Amagami SS+ plus

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, August 10, 2014

While most romance anime tends to go the harem route and explore one relationship while leaving all of the other options out, Amagami SS was a breath of fresh air as it hit the reset button after every four episodes and allowed protagonist Junichi Tachibana to date all of them, as if the previous arcs had never happened. It was fun to watch and the female leads were all likeable in their own way, creating a series that was fun to spend time with. While it wasn’t one that I’d consider to reach the level of an all-time favorite it was an anime I liked enough to potentially go through a second time, but I wasn’t expecting a second season to surface. Amagami SS+ plus comes almost two years after the original series, and acts as a fan service season that provides viewers with two more episodes for each girl. This review is going to contain some spoilers from the first season, as watching plus without prior knowledge would not be advised.

Amagami SS’ first season had Junichi get into relationships with five of the six girls he either knew previously or met while in high school. The exception to this was Rihoko, the childhood friend who I felt got screwed over as she was the only one cast into friend zone status and was cast as the “overweight girl.” Thankfully in plus it seems like she gets a second chance, having another two episodes to try and get through Junichi’s dense head that she wants the two of them to be more than friends. For the other five, the two episode arc picks up right where things left off at the beginning of the first season and shows them as an established couple who go through some kind of conflict that tests their relationship. As you might imagine, having two less episodes per arc does limit how in-depth these conflicts really are but it was still nice to have the opportunity to spend just a little more time with each of these characters.

To do a quick recap, each of the six love interests in Amagami SS represented the different personalities one would usually find in a romance game. Kaoru and Rihoko serve as the childhood/middle school friends, Sae and Ai are friends of Junichi’s younger sister, Tsukasa is the class rep who seems perfect but is actually a bit crazy, and Haruka who is the older girl that seems out of the protagonist’s league. That’s vastly oversimplifying their personalities, but hopefully those of you reading this have seen the first season (as the episodes assume you have) and therefore already are familiar with the nuances of each character. What I was hoping for was that this new season would give me a bit more character development and find some of the romance progressing between Junichi and his chosen girlfriend, and while I got that with some of the arcs it didn’t quite happen with all of them.

The order the arcs go in seems to have been reversed this time around, as Haruka’s was first in the original series and is last in plus. Viewers will notice a good deal of continuity between the two seasons, as they follow the same narrative styles. What this means is that the episodes for Rihoko are once again told from her perspective, and Sae’s arc has a narrator that occasionally breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to those watching. Two of the arcs that surprised me this time around were Tsukasa and Haruka. In the original series, Tsukasa came off as a bit psychotic at times as she acted like the perfect honor student outwardly but actually had a very nasty personality. This time around she actually became a bit more likeable in my opinion, as her arc has a rival Student Council President competitor try and “steal” Junichi from her to get ahead and we get to watch how she overcomes it. In the process she became more relatable and not just the crazy psychotic love interest that seems to be oddly popular in a lot of anime. As for Haruka, she shows a bit more vulnerability this time as she is pre-occupied with the possibility of marriage. Viewers get introduced to Jessica, Haruka’s British cousin who looks just like her and is even more outgoing and silly (which I didn’t think was possible). The arc also ends with what is likely the most unrealistic love confession I’ve ever seen in an anime, but I won’t hold that against it.

Tsukasa and Haruka may have showed some slight character growth that made their personalities a bit more appealing to me this time around, but what about the others? As I mentioned earlier, Rihoko finally gets the chance to shine in her arc which I thought was great, though I’m still not that crazy about the constant emphasis on her weight. She’s a very likeable character who’s a bit clumsy buy very good natured, so I was happy to see her finally get a shot at romance this time around. Sae and Ai almost have the same arc in plus, as their scenario focuses on the two of them becoming so busy with school activities that it’s hard to find time for Junichi. Kaoru’s arc was my favorite though, as it has the two planning a trip together and getting lost along the way, leading to a major argument. The reason this arc stuck with me so much was because it actually seemed like a more realistic representation of a relationship than Amagami SS has shown previously. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of the scenarios and Junichi’s perverted personality that somehow won the girls over, but a lot of the situations were your typical fantasy romance bits that did not translate over to real life at all. But this particular situation felt quite easy to relate to, and made it stand out in my mind after I had finished watching.

The animation in the original Amagami SS wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary, but AIC did a decent job of bringing these characters to life and presenting your typical Japanese school and town setting. For plus it does seem like they were able to up the production values slightly, as there’s an increased emphasis on each of the female leads and it seems like they gave them more detail than before. I’m not really sure exactly what’s different that makes plus feel a bit more detailed, but each of the thirteen episodes felt like they had a number of eye catching moments and caught my attention. I also continue to like the fact that this series went for a more realistic style, using character animations that look closer to real people rather than the usual chibi and super deformed reactions that are common for anime. Overall, for this particular genre of anime I felt the animation was high quality and drew the viewer into each arc.

Amagami SS+ plus has the exact same cast as the previous season, so the voice actors and actresses have not changed. Therefore how you feel about their performances will depend on your opinion of the original season, as there aren’t any real differences in this regard. I mentioned in my previous review how the voice actress for Sae might get on some people’s nerves as she has one of those sickly sweet high pitched voices, but aside from that there isn’t much to comment on as all of the performances are convincing and help to give each character their own distinctive personality. I’m sure the voices will also be a factor in which girl viewers decide is their personal favorite. The opening and ending themes were once again performed by azusa, and they’re another set of catchy J-pop songs that fit the lighthearted nature of the series. I will admit that I think the original theme song “I Love” from the first season is the best one that was used throughout Amagami SS, but these new tunes were still catchy enough to get stuck in my head.

Amagami SS+ plus gives viewers two additional episodes per female lead, and if you were a fan of the original series it’s worth spending time with these characters all over again. While some of the situations don’t progress the relationships too much farther than the original Amagami SS, a few of the girls are given some additional development and I liked them more this time around which made this season worth watching. I wouldn’t say that this is a mandatory viewing and isn’t quite up there with some of the best romance anime I’ve seen, but there’s still something genuinely compelling about this particular show and I was glad it got another season and some finality for some of the romance arcs.

http://sentai-filmworks.com/
http://www.hulu.com/amagami-ss-plus

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