The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Amagami SS Plus

Title: Amagami SS Plus
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: AIC
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 6 Jan 2012 – 30 Mar 2012

Synopsis: Tachibana Junichi’s relationship with his girlfriend, Ayatsuji Tsukasa, has continued, but while he dreams of the two of them going further as a couple, her ambition is to become student council president. The student council elections are fast approaching, and Tsukasa, along with three other nominees, are running for president. However both Tsukasa and her main rival, Kurosawa Noriko, have made surprising announcements for their running mates.

The Highlights
Fetishism: The formula has become stale, but some moments are particularly embarrassing.
Characters: Too unbelievably childish and stupid to carry any attempt at romantic drama.
Character designs: All the girls are pretty, but one character design stands out as lazy.
Cringe-factor: Too high, too often.

In a strange way, the first season of Amagami grew on me over the course of the series. In part it may just have been that my tolerance for Amagami’s flippantness and inanity improved, but I did find more sympathy and enjoyment in the latter arcs, in that I actually had some. What started out as bemusement and embarrassment for the earlier episodes developed into genuine ambivalence later on, and I was happy for that to be the case. Amagami SS was light-hearted, meaningless, fanciful entertainment, made to stir up some momentary controversy before being quickly forgotten by all involved shortly after. So, why the need for a second season? This question hounded me throughout all thirteen episodes, and I’ve yet to discover a satisfactory answer.

Amagami SS won some fans for its fetishistic bravado in the first season, and such fans might get a bit of enjoyment from Plus, although the fanservice here isn’t quite as audacious, and the gimmick has grown stale and formulaic. It’s a good thing the girls in Amagami look so damn fine, because there’s not much else here to enjoy. It’s clear from the structure of each two-part omnibus arc – with a fetishistic fanservice moment somewhere during the first episode and a dramatic romantic climax in the second – that Amagami wants to be seen as a romance, at some level. Here’s where it fails.

The romantic dilemmas the characters go through are so superficial and childish that it’s impossible to credit that these people are believable adolescents. Sure, teenagers can be stupid, but not this stupid. The characters of Amagami act more like eight-year-olds, except they’re also hormonal, rendering any attempt at drama too dumb to take seriously. The culmination of Haruka’s arc is particularly insulting, especially the way it is accepted as a happy ending rather than the swindle it is. Key parts of Ai’s and Kaoru’s arcs are also nonsensical.

The combination of passive-aggressive sexuality and ill-developed personalities make for utterly cringe-worthy moments… a regularity in Plus. Unfortunate scenes like the one where Ai sings to Junichi, or the fake wedding between Junichi and Haruka, or basically any of the awkward interactions shared by Sae and Junichi, are painful to watch and give ammunition to those who argue that watching anime is a shameful activity that should only be done in solitude.

Miya’s antics are the only thing I found enjoyable about this sequel; everything else is half-assed, and a not-insignificant portion of it is downright embarrassing. The introduction of Haruka’s cousin is particularly lazy and insulting – in a series where character designs are so important (and I’m not just talking aesthetics), why the need to clone one already in the show? AIC’s effort in the visuals is clear to see, but whatever few good ideas the writers had were obviously exhausted during the first season. Amagami SS could have been remembered (or forgotten) as a mediocre anime with a few audacious fanservice moments, but this disastrous and mostly pointless sequel has spoiled any chance of that happening.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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