I’ve enjoyed February so far because it has given me a really good excuse to turn my attention to the male leads in so many romances. This week I’m looking straight at Yamato Kurosawa from Say I Love You but before I get into dissecting his character (okay, that might be a bit extreme), I’d probably better mention that I wasn’t a huge fan of Say I Love You initially. I like Mei, the female lead but the first time through I really didn’t like Yamato and it took a few viewings before I actually liked the two together. However, I still find Yamato a character I’ve just never clicked with.
In order to end on a positive I’ll start with some of my issues with Yamato and then I’ll look at his good points. He does have some good points and he does grow on you after watching the series more than once.
No matter how I want to look at it, Yamato originally comes on very strong toward Mei who clearly isn’t interested in his attention. While he doesn’t push it to a point where he is irredeemable, he intrudes into her space and more than once forces a kiss on her that she clearly isn’t asking for or giving permission for. He’s also very hands on particularly when she visited his house and he practically dragged her onto his lap. With a more out going female lead, Yamato’s advances probably wouldn’t have been a problem, but here it just felt like someone who was socially timid getting taken advantage of because her usual response was to freeze rather than get out of the situation. And even though she ended up falling in love with him and they all ended happily ever after, there’s still something just a bit off putting about this situation.
The second issue I have with Yamato is that he has so little actual personality, particularly early on. He very much goes with the flow of things and the people he hangs around and the things he does are very much just to stay in the crowd at times. We learn later that he started that behaviour in middle school to avoid being bullied and he even abandoned a friend because he didn’t want to stand out, but it makes him a hard character to really get a read on when he does some really nice things for Mei and then some really stupid things like when he agrees to join some other friends for bowling while out on a date with Mei. No matter how you look at it, that situation was never going to end well.
Finally, I really hated Yamato during the arc where he was modelling. His absolute lack of ability to read the situation with Mei just felt totally wrong. All the way along Mei was the one who wasn’t used to reading social cues, not Yamato, and yet suddenly he couldn’t tell that he was breaking his girlfriend’s heart? It just struck me as a really poor plot device and while it did lead to a touching reconciliation moment, it just felt kind of cheap.
However, Yamato does help Mei get out of her self-imposed shell and to actually reconnect with others. While his methods at times might be questionable, his overall desire is one of being helpful and supportive and Mei does find herself able to interact more easily with others because of Yamato.
Yamato also reflects on his actions and kind of learns from them. He really regretted the situation back in middle school and part of that is the reason he wanted to help Mei in the first place. He also learns after the modelling incident and becomes a lot more open with Mei. While that doesn’t solve everything, at least he doesn’t just keep repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results.
Lastly, he is a fantastic big brother. Okay, maybe he’s an overly doting and way too easily manipulated one. Doesn’t matter. Watching Yamato with Nagi is actually kind of adorable.
For me Yamato is always going to be one of those characters I am on the fence about, but I’d love to know what you think of him so leave me a comment.
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The Animator’s Survival Kit
- Maka Albarn – Soul Eater
- Kuronuma Sawako – Kimi Ni Todoke
- Yato – Noragami
- Takeo Gouda – My Love Story
- Zen Wisteria – Snow White With The Red Hair
- Yamato Kurosawa – Say I Love You
- Sebastian Michaelis – Black Butler
- Madoka – Madoka Magica
- Rimuru Tempest – That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime