Sukitte Ii na yo 08 – Romance for Beginners

The importance of being true to yourself and understanding that being in a relationship isn’t necessarily an easy thing was finally realised by our main characters in this weeks episode. Throughout the series Yamato has come across as good-natured but also incredibly dense. His kindhearted nature and willingness to get along with everyone has its good points but ultimately lead to a near breakup with Mei. There continues to be a fine line between kindness and simple ignorance with Yamato frequently crossing it with regards to his relationship with Megumi. It is this relationship in particular that has caused the most drama and problems for everyone, with Yamato demonstrating how little he really understands about human emotions or relationships in recent episodes. However, to label him as the only one at fault would be wrong because the current problems that both Yamato and Mei are going through are a product of both their and Megumi’s attitudes and ways of approaching life and their own relationships.

By happily accepting Megumi’s offer to work as a model Yamato demonstrated his willingness to get along with everyone he meets, although it was partly because Mei said that it was ok. His almost immediate relationship with Megumi quickly becomes the talk of the school as it would do due to their good looks and Megumi’s popularity. For many others this might seem a little strange and perhaps other characters may have realised that by getting close to Megumi rumors about their relationship would start. The problem is that despite his willingness to get along with anyone he meets Yamato is socially dense. He arguably has the social understanding of a frog and an almost complete inability to see that Mei is clearly unhappy with his current decisions. Furthermore, by happily going to Megumi’s house and eating dinner with her Yamato fails to realize the implications of his actions. It is obvious to us as viewers that he is doing this out of good faith and just wishes to get along with a work colleague.

However, when we look at this in relation to the rumors that are already circling about their relationship then it is obvious that such a move would have disastrous consequences. Yamato is essentially too kind for his own good and along with being socially naïve helps to create a situation where Mei is drifting further and further away from him. His willingness to help Megumi is genuine and relies in part on Mei giving her consent, but you still get the impression that Yamato takes such help lightly and doesn’t necessarily think of the consequences of his actions. As we already know from previous episodes Yamato claims to be a ‘social chameleon’, attempting to blend in with his surroundings so that he doesn’t get bullied. This attitude towards his relationships and broader social life may have helped him at his old school, but also leaves him woefully underprepared for a proper relationship with someone like Mei. In essence his entire way of dealing with social interaction has worked against him and made things far worse than they should be.

This is not to say that Mei is guiltless in this scenario as she has played as much of a part in their current predicament as Yamato. Mei willingly gave her consent to Yamato’s modelling career, and it is easy to see why she would want the one she loves to be successful. However, as we watch her reactions it is clear that she was never entirely pleased with the situation, but, because of social pressures (Megumi) gave in and agreed. But, she keeps her fears and feelings to herself, and regardless of whatever rumours she hears continues to try and believe in Yamato while struggling on with a relationship that she feels is slipping from her grasp. Mei is far too stubborn for her own good, although this is partly due to her long held attitude that everyone would eventually betray her. Having a single parent and no friends has clear led Mei to become self-sufficient, perhaps to her detriment. Her inability and in many cases, stubborn unwillingness to listen to others advice only makes her situation worse.

Through all of this Asami and Aiko are attempting to help Mei, but are unable to due to her stubborn attitude and the problems that Yamato and Mei are facing. The pain that Asami in particular feels after seeing the almost dead look in Mei’s eyes is tangible, portraying the real sense of disconnect between these characters. Of course part is this is Mei’s own doing, and her rejection of the emotional support that these characters off may seem silly, however, in the context of Mei and her background it makes absolute sense. Aiko in particular realises that there is only so much she and Asami can do, and that by trying to force the issue they may end up causing far more harm than good. She understands that they need to be there when Mei finally needs help, so that they can support her, although Aiko also knows that it isn’t simply a case of Mei needing help, but also Yamato.

As she berates Yamato for his own stupidity it becomes increasingly clear how little he understands about relationships and Mei. Yamato, much like the audience and Aiko knows that he didn’t go to Megumi’s house with any ulterior motives and was simply there, as a gesture of good will. But, his very presence there, along with his increasingly close relationship with Megumi started rumours. Furthermore, in an interview that Megumi gave to a magazine she publicly confesses her love for Yamato, giving details that anyone in their school would be able to see a mile away. Yamato however doesn’t spot this or even understand its significance, and his constant repetition that he never intended to do anything and that he loves Mei comes across as the mantra of someone who truly doesn’t understand the consequences of his own actions. Through this one scene we see how socially awkward Yamato is, and how his public image of someone who can get along with anyone can really damage any potential relationships.

As Mei and Yamato grow further apart, kicking themselves about what they did or didn’t do, what they said, what they should have said, we begin to see how alike these two characters are. Mei continues to back herself into a corner, blaming herself for allowing Yamato to model and get close to Megumi, berating her own feelings of pain and betrayal. In particular she is fixated on the notion that Yamato was at Megumi’s house, willing herself to believe in Yamato, but with the constant feeling that somewhere along the line everything went wrong. The symbolism of her broken bracelet suggesting that to Mei everything has gone wrong, with the suggestion that she wished she had never met Yamato in the first place. It is during this scene that both Yamato and Mei finally realise what it means to be in love. Mei also understands as they both cry that despite his appearance and willingness to get along with people, Yamato is as much a beginner to love as she is. While Mei is able to open up, Yamato finally realises the consequences of his own actions and understands that there are times when you simply have to turn people down. A fascinating and incredibly well produced episode that really had me tense and frustrated since I am emotionally invested in these characters and their relationship.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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