Sukitte Ii na yo 09 – Missing the Point
December 7, 2012 Leave a comment
While previous episodes have focussed on the problems that Mei and Yamato face with the appearance of Megumi and Yamato’s increasing popularity as a model, this week takes a slightly different approach. Up to this point Mei has been dealing with a substantial inferiority complex along with the emotional and psychological baggage of her past. The appearance of Megumi prompts Mei to question her position with Yamato, almost convincing herself that she never had any business falling in love with Yamato in the first place. For his part, Yamato is portrayed to be as naïve and new to love as Mei; his willingness to help others, along with his general attitude further exacerbates an already tense situation. As Mei and Yamato grow further apart, kicking themselves about what they did or didn’t do, what they said or wanted to say, we began to see how alike these two characters are. Mei and Yamato initially appear as polar opposites with Yamato’s popularity portrayed in stark contrast to the almost invisible nature of Mei. Partly because of this Mei continued to back herself into a corner, blaming herself for allowing Yamato to model and get close to Megumi.
As we watch Mei berate herself about her own feelings of pain, love and betrayal we see a character that is still caught up in her past. By fixating on the knowledge that Yamato went to Megumi’s house and had dinner with her Mei creates a simple image that she can focus on and use to symbolise how wrong her current relationship with and feelings for Yamato have become. The symbolism of Mei’s broken bracelet as a way of showing how fractured and destructive her relationship with Yamato has become is fascinating, while also false. Rather than symbolising their relationship it is actually a representation of how Mei views the relationship, wishing that she and Yamato had never met. Through all their trials and tribulations Mei and Yamato realise what it means to be in love, with Yamato able to understand (with a little help from Aiko) how damaging his attitude towards Mei and their relationship has been. In particular, Mei now understands that’s Yamato, despite his appearance and willingness to get along with is others is as much a beginning to love as she is. This first half of the series has allowed Mei to open up to those around her, while Yamato finally realises the consequences of his own actions and understands that there are times when you simply have to turn people down.
These revelations are immensely important and have allowed Mei to leave her past behind and accept that while she may still be shy, she can at least trust Aiko, Asami, Kenji and Yamato. As we watch Yamato turning down Megumi while explaining that by modelling he had endangered his relationship with Mei we see a character that has grown. He acknowledges that he enjoyed modelling, however, because of his modelling career and the increased popularity that came with it, his relationship with Mei was affected. Furthermore, in last week’s episode Aiko helped Yamato to understand that despite his best intentions his increasingly close relationship with Megumi had deeply affected Mei as well. His lines might be cheesy and as stereotypical as you can get, but they still hold significant weight and help to demonstrate how much Yamato has changed. Megumi on the other hand cant seem to understand what Yamato is saying, or even grasp the significance of him suggesting that his relationship with Mei is more important than any amount of popularity. In many respects she is a relatively immature and superficial character that seems to focus on looks and popularity rather than anything deeper. Megumi is supremely confident in her appearance and ability to attract others, and is therefore willing to do anything to get her own way. The way she approached Yamato was straightforward and to the point, but it was less of a confession of love and more a contract.
By suggesting that they will look good together and are in some way made for each other, while also brushing over the idea that he might have a girlfriend demonstrates a superficiality to her character and how she perceives the wider world. She uses her appearance as a weapon and throughout the course of the latest episodes we see a character that puts pressure on others in order to get her way. Megumi also demonstrates how little she understands about relationships, equating them to a contract and suggesting that the only importance is how people look when together. By getting close to Yamato’s friends and using them as a means with which to pressure Yamato into modelling we see a character that willingly does everything in her power to get what she wants, regardless of any damage her actions may cause. The look of disbelief on her face and her apparent inability to grasp the reasons behind Yamato’s decision to quite modelling further reveal how little she understands the importance of relationships. Megumi is furious and frustrated that Yamato cares more about Mei than he does about modelling and by extension herself, although there is also a hint of loneliness on her face at the same time. Megumi isn’t a nasty character, and despite her superficial and uncaring attitude, along with her ignorance there is a clear sense of loneliness surrounding her.
During a following scene Megumi approaches Aiko, Asami and Mei talking about taking part in a fashion shoot with Ami-chan, whom we can assume is a well-known model. She completely avoids Mei, acting as if she isn’t there and attempts to use this simple fact to get Aiko and Asami to go with her to the shoot. But, when Aiko reminds Asami that she has a date with Kenji we see Megumi quickly change targets and use exactly the same line on another unidentified group of students. Aiko remarks that Megumi is always dangling some kind of bait in front of people suggesting that she is actually rather lonely and alienated due to her current popularity and status as a model. Furthermore, by using ‘bait’ it could be suggested that Megumi may also be socially awkward and find it difficult to interact with others without using these little pieces of information to start up a conversation. As the episode progressed we see multiple shots of Megumi as part of a group of students, but still alienated and on her own.
When Megumi was first introduced she was shown to be supremely confident in her looks and abilities, while also showing a superficial side when first approaching Yamato. Her confidence must have taken quite a knock when Yamato turned her down and stopped modelling for Mei, with Megumi constantly wondering what Mei has that she doesn’t. Yes, she is certainly beautiful and can happily talk to anyone much like Yamato, while Mei is a quiet and finds it difficult to approach others. Mei is, however, a strong character that has stood up to others and helped them realise where they had gone wrong. She is self-sufficient, and while Mei might be stubborn, isn’t looking for a Prince on a White Horse to whisk her off of her feet. Instead she focuses on what is important, and has been willing to put herself in harms way to help those who are important to her. Megumi on the other hand does appear to be looking for a ‘Prince’, and suggests that Yamato isn’t acting like a prince at all when he tells her about his intentions to quite modelling.
On the other hand, the reappearance of Kai adds another potential rival into the mix, with Kai being upfront about his love for Mei. Kai is a particularly interesting character, and one who misses the point in a similar way to Megumi. He is stuck in the past and has been focussing solely on getting his revenge for all the bullying that he once endured. His fixation on the past, and inability to see beyond that further demonstrates how immature he is and how little he has changed for the wrong reasons. Mei argues that despite being bullied she was able to reconcile with them and move on with her life. Because of her friends she was able to move on with her life and leave her past behind, while also acknowledging how much of an impact it has had on her. On the other hand, Kai seems incapable of doing that and seems to have spent the last couple of years bulking up simply for revenge. But, as Mei points out, would getting revenge change anything or make what happened in the past better? The obvious answer would be no, it would only create a vicious circle of anger and hatred, something that Kai clearly fails to understand. We see how little he has really changed when he approaches one of the kids who bullied him only to be ignored, thus demonstrating how people have moved on with their lives while he is stuck in the past.
On another front, as Mei and Yamato’s relationship deepens we see Mei’s mother unintentionally get in the way of Yamato making a move. She may have denied them a chance at some rather intimate time together, but seeing her mother’s response to Yamato and the knowledge that Mei finally has friends and a boyfriend was beautiful. This one scene neatly encapsulates the importance of Mei having a boyfriend and a group of kind and understanding friends. It also helps to demonstrate how much Mei’s mother has worried about her daughter despite the cheery exterior that she always seems to have. Much of the emotion in Sukitte Ii ya no is shown through simple expressions and noises rather than speeches, it is subtle and well produced demonstrating that often the simplest things are the best. We see how important Mei’s current situation is to her mother through the change in her expression, along with how she stutters and stammers. This scene alone helps to show how much Mei has changed since the beginning of the series, and how significant that change has become. With the appearance of Kai as a rival for her affection, along with the continued presence of Megumi there is sure to be more drama to come, but at least it is obvious about it and never goes overboard.