Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 10 – Return to Formula

Amagami SS Episode 10 – Return to Formula

Ok, all those bad things I said about the previous arcs, particularly the more over-the-top kissing sections? I take it all back. However weird or squicky some moments of the last two arcs have gotten, they at least avoided the “classic” moments of fanservice that this arc seems determined to deliver. Worse, these elements make Jun’ichi, for a change, seem the passive one in the relationship; for while his twisted imagination is directing the content for the episode, he’s not directing the growth of their romance.

Not that Jun’ichi is completely passive in this arc. This episode picks up three weeks after the last one left off, meaning that Sae is just barely able to talk to strangers. One wonders how she was even able to befriend Jun’ichi or Miya, or even function in normal society, with how introverted she must have been before, but she is now able to haltingly communicate with others if she pretends they’re not people.

I suppose it beats imagining them naked

Normal people might conclude that being a waitress isn’t a good fit for her, but Sae is nothing if not determined, and Jun’ichi has his own motivations for continuing to instruct her. As her instructor, he can order her to do practically anything so long as he can justify it as training, and Sae seems rather easy to convince.

The two training sessions this week are speed changing into different outfits, and holding a conversation under distraction—both of which wind up being far less about practical waitress training and more about providing titillation to Jun’ichi, and by extension the audience. This is more or less obvious, but Sae has her own reasons for going along with it all.

Jun'ichi's proclamation of wanting to aid Sae would be more convincing if he wasn't a) blushing, b) trying to take a peek, and c) having her put on outfits unrelated to waitressing

Sae, somewhere along the line, has fallen for Jun’ichi, a fact made obvious by her distress at being compared to his sister at the end of the episode. As often as cute sisters are included in dating sims (providing another cute character the player can crush on), they aren’t treated as romance material. That’s more or less how Jun’ichi’s been treating Sae: a cute toy to fantasize over, but not actually do anything with. Sae, by contrast, is very interested in being romance material, and verbally objects to the comparison.

Jun’ichi is mindbogglingly oblivious to this (another similarity to classic harem protagonists, one my coblogger has decried just this week while covering Asobi), and clearly wasn’t thinking about the implications of what he thought was a complement. I think just about everyone else does know what’s going on—including Miya, who is taking subtle measures to advance their relationship, even as she assaults Jun’ichi for going too far sometimes.

Miya helps Sae pick a swimsuit Jun'ichi would like, but then nearly spills that she based her advice on his porn mags. If she's trying to help, she has an odd way of showing it

Therein lies the main roadblock in their relationship so far. Like his early interactions with Kaoru last arc, he might be grateful for opportunities to be in arousing situations with Sae, but he isn’t (yet) thinking of her as a possible girlfriend. He might think she’s sexy, but she’s limited to an object of physical desire in his mind; romance hasn’t entered into it.

This is actually quite different than what has come before: In the first arc, Jun’ichi was the one banging on the doors; in the second, both he and Kaoru came to accept their feelings for the other in a relatively simultaneous fashion—although Kaoru was a bit faster on the draw, both had trouble admitting the truth to each other. Here, Jun’ichi is making what could be seen as advances, but he’s really just abusing his position as her “trainer.” It’s up to Sae to make a confession first.

Getting beaten up for accidental acts of perversion is a very common anime trope, and the more frequent reliance on it is in this arc another warning sign. Jun'ichi was sort of at fault for this one, though

Now, unlike certain other harem shows, Sae does make a confession in a timely fashion, and Jun’ichi isn’t so dense that he won’t get the message. There’s only two or three more episodes to play around with, after all, so the story doesn’t have too much time to bog down. I say that, even as I note that this episode did feel rather bogged down; only at the end does anything actually happen. The rest is just fan-service—and worse, cliched fanservice.

Despite the “been there, done that” feel of much of the episode, there are some amusing moments. The narrator is funnier this episode, and there are several moments where it is obvious that the writers are inserting self-aware jokes. Jun’ichi’s transparently perverted intentions get a fair amount of comments, but there are also some pointed humor at the makers of dating sims and the expectations of the audience.

Even when playing a game, Jun'ichi discovers that the otaku lifestyle doesn't pay off. He tries to justify it anyway

The most favorable interpretation of this arc is that it is a deliberate parody of standard cliche harem arcs (or romance anime in general), which is my co-blogger’s take on the whole thing. Even there, however, you get into the problem that most anime parodies have: the original material is so over-the-top and ridiculous that there’s not much you can do to demonstrate that you’re making fun of it.

More to the point, I’m watching this show for the characters and the romance, not the humor. I don’t mind that Amagami tries to be funny at points, but I do mind that it wastes scenes, or at times entire episodes, on random fanservice instead of character development. We know this show can do character development, and romance plots, and everything else I’m looking for. But this episode—and the next one, from what I can tell from the preview—declines to provide it.

In a shout out to the first arc, Morishima still finds Miya cute enough to cuddle. But she didn't actually cuddle Miya in that arc, and here she doesn't even know her

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