She’s bringing sex hair back.
In what is the start of probably the most anticipated arc of Amagami we have quite a start on our hands. The slower pace of the first episode of Haruka’s arc is gone and Kaoru comes in with a bang, the episode firing on all cylinders right from the beginning. And as I expected Junichi is acting differently in response to the different set of circumstances surrounding his being stood up in this timeline. Instead of only a moment of speaking to Haruka that wasn’t enough to uplift him, causing a retreat to his planetarium closet, in the Kaoru arc he barely has time to dwell on his misfortune before Kaoru finds him and saves him from despair with her chummy banter and an act of kindness. It really shows what having “just a friend, such a friend, still a friend” at such a critical moment can do.
[A NOTE: as I mentioned before, I'm going to try out some different posting styles for each arc of Amagami so this post will have a different format than my usual style. Given the arc nature of Amagami, I figured that it would be a good place for some experimentation. As the show continues your thoughts on different styles and other feedback are appreciated. I'm still not sure I'll end up changing my standard format after Amagami, but why not try something different now and then?]
Recap: After Junichi is stood up by the as yet unknown girl on Christmas he’s dejected just like at the start of last arc, but he runs into Kaoru who jokes around but then notices that he’s really hurt and invites him to share Christmas cake with her and her mother. The two have been friends since middle school and almost one year after Junichi being stood up they’re as close and chummy as one would expect good friends to be. Perhaps a little oddly familiar, as it’s apparently normal for Kaoru to bite Junichi’s ears to tease him when he dozes off. After some aborted plans to visit a new attraction together with their friend class starts and when Junichi tells Kaoru that Ayatsuji is just doing her job by telling them to be quiet a feinted punch sends Junichi to the floors…where he does the typical male anime character thing and comments that he can see her panties, prompting a coup de grace punch that knocks him out cold. Waking up in the infirmary Kaoru teases him some more, then says to meet behind the school later. Junichi Mark II, as I shall refer to him in this arc, is a much more forward and, ahem, imaginative person than Junichi Mark I and goes into some Kanako-class daydreams imaging Kaoru confessing to him in ridiculous fashions.
This however is not what he imagines, for Kaoru is actually soliciting his opinion as a guy on behalf of her friend Keiko who recently confessed to a guy and hasn’t received a straight answer yet. Keiko and Junichi hit it off pretty well, and after some discussion they send Keiko on her way with some advice on how to proceed. Junichi and Kaoru then walk home and after Junichi jokingly admits that he thought Kaoru was going to confess to him when she invited him to meet in an empty corner of the school grounds. He doesn’t quite get the “lol, oh you” reaction he expected when Kaoru is rather embarassed, but then she says she has to get going. Kaoru then splits off to head to work at Wagnaria, though sadly not at the franchise that employs Popular or Inami. However Junichi Mark II is of a more frisky and direct nature than his alternate universe self, and the thought of aprons and waitress uniforms entices him to head there later to see Kaoru. And demonstrating further the differences in Junichi Mark II, he none-too-slyly starts peeking at Kaoru’s zettai ryouki, causing her to be embarassed and run to the back. And while she’s panicking over her realization that she likes Junichi, he’s out on the restaurant floor sipping coffee and ‘admiring the scenery’ that is the other waitress. Oh my.
Kaoru takes all of your love, your anger and your sorrow!!! And laughs at it!!! SHINING! SEX HAIR! TAUNTING!
So Amagami, we’re three minutes in and already with the kinky?
Kaoru ‘The Black Dog‘ Tanamachi: “once she bites she never lets go.”
The teasing, the cheesy and overly dramatic soap opera lines, Kaoru has already earned my approval.
A flag triggered, but at a high price.
Oh such delicious duplicity…
…unfortunately for her, Junichi Mark II won’t be lead around like a puppy.
Come to the Dark Side, Junichi. They have better hair.
Fantasy take 01: Junichi got a little too into Angel Beats?
Fantasy take 02: FFFFFFFFFFFF.
Take 3: Kuroko-esque.
I’m trying to watch Haruka sleep here!
I like the chance encounter without too much of a focus on it. Gives enough of a link while still being clearly another timeline/arc/whatever.
The always-falling Rihoko makes another bit appearance. Oh dear, with a mind like that what kind of arc is she going to have?
And so it begins…
Hmm, less bro-con this time around?
Junichi Mark II may be more lively and forward, but he’s not quite so smooth or intuitive as Mark I.
Are you pondering what I’m pondering?
Well the first thing I do is: get in uniform (like a boss), check the mirror (like a boss), break the door (like a boss!)
This restaurant knows how to bring in the customers.
KAORU ‘JEALOUS RAGE HAIR’ TANAMACHI!
While Kaoru sorts out intense new feelings…
…somebody is out there thinking he’s a player.
Thoughts: What a start to the arc, the pacing, fun, and introspective moments were all as they should be for the first episode of an arc. Junichi being stood up was there at the start along with just enough reflection, but the quick intervention of Kaoru made it stand out in tone and consequences as opposed to how the Haruka arc started off. Then jumping right into a day at school it set up Junichi and Kaoru’s relationship quite well without immediately giving away the revelation, if you can call it that since we knew it was coming, of Kaoru developing feelings for Junichi. In fact, knowing that those feelings would develop but having the show’s creator’s take the time to set up their friendship and usual manner of interaction was really another sign of the planning that has gone into Amagami so far. If the writers were lazy individuals we’d probably have jumped right into the love part of the relationship without properly establishing the friendship that preceded it. Taking the time to do so, and do it well, especially within the confines of a four episode time limit is definitely worthy of praise. And it even incorporated that trademark Amagami kink right off the bat with the ear biting, hehe.
The way the other characters were integrated continues the pattern of introducing small bits of their personalities into the mix prior to their arcs. The start of Kaoru’s arc has already benefited from the groundwork laid in the Haruka arc, and so far it’s looking like a good strategy for building upon each past arc even though the situations in each are different. We already know a little about Rihoko, for example: she’s clumsy and absentminded, she’s part of or at least associates with the tea ceremony club, likes sweets, and is always looking up dieting books. That’s four bits of information that won’t have to be communicated when her arc comes around, freeing up time for other things. And in this way Kaoru’s arc has been built up in part by the Haruka arc. She was established as a close friend, as an energetic person, and has occasional friendly moments of being scolded by Ayatsuji. While you could argue that these things could be communicated quickly within her own arc, I think it’s quite a good call to build this sort of starting-point familiarity with each character before her arc even begins. It makes it all the easier for the viewer to pick up and quickly move into each arc. So far I remain quite impressed with how the arc format is being implemented.