Amagami SS+ 05 – Swimsuits, Girlfriends and a Cram School From Hell
February 7, 2012 Leave a comment
We are onto the 3rd arc of Amagami SS+ this week, leaving behind the wonderful Tsukasa and the brilliant Rihoko, and moving onto the daring Ai Nanasaki. In the first series Ai, having a bit of a Tsundere in her seemed incapable of reciprocating Junichi’s feelings, until of course she realized the error of her ways and got over a major hurdle. The end result was one of the most daring acts in the entire series with a nice bit of naked outdoor onsen action going on. This arc takes place nearly a year later, and again approaching Christmas, only this time Ai is the captain of the girls swimming team and Junichi is firmly into his Juku (schools specifically designed to teach you to pass the university entrance exams) and university exam preparation. So far I like the way each arc is set at a slightly different time; while the original series had all the arcs taking place around Christmas eve, due to Junichi’s trauma, the new arcs are a little different. Tsukasa’s arc took place a little over a month since the confession, while Rihoko’s arc took place during their final summer as high school students, this time we have Ai’s arc taking place near Christmas Eve one year on. This way of spacing the arcs allows for more divergence in how the stories play out, rather than them all centering around one specific point in time.
I wasn’t sure how this arc would play out initially, since every heroine has their own problems and there doesn’t necessarily have to be some big dramatic turn of events that threatens to destroy their relationship. In this case it is the Juku and Junichi’s failure at a practice exam that provides the problem in their relationship. It’s not something massive or cataclysmic, but it is clearly important to Junichi and in particular Ai. This episode however was mostly given over to the wonderfully cute moments in the unbelievably ‘lovey-dovey’ relationship between Junichi and Ai. This episode demonstrated how close the two really are, showing them doing various things such as cuddling up on the beach in the winter to Junichi pulling Ai under his quilt when she came to wake him up. We do however have pone situation that is both amazing, but also incredibly envious, with Junichi asking to lie on Ai’s lap while she sings to him. It’s great seeing the embarrassed face of Ai as she is asked to do something like this in a relatively public place – the school infirmary – knowing full well that she is perfectly willing to do it anyway.
What is so fascinating about this relationship is that while they are quite willing to be lovey-dovey, and be quite daring in some of their actions hey are also easily embarrassed. Seeing both Ai and Junichi blush when two girls from the swimming team joke about them being a cute couple shows how innocent they are, which is befitting for a first romance. It is quite fitting to have what is such a playful couple also mutually embarrassed, especially when they in front of other people about being a couple. Junichi’s relationship with Tsukasa was common knowledge and more importantly Tsukasa was a larger than life figure, who is incredibly forceful, while still being cute. With someone like that, especially someone who puts her boyfriend up for the vice president position in the student council election it is pretty hard to be all that embarrassed. Similarly the relationship that Junichi had with Rihoko was also very different. They are childhood friends, and as such are already incredibly close; while many of Rihoko’s friends made fun of her at times, they were always cheering her on to confess to Junichi. Again, this relationship has something a little extra that makes it very difficult to be embarrassed about being together. Junichi’s and Ai’s relationship, however, is a little different from the previous arcs, partly because Ai is younger than Junichi, – she does not have the forceful – bordering on scary character of Tsukasa – and lacks the familiarity with Junichi that Rihoko has. In a sense it is a far more innocent love and relationship between them, one that isn’t helped by Miya’s teasing.
It was fun to watch the girls swim team tease Ai when they catch Junichi, who had only come to walk home with Ai for once. The embarrassed look on Ai’s face and the entire situation is not helped by the poking and prodding of Miya, who is quite happy to make light of any situation it seems. The major ‘drama’ in this episode isn’t all that dramatic, essentially that they cannot spend Christmas Eve together, thus celebrating their one year anniversary. It is a minor problem since no one is attempting to sabotage their relationship, and a couple not being able to spend Christmas Eve together isn’t exactly the end of the world. It is however quite interesting to see how this arc is about a couple that, through various other commitments can no longer spend as much time together as they once could. In a sense, it is about the loneliness of not being able to see someone you love, even though you go to the same school.
Seeing the look on Ai’s face after hearing that Junichi was hauled away for a Christmas cram school was beautiful, but also very sad. And it is clear that Ai does not want to unduly worry Junichi who is studying for his university entrance exams, although it will be curious to see how her little white lie will affect her in the last half of this arc. To see Ai on the verge of tears right at the end of the episode clearly demonstrates how important it is for her to spend time with Junichi, and the inability to do so must be mortifying for her. I have no doubt that we will get a heartfelt conclusion with Junichi surprising her with an expensive gift and possibly something even better if the end if Ai’s arc in the first series was anything to go by. As a final thought, I loved the little cameo we had of Tsukasa as the sadistic, whip wielding cram school task master, if only that had been added in her arc.