When Kaoru said she was in The Hustler, she wasn’t talking about the magazine …
Hello, I’m your friendly neighborhood Shinmaru here from UNMEI KAIHEN! ExecutiveOtaku is away on a short vacation this weekend, so he kindly asked me to pinch hit for him with this week’s Amagami SS. Only too happy to help out — treat me well, everyone!
This week’s Adventures of Junichi’s Courtship is decidedly less, er, insane than previous installments, but it makes up for that by being fairly cute. And that approach actually works in this case. The Haruka arc set up expectations for all sorts of kinky madness to go down, but really, Junichi had a completely different relationship dynamic with Haruka than he does with Kaoru.
Haruka’s the older, more experienced woman (never mind that she isn’t much older than Junichi); on top of that, Haruka has a different personality than Kaoru. They’re both playful, but Haruka is more spontaneous and prone to try exciting new experiences. Junichi had to step up his game in a completely different way with Haruka than he should with Kaoru. That’s why, while hilarious, the belly button kiss in last week’s episode feels juuuuuust a bit off, like it’s there because the fans are expecting crazy things after the Haruka arc. To be fair, it at least left an impression with Kaoru!
This week feels more right, however. Instead of being a Love Daredevil, Junichi is a Love Detective, sniffing out Kaoru’s whereabouts based on the clues and hints of their friendship over the years. He picks out a couple of dopey places to scope out (“Hey, Haruka said she likes that limited edition ice cream one time! Maybe she’s at the convenience store!”), but his heart is in the right place the whole time, and it serves the dual purpose of showing how close Kaoru and Junichi have been over the years. Have to say, though, Junichi is already whipped before this relationship has started. Going shopping for clothes with Kaoru? Really?? Every character in this series is going to trick Junichi into looking at clothes at some point.
Hopefully Junichi is not doing what it appears he is doing.
Meanwhile, the whole issue with Kaoru’s mom stepping out with another man is handled in a surprisingly down-to-Earth way. (Hasn’t really been said yet, but with the way Kaoru reacts at first, I’d say her mother is a widow rather than a divorcee. The whole “surviving on our own” thing is one reason to be angry, but she probably would not be this upset unless she had some great memories of her dad.) Kaoru’s initial reaction isn’t tough to understand: She’s still a kid, and she’s built up a certain comfortable dynamic with her mom. A sudden change like that can be weird and upsetting; it would be easy to say I would not react the same way in her shoes, but I don’t know.
With Junichi at Kaoru’s side, however, the funk does not last too long, although I doubt it is completely over yet. There will probably be one final hump (pun not intended) for Kaoru and Junichi to climb before everything falls into place for our latest couple. But Junichi gets Kaoru through things with some common sense and just being there for her in general. Really, by the time Junichi gets to the restaurant, it seems that Kaoru is mostly over everything; all that time alone gave her an opportunity to think everything out, and Junichi provides someone to whom she can let everything out and feel better afterward.
The little cute touches in that scene are nice, especially the one where Kaoru leans against Junichi when they sit down together. That’s the action that said to me, “OK, she’s pretty much done with this. Ready to move on!” Don’t want to understate Junichi’s involvement here, however. He’s really one smooth customer here, isn’t he? Able to help Kaoru through a small emotional crisis, and then he makes a quick move on her without coming off like a total pig taking advantage of someone in an exploitable moment. Damn, he deserves to brag to himself after that one! Check and mate.
Junichi never misses an opportunity to check out the majestic view.
Overall, a surprisingly enjoyable episode despite not being totally batcrap crazy and/or perverted. Maybe it is just because I am a huge sap, but I like the natural way Junichi and Kaoru are being drawn to each other based on their friendship. It’s a bit awkward and strange to think about for them, at first, and both are still having slight reservations; however, they clearly have something, and the ol’ Christmas Eve magic is just the spice needed to make that chemistry come together. Definitely looking forward to the climax, if you catch my drift.