Sukitte Ii na yo 06 – Judging a book by its cover
November 15, 2012 4 Comments
As anyone who has watched romance anime and in particular shoujo anime before, the most recent developments wont be much of a shock. The appearance of a beautiful rival to Yamato’s affections, while slightly cliché works rather well with the story that Sukitte Ii ya no tells. At the core of Sukitte Ii ya no is a story about the frailty of human emotions and how superficial relationships can be if they are based purely on physical appearances. Mei is certainly not the most beautiful character in the series, and the numerous other girls who flock to Yamato outdo her in this respect, but she has demonstrated the dangerous nature of simply believing what you see. Mei has been capable of seeing through the superficial nature of many people, and although she has yet to fully trust anyone you get the impression that she truly wants friends and people whom she can trust and enjoy her life with.
Her rejection of human interaction and almost invisible nature has had a tremendous impact upon how she approaches others and deals with normal interaction on a daily basis. What is particularly interesting about Mei’s reaction to this whole situation is her lack of drama or angst. Instead of being melodramatic and making a massive deal about lacking friends, Mei simply moves on with her life, attending school and working at a bakery. She has become a self-sufficient high school student, someone who has to deal with having a mother who works late and the responsibilities of helping out at home. Her problems with social interaction have forced her to become this strong willed, but also stubborn individual. Although, she is also the kind of character who was never looking for her prince on a white horse, and instead of relying upon others wants to do everything herself and shoulder any and all responsibility. She continues to push forward by herself, trying to change and become someone who can trust others and who doesn’t close herself off.
Part of this change has clearly been because of her relationship with Yamato, and all that it implies. Mei may not be a character who is looking for a prince to whisk her off of her feat, but the presence of Yamato, and the social group that he brings along has had a tremendous effect on how Mei views the world. She was never entirely alienated from society and culture, shown by her interest in fashion and inability to choose what to wear when meeting Yamato in previous episodes. But, it is her unwillingness and perhaps, current inability to truly interact with others that further demonstrates the slow pace with which Mei is adapting to her new surroundings and situation. Mei has also demonstrated the ability to see past the superficial exteriors that many put up and look at who they truly are. The pain and resentment that Asami had to deal with because of her large breasts helped to demonstrate to Mei that she was not alone in her problems and that even those who are apparently popular have their own issues. Furthermore, the appearance of aiko and their subsequent war of words underline the notion that everyone has their own issues to deal with.
Mei rejected social interaction, and even though she is now going out with Yamato, traces of that attitude remain, but characters like Asami and Aiko approached a similar situation from a different angle. She may have helped Asami and Kenji realise what is important in their lives, along with showing Aiko that looks aren’t the most important element of a relationship, but Mei remains emotionally and psychologically fragile. The appearance of Megumi, a popular amateur model and someone who is very aggressive when it comes to getting what she wants only helps to show us how far Mei has come and how fragile she remains. Mei lacks experience, her group of friends are only recent, and along with Yamato it has only been relatively recently that Mei has begun to accept and trust others. On the other hand, because of the trauma caused by past events and the way she reacted to them, Mei is far too stubborn for her own good. The attitude of doing everything for yourself and shouldering the burden, while commendable, can also be incredibly damaging.
Megumi on the other hand is a supremely confident and beautiful character, one who knows her worth (or at least, her worth as a model), and is willing to do anything to get her own way. The way she approaches Yamato, is quite straightforward, although it seems less of a confession of love and more of contract that she proposes. Her idea that they will look good together, and therefore should be together demonstrates a superficial approach towards who she is and how she views Yamato. Unlike in previous episodes where characters such as Asami and Aiko have struggled with their appearances and dealt with the pain and anxiety that they bring, Megumi directly uses her appearance as a weapon. She doesn’t have the same issues as Asami does with her figure, and appears willing to use other handsome or beautiful people to enhance her appeal. Furthermore, she demonstrates her superficial approach to relationships and how little she really understands them when she suggests that Yamato having a girlfriend wont be a big problem.
Megumi is portrayed as a rather devious character, someone who will get close to Yamato’s friends in order to influence him in some way, and who does everything in her power to get him to notice her. We can see this when Yamato announces that he will be part of a fashion shoot after being told by Megumi that her agency lacks male models. She isn’t a particularly nasty character, but her uncaring attitude and ignorance when it comes to emotions and feelings marks her out as a naïve and damaging individual. Throughout this whole affair Yamato also demonstrates a certain amount of naivety and how little he really understands Mei. He is a kind individual, and although part of this persona is due to his chameleon like nature and ability to blend in, he also doesn’t notice the warning signs that Mei might be finding the whole situation too much. Her sudden relationship with Yamato brings up some interesting questions about what it means to be desirable and whether or not it is necessary to put in so much effort into an external appearance.
However, their relationship also weighs heavily on Mei’s own mind, with numerous questions circulating her head about whether they truly ‘belong’ together or not. The appearance of Megumi and her aggressive approach towards Yamato creates a rather fascinating atmosphere. However, because they look so good together, and because the school is now full of rumours and other chatter surrounding Yamato and Megumi, Mei is now dealing with unfamiliar and frightening feelings. Because she has never really interacted with others and closed herself off Mei has never had to deal with these situations, add to that the appearance and popularity of Yamato and we have a rather severe inferiority complex. By being with Yamato and walking next to him while shopping she has become conscious of the difference in looks and presence between them, which is further reinforced by Megumi. Mei agrees to Yamato modelling partly because she perhaps thinks that this is for the best, and that by being with her Yamato will only be held back.
She is also happy for Yamato and his chance to shine and do something amazing. Her actions are done out of love, but it is her stubborn nature that is partly to blame for the emotional turmoil that she now has to deal with. By keeping her baking attempts a secret from Yamato, and keeping all of her own emotions and feelings locked away, Yamato wont know if anything is wrong. Also, her entire thought process has allowed Megumi to influence Yamato and partly force him through what can almost be considered emotional blackmail to work on the photo shoot. The feelings that Mei has to deal with while watching her boyfriend act (a key word here) intimate with another; incredibly attractive girl only further burdens her. The problem is that she has only recently begun to trust others and open up emotionally and psychologically to the idea that not everyone is going to betray her at the slightest opportunity. By bottling everything up and hiding what she truly feels, Mei risks returning to her original state, only this time she will close herself off and be emotionally damaged.