「人を信じれば……」 (Hito o Shinjireba……)
“When You Trust People…”
Now that Mei has confessed her feelings to Yamato, the two of them finally become a couple, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling insecure and probably never will. To maintain a relationship is one of the things that requires effort and leaves you vulnerable. The bond she shares with Yamato is a big deal and a new experience for someone like Mei whose life has been filled with hardships. While being alone as a social outcast can be hard and sad, in a way, having that kind of past has made Mei more straightforward and honest because she doesn’t know how to approach people or blend in. Her interactions with people are so honorable and admirable, so it’s not hard to see why Yamato appreciates the girl as much as he does.
There are people who have been questioning Yamato as a character, but for me, he is an absolutely normal shoujo male protagonist. From a shoujo-reader’s perspective, males approaching girls in a possessive manner is a quite common concept, which in real life might be considered to be creepy. Perhaps it is hard to watch Yamato act like he does without questioning why Mei isn’t resisting him, but this is shoujo’s way of making the story more dramatic. While shoujo manga tends to focus on the girls’ feelings, the males are the characters who make the drastic moves so the story can progress. The insecure girl will find faith in the male and see a new world through him. All shoujo manga isn’t like this, but most of them are. Sukitte Ii na yo. is quite fast paced and focuses on Mei’s insecurity more than anything. With a mindset such as Mei’s (to be alone so no one can hurt her), there needs to be a catalyst to change her view of people – and that is Yamato, even if he seemed quite like a creep. Hopefully he can be more appreciated this week as he revealed his past.
Like Mei, Yamato also has a past that was very lonely. He has never been socially alone, but emotionally, his life was really lonesome. Living in a very fickle lie to protect yourself from harm may seem cowardly, but unfortunately, this is too common in reality – even when your best friend is being bullied. Yamato feels guilty which is very understandable, but it’s also nice to know that his friend, despite being neglected, appreciated the moments they could talk. There is no way to understand what a victim feels, but hearing a “thank you” from his friend, probably made Yamato open up his eyes, and that’s most likely why he helped so many girls later on. Watching him talk to Mutou Aiko (Uchiyama Yumi), made me smile because what he told her was one of the kindest things he could’ve said to her. Many girls feel like Aiko, so it’s easy to relate to her. In a way, she and Mei are very similar – both are insecure, but what makes them so different is that Aiko tries her best for others while Mei isolates herself. Both are scared – Aiko fears being rejected for her looks, and Mei is afraid of being used. Sukitte Ii na yo. is very down-to-earth, and its portrayal of relatable characters amazes me. The series is also very realistic in the school aspect. Unlike most shoujo, this one portrays a more natural image of high school where people, especially girls, are very insecure and affected by media. The girls aren’t all pure and innocent – this series dares to tackle subjects such as bullying, ideals caused by media, and sex. All those things (and whatever is left to come), make this show something many people can identify themselves in.
Aiko’s introduction may not have been the best one for positive first impressions, but to me, she is a perfect example of what so many people, both males and females do every day – change themselves for others. There is nothing wrong with change for the better, but to change your physical appearance for someone else means that the feelings in the relationship aren’t mutual. It’s sad that people try to appeal to others to the extent of physically changing your appearance. For Aiko, her change left physical scars. She, like Asami, was also saved by Yamato, but Aiko’s appreciation for that is not in the form of admiration. It’s ironic that Yamato who told her that she’s fine the way she is was the reason why Aiko decided to go on a diet. But considering how popular he is, it’s quite reasonable for Aiko to feel that she needs to change to stand a chance against all the other girls around him. Aiko said that she took Yamato’s kindness for granted which is quite funny actually, because what Yamato did to her is very questionable. Was sleeping with her the right thing to do? Was that the only way to convince her that she is acceptable as she is? Maybe the bullying from his middle school made Yamato think that he has to do whatever it takes to help people in need? For him and Aiko, his act was simply kindness – but for us, it’s probably something debatable. But in the end, everything comes down to Mei. She who doesn’t let anyone affect her opened up Yamato’s eyes to a new world, while he is slowly showing her how to trust people. It’s nice to see how they both climb the stairs of hardships, and the tenderness of their way to the top really grabs my heart.
Hopefully, Mei will be able to change Aiko’s look on life too, and maybe make her realize that there is man who wants her for who she is. As it seems now, Tachikawa Masashi (Majima Junji) is nothing more than a friend to comfort Aiko, but to me, he appears to hold deeply romantic feelings for her. As for now, he’ll probably remain the comforter because Aiko will hardly accept the fact that Yamato actually is serious about a girl. While some may think that Aiko is the stereotypical hateful love rival, to me she is quite different from that. It’s easy to sympathize with Aiko and considering her past and all that she has done for Yamato’s attention, it’s only natural for her to feel upset. But, as mentioned earlier, Mei will presumably be the catalyst for Aiko’s “change”, just like she was for Asami’s. Mei truly is amazing and respectable. Despite lacking social experience, she is capable of bringing positive change to others. It would make me very happy to see others return the favor to her, especially Yamato. He is definitely a lucky guy to have her in his life, and hopefully, the same will apply to Aiko someday!