Amagami SS episode 13, Ai arc part I – The Ai Arc and the New Junichi

With the start of a new Amagami arc and in light of recent developments, THAT’s Amagami Monitoring Group has prepared this rundown of recent events in that Ai arc. Now that a new arc has begun, the situation has changed rapidly and much is yet undecided. Indeed episode 13 has introduced a plethora of new elements and dynamics that have yet to form a coherent picture. But using our trademark methods, seasoned analysts, and access to a wide range of sources, Amagami Watch brings you the most complete picture possible of unfolding issues of strategic romance issues.

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Recent Developments

- During episode 13, roughly one month before the start of the Founders’ Festival, a new Junichi appeared with a moderately different personality from past iterations. This ‘fourth generation’ Junichi has many characteristics similar to the standard, much less interesting male lead. Features include uninteresting perversion, wandering into flags, and other typical behavior. Subject expert Crusader would call this the “loser harem animu male” type of character.

- Nanasaki Ai has recently entered the scene as the dominant actor in the high school region. Previous arcs kept her well to the sidelines, but now it is apparent that she is taking a much more active role in events.

File photo.

- Following an encounter at a nearby playground where Ai accused Junichi and Umehara of being perverts under the pretense of a deadpan joke, Ai continued to act in a surprisingly forward manner by teasing Junichi later in the day. Venturing outside before swimming, she allowed Junichi to ‘peak’ under her skirt, only to reveal that she was wearing her swim suit.

- Another recent entrant into the regional strategic picture is a black cat that has started wandering the campus. THAT sources involved in the region have indicated that it is known for its shiny, soft fur and goes by the name of ‘Pooh.’

A reliable source claiming indirect access.

- The most striking development has been the sudden move to openness by Ai. While previous accounts always noted her timidity, for unknown reasons she proceeded to ask Junichi to come shopping with her, ostensibly to collect tickets for the shopping district prize drawing. This was followed by a walk on the beach where she revealed her past involvement in cleaning up the shore along with the rest of the swimming team.

Analysis

This week has presented us with a large volume of information as well as a number of mixed signals. Ai at first appeared to be something of a deadpan character, and this was in line with her previous introverted nature. But then it wasn’t long until she teased Junichi by revealing her swimming suit and then asking him to come along with her while she went shopping. It feels as if she’s half one character, a quiet kuudere type, and half another, someone more outgoing and open. Given how she’s just met Junichi, this is especially puzzling. There is also the matter of her revealing that she does all the housework because her parents both work, and combined with her initial encounter with Junichi when she was preoccupied with giving her little brother a Christmas gift, points to some potentially troublesome trends. It is our opinion that Ai could have come off as a more interesting character had she stuck with the quiet introverted behavior for a little longer, or just dispensed with the act from the beginning and started acting as the sort of ‘responsible but lonely’ character she came off as in the latter half of the episode. There seems to be a lack of consistency in her recent actions, though perhaps this rapid change is due to operational time constraints.

Not exactly what you’d expect given her previous appearances.

- The new ‘fourth generation’ Junichi, hereafter referred to as J4, appears to lack to more distinctive traits of his predecessors. He has yet to show any sort of motivation or guiding influences such as J1′s Christmas-induced lack of confidence, J2′s casualness with Kaoru, or J3′s sense of humor or obliviousness. As of our most recent intelligence, J4 has yet to distinguish himself from the much despised “loser harem animu male.” J4 even turned down Umehara’s advice to help out Ayatsuji Tsukasa for no apparent reason. He wanders into ‘flag’ situations repeatedly and inadvertently, act perverted but in the falsely embarrassed sort of way instead of a more interesting or open fashion, and doesn’t seem to have any qualities that would attract Ai to him. Given past experiences with J1-J3 we hope and expect this situation to change. But as of this writing there is no substantial indication that he will be as interesting.

Opinion (guidance for interpretation beyond our analysis)

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The hell is wrong with you Junichi? I suppose my lovely Tsukasa will have to wait for the final arc.

- This little encounter was just the sort of missed opportunity that I hope the Tsukasa arc will start out on. And while I know this is the Ai arc, I just couldn’t help thinking “so close! It’s right in front of you!!!

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With a look like that, this cat must play some sort of role in this arc.

- While I was rather underwhelmed by how disjointed this first episode felt, throwing out all sorts of elements and character changes without much structure, I did see a bit of promise (likely comedic) in the introduction of the cat that’s been roaming campus. I don’t have a good reason why other than Pooh being pointed out as being there, but I think some fun could be had with the cat as a plot device.

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Evangleion, anyone?

- Despite how quickly Ai seemed to drop her quiet, introverted, deadpan demeanor, they couldn’t have tried channeling Ayanami Rei any more during the ED sequence, could they? The poses, the expressions, the multiple Ai clones in this shot. Just put her in a plugsuit already and be done with it!

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Ai and Kamille: both girls’ names.

- Hey, I’d be up for a Zeta Gundam ending! It’s about time we had a less than GOOD END to an arc. Sarah Zabiarov to be played by Miya, Tsukasa as Haman Karn…

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24 Comments

  1. Posted September 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    This episode confirms it for me. This entire series is meant to teach guys that female are highly complicated beings. No matter how complicated you think they really are, you aren’t even close to the truth.

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Eh, I’m thinking you might be giving Amagami too much credit. There’s complicated in a realistic way, and then there’s complicated in a ‘we decided to throw a bunch of things together’ way. This first episode of the Ai arc seems to be the latter to me. Even the seemingly illogical have a sort of internal logic to their actions in my experience, this just seemed inconsistent.

  2. godlet
    Posted September 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Much agreement all around. J4 really needs to up his distinguishing features. Honestly though I am a bit disappointed with how early all of Ai’s guards have (seemingly) fallen. Still didn’t mind making time to watch it though in spite of having my F1 passes, it didn’t fail to entertain. I do reiterate my previous interest in seeing something even close to a “less-than-ideal end” though. Maybe J4 could fall for Hibiki instead of Ai at first? That could get interesting, but perhaps too much drama for this show? Glad I wasn’t the only one who thought of EVA with the ending sequence. Liked the song…

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, J4 just doesn’t stand out in any way, good or bad. Even J1′s emoness at the start gave him something to call his own. A less than ideal ending would be great, or even the mid-course diversion that you mentioned. Hibiki really deserves more screentime, though I’m not sure that they can fit in that sort of love triangle given time constraints. Which, for as much as I like this arc format, is a weakness of it.

  3. Lectro Volpi
    Posted September 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    This arc has a lot to offer (using the game and manga as base), let us hope the censor hammer does not hit too hard!

    I was puzzled with the sudden change in Ai’s way of treating Junichi but I remember that Ai’s not really a cold girl.

    Thanks for your… deadpan review and sadly no Amagami next week! bawww…

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Ai isn’t as cold as she first appeared, but it still did feel sudden. We’ll have to see how the writers continue on with this next time. Hopefully they’ll start running with the character and this will just have been a rocky start to a great arc.

      No Amagami next week?! FFFFFFUUUUUUUUU–oh wait, I’ll be out of town next weekend starting Friday, so that kind of works for me. It’ll give everyone more of a chance to check out the newly airing shows that weekend too.

      On the post style, I’m going for a news analysis/private intelligence report angle on it. Hopefully it’ll work out. The posting styles experiment continues.

  4. qwerty
    Posted September 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s prudent to label a side of Ai as kuudere based on previous arcs.

    I can’t recall exactly but I don’t think she’s had as much sideline screen time as a lot of other characters have had before/after their arcs, and when she was on screen it was usually in such mild situations that she can’t help but come off as a quiet type.

    Add to the fact that she’s almost always flanked by the Sae and Miya combo and she’s going to fade a bit in the background.

    On a side note the ED is simply marvelous for this arc. I think i’ve replayed the it over and over more times than Haruka and Kaoru’s endings together.

    • Lectro Volpi
      Posted September 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes! the ending is amazing, for me it is second only to “Kitto Ashita Wa…” that has a nostalgic tone!

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      You could be right, but even so the show could have given her at least a moment or two alone to convey what they’re trying to tell us is her real personality. But regardless, so long as they choose one personality and stick with it next time I won’t have further complaints. Either one would be interesting to see.

      I think I’m the only one who doesn’t like the ED song. Well, me and Lelangir, but that’s about it.

      • godlet
        Posted September 27, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Actually. In my comment I said I liked the ED song. But having listened to it again I’ve come to agree with your dislike of it. I found I only liked it because it uses a slightly less common chord progression (for pop) in the chorus and only remembered being pleasantly surprised by that (and still like that part). The problem of being a music major I guess is focusing on random details like that rather than the big picture…

  5. Epi
    Posted September 25, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I was a little disappointed in J4 as well. Seems the worst yet. As for Ai she seems like an awesome girl if just waaaaaaay too lonely (especially considering how easily she falls for J4 and how much she’s willing to put out so quickly. Was hoping shed be more tsundere. Oh well.

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      I was expected her to be somewhat more tsundere or kuudere, but as you say, she comes off as quite lonely. Which I can see given that she takes care of everything at home and wants an outlet, but I cannot fathom why Junichi would be that outlet. Unlike previous versions, J4 has yet to demonstrate anything of interest to him. Let us hope that changes.

  6. Posted September 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Yah, Ai definitely is not a Rei clone. I don’t think there would be any confusion at all if she didn’t have such a small role in previous arcs, where pretty much every scene she’s in she’s upstaged by whoever she’s with. But, if we remember the first time we really see her in ep 1 or 2, she was rather firmly against Haruka and J1 being at the pool. Of course Hauka only listens to Hibiki.

    I see Ai as half-way between Hibiki and that tall tea club girl (yah, I know there’s not a lot of range there). Ai is more firm, and talkative, than the tea club girl, but isn’t near as humorless as Hibiki. She also has that little perverse sense of humor that combines both of them. Definitely a deadpan snarker. Always watch out for the quiet ones.

    I’m just glad she’s not the tsundere. I was afraid of that from the last ep preview. But this show doesn’t patronise us like that.

    Though Ai and Miya look way too similar.

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Ai and Miya could use some visual differentiation, I’d agree.

      The Ai – Rei link was something I only really saw in the way she was presented visually in the ED sequence, though I expected at least a little bit of Rei in her personality otherwise. Especially after she was introduced with that ‘just joking’ scene at the start. Which seemed incompatible with how she acted later. There’s deadpan (like say Daria from the series of the same name) and then there’s something more like Eriko from KimiKiss, which is how I thought Ai would be after that introductory scene. But all in all my problems with this first episode aren’t enough to turn me off to the whole arc, so long as they don’t continue.

  7. Merq
    Posted September 26, 2010 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I like Ai. I think she may be one of those girls who’s offsetting at first because of the way she comes across, but once you talk to her she’s actually pretty cool. When I moved in middle school everyone thought I was stuck up until they actually spoke to me.

    I love the ED.

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Ai could be that kind of character, but the way the writers handled it felt rather disjointed to me. But we’ll see how it goes from here, now that they seemed to have picked a personality things ought to go more smoothly. Junichi J4 still needs a bit of work though.

  8. Lectro Volpi
    Posted September 26, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I asked Mr. Shin and now it’s your turn.

    What do you think about Ai’s puffy jacket?

    • Posted September 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      I was actually thinking about her jacket (and those of the other girls) as I watched this episode. I was wondering if the choices of outerwear might be trying to display something about the characters. Tsukasa seems appropriately proper with just the standard school uniform black, Kaoru seems a bit ‘rough and tumble’ with her bomber jacket-esque suede/leather and soft wool collar, and then Ai stands out the most from the others with a puffy yellow down jacket.

      Aesthetically, I’m not too keen on it. I’ve never liked those big, puffy jackets, especially in bright colors. Thematically, I think it sets her up for the sort of character I originally expected her to be. It’s large size seemed like it was insulating, showing how she’s more withdrawn. But then this episode seemed to drop that part of her nature right away, so I guess a big jacket as metaphor for being defensive and closed off no longer works.

      • Lectro Volpi
        Posted September 27, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

        That was longer than I expected; I was curious because of Mr. Divine’s interest in it.

        Ah yes, you work the same way as Mr. Shin with the answers but I will give it a try. Do you know why this show is called Amagami SS, why the SS?

        Thank you for your time.

        • Posted September 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          Schutzstaffel? :P

          No idea why it’s called SS. I had figured that the word ‘stage’ was in there somewhere, but I can’t come up with another word that makes sense. I’d sure like to know what it stands for though, or if it was just arbitrary.

          • Lectro Volpi
            Posted September 29, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

            Whoa!!!! What an answer hahahaha!

            At Mr. Shin’s blog they said it stands for “Second Season”, the game being the first; works for me, Schutzstaffel too!

  9. David
    Posted September 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Loved the ending music; my favorite thus far, and really just quite enjoyable in general.

    I’ll agree in that I really don’t know what to think of Ai. The initial encounter in the park seemed to have potential, despite it not really meshing with what we’ve seen of her previously, but then it just kinda got tossed out and we’re left with this goody-goody responsible helper that just really doesn’t seem to fit. If anyone is likely to be cleaning up after everyone else, I would expect it to be the class rep, not the swimmer.

    We have the nervous and shy companion of Sae and Miya (and being shy next to Sae takes work… ), otherwise unnotable. Then there’s the encounter in the park, and the first thought is that she’s rather on the more… adventurous side of things, and covers it up at school, being nervous about letting others know her ‘true’ self. But no, that’s also tossed away and, as you said, a bunch of stuff happens that doesn’t really seem to have any motivation for it, plus she’s a good girl always taking care of her family, etc.

    I don’t *dis*like her, but I’m having a hard time coming up with any reason to care about her (or J4, for that matter) in the slightest.

  10. ectholion
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    “Hey, I’d be up for a Zeta Gundam ending! It’s about time we had a less than GOOD END to an arc. Sarah Zabiarov to be played by Miya, Tsukasa as Haman Karn” ….lol that would be great.

  11. Posted October 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Catching up in my anime, as taking two 8-week Psyche courses this semester has caught up with me.

    In my opinion, Ai only seems disjointed in retrospect. I saw her as someone who has a bit of fun at the expense of strangers, but becomes more ‘normal,’ more open, more friendly once she has reason to know someone better. She also appears to have nothing against socializing with people she ‘should’ know, eg her friend’s brother. I bet that if she and Junichi were originally introduced to each other by Miya instead of meeting at the park, we would never have seen her ‘stranger face.’

    Aside from that, it has seemed to me that each Junichi has gotten lamer and more typically perverted, not just this one. That scene with Tsukasa was a total setup for her arc. I do hope he turns out to have some kind(s) of issue(s); it may sound terrible of me for wishing this on him, but I hardly think that simply running into some girl That Night would do more for his psyche than Haruka’s encouragement.

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