Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 9 – Unpredictably Predictable

Amagami SS Episode 9 – Unpredictably Predictable

I really should learn to get out of the prediction business. I ended my review of last episode indicating my concerns that Amagami would eventually fall into a rut, with the only real distinguishing factor between the stories being what body part Jun’ichi’s obligatory squicky make-out session would target. This episode, by contrast, completely dumps the previous formula, taking the series in a new direction.

The chronology starts earlier, just after the end of summer vacation, rather than in the winter months closing in on Christmas eve. (This also means the cast is still in their summer, not winter, uniforms, which also impresses the difference between arcs.) There is no starting flashback to the Christmas Eve where Jun’ichi was rejected; we are merely told of it by a quasi-comic narrator whom Jun’ichi occasionally seems able to hear and respond to.

Jun'ichi asks the narrator not to insult him so much in the opening. The narrator complies ... temporarily

After our narrator sets the stage, Jun’ichi witnesses Sae Nakata transfer into his school. While thinking she’s a beauty, he otherwise writes off her appearance. Through a set of coincidences later, Sae recovers and returns a purse Jun’ichi dropped, only to freak out and run off when he tries to thank her. Eventually Jun’ichi locates her through his sister (who is a friend of Sae, as we’ve seen in the last two arcs) and introduces himself properly.

Another chance encounter (helping her past a “terrifying” puppy) leads to further conversation, and eventually Jun’ichi agrees to help her get a part time job as a waitress. As Sae is absurdly shy and soft-spoken—and not particularly coordinated—he mostly works on building up her people skills, but also on her coordination, as she seems a bit of a klutz. “Hilarity” ensues.

I'm not sure how "pours hot tea into the lap of the protagonist" became of badge of cuteness, but there you go

This episode is certainly displaying a new approach to the show, but in this case new is not better. The “comic” narration is about as funny as that in Ookami (which is to say, it’s not, at least after the first few minutes)—and it comes at the expense, most of the time, of more detailed revelations of what Jun’ichi and Sae are thinking. I might have decried the last two arcs for not progressing first Morishima’s and then Jun’ichi’s thought process in anything resembling a logical fashion, but at least I was privy to it. Here, there’s just a narrator telling me things I already know.

Starting in the summer means different uniforms and different backdrops, but not all the changes in the visuals are welcome; at several points characters seemed to be drawn slightly off-model, mostly in profile shots. The psychological aspects of the show, again relating to the lack of internal monologue, seem muted, and there’s much more of an emphasis on “classic” romantic comedy moments, such as a cute but clumsy girl accidentally causing injury to our protagonist.

Jun'ichi didn't see Kaoru waitress until the winter last arc, so there are clear changes to the chronology. Kaoru is back to the supportive friend role, which means she gets to tease Jun'ichi mercilessly

It also needs to be said that Sae is the most stereotypical heroine so far. She’s absurdly cute, and the script takes extra effort to point out her bust size. Neither Morishima or Kaoru were lacking in that department, but it was never dealt with as explicitly. She also is given all the classic “moe” traits: crippling shyness, clumsiness, and a love of cute things. Again, our previous heroines hardly lacked for appeal, but they had actual personalities to go along with their otaku-bait qualities. I’ve yet to see that from Sae.

The greatest common thread between this and the previous two arcs again lies in the quasi-perverted-yet-still fumbling-and-awkward nature of the proceedings. Both Sae and Jun’ichi have their hearts flutter a little as they interact, although only when the other party doesn’t realize what’s going on. For Sae, it’s the point in coaching where he checks her diaphragm to make sure she’s breathing properly in voice lessons. For Jun’ichi, in a more cliched form, it’s feeling Sae’s chest pressed against him while he gives her a piggyback ride.

One thing normal anime romances do that Amagami (mostly) avoided is to make all suggestive physical contact unintended. This arc marks a change in direction, no doubt to make Sae seem more innocent

As usual, there’s little indication Jun’ichi is thinking beyond the physical at this point, and what the perpetually quiet and likely inexperienced Sae is thinking would likely be a mystery even if the arc progressed like the others. Despite her beauty, it seems unlikely that any guy has gotten as close to her as Jun’ichi has in a matter of days, but she’s still a blank slate as far as her personality is concerned, and—as I said above—I’m done trying to make predictions with this show.

As much as I might want to like this show, it’s hard for me to find this episode as anything other than disappointing. The first arc emphasized Jun’ichi’s neediness and, while it posited an unrealistically happy ending, at least remained interesting. The second arc was a lovely picture of two friends gradually coming to see the other as something more, even if the path there was a bit longer and more convoluted than it needed to be.

Another radical difference in this arc is that Miya is almost supportive of Sae and Jun'ichi getting together. She only punches him once

What’s the theme of this arc? What could be the theme of this arc? Will there be a theme with this arc? I certainly hope so. But I wouldn’t predict it.

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