Amagami SS Episode 24 – I Love Her for Her
For quite some time, I’ve been waiting for Amagami to show some of the promise it had in its early episodes. For it to tie Jun’ichi’s Christmas rejection more firmly back into the plotline. For the heroines to actually show some decent psychological depth. For the arc not to feel like a two episode story padded out to four with random cameos of the other girls.
I’m happy to say that, finally, this show nails it. This arc not only surpasses the boring arcs we’ve put up with for the past two to three months, but the initial arcs that sold me on the show in the first place. We have a heroine as fundamentally good as Kaoru and with as many psychological issues as Haruka—and a Jun’ichi that’s the best we’ve seen paired with her. I don’t think this arc is enough to make the show as a whole a keeper, but it does as good a job as it can trying to change my mind.
Tsukasa maintains her new saccharine personality throughout the early parts of the episode, as the class does an excellent job finishing up preparations for the Founder’s Festival. She doesn’t drop it even after the work is done and it would be “safe” to do so, or when she’s just around Jun’ichi. It seems her new personality is here to stay.
Despite remaining openly romantically interested in Jun’ichi—if anything being more affectionate—he continues to worry about it. Only after a talk with Umehara (who, once again, is allowed to be cool so long as he doesn’t get a girl) does Jun’ichi find the motivation, and the courage, to confront Tsukasa openly about it.
And he is remarkably open: Jun’ichi’s verbal expression of his love for Tsukasa sounds more like what a heroine would say to him after being won, than what the male lead should say. (At another point Tsukasa notes he sounds sort of like a girl.)
Jun’ichi’s statement is commendable for its degree of tact and sensitivity. He loves her now, he is careful to confirm, just as he loved her before her personality change. But since he loves both parts of her, he’s sad to see her abandon a part of herself that he loves.
This manages to bring Tsukasa back to her “real self” at least long enough to beat Jun’ichi to the floor. As I suspected, she changed her personality only because she believed it was what Jun’ichi wanted, and she’s angered that he would “change his mind” after she’s been trying so hard to suppress her own feelings. It also shows how much she had come to love and care for Jun’ichi, to be willing to change herself based on she thought was what he wanted.
Jun’ichi, again knowing the thing to say, takes his pummeling well, in obvious relief that the Tsukasa he knew was still there. After Tsukasa recovers from her tears, she and Jun’ichi have a mutual moment of honesty, and reaffirm their relationship as snow begins to fall.
As far as the relationship itself went, this was the most psychologically intriguing arc since the first one. It’s also the only one since Haruka to end with a flashforward to ten years later, but this time I have much less skepticism about the end result. While with Haruka, Jun’ichi only tended to worsen his own relationship issues (and worsen hers too, without knowing it), here Tsukasa and Jun’ichi lead each other to be better than they are. I can’t think of a more rewarding relationship than that.
Series Review: So, Amagami was about half right: two good arcs followed by three poor-to-abysmal arcs before a superb wrap-up at the end. As this was an anthology series, with each plot existing as a separate timeline, that makes it difficult to say much about the show as a whole. There are some general pointers about it.
First, the show was at its best when it could properly integrate the Christmas rejection into the plotline. Both in the first and last arc it affected almost everything Jun’ichi did (albeit in a more subtle fashion in the last), and it provided some emotional weight that made Jun’ichi more complicated than your average bland clueless male romantic protagonist. Plotwise, each of the girls has been done before in some other situation; it’s Jun’ichi’s back story that made the show unique. Anytime the writers could capitalize on that, it helped.
Second, the girls themselves have to be interesting enough to carry an arc—particularly when the cameos for the other heroines are just cameos, with no lasting plot revelation otherwise. We had one of the first truly pointless cameos in Kaoru’s arc and it just kept getting worse from there.
Third, you don’t need fanservice to keep the plot interesting. This was particularly the case with Kaoru (where the major bit of fanservice felt out of place) and with Tsukasa (where they really didn’t bother with fanservice at all). The show made an early stab at distinguishing itself through innovative exploitation, but that was dropped reasonably early on. The following arcs suffered, but not for that.
All of this, of course, can be summed up with the general rule: have decent characters and decent plots. It’s hardly rocket science, but Amagami floundered around for some time because it didn’t have enough of either—a fact that is probably the fault of the source material. Some characters were just more interesting than others, or at least had stories that better translated to an animated format. And that disparity showed.
The show had its memorable moments, and genuine flashes of brilliance here and there. I don’t regret watching the last four episodes at all. But I doubt this show will have any real staying power, or that people will be talking much about it two or three years from now. There are worse shows out there … but there are also far better ones. I’d recommend them first.