The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Say “I Love You”

Adapted from the hit manga of the same name, Say “I Love You” is about Tachibana Mei, a high school student who has no friends and who never speaks due to a past trauma.

In her day-to-day life, Mei is bullied because she never speaks. This, however, all changes when, one day, a boy bullies her by pulling on her skirt, and Mei retaliates by high-kicking his friend Yamato. From this point forward, Mei’s life completely changes as she tries new things, makes friends and even falls in love.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Say “I Love You” passes the Bechdel and race test but does not pass the Russo test.

Mei and Yamato run into Aiko and Masashi while shopping.

There are a couple of named women in Say “I Love You” and there a few instances where some of these named women talk to each other. On two occasions, some of these named women talk to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Mei and Asami talk about gym class and Megumi talks to a named woman about work) so the film passes the Bechdel test. Say “I Love You” also passes the race test, and the film passes this test because the entire cast is Asian and White people are never mentioned by any of the characters (every conversation thus passes the race test).

In regards to the Russo test, there are no identifiable LGBTI characters in Say “I Love You” so the film does not pass this test.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

*The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

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