Sukitte Ii na yo episodes 1-5: You don’t have to say you love me…

What a silly question.

’Tis the season to be sparkly! Or, in other words, it seems that Christmas came early this year for shoujo fans, with not one, not two, but three shoujo anime airing this season, in the forms of Kamisama Hajimemashita, Tonari no Kabutsu-kun and Sukitte Ii na yo. However, quantity clearly doesn’t always mean quality. Or, to put it bluntly: I found the first of the three girl-centric Rom-Coms utterly lame in the ‘Com’ department (I didn’t stick around long enough for the ‘Rom’ part); I thought that the second was the anime equivalent of a headless chicken in terms of direction and characterisation; and I thought that the third was… well… okay. I mean, don’t get my less than kyaarific response lull you into a sense of indifference, I think that Sukitte Ii na yo is a solid shoujo anime and, so far, a pretty good watch. In a predictable sort of way. A bit like Kimi ni Todoke, but with more bed-hopping. In short, if you like downtrodden, but brutally (read: masochistically) honest damsels in frequent distress who are saved by the most popular bishies in school, who in turn, help said damsels to see the benefits of having friends and smiling more, then I think you’ll enjoy this…

Firstly, the opening episode did well to establish our heroine, Mei Tachibana, as the icily taciturn main girl with no mates who, nevertheless, ensnares the ever-smiley and awesomely hairstyled Yamato Kurosawa into wanting to be her friend. Cue the inevitable incredulity and bitching from Yamato’s male and female friends respectively. Sound familiar? That’s ’cos it is. However, what almost sets Mei apart from other shoujo leads is her impressibly unimpressed attitude to Yamato’s luscious locks and her most definitely impressive kick. Yamato is suitably kyaarific as the bishie with the bad side, which is conveniently a thing of the past, with his apparent ‘scars’ having no effect on his otherwise flawless current looks and personality. Add a random stalker who is almost immediately shooed away by an impromptu kiss that Yamato plants on the reluctant but subsequently smitten Mei, and the rest is shoujotastic history.

Such a smoothie.

Thus, while Mei and Yamato aren’t exactly the most unique couple in anime, what gives this show a little more depth is the sex. Yes, you heard me. Sex, as is demonstrated by the other characters’ references to it, is an ever-present, un-sugar-coated undercurrent in the proceedings. From the big-breasted Asami whom other(girl)s loudly assume to be a slut, to always thinking with what’s in his trousers other than his brain Nakanishi, to Aiko the embittered queen bitch who tries to buy affection and self worth through sex and crash dieting… The show has a more adult flavour than you might first think. However, despite the fact that these kids seem more sex obsessed/ sexually active than should probably be allowed, the treatment of sex and its associated issues is tastefully done (well, so far) and has a refreshing honesty about it.

‘Cos you got issues. ‘Nuff said.  

As is indicated in the previous paragraph, episodes 2-4 do better to develop the other main characters, with Asami and Nakanishi emerging on top in terms of the DAWW-factor, and Aiko in terms of the she’s-a-bith-but-she-makes-things-more-interesting-factor, and also the bishielicious Hayako to an extent as creepy counterpart to Yamato’s more genuine bishieliciousness. Thus, with the introduction of Nagi, Yamato’s bratty little sister (and cue Mei’s latent Mary Poppins side to work its magic) in episode 5, we seem to have most of our main players assembled, and presumably ready to provide more DORAMA in the latter part of this series. Clearly, the Mei-Yamato romance and Mei’s development from nobody to somebody are the collective focus of the show, but, overall it’s an enjoyable watch for those who like their shoujo with a bit of bite, with a variety of other undercurrents such as sex, bullying, self-esteem and friendship issues providing plenty of conflict to keeps things less saccharine than your average generic shoujo.

So, in short: it’s shoujo, but not as we know it. And it has sex. And great hair. And cats. Bored shoujo fans, what more could you want?!

Yes. That’s exactly what it looks like.

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19 Comments

  1. Posted November 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Not to be a party-pooper or anything, but y’know when Kurosawa forcibly grabs and kisses Tachibana into submission in the middle of a dark alley? Now imagine if he had the appearance of the fat bloke from Btooom!. Yeah.

    Also, imagine a surprise ending in which we find out that Kurosawa is actually doing exactly the same thing to all the girls in the school! He’s already kissed all of them and probably already cornered them in dark alleys too. All that’s left is the sex…

    • Vincent
      Posted November 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m not going to defend Yamato there for what he did in the alley, but Mei was absolutely distraught that she might not have been special to him, so he needed to do something to convince her. In no way am I suggesting that what he did was the best way to do it, but Mei wanted to be more than just another girl to him. It wasn’t like the scenario with the fat bloke who wanted to rape Himiko because he felt like it.

      • Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        I have no idea who this fat bloke that everyone’s talking about is, but yes; they are going out after all so, arguably, he has every right to give her a passionate kiss, though I agree that it was not necessarily the best way of going about things. Fortunately for both of them, Mei clearly didn’t seem to mind in the end…

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Hmm, controversial possible threateningly sexual advances aside… I guess one could argue that if she didn’t like it that much, then she could have always kicked him aside, as opposed to kissing him back and then going on about how much her heart aches for him and that she might be falling in love with him? Oh, shoujo…

  2. Joojoobees
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    In the first episode, I felt the artwork in Sukitte was the worst of the three shoujo series, but by episode 5, the producers seem to have found a way to do some nice things with the style. I actually prefer Kamisama Hajimemashita (both for art style, and because I prefer comedy to these serious stories), but the show has been pretty good so far.

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I admit, I couldn’t finish the first ep of Kamisama for reasons previously mentioned, but I’m glad to hear it gets better and that you’re enjoying it, Joojoo. Tonari I thought had the most appealing animation, but I couldn’t get into it enough to carry onto ep 2. Sukitte has at least been consistent. Not the most original and it certainly has its faults, but, as you suggest, it’s certainly enjoyable.

  3. Dein
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    This show is quite fun. Mei is just adorable, and the other characters serve their purpose pretty well so far, with their backstories that in one way or another conveniently relate to Mei’s personal trust issues. Except for the guy that chews with his mouth open. If that doesn’t give away his douchebag scale, I don’t know what will. I particularly liked how Mei didn’t feel intimidated or embarassed by his stupid attempts to start an affair going, but instead just very firmly put him in his face. I think anime generally confuses shyness with a lack of backbone or spirit, when that’s often not the case.

    All in all, the show is fairly enjoyable and I would say it’s my favourite this season, out of the somewhat small lineup of other stuff I’m watching.

    • Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      While I find certain aspects of Mei’s personality irksome (e.g.: her denial that it’s ‘a date’ in ep 2+, that was just lame) and far too much like the bland shoujo heroines of the lesser variety, I like what you say about her shyness versus her backbone/ spirit. Which is probably why she also reminds me of Sawaka standing up to Kurumi etc. in Kimi ni Todoke.

      I haven’t been drawn to check out anything else this season, but I’m glad you’re enjoying this too.

  4. hipster
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Hana … K… bishies… worth watching…

    • Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      hipster… lol – well, that’s as good a reason as any to try it, I guess!

  5. ectholion
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Those look like high school uniforms, I think im gonna sit this season out…

    • Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Er, I’m guess that means you’re sitting out on quite a lot of anime atm, if High School uniforms are currently a turn-off for you :p (And that reminds me, I need to do a Natsuyuki Rendezvous final review…)

      • ectholion
        Posted November 11, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        Yea im kinda sitting out the whole season unless i hear uber good things about a series… Oh Hana im looking at you on this one :P . And I shall look forward to your review of Natsuyuki Rendezous twas a good series that i would have finished had i not been soo busy for the past 2 months.

  6. MAR-KLAC-VELOUS
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    well give watching really bit feel like degrassi on it as well give since this is slice of life anime as well.

    • Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Er, hope you enjoy it if you do give it a try!

  7. Crusader
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    The ubiquitous sex is rather disturbing given their supposed ages. I don’t remember high school being this trashy, but then again I really didn’t care about what was going on around me as I was preparing my exit strategy.

    While there is a lot of sexytime talk, I was pretty amped up when Yamato knocked the SHIT out of Hayakawa. Mei should have done some excessive celebration dance to mock Hayakawa after deleting his contact information. I think she should have just gone to the men’s room and scribbled that number on the wall prefaced by “for a good time call…”

    • Morricane
      Posted November 10, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      That would be very immature and really far from being admirable…just deleting it nonchalantly is pretty much a perfectly fine reaction. That guy’s a player, he’s rotten, he’s not worth it. Perfect. A girl who reacts like that would rank pretty high in my books :)

      • Posted November 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Agreed… though, I’ll admit, I would’ve also been just as fine with it if she’d poured her drink over him , or something… nonchalantly of course… ;)

    • Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Inorite? And d’oh, how could I forget Dat Punch – perhaps not the best way of going about things, but certainly pretty satisfying for the audience. And I agree with Morricane, Mei’s reaction was about right. Plus, she’s a our current bland shoujo heroine of the season donchya know, i.e. can’t be too controversial now, eh…

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