Amagami SS Series

Anime Hajime Review: Amagami SS

Original Run: July 2, 2010 - December 24, 2010
Number of Episodes: 25
Genre: Romance, Slice of Life
Based on the Video Game: Amagami

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Amagami SS. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Two years ago, Junichi Tachibana (voiced by Tomoaki Maeno) had his heart broken when a girl stood him up on Christmas Eve. Ever since then, Junichi has been afraid to open his heart to another person again. However, romance just needs a little push to take root.

Where love will go is anyone’s guess. For Junichi, his future sweetheart will be determined by one of six different scenarios:

The Haruka Morishima Arc

Haruka Morishima (voiced by Shizuka Ito) is Junichi’s beautiful and extremely popular upperclassman. With an outgoing and friendly personality, Haruka isn’t hard to talk to, but actually growing close to her in a romantic sort of way seems highly unlikely.

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The Kaoru Tanamachi Arc

Kaoru Tanamachi (voiced by Rina Sato) is Junichi’s friend from junior high school. The two have been on very good terms for several years now, and neither has thought about the other in that sort of way. Still, it is incredible what a single off-handed comment can trigger.

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The Sae Nakata Arc

Sae Nakata (voiced by Hiromi Konno) is a recent transfer student who finds it difficult to talk to strangers. Junichi’s approachable nature allows Sae to slowly grow comfortable around him. After Junichi helps her build some confidence, Sae begins to see him as someone far more special.

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The Ai Nanasaki Arc

Ai Nanasaki (voiced by Yukana Nogami) first meets Junichi at a local park. Faced with Ai’s level-headed disposition, Junichi often finds himself mysteriously flustered whenever he runs into her. Little does Junichi realize, Ai may have her own feelings towards him.

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The Rihoko Sakurai Arc

Rihoko Sakurai (voiced by Ryoko Shintani) is Junichi’s childhood and closest friend. Ever since they were young, Rihoko has had feelings for Junichi, but she has always known her love has been one-sided. Nevertheless, being with the person she cares for the most is enough to make Rihoko happy.

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The Tsukasa Ayatsuji Arc

Tsukasa Ayatsuji (voiced by Kaori Nazuka) is the hard working president of Junichi’s class who is kind and well-respected. For the upcoming school founder’s festival, Junichi volunteers to put the event together with Tsukasa. Along the way, Junichi discovers another side to Tsukasa she has chosen to keep hidden.

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Series Positives

After reading through that synopsis, you can probably tell Amagami SS was a bit unique. But let’s put that aside for the moment because there is something concerning this series and my experience with it that I can’t just ignore.

A few years prior to this post, I cobbled together my Top Ten Romance Anime, and not only was Amagami SS on it, but I also ranked it at the number one spot. As always, I stand by every word I say, and I don’t regret listing this series as I did, when I did. However, time passes, things changes, others shows come along, and maybe I jumped the gun a little in the past.

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Let me make this clear: Whenever I redo my Top Ten Romance Anime list – and I most certainly intend to – there is a high chance Amagami SS will still make it on; this series is fantastic. However, I can already think of several, more recent shows which are vying for the number one position.

In a nutshell, Amagami SS wasn’t as resilient as I remembered it being. But it remained very good, and although some aspects didn’t hold up, there were others which were far better than I once gave them credit for.

For instance, I distinctly recall not liking the Rihoko Sakurai Arc. Compared to the other stories in this show, the Rihoko Sakurai Arc felt wildly out of place. I won’t deny this plotline took a more different approach than the rest, but having now re-watched it, I can see that younger me was a big idiot who didn’t know anything.

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In fact – without going into their full details – here is how I would rank the six Amagami SS storylines from weakest to strongest:

  • 6. The Sae Nakata Arc
  • 5. The Ai Nanasaki Arc
  • 4. The Haruka Morishima Arc
  • 3. The Rihoko Sakurai Arc
  • 2. The Kaoru Tanamachi Arc
  • 1. The Tsukasa Ayatsuji Arc

In addition, the Tsukasa Ayatsuji Arc was far and away the best thing about this series.

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Please note that none of these stories were without merit. They each had something which made them fun and enjoyable to watch. After all, like I said, Amagami SS was still a solid romance anime, and its strength came from the way it was put together.

Amagami SS was based on the dating simulation game Amagami (which I have not played), and this series seemed to embrace those roots. Assuming Amagami is like other dating sims I have experienced, you take control of a main protagonist whose goal is to woo one of the possible romantic interests. Amagami SS’ interpretation of that was to create multiple, independent storylines that didn’t connect to one another.

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Therefore, Amagami SS can’t be considered a harem anime since there weren’t multiple parties trying to win Junichi’s affection at once. Instead, each of the arcs went all in with one specific heroine. This entire set up was what made Amagami SS so interesting. And luckily, all these segments were, at a minimum, decently told which gave this show the added benefit of being both intriguing and enjoyable.

To be fair, none of these romances were particularly deep, and there was little focus given to drama. Amagami SS was more idealistic with its love stories but seeing how no arc was more than four episodes long, that wasn’t an issue.

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Wait, Odyssey, that math doesn’t work. This series had twenty-five episodes.

To those of you who noticed, you have a keen eye. Episode twenty-five was a special one-off story which served as a satisfying end card to the show.

Lastly, and this was important, these six character-specific arcs weren’t identical to one another. There was plenty of variety in both their storytelling methods and their personalities. While they all went towards the same direction, how they got to their destinations kept this series fresh enough to justify the more substantial episode count.

Amagami SS was as impressive as it was because it knew it simply couldn’t re-do itself. These story arcs had their own identities and having them all in a single package turned this show into a romance anime worth remembering.

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Series Negatives

There were elements to Amagami SS that I either didn’t remember or didn’t realize existed the first time I watched this series. Mainly, it was surprising how much this show tried to be an ecchi anime; key word being “tried.”

Amagami SS wasn’t insane with its fanservice. To tell you the truth, most of it was smartly done, and anything that may have gone beyond that wasn’t the problem. What was the problem was this series attempting to use the same exact tricks typically seen in anime which make it their mission to show off as much skin as possible.

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For example, there were scenes in Amagami SS that ducked the camera under a table while characters (female) were talking. For me, I find this annoying because when shows do this, they aren’t even trying to be clever with hiding their intent. Plus, it’s awkward when characters are having a dialogue and the entire time their whole underskirt area is on display.

However, Amagami SS did something far stranger.

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This series didn’t actually reveal anything. The characters were clothed and fully covered up in the places that mattered. I suppose if you have an animated leg fetish then you will be in for a treat, but otherwise, if this show didn’t want to commit to what it was doing, why did it bother in the first place?

I’m not sure how explicit the Amagami video game is, but concerning the anime, it felt like this series was acting on a sense of obligation. That was a shame since Amagami SS was always at its least interesting whenever it wanted to showcase its sex appeal.

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In fact, the entire Sae Nakata Arc was soured because it was the only storyline which made it a point to highlight the main heroine’s physical assets. That was a pity since the Sae Nakata Arc had the makings to be one of Amagami SS’ most compelling segments.

In her arc, Sae fell for Junichi while he was helping her overcome her shyness. The chemistry that existed between the two of them was super sweet, lovely, and had all the notes a romance junkie could ask for. Unfortunately, it was hard to appreciate any of those things since the show never went long before pointing out how big Sae’s breasts were.

Also, the Sae Nakata Arc had this obnoxious narrator who quickly got on my nerves.

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Aside from its half-hearted ecchi attempts, Amagami SS had the habit of forcing all its characters to be prominent throughout each of the six arcs.

Naturally, it wasn’t abnormal for everyone to have some sort of presence since everyone attended the same school. It was never odd or wrong for a heroine of one arc to speak to Junichi outside of their own storyline. It would have been weirder if that didn’t happen.

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What made no sense, though, was when neither Junichi nor the prime heroine were a part of a particular dialogue. Amagami SS, for some reason, would cut away from the main storyline to look into what other – utterly irrelevant – characters were doing.

And no, this didn’t happen once, twice, or even a handful of times. This was something Amagami SS regularly did.

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In the bluntest way I can say it: If someone doesn’t figure out this series’ model by the third arc – which in of itself would be ridiculous – then that person is beyond the help of handholding.

I have faith most audiences are not going to forget these characters that fast. Thus, it would have been okay for this series to ignore what others were doing if they weren’t necessary to the storyline at hand.

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Final Thoughts

Is this still my number one romance anime of all time? No, but it remains pretty damn good.

This series fully embraced the idea of short-form love stories. The six character arcs weren’t anything game-changing, but why would they have needed to be? They were perfect for what they were.

Although this show sometimes couldn’t help itself from making an unforced error, there was more than enough left to like.

Amagami SS gets a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Amagami SS? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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