Home > Amagami SS, Episode Reviews > Amagami SS Episode 23 – Mood Swings

Amagami SS Episode 23 – Mood Swings

I do have to complement this arc of Amagami in one respect: It’s not lacking for content. Even the best storylines before now would engage in stall tactics on a regular basis, padding out the episode with pointless cameos by the other heroines. This episode restricts most such cameos to blessedly brief montages; Kaoru’s prominent appearances are completely integrated into the plot.

Instead, this episode has the opposite problem, in that it feels like there is enough plot for multiple episodes crammed into this one. There are roughly two or three arguable climaxes and the episode ends on a cliffhanger. Most importantly, the episode has Tsukasa’s emotional and mental state bouncing up and down like she’s on a trampoline. That, more than anything else, makes me cautious about the story.

Kaoru again proves that she's a great character, completely ignoring that the rest of the class has decided to ostracize Tsukasa and doing what she thinks is right. Umehara gets some good moments too, although it won't help him with the ladies

If there’s a central theme to the arc, it’s about Tsukasa being honest with herself and with others (more on this later), but a secondary theme is her learning to rely on her peers, and particularly Jun’ichi. By this point Jun’ichi has gotten to the point where he’s truly an aid and not a hindrance to her work, but unfortunately it’s not enough. She’s still overextended and the pair won’t get everything done by themselves.

Jun’ichi convinces Tsukasa to enlist the help of the rest of the class, but this backfires, as some of the other girls start complaining about Tsukasa making them do her work, and blaming it on her wasting time flirting with Jun’ichi. In response Tsusaka flips out and reveals her malevolent side, browbeating them into submission before getting on with her work.

Tsukasa's insults aren't particularly biting or creative. I think what stuns everyone is the mere fact that she aggressively defends herself

While this further hurts her reputation among the class, she doesn’t seem to mind; it is as if this moment of honesty frees her. She goes on to, in a moment of privacy with Jun’ichi, burn the notebook that let to their meeting, on the grounds she doesn’t need it anymore. She then professes her love for Jun’ich out of the blue, and he—after the shock has worn off—reciprocates.

It’s a rapid turn of events, taking up less than half the episode, and it doesn’t quite feel like there’s been a proper lead up to it. (Jun’ichi himself protests that she skipped a couple steps in her confession, and seems bewildered by the idea that she could like him.) I almost would have preferred them to push the moment to the end of the episode, just to provide more time for the two of them to bond.

My guess is that the book contained all the negative things she thought about people, but wasn't willing to say. I like the fact we still don't know exactly what was in it

Still, it’s not as if the storyline runs out of things to do once the two of them hook up. Jun’ichi helps Tsukasa out as the offended whiny girls keep up their harassment of her, and looks out for her welfare even as most of the class deserts them and they fall behind on preparations as a result. Seeing that Tsukasa is again working herself to the bone, he suggests that she try to make amends with the class and re-enlist their aid.

This has been the least morally offensive Jun’ichi so far, combining the earnest helpfulness from Kaoru’s storyline with the comparatively pure intentions of Ai’s. This doesn’t make this a particularly wise idea, however. Although he doesn’t realize it, he’s effectively asking her to lie again, to put on her mask of perfection and abase herself at the same time. She doesn’t take kindly to the suggestion.

Tsukasa actually slaps Jun'ichi twice in this episode. In both cases it seems a bit of an overreaction

But when he comes to class the next day, he discovers that she took his advice exactly. Not only did she offer a fulsome apology, but her performance—to the point of actual crying—turned the mood of the class back to her side. Even the jerks who opposed her in the first place went along to avoid looking bad. The festival preparations are saved.

Yet Jun’ichi knows this is all wrong. Tsukasa is back to her old feigned personality; if anything, it’s even more syrupy and fake than it was previously. More disturbing, she refuses to drop it even when alone with him, declaring that the old girl he knew is gone. And isn’t everyone better off as a result?

Tsukasa's tears successfully recast her antagonists as the bad guys. I'd think it was a cleverly cynical ploy if she didn't keep her "game face" on in private with Jun'ichi

I’m not certain if the show is trying to reflect that she has actual multiple personalities (if it is, it’s doing a really sloppy job of it) or just emphasize the extent to which Tsukasa takes her mask seriously. She went through the previous five arcs with only slight hints here and there of any underlying deception, so she’s probably quite good at this sort of deception. But this is the first time she’s hidden her true self from someone who already knows about it.

And it’s important that it’s her “true self” that Jun’ichi fell for: the vain, stubborn, self-important woman who still gives her all for her school. All the arcs, to one extent or another, revolve around the girl learning to trust in and depend on Jun’ichi—even when that trust isn’t justified. What makes this arc special is Tsukasa’s internal struggle to be honest about who she really is. In giving the advice that he did, Jun’ichi inadvertently undercut that.

Tsukasa's sugary new personality doesn't keep her giggling at the end from being just a little bit creepy

Of course, he’s seen the problem now, and the last episode likely be his attempts to work out a compromise where Tsukasa gets to be herself, while perhaps being a bit nicer about it. Given they’ve already declared their love as a couple, finding some form of psychological balance for her is all that remains to cement the arc. I think this is the first time they’ve had the “exterior” conflict go on for longer than the romantic one, and I don’t mind that at all.

While I think Tsukasa’s mental shifts are a bit over-the-top to be credible, this is still one of the better storylines Amagami has provided so far, and we can hope next episode will provide a worthy conclusion to the series. Well, at least as worthy as the series deserves—and, if we are lucky, possibly better than that.

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