Amagami SS: What else is there to do on Christmas?

Yes, yes, I have reviews, translations, and a year-end post being written, but I felt lazy and decided to marathon a Christmas-themed show on Christmas Eve. Amagami SS originally aired from July-December 2010 and is an adaption of the Playstation 2 game Amagami. The series composers decided to highlight the fact that there’s not a “true” route by dividing the 26 episodes into 6 main character arcs of four episodes and 2 “bonus” episodes (one aired, and one only available on the final BD/DVD). Due to that, I feel the need to review each arc separately plot-wise.

Haruka Morishima was a great begining to the series. It introduced us to the main characters and yet provided a compelling story. I greatly enjoy Haruka’s character as she provided a lot of light-hearted moments throughout the entire series. Being able to see her “serious” side was a complete pleasure. I never once thought “this doesn’t make sense” for her and yet she was never portrayed as “weak.” For the longest time, I felt as though this would be my favorite arc, but we’ll save that for later. Final score:86

Kaoru Tanamachi began my first doubts into the viewing. While the plot was decently shown and had logical beginnings, endings, and progression, I personally didn’t care for Kaoru as a character and thus I didn’t like this arc. It’s not horrible; I personally didn’t enjoy it much. Objectively, it was a decent follow-up to Haruka’s arc, but lacked the emotional ties the first one set. Final score: 72

Sae Nakata introduced the concept of the narrator, which greatly helped fill in moments where we wouldn’t know information, but felt somewhat against the “show, don’t tell” principle. Sae herself is nearly the “shy girl” trope continued again. Since they were going with the comedic moments with the narrator, I wouldn’t have minded using the cuter SD images for her inner monologues or something similar. I enjoyed her ED theme and animation the best out of everyone and ensured I’d stay to watch it every time. Final score: 75 (If only for the ED)

Ai Nanasaki expanded on what Ai had been throughout the series, a friend of our protagonist’s sister who was very into swimming. She did feel somewhat cliche with the “strict girl” attribute and in fact the whole arc felt as though it was somewhat “going through the motions.” It was executed well, but it wasn’t enough to gather me in. Final score: 73

Rihoko Sakurai is the classic “childhood friend who wants more.” One part that I enjoyed about her arc was that she wasn’t solely about Junichi; she was interested in many other things such as the tea club. Unfortunately, I felt her arc wasn’t that interesting overall. I enjoyed that they were able to keep the tea club going onward and the fact that they weren’t “together” at the end. It was a nice diversion from the rest of the main heroines. Final score: 64

Tsukasa Ayatsuji was what the entire series was building to and it did not disappoint. Ayatsuji is an amazing character and is easily the most developed of the four. Playing off of the typical “class leader” trope, the arc puts the “perfect” person in another light. This was easily the best arc of the show and is one that I wouldn’t mind showing to others. Final score: 91

Risa Kamizaki and Miya Tachibana are more of the usual “visual novel” type of episodes where the different arcs intertwine. That’s not to say they suffer for it, in fact, they offer another full story on their own. I was incredibly suspicious of Risa and the payoff was very worthwhile. I liked the use of the ED to finish the story. Miya was a great use of her character to bond closer with her brother and to offer an outside perspective of what the typical VN would look like. Final scores: 81/77

Our main protagonist Junichi is not one of my favorite characters and drags the show down in its weaker points. At points I felt annoyed that it was him that the story focused around and not someone else. I feel the best arcs were able to survive based on the strength of the female lead or on the story itself. Every male lead can’t be Okazaki though, so it’s tolerable at least.

Visually, Amagami SS adapts an interesting style that goes more for realism than exaggerated imagery. It took me a little while to warm up to the character designs, but I find them quite fascinating. There’s a little amount of what could be called “fanservice” or “erotic”, but the scenes are logically placed. The OPs maintain the tasteful style, but the EDs have some very suggestive moments. I appreciated the different styles for each ED and they all fit with their characters.

Amagami SS had a very good cast of seijyu who returned from the video game. I thought each voice fit their character as best they could. None felt out of place, which is a great compliment. No one person stole the show voice-wise, but no one suffered due to it. The BGM was placed appropriately, but never overwhelmed a scene. I have no complaints audibly.

Overall, the series to me feels more like two outstanding arcs that have four mediocre arcs inbetween. The choice to “reset” the show every four episodes felt new and allowed each main character their time to shine. Unfortunately, I feel that some of the stories weren’t of the same quality that others had and suffered due to that same amount of time that could have been added to others. The final two episodes feel like appropriate extensions of the show instead of separate like OVAs usually do due to the arc-based structure. Regardless, I feel this show is certainly worth a viewing by any visual novel fan. Since there was much more mediocre, the overall score suffers, but I feel the grades given to each arc reflect that part’s viewing. Final Score: 80

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