4 Jan 2013

Sukitte Ii na yo Anime review

English: Say "I Love You".
Synonyms: Suki-tte Ii na yo., Sukinayo
Type: TV
Episodes: 13
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 7, 2012 to Dec 30, 2012
Producers: Starchild Records, Kodansha, Zexcs, Magic Capsule, Sentai FilmworksL, Yomiuri Advertising, GANSIS
Genres: Romance, School, Shoujo
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Oh how I wanted to say, I love you to Sukitte Ii na yo... but I just can’t because you’re a flat two dimensional romance that just didn’t live up to my expectations.  It’s hard for me to be too hard on the romance anime plot premise, I mean they have pretty much already all been done before and they are all mostly silly as well. Suki na yo is no different, with the unlikely story of the hot and most popular guy in school falling for a shy, friendless loner who kicked him down the stairs because she mistakenly thought he flipped her skirt. The beginnings of true and lasting love if I ever saw it. The girl Mei, and the boy Yamato, both have some interesting personality issues on the surface and despite the silliness of their meeting there was some enormous amount of potential in their relationship. However this is sadly mostly wasted over the course of the story.

Now here is where Suki na yo is a bit different from its other romance cousins. For the most part our lead characters are in a relationship together from the beginning to the end of the series. The typical format is 99% courting with the eventual payoff at the end when our little lovebirds finally realize their mutual affections. While it can often be frustrating when it is drug out with silly misunderstandings and character cockblocks at least by then we have a clear understanding why they both love each other. The show is called Say I love you, but it should probably more aptly called Say why I love you.

Even though I have some pretty serious complaints about the way the shows romance and plot unfolds, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy watching this series. But when you compare it with its peers within the genre and even shows that were airing during the same time as this, it comes across as distinctly average and ordinary.

Much in the same way as the story is underwhelming, so are the series main characters. A romance is by nature very character driven and if we don’t get compelling leads it’s pretty difficult to care if they end up falling in love with each other. Mei is your standard "everyman" kind of girl typical in shoujo romances. She’s cute, though not particularly beautiful, and pretty much average in every other way. She’s a nice girl with a strong spirit but very vulnerable as well. Exactly the kind of girl most people can relate too and can root for as well. It’s sweet how she slowly comes out of her shell and makes friends and learns to trust people again as well. Even though this mostly comes across pretty corny and clichéd. Though hell I like corny and clichéd anyway.

Yamato is less interesting and in many ways is also your typical bishounen leading man. Though I will give him some credit for breaking the trend and not being a cold, aloof, and unfeeling jerk. You get the feeling most of the time he has genuine feelings for Mei but at other times he’s actions around her seemed to be a bit condescending and they he was treating her more like a pet and as an equal partner. I felt some aspects of his personality were also very inconsistent, especially later in the series. For a guy who came across as supremely confident he was surprisingly weak willed at times and his distrust of Mei's feelings at times was implausible considering what the pair had been through to that point already.

The supporting cast is the weakest link though and stereotypical shoujo fair. This plays in to the weakness of the plot but basically the same themes are repeated multiple times over the course of the story. Girl appears, of course hopefully in love with Yamato, drama unfolds, girl is rejected and our leads love continues. And the rejected gets new love and becomes best friends with our dear Mei. While I mostly liked the supporting characters they simply lack the depth for them to be actually interesting. Then of course you have to look past the unlikelihood that two romantic rivals are going to be besties afterwards, particularly when one side was involved in some pretty nasty schemes and bullying.

Despite all these flaws though what Suki na yo really does best is both its artwork and musical soundtrack. Both are typical of the genre but I really did love both of the songs. The seiyuu cast is comprised of mostly veterans but none of them are real stars. I thought they did solid, if unspectacular work. While the artwork may not be a masterwork, it is very fluid and reality based, with clothes and body types that stay in the realm of possibility.

Even though in the end I have quite a few complaints about Suki na yo, it’s still a good watch. If you’re really starved, as I was, for a romance anime with a sweet ending and are not demanding to be shown some that’s never been seen before then you should have a good time with it as well.

Anime opening titiles: