Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 4 – Unearned Happiness

Amagami SS Episode 4 – Unearned Happiness

With the first arc completed, there’s now confirmation on how Amagami intends to handle the relationships between Jun’ichi and his romantic prospects. Rather than have him balance them all at once (in classic harem fashion) or go through one after the other in a slow progression of failures leading to ultimate success (which was my hope), each girl is going to get her own arc that matches her route from the game, with a hard reset between them. It’s sort of like Tatami Galaxy, except Jun’ichi doesn’t learn anything new each time.

That setup is fine, as far as it goes, even though it makes the plot for each arc remarkably less complicated. The “problem” with this approach is that it means every girl’s plot will resolve successfully—regardless of whether that makes sense in context.

I’ve been arguing from the beginning of the show that Morishima’s relations with Jun’ichi were not precisely healthy, which made a trainwreck seem increasingly likely. But Jun’ichi losing out would be fine only if his failed relationship would then lead to greater maturity the next time around. With a hard reset, there is no next time around, so there’s no point not to go for the happy ending. Besides realism, of course, but who watches anime for that?

Morishima and Jun'ichi both have bittersweet memories of this park. I suspect it will play a major role in each storyline

As Jun’ichi’s being dumped two years ago has defined his romantic life ever since, it does make sense that overcoming that would be a major part of his finding a successful relationship. So, as his relationship with Morishima develops, he invites her to the same park where his heart was broken, and makes a surprising revelation: his first time meeting her wasn’t in the school hallway weeks ago but at the park a year ago—around the one year anniversary of his rejection—where she tried to cheer him up as he moped.

Morishima, as it happens, didn’t recognize Jun’ichi from that, but she does remember the incident, as that was also when her old dog died. Apparently she was drawn to Jun’ichi that day because of his resemblance (What is it with Morishima and dogs?), so she’s also happy to realize that the guy she spoke to then is the same who is pursuing her now. So, for this Christmas Eve, she invites him to spend the night with her family.

Morishima's grandfather is British, which might explain her blue eyes, and certainly explains why she spouts off English words at random

Since Morishima is from an exceedingly wealthy family, it’s not a surprise that this meeting is set to happen in a hotel, where her grandparents would have been staying. What is a surprise, because she waits to spring it on him at the last possible moment, is that her grandparents’ flight from England was delayed, so they have the room to themselves for the entire night.

This is, of course, a very aggressive move on her part, as is her taking a bath while he waits in the main room. Jun’ichi acts the gentlemen, which turns out to be a problem: Morishima wanted him to peek at her or otherwise act inappropriately, because that would mean he’s still interested in her. She’s worried, in the time that’s passed since his last confession, that he might not be bored with her now.

Morishima's confession is a surprisingly effective scene considering the lack of a proper lead-up. It gives me some hope about what this show will be able to do when it plans things properly

Now, that’s laughable to the audience, but we have better access to Jun’ichi’s mental state, and Morishima is still a neophyte at this dating thing. Here, her inability to understand her own charm (another trait of hers constantly on display) works against her; she sincerely thinks that since he hasn’t confessed to her again, as he fervently promised he would, he may no longer love her. And she’s figured out she really doesn’t want this to happen, because she knows now that she loves him too.

Hearing Morishima finally make a confession of love to him, Jun’ichi is of course quick to console her, and the misunderstanding resolves happily. Flash-forward to ten years later, and we learn that the two are happily married, although still addicted to cheesy fantasy roleplaying.

Future Jun'ichi's real life job as a detective allows for plenty of "catch the fugitive"-style fantasies. At least something stayed consistent

It’s a happy ending, and despite my rather abbreviated review of it, it still has some rather touching moments. Morishima’s doubt and vulnerability, hinted at here and there throughout the episode even before the climactic scene, manages to be rather moving, a reminder that even the beautiful and popular kids are still uncertain of themselves in the awkward teenage years. It shows that she’s finally opened herself to loving another person, with the possibility of pain and rejection that openness entails.

The problem is that none of this, except for the roleplaying, follows from anything that happened in the last episode. Morishima’s conflicted feelings and inklings of real attraction to Jun’ichi were suggested by the end of episode two, but were then bypassed entirely after that in favor of fanservice—and specifically fanservice that illustrated a selfish interest on her part, not a loving one. I could believe that the Morishima at the end of episode two might possibly fall for Jun’ichi. I didn’t think that the Morishima at the end of episode three could fall for anyone.

They also visit the hotel pool, probably just to give Morishima screen time in a bikini. And yes, her hair stays perfectly styled throughout

And then the arc presses on as if there had been some actual romantic development between the two (not physical, mind, but romantic) in that time frame, that would get Morishima to where she needed to be emotionally on Christmas Eve for her actions to make sense. And I’m just not seeing it. Last episode only confirmed and emphasized all the self-centered aspects of Morishima that would keep her from opening herself up in the way this episode requires. I’m happy she’s matured by the end, but that sort of development should have happened on-screen. As it stands, it’s just author fiat.

I’m not certain if the fault lies with the original material or with the adaption specifically, but either way, it’s a bit disappointing that the show would give us what seemed like a wonderfully consistent character over the course of the arc—even if that consistency was in a negative direction—only to reverse some things at the end to pull out a prepackaged happy ending. I don’t mind happy endings, of course, but I’d like for them to follow from previous developments. That’s sort of the point of a story.

We never learned why Jun'ichi's sister didn't like Morishima, but Miya is close friends with at least three of the other romantic prospects, so her attitude might improve in other arcs

Of course, the advantage to having a hard reboot every arc is that, if you don’t like how one story turns out, you can just wait for the next one. So, now that the spoiled-yet-secretly-vulnerable-because-we-said-so-princess story is out of the way, next up is Kaoru the tomboyish friend. I admit I am interested to see how events will change to make her be the one to catch Jun’ichi’s eye this time around. And I also hope that the level of characterization which this show has otherwise done so well will wind up leading in a more consistent direction.

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