dating.  But of course, with many other girls wanting Yamato, life for Mei Tachibana in high school is not going to be quite easy.

But having had a life of not saying anything or standing back, will she continue loving Yamato, even if that means that she has to put up with a lot of pain?

The main characters of “Say “I Love You.” are:

  • Mei Tachibana – The main protagonist who is a girl who has been bullied by classmates all her life.  She has lived a life with no friends and staying away from people, feeling that people just want to get close and betray her.  So, she never wants to have friends but when she meets Yamato Kurosawa and he kisses her, that one kiss would change her life forever.  While she has never had many friends, she is quite blunt and tells people how she feels and in someway, it’s constructive criticism that ends up helping people.
  • Yamato Kurosawa – The most popular guy in school that many girls want to be with and also has kissed many girls, he falls for Mei Tachibana.  When Yamato was young, he used to be bullied until he got older and became popular with the girls.
  • Asami Oikawa – Asami is a good friend of Yamato and Kenji.  She has a complex about her breasts, which she has been teased throughout grade school and high school.  But she idolizes Yamato after he stood up for her.  She becomes good friends with Mei after Mei defends her from bullies. She is also dating Kenji Nakanishi.
  • Kenji Nakanishi – A good friend of Yamato who gets into trouble because he is always talking before thinking, especially about girls.  But he is in love with Asami and the two become a couple thanks to advice given to him by Mei.
  • Aiko Muto – She is dating Masashi Tachikawa but for the longest time, she has been in love with Yamato.  She can be cold and has a bad-mouth.  She has used a lot of cosmetics and lossed a lot of weight in order to become attractive for Yamato and because of her extreme use of cosmetics, she has damaged her skin.  She has had sex with Yamato before and thus, she can’t understand why Yamato would go for Me.  But although she sees Mei as a rival, when she is bullied by how she used to be and looked like, of all people to defend her from a bully…it was Mei.
  • Masashi Tachikawa – Aiko’s boyfriend and a person who has loved her, no matter how she looked like back then and now.
  • Kakeru Hayakawa – A guy who has slept and been with many girls like Yamato. But when he finds out that Yamato is dating Mei Tachibana, he can’t understand why he would go for a girl like her and wants to try to get close to Mei.
  • Megumi Kitagawa – A popular model who transferred to Yamato’s school.  When she was in grade school, she was teased and bullied and called ugly.  But now that she is a model and adored, she tries to win friends by giving them things and she despises Mei and can’t understand why Yamato would go for someone as plain as Mei.
  • Kai Takemura – A childhood friend of Yamato who was bullied and because he hid and neglected his studies due to the bullies, he moved away.  But he returns back, bigger and stronger and wanting his revenge on the bullies that tormented him. He is addicted to collectables from a theme park, “Land”.  But the first person he meets and falls for is a girl that works at the bakery shop….Mei.
  • Nagi Kurosawa – Yamato’s younger sister who is great at cooking and making stuff animals.  But after being betrayed by her friends who used her just to go to her house and have her cook for them, she feels that she has been betrayed and has stopped going to school, not wanting to be around people ever again.

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VIDEO:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I absolutely loved the character designs to this anime series and it’s overall look.  The series features a good emphasis on style, hairstyles and locations.  And manages to capture teenage life with well-detailed and shaded character designs and art backgrounds that are beautiful.

A vibrant anime series which I didn’t see any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  While the series is front-channel driven series, dialogue and music is crystal clear and is appropriate for this teenage romance anime series.  While the Japanese voice acting is well-done and usually the version I prefer, in the case of “Say ‘I Love You.'”, Caitlynn French hits the ball out of the ballpark with this wonderful performance as Mei Tachibana.  The awkwardness, the sadness, the playfulness of Mei Tachibana’s character and capturing the eventual growth of her character before she meets Yamato and after, this was one of the best casting decisions I have heard in an anime series and I was very impressed with French’s performance.  Also, Leraldo Anzaldua did a fantastic job as the voice of Yamato.

But I absolutely loved the English dub for this anime series!  Great job by everyone involved.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” comes with clean opening and closing animation, Japanese promos and “Mei & Marshmallow” animations (typically shown at the end of an episode).

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I have watched and read plenty of Shojo series and I have to admit that I was captivated by Kanae Hazuki’s “Say ‘I Love You’.” anime series.

I have never watched or read the manga series before but it was unlike other anime series, which typically has become a cliche in Japanese animation, of a teenager falling for the handsome, popular guy in school.  Usually a storyline that features a love triangle or some situation that threatens the relationship, while “Say ‘I Love You’.” does follow a similar banality that we often see in shojo romance anime series, it’s different.

For one, “Say ‘I Love You’.” revolves around a teenage girl who was bullied and never had any friends.  She doesn’t know, nor does she care about the social atmosphere at school because she has shunned it, but her life of just trying to be the person that no one pays attention to, changes when she meets Yamato Kurosawa.

And because of how she is, that becomes the main drive of the series of wondering about her emotions, especially about jealousy, how to deal with rumors that she hears on campus about Yamato and how to deal with it.

Also, another major difference that “Say ‘I Love You’.” tries to showcase that even these beautiful girls at school, some have had history of unpleasant things happening to them.

I think anyone who has graduated from high school and looked back at those who were popular or unpopular and have reconnected with these individuals later on in life can understand how high school can really be a living hell for certain students.

Typically in an anime series, the well-endowed female character is often used as a sexual, fan service character which is long overused in anime but also manga.  But for the character of Asami Oikawa, life is not easy for her as other people may think.  Yes, they may get attention from the guys in school and people talk about that person behind their backs, but we see how its affected Asami Okawa and how she tries to hide it.

Aiko Muto is another example of a female who was uncomfortable with her life, lost a lot of weight and tried to experiment with so much makeup and somewhat destroying herself in order to pursue some type of perfection or trying to look beautiful.

Once again, a relevant topic as we have seen many young women (especially in Asian countries), who have had plastic surgery to change themselves to the point of no return.

Megumi Kitagawa is another example of one who has changed herself.  In this case, Megumi was called ugly and plain by people in school during grade school but now, she lives a life of trying to prove that she is beautiful and wants people to know it.  Especially wanting Yamato to be with her, now that she is beautiful.  But can’t understand why he would choose a girl who is unpopular and plain, something she has worked hard to change herself and not be.

And last, Yamato Kurosawa, the popular guy with many girls around him, also had a life that was not like that before.  He was bullied, he always hid from bullies and in the process, regrets how he treated his old friend Kakeru Hayakawa, by not sticking up for him when he was bullied, because of fear.

These are a lot of the cruel things that people endure through grade school and high school and rarely do you find a series who tries to show that bullying is not cool.  And the person in the series, of all people to defend or even speak her mind about how she feels, is no other than Mei Tachibana, the girl who has been bullied and never had any friends growing up.

It’s a very delightful, positive and enjoyable series that I literally watched from beginning to end.  I absolutely loved it!

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality looks great in HD and as for the lossless soundtrack, while both Japanese and English soundtracks are DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, while the Japanese was good, for the English dub, the voice acting by both Caitlynn French and Leraldo Anzaldua was fantastic.

Caitlynn French literally played the character of Mei Tachibana with amazing efficacy.  You feel, you hear the awkwardness through Mei’s voice, thanks to French’s performance.  It definitely made this series much more captivating that all talent for the English dub did so well and this is coming from a guy who typically prefers to watch anime with its original Japanese soundtrack.

As for the special features, its a little on the slim side with the usual clean and opening endings and you do get the Japanese promos but it would have been wonderful if an audio commentary was included.

Overall, “Say ‘I Love You’.” is no doubt one of the biggest surprises for 2013.  A delightful, addictive and wonderful teenage-romance anime series that I watched from beginning to end in one sitting. It’s that good!

“Say ‘I Love You’.” is highly recommended!






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