Amagami SS episode 20, Rihoko arc part IV – The Long War

After some delay of the subs for episode 20 due to some sort of raws DORAMA, we have the conclusion to the Rihoko arc. (A note on subs, the TL is accurate for the [GRUNNER] subs, however there are 3 or 4 simple lines that didn’t have subs and 1 or 2 timing mistakes. [UTW] subs still not out at the time of writing, but if you can deal with those couple of small mistakes, I can attest that the [GRUNNER] subs are accurate translations.) Going several months past the ending of every arc but Haruka’s, there’s something of a resolution over the long term. Though I can’t say that I wasn’t a bit disappointed in the indirect method of ending the arc. Even so, it was still as fun and sweet as the rest of the Rihoko arc.

Recipe: Episode 20 – Goodbye

2 graduating senpai

1 tearful goodbye

1 marrying off of daughter

3 intervening characters, to ship the main couple

1 box chocolate-filled choux cream

1 beastmaster Haruka

1 club membership application card

A dash of ominous(ly great) things to come in the next arc

Begin by having your intervening characters approach the couple from various angles. Add the characters to a crock pot or other slow cooker. The 2 graduating senpai should be used heavily throughout to promote the Tea Club. Concern for the future of the club should begin to boil, reduce to simmer and allow to cook slowly. Add the club membership application card about halfway through cooking. Add the beastmaster Haruka long enough to produce some comic relief, but remove after this to avoid Haruka scene stealing (a common problem.) Once you get to Valentines Day the choux cream should be homemade by Rihoko and stirred into the pot. Hold this scene until an indirect kiss occurs between Rihoko and Junichi. Also during Valentines Day, throw in a touch of Ayatsuji Tsukasa disgust over Umehara begging for chocolates. It should look something like Haman Karn for a moment before returning to a seemingly friendly exterior. (Tch!) Allow time to pass until graduation and then it’s time for the tearful goodbye and for Ruriko and Manaka to marry Rihoko off. It may take some time to finish this dish, beyond just one arc, but everything is now in place. Let the dish cook slowly for a long time as time spent together and feelings grow.

Taste Test and Review

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The Tea Club Forever!

Awwww, so sweet.

Time didn’t jump forward as much as I was hoping for, but taking the arc all the way out to April and May really helped center it on Rihoko’s friends in the Tea Club. Given the screentime they’ve had, their impact on the story, and the focus on continuing the club, it’s almost like Ruriko and Manaka’s story was just as central as the developing romance between Rihoko and Junichi. It even had a pretty emotional send off too, really emphasizing how this group of friends care for each other no matter what. The club was almost disbanded since they couldn’t match beastmaster Haruka in animal husbandry in an attempt to get her to join.  Though fortunately Junichi came in and finally volunteered to join, which seemed to surprise even the graduating members. The visit by the former members at the end was also nice, bringing this whole heartwarming club tradition to a new generation. (And I don’t care how sappy that sounds, for I am composed entirely of mush underneath my hard, mecha-loving exterior.)

Ruriko would do well in the politics of medieval Europe.

Take note, for this is the only arc where Haruka didn’t outshine the main girl in her own episodes.

Awwwwww.

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The Joy of Cooking

Now she just needs to offer Junichi “How about dinner? Maybe a bath? Soretomo wa-ta-shi…”

Rihoko has certainly been upping her osananajimi game, though so far no one has seemed to top Ore no Imouto’s Manami in recent memory (even if you’re not watching the series, go watch episode 06. It’s great and there’s barely any Kirino.) Still, the cooking scene was pretty cute, and it seems to be all the rage as Miya, Ai, and Sae all made their own chocolate even if they had no guys to give them to. Of course, this all feeds into Miya’s master plan to build her own yuri harem.

Somehow, I feel like we’ve met before…

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The Shape of Things to Come

Amai! Hopefully the next arc will also involve Quebeley.

(No manga or game spoilers in the comments please.) Increasingly we’ve been given some hints of hostility by Tsukasa towards certain people, and although the Ai staredown didn’t really seem to have much context to interpret it with, there was a scene in this episode that was quite clear. Umehara goes around begging for chocolates since he’s so depressed on Valentines Day, first getting shut down by Kaoru. He asks Tsukasa as well, and while she seems all nice about it at first, observe the changes to her expression as she turns her back and leaves the room. Definitely a moment of strong annoyance and/or disgust with Umehara. Perhaps she doesn’t like the idea of people turning to her all the time, especially after she wasn’t Umehara’s first choice and was just ‘the girl who happened to be there.’ And/or maybe she just has a particular dislike of desperate guys like Umehara. She even gets a smirk on her face in the last frame as she walks away after turning him down.

Tsukasa arc is going to be fantastic!

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I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife

I’m still wish that we had gotten to see the final resolution of Rihoko and Junichi’s budding romance, but I am quite happy with the way that things were ‘handed off’ to the new members. Starting their senior year they’re both left to spend time together managing the club, and their shipping allies have either left (Ruriko and Manaka) or eased off the direct pressure (Kanae) now that they’re seniors. The club is now there’s, and now Rihoko has become confident enough to go after Junichi alone, even if she’s going so in a slow, gradual way. Things are looking good, she just better not take things too slow lest some brash new girl come in and Rihoko suffer the fate of most poor childhood friends.

Looks like they could have just come from their wedding ceremony.

DDDDAAAAAWWWWW. To Rihoko and Junichi mark V! May their days be filled with happiness equal to the happiness they’ve brought to this arc of Amagami!

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33 Comments

  1. Crusader
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I DAAWWWED but can I get a KISSU for closure damn it, good to see Miya entrenching her yuri harem in the wake of every reset. Someday I think Haruka is going to have the strongest dog racing team in history.

    Well onward to the last boss Tsukasa who seems is purportedly the most different of all.

    TEA CLUB FOREVER.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I would have very much liked for them to kiss or at least hold hands, but it also fit into the overall atmosphere of their relationship. Rihoko already knew what she wanted, but her natural way of doing things plus their childhood friends relationship led to a gradual, almost unspoken relationship. They seemed so much like a couple at the end when their senpai visited that I imagine one day during their senior year they’ll just naturally move into a kiss and Junichi will realize “oh wow, I really have been in a relationship with Rihoko for at least the last year.”

  2. NoodleCup
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I thought the ending really suited the arc but I still couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. Can’t wait for Tsukasa arc! Totally did not pick up on the change in her facial expression when she was turning away, really caught me by surprise so I had to go back and re watch that part to believe it.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Same here, though overall it ended the arc with warm fuzzy feelings for the characters. I’m wondering if the events went farther in the manga or game, and since I have the manga I think I’ll be reading that soon. Maybe I’ll even try to find the game at some point to find out more.

      Tsukasa’s arc is going to be very interesting indeed. And it seems like it’ll be an arc with one additional episode, unless episode 25 is supposed to be a non-related bonus episode or something.

  3. q
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Can you explain this shit?

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      It was a nice, if slightly disappointing, ending? Apparently some people really didn’t like the ending and THEY MAD, but it fit the arc and its characters well. I would have liked to see a definite resolution, but I can’t be unhappy with this ending either, whether the creators’ intent was to end it this way or perhaps it came down to time constraints of the arc format.

  4. Posted November 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to wait until UTW gets their thing going (I’m not blogging the show or anything), but I did watch the raw, like I do for every episode, despite my knowing almost no Japanese (hey, I likes me my Amagami!), Despite the amount of talking in this episode, I was pretty much able to get it all until the end – since there’s no visual evidence of anything one way or the other, I was unsure of the resolution. But it looks like I was right anyhow.

    I like how people are all buttmad about the ending, just like they were with Kaoru. I like how in both cases the relationship isn’t dramatically different just because they happen to be “together.” They had a pre-existing close friendship, and that didn’t change – it just became deeper. Though I do think Rihoko got a better deal than Kaoru – Kaoru was already very close to Junichi, while Rihoko was somewhat distant at first with Junichi (due to circumstances rather than feelings), but in the end was able to become much closer (and keep her club!) – and she also was romantically interested in him for a long time, unlike Kaoru, so that adds all the more to her victory.

    And I just thought of one reason why, perhaps, we got a “ten years later” with Haruka, but no one else – there is nothing to tie Haruka and Junich together after the school year. Kaoru and Rihoko are not only in his same grade, so they not only have a year longer together in high school, but also leave at the same time, putting them at the same place in life at the same time; but also they are long-time friends, the sort that persist after high school (especially Rihoko). Ai and Sae have Miya, so even when Junichi leaves school a year before them (after having a potential year longer than Haruka), they will still be in the picture as the little-sister’s-friends.The endings to Kaoru, Sae, and Rihoko reflect this (another way the Ai arc was so weird). So the happily-ever-after is to show the audience that, yes, the romance between Haruka and Junichi was real, and more than just a passing fancy for the ever-airheaded Haruka.

    I also liked (or maybe didn’t?) how Kaoru didn’t give Junichi and Umehara even the “obligation” chocolates – not even the little ten-cent mini ones.

    The Three Freshmen are all making chocolates, but not for any boys. Hrmmm….do I detect there might be another party between the three of them? Well, maybe not, since Junichi most likely went home after school, and neither Ai nor Sae are that bold. (Though I can totally see Miya being “Oh, you have a girl? I have two.” just to rub it in her brother’s face. And then nishishi.)

    You certainly pay more attention to Tsukasa than I do. I didn’t notice that at all.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 3:15 am | Permalink

      OK, after watching the UTW, I’m going to have to disagree on any smirk on Tsukasa’s part. It was pretty much just her normal face.

      But if you want a smirk, Kaoru’s got it for you. That was while she was watching him writhe. And now we have her response. That’s almost mean. (And as for looks of disgust…)

      Since the last few episodes have had pretty much no action at all, I guess they had budget (or skill?) to really do a good job on the animation this episode. Probably the best so far in the show, I’d say. As I show above, the in-betweeners weren’t screwing off this time.

      • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        That’s a good theory on the Haruka afterstory, and you may be right. Though I still love finding out what happens long after the initial falling in love phase, so I’ll always hope for an afterstory at the end of each arc.

        I still think there were three distinct expressions on Tsukasa’s face after she turned her back on Umehara. I definitely saw either annoyance or disgust, and then a quick recovery into a smile that could be seen as either normal, amused, or ridiculing. Judging by the context, I’d say it was one of the latter two. Kaoru certainly had good trollface/cool face going on though, hehe.

        And yes, I do pay special attention to Tsukasa whenever she’s been on screen. She’s been my favorite ever since the start of the show. When the series was announced, to me she sounded like the most interesting character. So I’m hoping that her arc lives up to expectations.

  5. qwerty
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    a way more relaxed ending compared to previous arcs that had full on nudity, implied sex or at minimum a kiss.

    I was really hoping for a chance at seeing the best ending though considering they brought the cream puffs back up

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      BEST END would have been nice, but I’m not sure if the arc format could have had enough time to show that. The nature of their relationship was a long term, gradual closeness that would one day sneak up on Junichi without him even realizing that he was basically pseudo-dating Rihoko for a long time. It could have happened if the third episode in the arc had moved a bit faster, but even then that might have been rushing things.

      But rest assured that this ending did imply a BEST END, just at a later date than the arc had time to show.

  6. Zorapup
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Like several people out there I was a little disappointed by the ending but I’m okay with it. And as soon as I saw the previews for the Tsukasa arc I got excited. So Rihoko’s arc, although fun, is now a thing of the past. (How sad we are quick to forget).

    Maybe Rihoko’s story needed more time to develop. Although it’s strange for me to say that since I thought the shorter length of time to present the good ending would have been advantageous since the female’s feelings were already recognized. Junicihi had 4 episodes to change his mind and none of it happened. Perhaps for the osananajimis one would be too stubborn to admit you have feelings for them since you don’t want to ‘ruin a good thing.’

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Rihoko probably wouldn’t have any issues if Junichi confessed since she’s not the tsundere type of osananajimi, but given her nature and the relaxed pace of things, it likely came down to not enough time to show everything during the arc. The full ending could have been shown, but it would take a great deal of skill and timing on the creators’ part to get it just right without feeling rushed. As it was, it was cute and set things up for an implied resolution during their senior year of high school.

      • Zorapup
        Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Do you think the Rihoko/Junichi development to relationship and beyond would be enough for a 13 episode spinoff?

        Of course that’s probably asking too much since I’m sure all the girls deserved much longer time.

  7. godlet
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    I heart this ending. I was expecting it to follow the same general formula we’ve had for all previous arcs, and frankly, that would’ve bored me. In so many ways this arc was a refreshing palate cleanser for the series. Now we can enjoy the hopefully delcious entree that is the Ayatsuji arc. I noticed the same thing you did about her with the chocolates. Glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Did it give you any thoughts about your bets for what her personality is going to be in the next arc? From that little snippet I’m hoping that my bitterness bet/preference might be slightly more possible.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I’m glad that this arc didn’t follow a lot of the traits of previous ones too. Rihoko biting Junichi’s finger was the closest thing to the unconventional kisses from previous arcs, and I was glad of it. It worked exceptionally well for the Haruka arc because Junichi mk I and Haruka were that kind of kinky, but otherwise it’s felt out of place and kind of obligatory to me. And while I’d have liked to at least see the characters kiss or hold hands, I still greatly enjoyed the ending to this arc. Overall it was, as you say, a nice and relaxing way to regain some hope in this series after the disastrous Ai arc, enjoy greatly on its own, and to transition smoothly into the next arc.

      As far as bets, I guess my final prediction will be: she probably has some internalized pressure to perform at school that makes her dislike or even despise those who don’t live up to the same standards. So she’ll be isolated both by her own drive to do school work and class president stuff, and by something of a disdain for those who just have fun. I’m guessing that her primary motivator is a lack of self-confidence brought on by self, parental, and/or teacher expectations to perform, and that showing contempt for those who don’t work as hard will be her blow-off valve for all the stress she’s under.

      • Zorapup
        Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        What a great prediction! I’ll bet her ability to be passive aggressive is the only way she can relieve her stress. Subtle but powerful.

      • godlet
        Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:03 am | Permalink

        I am in full support of this prediction. Now all we can do is wait and hope.

  8. fatjing
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    Thus far Rihoko’s arc is my favorite, though some may say if they get a ending like this when playing the game, they would immediately reload the recently saving point to see if they made wrong choices.
    For me, it’s sweet to watch the whole arc, with adorable Rihoko and without Junichi’s kinky kisses ( to be honestly, i was annoyed by that ).
    btw, i like Manami the best in Ore no Imouto, maybe i have osananajimi complex, ha <3

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Osananajimi bro fist!

      Despite the whole childhood friend-as-lover thing being rather hard to believe sometimes. I can only think of one person I’ve known that was there from elementary through high school with me, and she was more of a Kaoru female bro than anything. Plus there’s the fact that people often move part-way through their primary education. Though that brings up the whole other sub-trope of a childhood friend suddenly moving back one day. But all that aside, I think they make some of the most DDDAAAAWWWW relationships in anime, especially since that sort of gradual relationship is usually the kind that works out best in the long run.

  9. Merq
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I’m a little annoyed at the ending. I like the innocence and all but at least give us a hug or a hand hold or something. It’s weird because as much as I loved Rihoko and this arc, it all kind of just rubbed me the wrong way. It’s like they are saying the fat friend is destined to always be a friend or something.

    Love the tea club seniors. They are so focused. They have two agendas and they push them both interchangeably at all times. It’s like “Join the Tea Club” “No?” “Okay then how about date Rihoko?” lol. It’s fantastic!

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      The way I interpreted it, I saw the ending as just being a long-term ending, something that was bound to happen but would just play out during their last year of high school together. They already looked just like a couple when they welcomed back their senpai.

      Join the Tea Club = date Rihoko. It’s a beautiful thing when two objectives come together so neatly!

      • Merq
        Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        I would agree with your interpretation if there was something a little more definitive. It just sorta trailed off. If they didn’t wanna show attraction by the way of hand holding, hugs, or kisses, at least we could have had a look into the future to see how they progressed. My heart breaks for Rihoko. :(

  10. Lectro Volpi
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    “Rihoko got Friendzoned in her own arc!!!”

    Pretty much….

    I knew something was “wrong” with the romantic development, there was no such a thing!!!

    Still, I praise the arc for consistency as it would look bad the “Junichi I love you… Really? I love you too, let us be happy together!”

    I am happy for the Tea Club, in the game Junichi joined but it was not enough and the club still disbanded.

    This Junichi was also the less perverted of the 5, good job keeping your cool man!

    http://www.thatanimeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/vlcsnap-2010-11-20-01h20m43s112.jpg

    Feels weird, they are total strangers! just some weeks ago they bathed nude together and kissed alone after a movie!

    Next is mascot/Final Boss arc! the only hope for us to end the reign of “The unbeatable Tyrant” Haruka´s Arc!

    Thanks for the review.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      The romantic development was there, but it was very low-key and gradual. Which was something I really liked about this arc. It didn’t have big dramatic moments, but throughout the entire thing it had this really nice, relaxed feeling for the romance between the two. I guess I’m saying that it was subtle and consistent, as opposed to dramatic but varied.

      And yes, cheers to Junichi mk V for his generally great performance. Much better than the last iteration.

      Looking forward to Ayatsuji ‘I AM (FINAL) BOSS’ Tsukasa very much too. Thanks again for reading.

  11. tama
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I was impressed and a little disappointed with Rihoko arc director to choose ending like that….
    Well lets move toward Final Boss Arc Shall we..???? and Hope Junichi Personality not Sucks Like J3 & J4

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Given the time constraints of the arc format, I’m pretty happy with this ending. Of course I’d have liked to see more, but as it was it was cute and fun.

      Here’s hoping that my initial favorite character has a great arc next week, and that Junichi mk VI is her equal.

  12. Zorapup
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Actually this was a rather smart take on the producer’s part. Knowing this arc was before Tsukasa’s, they probably thought about ending it with a good ending. However they probably could not evaluate their viewers’ response to Rihoko, whether we would grow to like her or to be apathetic toward her character. If we grew to like her then many of us would want a happy ending, but so much so that it may drive more expectation for Tsukasa’s arc to be even better. And then we see her arc and are suddenly let down as the last arc. I doubt it would happen that way seeing her popularity but I didn’t expect to like Rihoko as much as I did. They created her character very nicely.
    On the other hand, fRihoko receiving a bad/normal ending would be decent enough for viewers to say, “okay, moving on” since many were already anticipating the Tsukasa arc anyway.

    I liked Rihoko, I really wished she had the Best ending, but overall, Tsukasa’s arc has already gotten my attention and just from the previews. Next week is proving to be highly anticipated.

    • Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Expectations management could be part of it, but it may have more to do with the order of the girls’ arcs. Rihoko’s arc probably would have ended the way it did anyway. But when the creators were looking at how each arc ended, they probably figured that it would be best to precede the final arc with Rihoko since it would feel like an odd transition to go from, say, Haruka’s ending to the Tsukasa arc.

      Rihoko has been my favorite character so far, but Tsukasa was my favorite since the beginning of the series, so I’m hoping her arc lives up to expectations.

      • Zorapup
        Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        I agree that Haruka’s arc of the ones we’ve seen has been the most satisfying and probably the most dynamic. Probably my favorite so far. And you’re right, the order of the girls’ do matter but also how the girls are presented as background charectors also helped as well. With Haruka’s arc, being first, she was the primary focus as we didn’t really know the others that well and we didn’t form any connection with them until later. We rarely saw much of the other charectors knowing they would appear later. Mystery does leave you wanting more, but all we had was a taste in the first arc.

        If Rihoko had appeared in the beginning I would wonder how I would think every time I’d see her as a background character. She acted fairly normal (for the most part), without showing signs of outright flirtation or aggressiveness for her feelings in her own arc. Knowing that I would wonder if as a background character, she still harvests those feelings in every arc, with every girl he tries to go after. I would assume not, but I’d still feel a little sad for her. =/

        Well in any case, it was a nice change of pace to get a friend ending. Wasn’t expecting it.

  13. Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Her shining moment was almost like a ‘blink-and-miss-it’. Or maybe I was the oblivious one there? Still, gotta love the ‘I-hate-all-of-you-in-secret’ bits of hers. I’m looking forward to her arc so much.

    Ultimately, I found myself becoming another one who thought this arc was a major let-down. I was never big on tea, Rihoko was cute sure, but as I watched it all unfold, I felt kind of sorry for her…in several parts. Having a plotting and scheming best friend, being over-conscious about her weight, not to mention Ruriko and Manaka toying with her. And as for Junichi? Okay, he wasn’t the lead here, but he was still firmly on the senpai’s leash.

  14. Posted November 28, 2010 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Well. I readt many of the comments of the bloggers hear about the ending of Rihoko Sakurai arc. And I see that for many, if not to all, this is much like a LOVE IT OR HATE IT ending..
    On my personal opinion, I wouldn’t that I liked it, but I won’t say that I hate it either. We have to admit that the ending was more original than some of the previous story arcs (i.e. Kaoru), to the degree of probably being compared with Haruka’s ending which I think, so far, is the best ending of all the Amagami Anime (How will Tsukasa Ayatsuji beat it? We will have to wait and see.) And I definitely liked Rihoko’s cute personality.

    I think that the problems is that probably they should the story more and more, or the relationship of both Junichi and Rihoko. Like develop more experiences that both shared in their childhood (How they meet?) (What they liked?) Explore the characters regarding their life together, not just putting some brief flashbacks that proved to the fans that they indeed were childhood friends. Or just take Junichi and Rihoko to travel to other places, probably the circus or a fair (Not only the Christmas festival) . Or simply to put another interest in common that develop their relationship more and more, making it stronger in both Junichi and Rihoko. I know that happens with the Tea Club story, but I mean focusing in the development of their relationship rather than just Rihoko story within the Tea Club. And then… BANG. The ending that we saw is perfect.

    But hey… This is my opinion. I repeat, this ending was definitely the second most original after Haruka’s

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