Amagami SS+ episode 05 – This Again…

Nanasaki Ai: the most boring Amagami girl…in the world. /Clarkson, cue the music.

So we’re back to Ai, my least favorite girl and arc from Amagami SS. Last time her arc was so horribly written and planned, I wasn’t sure if it was written or planned. At all. Fortunately with Ai’s afterstory arc in Amagami SS+ the writing seems to be coherent and there haven’t been any randomly appearing talking bowls of ramen…yet. Though better writing has exposed the other big weakness of the Ai arc: she’s dreadfully dull. I know there are lots of Ai fans out there, and I really did try and find the appeal of her character. But I just can’t. Come at me, bro-tachi.

Yes, it’s almost as if something stirred them…

Junichi Mark IV is probably the worst of the Junichi variants, so he’s lucky to have any girlfriend at all.

Seems that BROMANCE is still alive in SS+

I don’t even know Kaoru. Umehara Mark VI seemed to be the only sensible version. (Btw, can’t wait to see if Kaoru’s afterstory ends up a bit more interesting than her main arc.)

So it’s one year later and Ai and Junichi have continued on as a couple. The anniversary of their Christmas Eve date is approaching but Junichi attending cram school so he can get into a university is taking up a lot of his time. Ai, for her part, has become the captain of the swim team after Hibiki retired to a life of yuri bliss with Haruka. Umehara seems especially desperate to complete the Amagami Challenge and find a girlfriend by Christmas, which sets up a small subplot for the arc. With their anniversary coming up, Ai is wondering a lot about where to go and what to do for their anniversary. There is also the lead-up to the Founder’s Festival keeping Ai busy, and the couple don’t get many chances to spend time together. This leads Junichi to stop by the pool near the end of swimming practice and caught undermining Ai’s authority with a personal visit.

So, Junichi’s punishment for suspected peeping is to…be brought in front of the whole team so he can leer at them up close!

Miya is not so forgiving. She tricks him into covering his face when she said he had a pervy look to it, a nice troll. She’d make a good Baltimore homicide detective.

Later on, Umehara seemed to be trying to appease Miya into releasing Sae to him…

And now it’s time for the weird affection scene, straight out of the first season of Amagami SS. Junichi has been spending all his time studying, to the point of staying up late into the nights to study. Or so he says, we all know from the previous arc that he’s been up studying some less-than-academic materials. Whatever the case may be, he’s been in the infirmary a bit lately and Ai finds him one day. She straightens out the blanket and tucks him back in, which wakes him. He then gets the weird idea into his head that since Miya fell asleep on her dad’s stomach when she was really little, that he would sleep well if he did the same with Ai…while she sings a lullaby. And if that wasn’t creepy, Freudian-mother-issues enough, by ‘sleep with his head on her stomach’ he means ‘sleep between her legs.’ Freudianisms don’t seem quite as creepy when they’re the usual drills or swords as penises thing, but this return to the womb thing is SUPER CREEPY. After…this…things move forward towards the day of their anniversary. Junichi makes a simple mistake on his practice exam, probably because of all that lack of sleep, so he will have to attend a special study camp on the 24th. There’s still time, and Ai keeps planning for them to spend time together on the 23rd, but it’s clearly something she’d rather not have to plan around the inconvenient study camp. But then things change again when Junichi is told he has to attend the extra special camp that starts a day earlier because he messed up his practice exam so badly. Ai is then left worrying about what, if anything, they’ll be able to do together anytime near their anniversary.

Soft kitty, warm kitty….

It should be plenty embarrassing that you see it.

Junichi Mark IV, you’ve got some issues, dude. Seek professional counseling. 

I like the idea of Tsukasa as evil taskmaster of the cram school.

Ah, Takahashi-sensei. It’s a crime that there isn’t more screentime for you.

Looking good, Hibiki.

Ask Kaoru out! I’d ship it.

Midnight raid, forced impressment. Seems that the Taliban runs the local cram school.

Final Thoughts: - Yeah, still can’t get into Ai as a character. She just doesn’t seem to have much personality other than that she worries over Junichi and kind of takes care of him like he’s a little kid. Though to be fair, this iteration of Junichi seems the dumbest of the lot.

- At this point I’m more interested in the Umehara subplot. I wish him well. On another Umehara note, either he’s not aiming for college or he’s smart enough not to need cram school. Hmmm.

Crusader’s Come On Man

So after rectifying the crime of the century it falls upon Ai-chan to carry two episodes by herself. Fortunately for her while her Junichi is of an inferior grade she has plenty of support from her true love Miya Miya. While I am left thanking Zeus that Ai uses contraception and that Junichi isn’t an STD carrier, all is not lost as Miya Miya will always go into the breach and prevent Junichi from sinking this arc. I don’t understand the quaint and licentious habits of Junichi, but since Ai seems to like him for the lecherous toad he is I suppose I can’t be too harsh. Such is the necessity of covering every path even if some paths are invariably superior to others. Miya Miya might not be able to shack up with Ai but at least she had the foresight to join the swim team and be the power behind Ai-chan’s captaincy, so even if Ai-chan and Miya Miya are not meant to be for this arc Miya Miya can make up for in quantity. I must applaud her for throwing Junichi under the bus and casting herself as their heroic defender, and even better she goads Ai into delivering a more heavy handed punishment.

Junichi seems to be less dedicated than other iterations and it was pretty pathetic of him to flub his test and let cram school eat up his time. I am an advocate of “do it once and do it right” which sadly is not something Junichi cares much for, I hope he regrets his lack of studiousness when he realizes he could have done more queer and curious things with Ai-chan. Instead he got to go on a midnight ride to a re-education camp where he will study all the things that are expected of him for his rehabilitation while he kneels on broken glass. I hope he did not impart to Tsukasa that he thinks her a taskmaster otherwise she will gladly accept the role of camp Kommandant and make him pay dearly. While Ai probably the least adventurous of our heroines, at least Haruka and Kaoru are having fun with their chosen life partners and are out and about. Seriously though Junichi wants us all to believe that his lousy test scores were due to a column shift? Come on man…

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  1. Wingman32x
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Episode 5 was.. Mediocre. I don’t like what they’re doing with Ai. What made me love Ai was the fact that her flirty side added spice to the typical Kouhai role. It was refreshing and fun. The anime hasn’t shown much of that very well. In the anime she’s just so..bland. I can’t really describe it well, but that flair she had in the manga is absent in the anime. I don’t know which is more faithful to the VN, but her manga counterpart is so much more entertaining.

    I felt for her, though. This was a pretty depressing episode. Not going to comment too much about this, but they had better be going somewhere with it.

    That’s not to say the episode lacked positives. Ai showing tsundere tendencies during the pool scene was adorable. Miya’s big surprise had me cracking up. What a brutal little sister, throwing him under the bus like that lol. The way Junichi was basically abducted by the cram school had me laughing.

    Overall I’m a bit let down. We’ll see how next week goes.

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      This is what I hear from Ai fans a lot. She’s supposed to be a lot more interesting otherwise but the anime adaptation isn’t managing to convey that.

      This episode did have a bit of a downer feel for a moment, I just think it could have been driven home better. In a way it was like the leadup to the festival in Kare Kano where Arima and Yukino didn’t have much time to see each other due to their club and student council duties.

      • Wingman32x
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        There’s truth behind it, though. Her manga counterpart makes the anime version look so watered down. In the manga, she loves messing with Junichi. She seemingly loves to get the guy riled up. An example of this would be a scene where Junichi came into the swimming room to look for Ai. He knocks on the locker room door, and Ai answers. You see her giggle, and then invite Junichi in to change with her. She keeps going on and on about it until Junichi gets so flustered he nearly has a heart attack. That’s just one example of how teasing/flirty that incarnation of her character is. Nearly all of that is gone in the anime. Yeah, we’ve seen glimpses, but that’s about it.

        As JohnnyYandere below mentioned, she isn’t afraid to get physical. In the manga, though, she’s far more open to it, even initiating at some points. In the anime, she basically gets caught up in Junichi’s pace. Both versions of her character aren’t afraid to physically show affection, but the manga version seemed more open to me.

        I know the statement must seem like a cop out to you, but there is merit to it IMO. If you have 5 minutes to spare, read chapter 2 of Love Goes On. That’s probably the best chapter that shows why she’s so awesome in my mind.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      A pity that they did something different and went in an almost opposite direction. Still I suppose they just aren’t in broadcast for a more assertive Ai.

      • Wingman32x
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        After asking around, The anime Ai is the more accurate of the two. Though in her game route she does get aggressive like the manga version during certain points. Even with this new information, AIC still botched that side of her character IMO.

        It’s a shame, though. The Ai in the manga is so much more appealing.

  2. Kherubim
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    I think Umehara’s training to be a sushi chef like his dad, and yes, the dude needs a side story with Keiko and Kanae as potential interests instead of being yaoi fodder in Queen Tsukasa’s secret Junichi x Ume slashfic in her diary.

    Ai is pretty much the most normal of the girls in the show (other than Rihoko), she doesn’t have any big family issues, isn’t the ambiguously bisexual school idol, isn’t a dangerously tsundere honor student or a moe in the “retard moe/uguu/terrified of men” hamster like way. So I can see why people can either find her arc boring, or find her more relatable than the other girls.

    Maybe this goes on in the cram school camp:

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Umehara training to become a sushi chef like his father? I had forgotten about that, but it brings up an interesting thought. In a lot of shows, especially VN adaptations, you have the standard best friend character who seems to be more enthusiastic and a bit more outgoing than the main guy. But now that I think of it, don’t a lot of those characters tend to go for more working class or family-associated jobs after school? Like taking over a business from their parent(s) or something? I can’t for the life of me think of an example at the moment other than Itsuki from Initial D but I feel like I’ve seen this sort of thing happen in other series. Anything come to mind?

  3. Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    I don’t know about you guys, but I like Ai because while she is normal, she’s also more direct with her emotions as compared to the other girls, and especially because she dares to go into physical relationship territory:

    1. Season 1’s hot natural onsen action
    2. Season 1/2’s lap pillow and hugging by the beach
    3. Getting pulled into bed with Junichi and not having an exaggerated reaction afterward
    4. That infirmary scene (Freudian interpretations? Methinks EO doth interpret too much.)

    She’s also daring enough to tease Junichi (Season 1’s mizugi under the skirt scene) and still average/considerate enough to worry about trash on the beach and cooking for her family.

    In a sense, she’s Haruka Lite, or Haruka with a dash of Hibiki’s level-headedness. She’s a girl who would fuss about the utilities bill yet mess with you in the bedroom – terrible description, but that’s what I think of her.

    Also, again with the infirmary scene, if a girl ever invited me to lay my head between her thighs, the last thing I’d be thinking about is trying to stick my head into her womb ( ´_ゝ`)

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      The thing for me is that she doesn’t seem to have (or at least, show) any real reason for liking Junichi other than she sort of feels like she has to take care of him or something. It just doesn’t feel like there’s much there in terms of the affection between the two of them. The lack of exaggerated reactions is a plus with her, and more realistic, but aside from that I don’t really understand the appeal. The Haruka-lite description is probably the best argument I’ve heard made for her, so that does help me understand a bit more. Not that that makes me like her that much, even if I filled in the blanks in her character based on that information she still wouldn’t be my kind of girl :P

      As to the Freudean stuff, it’s so there, man. There are plenty of *ahem* other things involving her thighs that Junichi could be doing, but the psychology behind him finding laying between her legs so comforting that he sleeps like a baby is rather unusual.

  4. Posted February 7, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    My reaction while watching this episode

    -________- “Oh god, the plot is directly off Suzuka’s middle arc.”

    My reaction after seeing Tsukasa laughing in a Haruhi/Yuri-esque manner


    • Posted February 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      The short amount of screentime Tsukasa got was kinda cool. First the part about her acting kind of offhand about how much she studies, then the vision of her as head of the special study camp, haha. I hope something comes of that in the next episode.

  5. Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    While Ai has always been my least favorite of the main girls, I did like her troll tendencies, which have been lost now that they are actually together, it seems.

    That being said, this is probably my favorite episode of the series yet. The way Ai misses Junichi after he’s gone tugs at my heart strings in exactly the right way. I also enjoyed that she took Junichi’s necessary absence on their anniversary as a mere disappointment, and not the end of the world as most anime girls would (and real life girls, for that matter), getting actually angry (at the boyfriend, not the situation) or excessively depressed.

    I also liked how Miya levels up now that her brother stole one of her girlfriends. She’s always been pretty soft on him, but now treats him like he should be treated.

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