Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life
Release: S1 (2010), S2 (2012)
Now we’ll be having the heavily high school romance-themed Amagami SS. Meaning ‘gentle bite’, it first started as a dating simulation game for the PlayStation 2 in 2009. Dating Simulation means the player will assume the role of the protagonist in his daily life, meeting a number of heroines in the process. The player will choose the one girl he likes the most, and he’d need to make the right choices on various scenarios to land her in the end. But ‘land’ can mean differently in this context as Amagami SS focuses more on flourishing serious relationships rather than just lustful sex like School Days.
My friends are probably thinking: ‘WTF Chad, lovey-dovey high school anime!?” Well, yeah, I used to avoid ‘cheesy’ shows like this but as we get older, we get curious on trying other stuff we’re not familiar with, you know what I mean? And it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I loved the series. And instead of calling it ‘cheesy’, which is debatable, a proper term would be ‘warm’ and ‘meaningful’ 😉 Feel like giving me a knocker, already? Come on, just hear me out!
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 dislikes winter and is wary of love because of his past. However, this Christmas, his encounter with one of six girls from his school will finally open up his heart to love again. –Wikipedia
Simple as that. ‘One of six girls’- that said, it’s safe to say that this anime is not harem, technically. So how 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 go back from the start and the whole universe will conspire for him so that he’ll end up with a different heroine. This is as if he never was with the previous heroine to begin with. So all is good, and no one is a two-timing douchebag.
In a nutshell, Amagami SS, with its six storylines, defines the different faces of successful teenage love where they ultimately end up getting married and having 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 are polar opposites from each other where each is an archetype of their own that would blend uniquely with the protagonist.
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 songs, and there’ll be much to 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.”
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.”
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.”
Fourth Arc: Nanasaki Ai (Random Encounter)
Chemistry: Confident 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.”
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.”
Sixth Arc: Ayatsuji Tsukasa (Manipulative and Conniving 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.”
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 the viewers to fully internalize the characters, therefore leaving some of the empathy factor to imagination.
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 ‘cheesy’ 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.
I also love how the ED songs. Sung by each heroine in its respective arc, the songs elegantly portray their deep emotions and humbling desires. It’s basically the character herself singing her heart out in alignment to what she feels for the protagonist and their story. Any character depth that’s missed out on the anime, you can find it in their ED songs.
Do watch out for the last episode where Amagami SS will be taken to a full circle 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.