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Amagami SS Episode 25 – I’ve Got My Eye on You

While technically Amagami SS wrapped up with last episode, there was a bonus episode that aired a week after the official finale. It’s a one episode arc which is technically disconnected with any of the others, but it captures enough of the spirit of the show that I felt it worth talking about.

One problem with harems shows, dating sims, and even ordinary anime romances is that the relationships don’t quite make sense. Most often, the audience is left puzzling over why such an ordinary guy, who at best possesses no notable qualities and at worst is selfish, clueless, or otherwise unadmirable, should have a bunch of women falling at his feet.

The simplest explanation is that the girls have some mental disorder. Whether deliberately or not, this episode does a great job showcasing that.
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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.
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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.
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Amagami SS Episode 22 – Becoming the Lie

Well, there wasn’t quite as much bloodletting as the end of last episode might have indicated, which is perhaps a bit of a disappointment. Still, Amagami has managed to present a very different type of girl than what we’ve seen in previous arcs, even if the basic structure of the show remains basically the same.

In most of the arcs we’ve seen thus far, the plot goes with one episode of introduction, one to make the girl fall for him, one in which some external conflict arises for the girl which Jun’ichi aids her with, and then one to wrap things up. Despite the apparent conflict between the leads this time, that structure still is holding here. And while Tsukasa is far more interesting to see on screen than Sae or Rihoko, whether that interest is enough remains to be seen.
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Amagami SS Episode 21 – Reading Between the Lines

Basically since the end of Kaoru’s arc I’ve been looking for something, anything, to justify my continued interest in this show. Since then Amagami has convinced me that it can vary up its formula, and present different types of stories. What it hasn’t convinced me of is that it can tell interesting stories, or tell them well.

I should avoid sounding trumpets and declaring that the series has finally left its slump, because I did the that at the onset of Ai’s arc and it proved premature. But, like that story line, the one revolving around Tsukasa Ayatsuji presents us with at least two necessary pieces for a good romance story: an interesting male lead and an interesting female lead. That’s twice as good as we had with Rihoko.
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Amagami SS Episodes 19 and 20 – Much Ado About Nothing

I typically don’t do multi-episode reviews because I can find enough to comment about in each episode, and because I prefer to present a portrait of my thoughts on a series in an on-going fashion. Giving an opinion every episode keeps me from “cheating” by reading the impressions of a future episode backward.

With this arc of Amagami, however, I have little choice. Never has so little happened in such a large time frame. What’s more, it seems that disparity is deliberate. Both within the arc itself and within the story’s internal chronology, the presentation is meant to illustrate the waiting game Rihoko is playing with her affections toward Jun’ichi. And that makes for an easily forgettable arc.
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Amagami SS Episode 18 – A Series of Fortunate Events

At first it seemed like this arc would introduce novelty by telling the story from the girl’s point of view. This episode steps back from that innovation, splitting between Jun’ichi’s and Rihoko’s narratives about equally. We’re still getting much more of Rihoko’s perspective than any of the other girls, but it’s now a difference of degree more than kind.

That’s not to so this arc has lost any unique features; one bit of this narrative is quite unique. That is, this is the first girl who isn’t all that attractive or engaging. Ai and Kaoru had great personalities and were not without physical charms. Haruka and Sae were obvious knockouts, and while both had psychological issues, the ones they had were those which inspire feelings of attraction in men (stupid creatures that we are).

What Rihoko has is a standard collection of cliches which add up to her being clumsy, inept, and childish. All she has going for her is a reasonably attractive appearance, and the connivance of the plot. That’s enough for the writers because it’s all they have from the source material, so they have to make do. The question is whether it will be enough for the audience.
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