Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 11 – Criminal Cluelessness

Amagami SS Episode 11 – Criminal Cluelessness

As always, it seems this show delights in defying my predictions. I said last episode that Sae’s advance right at the end was so blatant that even Jun’ichi wouldn’t be so dense as to misinterpret it—so of course he does just that. It’s not until the end of this episode that Jun’ichi finally puts the pieces together, after Sae all but asks him if they can be a couple.

One important thing to note about Amagami is the Jun’ichi’s character has radically changed from arc to arc. The emotional neediness and vulnerability that defined him in Morishima’s arc, related to his Christmas eve debacle two years prior, has been scarcely evident since; last arc had the most balanced portrayal of Jun’ichi thus far, with his greatest problem being his difficulty in realizing that Kaoru’s relationship with him was evolving out of the friendly stage.

Even Umehara knows exactly what Sae meant by her confession last episode. When the designated "guy meant to make the protagonist look good" surpasses the lead, you know something is wrong

Unfortunately, the character traits most on display this arc are distinctly unadmirable; in fact it’s a combination of the worse features we’ve seen from the first two arcs. Arc one had Jun’ichi delving into sketchy territory a bit too much, but that was mostly at Morishima’s direction. Arc two had Jun’ichi being a bit slow on the draw regarding the budding romance, but he had the excuse of being used to their playful banter being of the innocent variety.

Here, his stupidity and his perverted imagination appear in full force, and even support each other. Had he some romantic interest in Sae from the beginning, he might have been more attuned to her interest as well; had he known of her interest, that might have given him some better cause for taking advantage of her as he did (as in, its what she wanted him to do). This, of course, makes his actions all the worse: He’s been using for his own titillation a girl whom he thinks is just interested in getting a job. And his natural interest in her, aside from the titillation part, is minimal.

I'm certain a large chunk of the viewer audience in Japan really enjoyed this scene, but it otherwise doesn't have much purpose

In spite of how little his training actually related to waitressing, Sae does eventually apply for the job and gets it. While obviously grateful to him, she still indicates an interest in continuing their sessions even though there’s nothing left for him to train her for. She further invites him an amusement park on what is obviously a date, and even that doesn’t tip Jun’ichi off that she might have feelings for him. Only when she starts comparing them to other couples directly does he finally seem to get the hint.

Cluelessness on the part of anime protagonists regarding the number of girls eager to get into their pants is common enough, but mostly occurs in harem situations. Not realizing that the girls are attracted to him gives the hero an excuse not to pick, thus delaying the show defining conflict. Here, the arcs are short enough that one would hope that such stall tactics wouldn’t be necessary, and with Jun’ichi’s months of training her, his failure to pick up on these cues is all the more inexplicable from a narrative standpoint.

Jun'ichi isn't the only clueless one this episode, as Sae gets mistaken for a grade schooler by the staff of a hero show ...

I suppose some of the blame here should rest on Sae for encouraging Jun’ichi throughout this entire mess, rather than realizing that this arc’s Jun’ichi is a creep who provides a reason for every father of a daughter to keep a shotgun on the wall. Like many a beautiful anime heroine, she fell for the designated protagonist at the start of her arc for no real reason and stays in love despite all the reasons to stop.

I should say that Sae deserves some credit for overcoming her shyness and taking the initiative in pursuing the relationship she wants—she has slightly more depth than I originally expected, if only just. But I haven’t been sold on why she wants it. This show has convinced me in the last two arcs why the girl du jour came to like Jun’ichi, but here the show is relying more on conventional tropes and otaku wish-fulfillment than actual story-telling and characterization. That is, it’s ignoring what made it interesting to watch in the first place.

... where she is subjected to naughty tentacles. I guess the fan service also makes the show interesting, by some definitions of the term

Toward the end of the episode we get a little of that. Walking away from the park, Sae starts to ask if they can hold hands, but gets too embarrassed and stops. When she tries to ask a second time (and fails again), Jun’ichi is for once observant enough to figure out what she wants, and obliges her. Despite his previous actions towards her, it’s evident from his own blushing discomfort that he knows that this action indicates a change in their relationship that all his previous interactions with her (physical or not) failed to trigger.

The next and final episode will focus on the two entering the school’s best couple contest, which might provide some more elements like that in between the fan-service-laden “training” for the event that Jun’ichi is sure to inflict on Sae. I will certainly hope for that. I will also hope, however, that no further arc of the show is as poorly implemented as this one.

It's scenes like this that make Amgami worth watching. So why is this the first time we've had one this arc?

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