Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 15 – Save Me from Myself

Amagami SS Episode 15 – Save Me from Myself

Up until now, I’ve loved most everything about this arc: the heroine, this version of Jun’ichi, and the fact that the fan service has stayed within tasteful, if not particularly imaginative, limits. But, as with the Kaoru arc, the overall plot of Ai’s storyline has seemed a bit threadbare. It was about this time in Kaoru’s story that we got some hint of her conflict (her relationship issues with her mom), so Ai is about due to have something go wrong in her life.

Amagami lives up to those expectations in a pro forma way, and arguably Jun’ichi’s actions this time are far more dramatic, and demonstrative of how much he’s grown to care for Ai in the last couple episodes. (Given the lack of a prior history, as with Kaoru, something more dramatic was probably necessary.) But a part of me still wants to say that this episode doesn’t do all it needs to. It certainly does some things it doesn’t.

Technically, Jun'ichi offers the tickets to both Ai and her brother; it's just that the latter conveniently had other plans. Still, it took some guts on Jun'ichi's part to make the offer.

For one thing, only a quarter of the episode is devoted to Ai’s actual conflict. The rest is devoted to Jun’ichi and Ai deepening their relationship, visiting a theme park and then the place where they first met. It’s very well done (save for one exception I’ll discuss in detail later) with Jun’ichi actually manning up to ask Ai out, and Ai continuing to be appealing and interested without being cloying or fawning. But it’s another date in an arc which has been nothing but dates.

The conflict itself, brief as it is, concerns Ai being cut from the roster at the next swim meet, since her race times have been stagnating. Again, there is nothing wrong in the substance of the event; Jun’ichi gets a chance to support Ai and show that the relationship is not all one-way, combining the earnestness and affection (and tendency to act without thinking) which has characterized this arc’s Jun’ichi, and made him the most likable version to date.

A more sensible person would just run around the edge of the pool to catch up, but jumping in fully clothed after Ai shows far Jun'ichi is willing to go to pursue her

But Jun’ichi doesn’t actually do anything to help Ai in her situation, besides comfort her. With Kaoru, Jun’ichi’s counseling is a crucial aspect in getting Kaoru to reunite with her mother and move on. Here, Jun’ichi can again console and comfort, but he can’t make Ai swim faster or put her back on the roster. He can make her feel better and show that he loves her; he can’t actually help her.

This is mostly nit-picking now; as I’ve said before, the plot isn’t bad in the traditional sense. But it also isn’t all that exceptional either, and if nothing else comes of it next episode, I’m wondering what the writers will do to fill things out. Given how much they seemed to be grasping for material this episode, I’m getting sort of worried.

The best explanation for what happens in the haunted house is that the gas from the mummy is hallucenigenic

Speaking of grasping for material: One thing about the episode that is bad, and exceptional, is a bizarre excursion in the middle of the theme park trip. Jun’ichi, trying to recover some manliness after suffering from acrophobia (another constant of Jun’ichi in all arcs) on some roller coasters, takes her to a haunted house. He manages to keep his cool early on, but about halfway through he starts seeing things.

The hallucinations are fairly innocuous at first, and provide opportunities to have the required cameos for Kaoru and Tsukasa (whom Jun’ichi sees in odd situations) without actually working them into the narrative. But it’s toward the end that Jun’ichi suddenly hallucinating that Ai is a bowl of ramen—a hallucination she seems to share.

I had to include a screen cap of this just to prove I wasn't making this up. Japan can be really weird sometimes

I’m not quite certain that I can properly characterize what happens next, save to say that it manages to be the most … unique forms of fantasizing that this show has managed to produce thus far. (With, which this show, is saying something.) It also is extremely forced, out of character, and simply ridiculous.

A particularly annoying aspect of all this is that Ai’s flirtations had always managed to toe some risque lines without seeming particularly odd or unrealistic. Ai manages to be forward without being too forceful, and sexy without purposefully degrading herself (which was Sae’s main problem). The very nature of this scene, however, portrays her as a passive victim to be ravished, and thus evinces no understanding of her appeal at all.

The show is perfectly capable of making Ai enticing in normal ways. Why bother with crazy ones?

This arc has been filled with—for lack of a better term—good fanservice: fanservice that did not diminish Ai as a character, or exist solely for the titillation of the audience rather than having a real and important effect on the plot. By its very nature, the events of the haunted house are an aberration, and no sooner have they left do our principals act as if the scene didn’t happen. This is just poor story-telling, and I’ve come to expect better of this series.

The Kaoru arc, while solid and enjoyable, had one scene (in episode six) which just seemed so beyond what either character would do that it seemed like a slap in the face. I like this storyline more than Kaoru’s, which would make me all the more frustrated about this even if it weren’t so much more over-the-top. The entire point of this arc is that this is where the show gets to be normal. Did the writers not get the memo?

Another great moment in the show: Umehara tries to entice Jun'ichi with porn mags only to find Jun'ichi is no longer interested. He has found something real in Ai, and he knows it

This is reaching the level of a rant now, and I try to leave those to my co-blogger. I shouldn’t let one scene diminish my overall appreciation for an otherwise good arc. But I am profoundly disappointed that, once again, the show manages to take a relatively good set-up and divert it in silly, pointless ways. I know it’s likely the source material’s fault, and Amagami is still better than a show which is nothing but silly, pointless diversions, but I would hope that the staff would have enough discretion to edit out some of the game’s worse elements. Apparently not.

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