Amagami SS episode 01 – First Impressions

Amagami SS is centered around a unique way of adapting a multiple path romance story into an anime. Instead of focusing on one path, rewriting the story, or having multiple protagonists to cover different paths, Amagami is set up to cover each potential way things could have gone in their own set of episodes. The protagonist, Tachibana Junichi, had his heart broken two years ago when he was stood up for a date on Christmas, but now resolves to move forward and overcome his fear of future heartbreak. The first episode briefly introduces all the characters and then moves to focus on a few. While it’s only one episode in, I think I can safely say that the show will be at least decent, with potential to be something special.

Since this is the first episode and you may be deciding whether to follow the show or not, I’ll depart from my normal episodic style to talk about the basics of the show. The cast is introduced in its entirety right away, but it appears that a certain set of characters will be the most prominent in each story. Right now those are:
My name is Junichi and I’ll be your standard VN male lead for this series. Hopefully I’ll develop some more character.
Tachibana Junichi – The protagonist, and older brother to his sister Miya. Resolved to getting over his past heartbreak, he’s thus far a bit of a weakling protagonist, though his determination and taking of the initiative is commendable. Thus far he’s unfortunately fairly generic as a male lead, but I’m hoping that he’ll continue to show some determination and will have some depth added to him. His planetarium closet may be hinting at something more to him.
In some ways the spiritual successor to Mao-neechan.
Morishima Haruka – The focus of this story, she’s an upperclassman with a reputation as the “school idol.” Confident and quick to tease, she runs into Junichi when he slips and drops the bread he bought for himself and his friends. After some more encounters Junichi confesses to her, but she kindly and casually thanks him but says that she’s more into someone older and dependable.
Someone needed to be the third point in the love triangle. I’m cheering for her, even though this isn’t her arc <3
Ayatsuji Tsukasa – The class responsible class representative and judging by the frequency of her appearances this episode I’m thinking that she will play a large supporting role in the Morishima story. She’s friendly towards Junichi and seems concerned when she seems him being turned down by Morishima.
Yandere imouto?
Tachibana Miya – Junichi”s younger sister who so far hasn’t had much else to her. But she’s likely significant in this story since she runs across her brother and Morishima walking together and immediately acts cold and put-off. Whether this is because she dislikes Morishima or is playing some sort of bro-con role is yet to be determined.
The rest of the cast are present, but in much smaller roles. I’ll leave their introductions until they become more prominent since there’s nothing more to tell than the short screentime that sometimes only gives us their names.
Art, character design, and technique
Amagami’s connection to Kimi Kiss: Pure Rouge via its staff is clear from the beginning of the episode when in the OP there’s a shot of a thin vertical panel with each girl in it in a different color filter. There are also some similar situations such as the younger sister character waking up her brother and falling over, and Morishima is definitely showing some Mao-neechan like tendencies and mannerisms. My only major criticism is that I was a little annoyed by the obvious flag trigger scene in the library when Morishima and Junichi literally ran into each other. It felt a bit too VN-like and just rubbed me the wrong way. Granted this is a VN adaptation, but Kimi Kiss and True Tears used VN source material and didn’t imitate the source material in such a manner. However it is a little early to penalize Amagami too hard for this, as Kimi Kiss started out with a scene or two like this early on and then, the VN fans sated, continued on to better things. Finally, an appropriate touch is that it seems that the ED song for each story will be that character’s character song.
Character designs are also reminiscient of Kimi Kiss, and to my mind that’s a good thing. The characters all look distinct but fairly realistic, putting in balance two qualities that character designers often fail to balance (usually in the direction of distinct at the expense of realistic.) They suit the normal high school in a normal, modern setting well. The art in terms of backgrounds and settings is not especially stunning, but like the characters it seems to go for a normal look at reality. So not exciting, but fine on a technical level. There are a few bits of style in the techniques used. There is the brief but impressive moment of introspective daydreaming when Junichi is in his planetarium closet, and one shot of Morishima goes into a slightly blurred, sketch-like shot. And adding a Kurosawa/Lucas touch, there are a few horizontal scroll scene transitions.
Compare to the opening image. May Amagami follow in its footsteps in other ways.

What bout my stars?


Overall impressions

While I generally don’t commit to blogging a show after one episode, I feel confident enough in Amagami to take it on this season. Knowing how excellent the romance drama in Kimi Kiss was, it’s hard not to be hopeful about a show that is very similar to it in many ways. And the way where each potential outcome will be told in a self-contained set of episodes is quite an exciting idea. Which also raises the question, will we get a BAD END or two during the show? My only concerns are with how fast the pacing may need to be to tell a satisfying story for each path, and whether Junichi will break away from the cliche VN male lead personality. Junichi’s confession right in the first episode felt a bit quick, but not distractingly so given his commitment to try again in love and the fact that it was noted that several days had passed. And he also needed to be turned down quickly in order to move on to the rest of this first story. Overall it looks promising given its concept, characters thus far, and lineage, even if there are a few rough spots caused by its VN roots.
Everything about this is just wrong…
She actually transferred in from Lobelia Academy.
Always around the corner, and up in the window above. Go Ayatsuji! Stalking like Lunamaria, stalking like a pro!

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  1. Kherubim
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Ojou-riding plus skinship bathing with kouhai? Sounds interesting…

    • Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Lol, you should be in it for the romance too~ :P

      • Kherubim
        Posted July 4, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink

        I’d HNNNNNGGGGGHHHHHH for any bishoujo voiced by Shizuka Itou, Kaori Nazuka or Yukana… :D Yandere imouto looks promising too…

        Junichi looks pretty bland so far, as expected for a VN lead, but is that some wierd emo Newtype thing going on there???

        • Posted July 4, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

          Very much hoping for a yandere imouto. Then one of the arc endings can be the Nice Boat ending.

          Junichi can see time itself!!!

          • Kherubim
            Posted July 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

            If Junichi can see time itself, then the only option is the Yandere Imouto route… the other girls are too old… ;D

  2. Posted July 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    “VN flag, huh? I prefer my Flags to be Union, and preferably Graham Aker Customs.” – haha this made my day! good old gundam 00 reference for the win. nicely done!

    • Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, haha, I just couldn’t let the opportunity to reference my favorite 00 mobile suit there. The first Gundam model I ever built was a Graham Aker Custom Flag. I plan on getting a GN Flag model someday too.

  3. Jun-01
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    I discovered watching this show that it’s very odd when you and the main character share the same name (my middle name to be more exact). My mood kind of synchronized with Junichi’s. I know some people would be happy in my place, but it wasn’t the case for me. At the end of the episode I felt… depressed, just like Junichi.

    I don’t know if I will be able to watch all the episodes. If the first episode affected my mood with ease, I can’t imagine what will happen in the next ones :D

    • Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      That’s got to be an interesting perspective to watch a show from. I’d say definitely keep watching if it affected you as such, that’s a really intriguing vantage point to view the series from.

      I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or happy that my name is fairly unlikely to be a character’s name, since I don’t have one of those ‘cool’, i.e. effortless to pronounce using katakana, Western names.

  4. Tama
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Well.. Morishima senpai just remind me of Mao Neechan, I guess i will pick this show :)
    I really love the character design and it suited with my anime style :p

    • Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      She’s a lot like Mao in some ways, but for as much as I liked Mao I was very glad to see that she’s very different in some ways and will be her own character. Ditto on the character design, it’s got style and differentiation without going overboard. And that makes it more enjoyable in my opinion.

  5. Matt
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Once I read that this was going to be similar to True Tears I think I was in, and after the first episode im quite pleased on where it looks like things are going.

    Not much to add other then saying that it is nice to see a male lead with some initiative. If i had to settle for one more cliched, bumbling protagonist, I might have totally lost faith in anything that was trying to be a series about romance.

    • Posted July 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Comparing it to True Tears will likely work in terms of the type of romance it follows, but with each girl getting her own arc, I’m thinking that there won’t be the kind of love triangle competition that there was in that show. There might be in the setup, but since we know which arc we’re on, it’s not like the outcome will be a surprise. Unless we get a BAD END or some sort of reversal end where the primary girl helps Junichi get together with someone else. Which would be interesting paths to take for some of the arcs.

      Agreed about Junichi. He’s started out a bit shaky, but he’s definitely showing signs of potential. Hopefully they will only grow with time.

      • Matt
        Posted July 4, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Im okay with them doing it in an arc-style show. Almost like, not sure if I get raked for the reference, but any of the Key adaptations save AB! and Clannad. Air and Kanon seemed like they psudeo followed an arc set up without telegraphing it. I always felt the way Key/KyoAni handled the transition was clunky and Amagami SS to me is doing this better by getting right out and saying “We are doing this girl by girl, no harem, no nothing else, each story will be self-contained.” At least that’s why I think. I’m haven’t read anything that said they are going to restart it after each arc, but given the interaction between the other girl candidates, and how you sniffed out the flag trigger, it wouldn’t surprise me if they replay that first ep, change the flag and follow each path till the end. Either way it should be good.

        • Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          Angel Beats and the first half of Kanon is the only experience I have with Key series, but I see what you meant about Kanon. Oh how easy it is for the protagonist in Kanon, getting to complete all the routes because once he finishes one the girl disappears and he can just move on to the next :P

          How the do the restarts is going to be fun to watch. I think your idea about replaying a first episode scenario with different triggers, flags, and circumstances is a likely method, and an interesting one. Or I wonder if he’ll have different planetarium closet epiphanies at the start of each beginning episode and then that will influence how he goes about the first day of each arc. It’s only one episode but this show is already giving us all kinds of fun things to speculate about.

  6. Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I don’t really like the way they introduced all the girls in the first episode — it seemed very VN-ish. Well, I know it came from a VN but still… they could have done something to break it up a little, make it seem a little less contrived. Junichi* doesn’t look like much now, but he has the potential to develop into an interesting character. The thing is, now whenever he might develop a trait that’s even slightly manly, he’ll have a girl there waiting to fall in love. It’s only the first episode, and I’m already having doubts about the whole each-girl-gets-an-arc thing. What if they try to pull one where each arc is supposed to be obviously sequential, ie he gets together with a girl, (hopefully develops his character,) breaks up and moves on to the next arc. We’ll have another MANkoto on our hands, with the imouto as the last boss.

    That aside, *puts shipping hat on* I’m not sure what to thing about Ha— oh, just noticed her name’s Haruka. Another plus in my book. Anyways, she seems o have a nice personality, good looks (and a good name) — let’s see if Junichi can man up enough to be attractive to her. Which brings up a point in her disfavor; why did she act so friendly towards him if she wasn’t attracted to him? I can perfectly understand why she’d just want to be friends, but it did come across as something a little more. Just curious how this will work out for now.

    *I’m really not very good with remembering names in anime, but for some odd reason this one came directly to mind. Probably because every other VN hero/m.c. has had a name like Junichi/Jun/Jin. Yamada Junichi must be the Japanese version of John Smith.

    • Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      If they went with sequential arcs (which I highly doubt) then this is going to be the biggest dorama fest since White Album or School Days. In which case I’m hoping for a Misery-style yandere imouto end, hehe.

      Haruka is someone who I’m guessing has some personal reasons for rejecting Junichi even if she came on to him earlier. The way she delivered that line about preferring an older, more responsible guy came off as a bit half-hearted, like she was just using it as an excuse to increase the distance between them now that they’ve gotten close. That’s just my theory though, we’ll likely find out something more next week.

  7. Micchon
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    The world needs more VNs. And I have to say, I actually quite like this adaptation so far…going on watching the first episode alone, I’d just be oogling at who I think is cute. So at the moment, it would be the super-smart Ayatsuji and her go-getting attitude of ‘I’ll do this, that, the other, and anything else too.’ In my high school, we didn’t even have class representatives.

    There’s a total bro-con relationship going on already; Morishima can’t bag Tachibana, because his sister beat her to it. All she can do is just happen to be in Tachibana’s way, and tell him he’s a good guy, but that’s not exactly helping him put his heart back together. No, he just needs to be much stronger, inside of just hiding in his planetarium, which really is just a closet with fluorescent spots on the wall.

    • Posted August 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      The way Amagami is adapting a VN’s multiple routes was what grabbed my interest back at season preview time, and they’re doing an excellent job managing the ‘architecture’ of multiple arcs. Ayatsuji was my instant favorite too, though sadly we’ll have to wait until the final four episodes to see her arc.

      Junichi certainly took a major hit to his peace of mind after the Christmas incident, but you’ll find that both he and Haruka have more creativity and initiative in them than you might think at the start. As for Miya, well she may get a chance for a mini-arc in the two DVD/BD extra episodes at the end of the series.

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