Hai! Heading on to our next anime review- the heavily high school romance-themed Amagami SS (where Amagami means ‘gentle bite’.) Published by Enterbrain (Baka to Test to Shoukanju, Kokoro Connect, etc.), it started as a dating simulation game for the PlayStation 2 in 2009 named Amagami. Dating simulation: meaning the player will assume the role of the protagonist in his daily life, meeting a number of heroines in the process. The player will have to focus on one girl, and make the right choices on various scenarios to land her in the end. But ‘land‘ can be a strong word in this context- Amagami SS majors more on flourishing serious relationships rather than just lustful sex like School Days.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘WTF Chad, lovey-dovey high school anime? When did you become so weak!?” Well, yeah, I used to avoid ‘cheesy’ shows like this but just like opening myself to various music genres (from doom metal to Christian praise songs with trance and blues on the side), I decided to give it a try. And it wasn’t so bad- in fact, it was actually a good watch. And instead of calling it ‘cheesy’, which it isn’t, a proper term would be ‘warm’ and ‘meaningful’ ;) Feel like giving me a knocker, already? Come on, hear me out! XD
Plot: Two years ago, Junichi Tachibana got his heart broken by a girl who stood him up on a date on Christmas Eve. Now a second-year student in high school, Junichi is wary of love because of his past and dislikes celebrating Christmas. However this Christmas, his encounter with one of six girls from his school will finally open up his heart to love again. -Wikipedia
As simple as that. But landing six girls? Here we go again with these impossible-to-happen harem situations! Technically, it’s safe to say that this anime is not harem. So how the hell does that work? Multiverses, my friend. Different cases of ‘What if he ended up with this girl?’ There are four episodes for each girl. After one heroine, the Amagami SS world will restart with a different divergence number (Steins;Gate reference), and the whole universe will conspire that will let him end up with the next heroine. This is as if he never was with the previous heroine to begin with- zero memories. So all is good, and no one is a two-timing douchebag d^_^b
In a nutshell, I can describe Amagami SS as defining the different faces of successful teenage love, ultimately ending up to marriage and a family later on in life. This is revealed in every arc’s end where they show what happens to the couple ten years after. I say different faces because the six heroines are evenly balanced with regards to each one’s respective relationship with the protagonist, their personalities and uniqueness.
For example, we have a crazy senpai (upperclassman) whom he has a big crush on, a shy kouhai (lowerclassman) he just met, a clumsy childhood friend, his best friend from middle school, the O.C. class representative, and so on. Just imagine the different possibilities with each of the characters’ scenarios- just pair them up with a nice-sounding OST with their own character ending songs, and it’ll be worth the watch!
Here’s a brief, somewhat non-spoiler-ish summary of the heroines:
First Arc: Morishima Haruka (Dreamy Senpai)
Chemistry – Unpredictable Haruka > Clueless Junichi
“A very popular girl in her final year, who has many fans at school. She can be described as a fickle and insecure girl with a liking for cute things, especially puppies. Her best friend is Hibiki Tsukahara and she has a younger brother named Satoshi. She is a quarter British from her mother, whose family’s surname is Lovely. Possibly as a nod to her heritage, she frequently mixes English phrases into her speech.” -Wikipedia
Second Arc: Tanamachi Kaoru (Best Buddy)
Chemistry – Best Bud Junichi = Best Bud Kaoru
“One of Junichi’s best friends and class 2A classmate, she is often seen with his other friend Masayoshi. She is unpredictable as she would punch Junichi anytime. She works part-time at a family restaurant to support her single mother, who later dates another man.” -Wikipedia
Third Arc: Nakata Sae (Shy Underclassman)
Chemistry – Dominant Junichi helping submissive Sae overcome her shyness
“A friend and classmate of his younger sister. Having studied at an all-girls school for most of her life, Sae is incredibly shy around men. Because of that, she has a soft, quiet voice. Though generally reserved, she shows a child-like enthusiasm for the Inago Mask superheroes. Her story arc in the anime is unique in that the characters occasionally break the fourth wall.” -Wikipedia
Fourth Arc: Nanasaki Ai (Random Encounter)
Chemistry – Composed Ai > Dragged-around Junichi / Junichi > Lovestruck Ai
“Also a friend and classmate of his younger sister. She is part of their school’s girl swimming team. She has a younger brother named Ikuo and possesses a cool, calm disposition.” -Wikipedia
Fifth Arc: Rihoko Sakurai (Clumsy Childhood Friend)
Chemistry – Awkward. Sakurai secretly loving not-so-interested childhood friend
“She is Junichi’s childhood friend who, despite having a big appetite, avidly reads the dieting books in their school library. She is a member of the school’s Tea Club.” -Wikipedia
Sixth Arc: Ayatsuji Tsukasa (Deceptive Class Rep.)
Chemistry – Dominatrix Bipolar Tsukasa > Intimidated and Abused Junichi
“Class 2A’s class representative, who is both a hard worker and a person who is willing to take on any task that no one else will. While she acts kind and friendly, it is actually a facade that secretly hides the real her, who is manipulative and cunning.” -Wikipedia
They say that communication goes a long way in a lasting relationship. And Amagami SS made a good demonstration of that, no matter how different the kinds of relationship between the couples are.
In every end, Junichi will overcome the hurdles put before him (which usually ends on Christmas Eve), and will live happily ever after with his destined betrothed. It’s all been praise from me from the start, but it also has its bad sides. One major flaw would be lack of character depth, since four episodes per arc is not enough to let viewers ‘internalize’ the characters and get ‘really’ attached to them. Next would be more personal and subjective: I only truly enjoyed Kaoru, Tsukasa and Haruka’s arcs. The rest was watchable, but kind of draggy. I guess the cheesiness flavor of the other three arcs didn’t really appeal to me.
Although Sakurai made a comeback in the second season- why a childhood friend can be the perfect life companion was portrayed magnificently in those two extra episodes. It’d be better for you to just watch it and don’t get me to spill the cheesy details XD
I also love how the ED songs, as sung by each heroine in its respective arc, elegantly portray the deep emotions of said heroine. It’s basically the character herself singing her heart out, in alignment to what she feels for the arc’s story and the protagonist. Any character depth that’s missed out on the story, you can find it in their ED songs.
Watch out for the last episode whose story will take Amagami SS into a full circle- a secret heroine will be revealed, as well as a twist to why he was stood up and hurt in the first place. If you like the series, be sure to watch season two containing only 12 episodes (2 episodes per heroine) where they continue where they left off, asking the question ‘what’s next now that they’re together?’ For others, temptation and challenges will arise, yet for some it will be more on tying lose ends e.g. Kaoru and Junichi getting past that awkward ‘best buds’ atmosphere.
Anyway, I hope you like this review! ‘Til next time!