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The beginning of the opening for the anime 彼女、お借りします goes as follows:

運命なんて言えない
あと何センチ近づけばいいんだろう
君がいいと言えないまま見つめてる後ろ姿

My problem is with the third line. I can't really figure out what belongs to the 君が. There are four options:

  1. 君がいい
  2. 君が言えない
  3. 君が見つめてる
  4. 君が後ろ姿

I don't think 君がいい makes much sense in this context. The same goes for 君が見つめてる, because in the preceding line the singer asks "how many centimeters can I come closer?" (as far as my understanding goes, at least), so it would make more sense if the singer is the one who stares, not 君.

Now, for option 2: If this were the right option, I would interpret the whole 君がいいと言えないまま見つめてる as a relative clause modifying 後ろ姿 and I would interpret the 後ろ姿 as a kind of "addendum" to make clear what the singer is trying to come closer to in line 2. Like this: "How many centimeters can I come closer? To this back figure (that I'm staring at while you still can't say 'it's fine')?" Maybe the problem with this interpretation is that it would have to be 後ろ姿に with に added instead, but I have a feeling に could be left off here.

For option 4: I would interpret option 4 as a 体言止め, where line 3 is independent of line 2, like: "You're a back figure (that I'm staring at while you still can't say 'it's fine')."

I think my fundamental problem here is that I have no idea what actions are done by the singer and what actions are done by 君. I guess I'm simply lacking the experience and the way more experienced speakers know exactly what the sentence means is that everything else besides the correct interpretation would simply be "unnatural" and expressed differently. But anyway, is one of my two proposed options correct? Or is it something else entirely? Thanks for reading!

1

君がいいと言えないまま見つめてる後ろ姿

Ignoring the semantic naturalness, all what you said about its ambiguity is right because this sentence is structurally very close to 頭が赤い魚を食べる猫, which allows many parsing options (an English explanation, if you prefer).

That said, I take your #1 as the primary choice, as it is a valid and common expression.

First, as chocolate said in her comment, a question like this using いい is usually about someone's personal and casual preference: "Which do you like/prefer?". In some contexts, this can be a more objective question (eg, choosing from two business strategies).

Which is backed up by the following definition in a dictionary:

㋙自分の好みに合っている。望ましい。「私はビールが―・い」「住むなら郊外が―・い」

So you can translate the 君がいい as "I like/prefer/want/choose you". Not "I like you" but "I like you".

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  • Right, that makes total sense, thank you! After I posted the question I also thought about the fact that 言えない probably refers to the singer because if it referred to 君, it would probably be something like 言わない instead (along the lines of how you can't use the たい-form for other people because you would assume things that way). – Bonaparte Aug 17 at 14:24

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