Anime Review: Amagami SS (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 29.05.2017

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Amagami SS (UK Rating: 15)

Christmas is very different in Japan. Not so much spoiling kids with far too many presents and a big break from work or school. It's a more romantic time of year. For protagonist Junichi Tachibana, that time of romance has become sullied due to a heartbreaking experience. He rushed off to meet his date on Christmas Eve and ended up being stood up. It's an event that has bothered him for almost two whole years and now, as Christmas approaches, once again Junichi finds himself at the heart of numerous romances. This complete collection comes courtesy of MVM and is out now.

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This romantic comedy from studio AIC is a very faithful adaptation of Enterbrain's visual novel dating sim. The story takes each of the potential love interests and dedicates an arc to each girl. There are six main girls in all, each getting their own DVD of four episodes to tell their story. It's an approach rarely seen and one that should be used more to show each of the routes from the game instead of trying to pile them all in at the same time, and then giving no real closure, or worse still giving the bad endings for all girls bar one.

Six different main girls, each very different and individual… The first potential love interest is Haruka Morishima, Junichi's senpai from the final year, a rather odd older girl who loves puppies and kind of treats Junichi as such… Next up is Kaoru Tanamachi, the classic tomboy friend, short-tempered, violent and bouncing fantastically off Junichi in playful comedic ways. Then there is Sae Nakata, a younger girl who spent most of her life in girl-only schools, so is very shy around boys. Her arc is quite unique as it has a fourth-wall-breaking narrator commenting on the story. Not just any narrator, either, but iconic voice actor Jouji Nakata. Ai Nanasaki is next, a friend of Junichi's young sister Miya, a member of the school swim team and old beyond her years, often playing the mother role to her younger brother. Rihoko Sakurai is a long-time friend of Junichi; she's addicted to sweets and snacks, so is repeatedly trying out diets to stay in shape while overindulging in junk. She's always had a crush on Junichi and is a lovely girl. Finally, there is straight-laced and serious class rep, Tsukasa Ayatsuji.


 
Six very different girls and six very different romances - each charming and down-to-earth; every aspect of this slice of life series is down-to-earth, in fact. The characters are realistic in both their designs and in their actions - from their personalities and method of speaking, to the character designs and colour palette. It's rather refreshing to have no over-the-top screaming or slapstick violence, and no bright pink hair or glowing eyes. Instead warm - if dated - colours and designs that rely on distinctive features to set characters apart, instead of "the girl with the pink hair." The series is from 2010, however, so at points it certainly looks its age. It's also a Japanese-only release with some pretty standard extras, although there's a nice bonus with two extra episodes - a single episode dedicated to a crazy stalker that explains Junichi's traumatic experience at the Christmas two years prior, and one episode for the special relationship between Miya and Junichi.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

With so many of this type of anime available, it's hard to set them out from the crowd and often it's difficult to give them a chance. Despite this, the down-to-earth and realistic nature of Amagami SS makes it a breath of fresh air compared to all the over-the-top crazy harem series out there. Fans of romantic comedies, and romance sims in general, would be wise to give this one a shot.

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