Review for Amagami SS Plus Collection
I was a little surprised to see a sequel to Amagami SS, the anthology of romantic comedies featuring the lovelorn Junichi Tachibana, and his relationships with six girls. The thing about romantic comedies are that they are funny, and entertaining for the courtship, not the happily ever after. In the real world, it’s depressingly rare for the ever after to be happy. Once the couple are together, the only way to make the story interesting again is to throw in some strife. So Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner went from Romancing the Stone, via The Jewel of the Nile to The War of the Roses, and that ended in a ‘nice boat’ situation. With a couple of the stories in Amagami SS, we even went as far as ten years past the courtship, to truly get a glimpse of the happily ever after. So you have to wonder what Amagami SS Plus has to add to the stories. Then again, we really only got as far as the first date in narrative terms for all six stories. Maybe there’s still some scope for some comic courtship to follow.
Two years previously, Junichi Tachibana asked a girl out on Christmas Eve only to be stood up. That was a trauma that stayed with him ever since, until Christmas just past, when he managed to break the curse and ask a girl out successfully. In actual fact, he managed to pursue six different relationships, with six different girls, in six, mutually exclusive parallel stories. In Amagami SS Plus, we see what happens next in each of those tales. Once again, we get six stories with the six girls, although this time the stories are two episodes in length each, and once again, there is a bonus episode. All thirteen episodes are presented across three DVDs from MVM, and the show is also available on Blu-ray should you wish it.
Disc 1: Tsukasa Ayatsuji
4. Wind Chime
Disc 2: Ai Nanasaki
8. Traveling Companion
Disc 3: Sae Nakata
10. A Wish
Bonus: Miya Tachibana
13. Hot Springs
Amagami SS Plus gets the usual 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC widescreen transfer, which on these discs is progressively encoded. It’s a nice, pleasant looking show, which puts the work in to accentuate the aesthetic qualities of its female characters, as you would expect from an anime adapted from a dating simulation. The protagonist, Junichi is fairly nondescript, a useful viewer proxy, while the girls get to express their personality through their appearances, what they wear, and how they are animated. The character designs conform to what you’ll expect from anime, the world design is fairly detailed and the animation does what it needs to get the story across. There are moments that do catch the eye, but this is hardly a top notch animation.
You have a DD 2.0 Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles. The dialogue is clear, and the show’s music and occasional action sequences come across well, the stereo offering a fair bit of space to the audio. The subtitles are timed accurately and free of typos.
The discs present their contents with static menus. You also get jacket pictures for each disc, and translated English credits at the end of each episode.
Disc 1 is packed with textless credits, 7 openings and 7 closings.
You also get trailers for Kampfer – Fur die Liebe, Place to Place, Psychic Detective Yakumo, Amagami SS, Waiting in the Summer, and Listen to Me, Girls, I Am Your Father!
You usually hear the phrase “more of the same” as a mild exasperation of repetitive tedium, but on occasion “more of the same” can actually be a good thing. This is one of those times, as Amagami SS Plus offers more of the same gentle relationship comedy that the first series did, and builds on those earlier stories. The thing about Amagami SS was that it took the courtship between Junichi and whichever girl was the focus of that particular arc to a particular conclusion, usually the first date, or at least to Christmas, proving that Junichi’s jinx was all in his head, and that the possibility of true love did indeed exist for him. The thing is that the first date doesn’t necessarily equate to happily ever after, and there is more story to tell before you can be assured of true love for the protagonists.
Amagami SS Plus goes in reverse order of the first series, adding two episodes to each arc to see what happened next.
Tsukasa Ayatsuji was the toughest ‘conquest’ in the first season, and she remains a challenge for Junichi in this one too. One month after their first date and the Student Council President elections arise, and Tsukasa nominates Junichi as her vice president. The problems arise when a girl named Noriko Kurosawa runs for President too and also nominates Junichi. It’s an obvious spanner in their relationship but the question arises if it is just a political tactic, or if Noriko actually has feelings for Junichi. Rihoko Sakurai’s tale was the odd one out, in that it focused more on the friendship between her and Junichi, one that has continued since childhood, and her support for her friend after he got dumped, her own feelings for him remaining unrequited. In a romantic comedy, such feelings can’t remain so, thus these two episodes are all about the two finally getting those feelings across, especially for Rihoko.
With Ai Nanasaki it’s about the first anniversary of their Christmas date, something that they are both looking forward to, only Junichi goes and fails his mock college entrance exams, and winds up ‘imprisoned’ in study camp. Kaoru Tanamachi is the other childhood friend, although they did manage to start dating in her story arc. But six months later, she realises that their relationship hasn’t moved on. So she suggests taking a trip together over summer. It doesn’t go quite to plan.
Sae Nakata is Miya’s shy friend who in her story arc got mentored by Junichi, who got her to open up and be less introverted. The comedy narrator is back after 10 months to see how they are getting on, and with Sae’s popularity in school skyrocketing, as well her being selected to direct the next Christmas festival, it seems Junichi is getting twinges of self doubt, wondering if his girlfriend even needs him anymore. Finally there is Haruka Morishima, the third year student who is getting closer to graduating from high school, and who still likes roleplaying with Junichi. It turns out that her family has a tradition, that high school graduation always coincides with a marriage proposal. Now it’s just a matter of getting Junichi to take the hint.
There’s only one bonus episode this time around and although we get a little cameo from Risa Kamizaki, this one’s all about the best character in the show, Junichi’s little sister Miya Tachibana. And once again, you can put those fears to rest, as Amagami SS Plus refuses to go ‘there’. In fact, Junichi isn’t invited to this episode, as the girls all wind up at a hot springs complex, where fan service is dispensed, and girls greet each other with the traditional booby grope (complete with kettle drum and bicycle horn sound effects). Seriously, on what planet do women do that, and when’s the next starship leaving?
Amagami SS was a pleasant, entertaining and inoffensive romantic comedy, or rather six romantic comedies and Amagami SS Plus carries on in the same vein, keeping things light, silly, and charming. Now the question arises whether to watch season 1 followed by this one, or to watch each of the arcs as six complete episodes...