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Dated 4 July 2010: I wasn't really planning on covering Amagami SS episode one. Blame Bill Cosby

Morishima and Junichi
Man, what is it with anime girls and libraries?

I had two reasons for watching Amagami SS: Its four-episode arc gimmick and sex hair. After watching the first episode, I now have a third reason: Buck Buck. I'm hoping Buck Buck makes an appearance in every episode. I had no idea Japan even knew about this game.

"No, I wasn't just in the library. Why do you ask?"

Okay, let me back up a bit. Amagami SS is based on a Playstation 2 galge with, I'm told, no sexual content. I guess Male Protagonist just goes around trophy-befriending girls in his school—kinda like a Hiroyuki emulator (original To Heart anime version only).

That is one awesome house.

Surprising no one, I'm sure, the first episode of Amagami SS plays out by the numbers. The clingy little sister wakes up Potato-kun, err, Junichi (criminy, another Junichi? We just got rid of the last one!) so he isn't late for school.

Miya and Junichi
I hope you're hiding Rukia in there with you, Potato-kun. Or even Rizel.

On the way, he meets up with Perverted Friend and they speak in awed, hushed tones about School Idol and her overwhelming beauty.

Tachibana and Umehara
Hey, a hard copy of cheesecake pictures. Just like in the movies.

Then they meet Dependable Girl and Childhood Friend. He somehow avoids Athletic Girl, but Junichi makes time for Timid Girl which is lucky for him because it gives him the inside track with School Idol, err, Morishima, who is basically Sayuri from Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ except with a sense of humor and without all the legends.

She's laughing because you're a dojikko, you putz.

So by this point I've basically lost all interest in the show because Sex Hair has only had two minutes of screen time, but then suddenly Buck Buck comes out of nowhere. Why in Hell these numbnuts are playing Buck Buck at school, I have no idea, but Morishima is into it, so I guess it works out.

Junichi and Morishima
Morishima Haruka was the baddest Buck Buck breaker in the world.

Pity Junichi is kind of a tool. I give him some credit for manning up at least once during the first episode, but you gotta remember he spends most of his free time curled up in the fetal position in his planetarium womb that he crudely constructed with highlighters, construction paper, (and a black light, no doubt) moping over the time he got stood up in middle school two years ago. Dude needs to turn the page.

The fetal position? Really, Starbaby?

Eh, when you run the totals, it's not so bad, I guess. I like the (presumably) non-canonical bits of service in the individualized ED. It features what I can only guess to be a game of strip solitaire and a still from what would be a trapped-in-a-storage-shed love confession were it not for the open window. It's good enough to justify a four-episode test.

I don't know how you play, but I bet nobody loses.

Now if only the Clingy Little Sister would just hook with the Perverted Friend and spend every available moment in the library, effectively removing both annoying characters from the show almost entirely. Then we'd really have something. But I guess it wouldn't be very Playstation 2 of them.

Dated 9 July 2010: Ani-nouto, I'm stealing your shtick

Hung writes:

Junichi starts his day off in his closet panic room planetarium. He can’t get over being stood up two years ago on Christmas eve. Note: Christmas Eve is sort of like Valentine’s Day here. You need to have a date, otherwise you’re a loser who just waits for Santa to bring you stuff.

That is some good smack right there.

Dated 25 July 2010: Pity Amagami SS isn't Roads of Destiny without the Bad Ends

Three leagues, then the road ran, and turned into a puzzle. It joined with another and a larger road at right angles.

So reads "Roads of Destiny" by William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry, the American author famous for the Christmas classic, "The Gift of the Magi." In "Roads of Destiny," a wretched shepherd is vexed by fate to reach the same ultimate destination regardless of the choices he makes. Conversely, the gimmick behind Amagami SS is that it is a harem comedy with four-episode arcs and (I assume) four separate destinations—one for each girl. There are six girls in the OP, so presumably Amagami SS will run for two cours, although currently only 13 episodes are confirmed. On the one hand, this addresses one of the primary complaints about harem comedies in general—that Male Protagonist typically picks the "wrong" girl. On the other hand, the climaxes to these four-episode arcs come really fast.

Junichi and Haruka
Renting swimsuits sounds kinda gross.

If you watched the first arc, wherein Potato-kun inexplicably lands an older school idol for no clearly discernible reason (or at least not a reasonably plausible one), you may also be confounded by the bald implausibility of this most unlikely coupling, even if Junichi is the rebound guy for Haruka's dog. Well, confounded by that and the couple's complete lack of chemistry together.

Junichi and Haruka
Really, I think it's being charitable.

Then again, maybe not. Reactions to Amagami SS have been much more positive than I ever would have anticipated, especially among viewers that typically lambaste harem comedies on general principle. That mildly amusing, inoffensive fluff shows with moments of genuine charm such as Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ can't catch a break while the back-of-the-knee kissing scene in Amagami SS garners such praise is probably indicative of something about the nature of anime fans and their views regarding relationships, but not anything I care to contemplate. Then again, I've joked in the past about a theoretical back-of-the-knee fetish gripping the scene to succeed the already niche armpit fetish, but now I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's real. That's my best-case-scenario explanation for the popularity of Amagami SS episode three at least.

You should see the uncensored version.

Despite personally lacking any predisposed compunctions toward viewing harem comedies negatively, I mostly disliked Amagami SS episode three in its entirety. I couldn't stand all the begging. Seriously, guy, even Urashima Keitaro wasn't so eager to sell out what dignity he had left. Then again, Urashima Keitaro didn't exactly get a lot of back-of-the-knee action either. I guess we'll never know if it's because he didn't beg enough or if it's because Narusegawa Naru wasn't the kind of girl who puts out on the first date. [Spoilers: Haruka puts out. And how.]

Junichi and Haruka
This worked a lot better than Yamada Eye.

So where are we now? From the looks of it, Potato-kun is going to take a different fork and parallel-universe his way into Sex Hair's (presumably) persistently unmade bed. Expect three more episodes of wining & dining (read: lots of begging) followed by episode-eight supining before Junichi moves on to trophy-fucklove the remaining four girls: the one with brown hair that doesn't think she's fat, the one with presumably crushingly strong swimmer thighs, the one that thinks she's fat, and the seemingly normal earnest one that's probably CRAZY-BROKEN inside. Maybe that hikikomori panic room planetarium of his is actually a portal to alternate dimensions. Potato-kun sure has his work cut out for him.

Take a cell phone picture and set it as your wallpaper, Junichi. Do it.

So what does this have to do with "Roads of Destiny"? I predict my biggest complaint about Amagami SS, assuming I make it to the end of its 13 or 24 or whatever episodes—ahead of my complaint about Junichi being such a loser, ahead of my complaint about Junichi not having any chemistry with Haruka (and potentially none of the other girls either), and ahead of my complaint about the show's rushed four-episode pace—will be my complaint that we'll suffer through the First Girl He Sees Clause six freaking times. I appreciate that Amagami SS is a galge adaptation and thus compelled to retain the same lead male throughout—preventing any Hatsukoi Limited narrative weaving, but for crying out loud. What the show ought to do is have Junichi ultimately end up with the same girl every single time, regardless of the path he takes or who he dates on his way there. School Days aside, there must be some anime law compelling monogamy or something, even if it's The Disappearance of Nice Boat variety of monogamy.

Dated 30 July 2010: The SS in Amagami SS stands for Sexhair Supremacy

I hope you live somewhere that only gets
four hours of sunlight in the winter.

Now that's more like it. After dragging my way through the constantly cringeworthy Haruka arc of Amagami SS, I find the beginning of the Kaoru arc much more promising. Junichi was still completely shell-shocked by his soul-crushing disappointment at being stood up on Christmas two years ago. (I bet you she's the crazy-broken girl. I just know it.) The dude waited around for her until nightfall, for crying out loud. But evidently all it took to pull him back from the brink and prevent him from constructing a hikikomori anxiety womb for himself was having the sense slapped back into him by his childhood friend with the persistently tousled hair.

Kaoru and Junichi
Swing and a miss.

There's a lesson to be learned here: Annoying, whiny, bitch-ass male anime protagonists can always be improved by having someone slap the shit out them. This was true of Renton Thurston, and it's true of Potato-kun here. The dude can't take a punch, though. Kaoru hits him like one time in the gut and puts him in the infirmary for the rest of the day. I guess he's lucky he didn't end up in a hospital—or at the vet.

Kaoru and Junichi

Aside from having the best hair of the season, Kaoru also has much more charisma than Haruka, even if she is recycling some tsundere idioms. I'll give that a pass because Amagami SS is still a galge adaptation. There's not really time for actual character development in a four-episode arc, especially when part of that limited screen time is already blocked off for requisite library petting. (Not Haruka's kind of petting.)

Kaoru in a flower bed
If you can only afford either Benadryl or Trojans
at Rite Aid, go with the Benadryl, Potato-kun.

To fill that hole, Junichi has resorted to stroking his imagination in order to placate his anime-blogging detractors with some of the fan service that was curiously absent from the Haruka arc. Kaoru's hair alone is a fan service GAME-BREAKING HOME RUN, so squeezing in some purely gratuitous slices of cheesecake should put Amagami SS back into the black, even if Potato-kun's fantasies are a little ambitious. I guarantee a loser like Junichi would have debilitating allergies that prevent him from ruining Kaoru for pollination regardless of his best efforts.

Dated 10 September 2010: Stupidity over shyness in Amagami SS episode 11, Sae part three

Turns out that's not a petticoat.

Calling Sae shy would be an understatement. This is a girl who started out being too shy to talk to herself. Lucky for Sae, the brother of her only friend appears willing to overlook that particular disability of hers if it means better opportunities for copping a first-year feel.

Sae and Junichi
She's waiting for you to drop your salute first, Potato-kun.

Through two and three-quarter Amagami SS arcs, I submit only Sex Hair had any believable chemistry with Junichi. Sae and Junichi do have more chemistry together than Morishima and Junichi did, but that's not really saying much. Their burgeoning relationship still feels very contrived.

My God, it's full of stars. At least I hope they're stars.

I guess I can kind of appreciate that Sae might develop a crush on ol' Potato-kun as he's the only person to pay attention to her, but his obliviousness to her attraction seems so implausible. It's a silly excuse to use merely to keep them apart. They couldn't come up with a better way to cockblock for three episodes?

Junichi, Sae, and Umehara
Had he rubbed the black obelisk, Junichi might
have had a 2001 moment of inspiration.

Still, Sae would be all right were it not for her squeaky K.C. voice. Her extreme meekness actually makes Junichi appear assertive for a change. It's a nice improvement to his character, even if he inexplicably does remain too stupid to bend Sae over a kotatsu.

Dated 9 October 2010: Summer 2010 season wrapup

Summer 2010 wasn't an especially good season of anime:

Major season six > Asobi ni Iku yo! > Strike Witches 2 > Detective Conan (579-590) > Seitokai Yakuin Domo > Shiki (1-11) > Amagami SS (1-13) > Heartcatch Precure! (20-33) > Shukufuku no Campanella.

Dropped: Legend of the Legendary Heroes (1) | Worse than Cosprayers: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi (5) > Mitsudomoe (1).

Major was easily my favorite show from summer 2010, although I felt the "yips" arc went on too long.

This was my favorite part of the OP.

Asobi ni Iku yo! was a lot better than I was expecting. It stayed fun the whole way through, but I would have liked to see more of the evil-type Momiji. And they never explained what the deal was with her older younger sister.

Minna and Mio
Not this shit again.

To some degree, I enjoyed the second Strike Witches season more than the first one. Nevertheless, it really did feel like a re-hash of the first season.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. I continue to enjoy it as I plow through the hundreds of unwatched episodes I have remaining. As you can see, I've long since realized there are no meaningful spoilers in Detective Conan, so I've started watching the currently airing episodes along with my backlog of older ones.

Aria, Tsuda, Shino, and Suzu
The rules segments with the drum and whistle were my favorite parts.

I really enjoyed Seitokai Yakuin Domo and its relentless stream of sex jokes and short jokes. It was probably funnier to native speakers, though; it's tough to adapt verbal comedy to different languages.

Shiki hit a long skid of tedious episodes, but the recent ones are quite good, especially if you enjoy hollering directions to idiot B-movie characters. E.g., "Don't go in there!"

Amagami SS is pure cheese. That said, I still look forward quite a bit to each new episode as Potato-kun attempts to trophy-love every girl in the school.

Obi-Wan Kenobi supplants Tart as the least annoying Precure mascot.

I'm still not a huge fan of Heartcatch Precure! but it is growing on me.

Shukufuku no Campanella kinda sucked, but all the scenes with the Tortilla sisters or Agnes made it worth it. Also, "ARMAGEDDON JA YO!"

I tried watching Legend of the Legendary Heroes which I figured would be tongue-in-cheek, but it wasn't very interesting. Dropped after one episode.

Now, two shows I not only dropped but considered to be, ahem, WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi was inexcusably terrible. How J.C. Staff fucked this up, I have no idea. I dragged my way through five episodes. Finally, I realize I'm in the minority in not enjoying Mitsudomoe, but the only thing I saw in the one episode I managed to watch was ugly children doing horrid things.

Dated 30 October 2010: Autumn 2010 initial impressions

Dark Marine
Dark Marine > Cure Marine.

This is a relatively light season for me. I'm only following two new shows, and I may have dropped one of them already.

Stocking and Panty
Striped swords are an otaku myth.

My favorite show this season thus far is Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt which I basically only started watching because it's a Gainax production. It's crass and kinda dirty, but a pretty fun cartoon to watch. I'm rather pleased Panty is such a slut. God bless sluts.

Haibara and Conan
Any excuse for more Hayashibara Megumi is a good one.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. Starting with episode 591, this appears to be another solid season of the same sort of thing Detective Conan has been reliably churning out for years.

Cure Moonlight and Dark Moonlight
Dark Moonlight > Cure Moonlight.

Heartcatch Precure! needs to do more with it's new (old) 17-year-old Cure—the oldest Cure of the franchise if you don't count Cure Grandma (and if you accept Setsuna as a 14-year-old). Sadly, I'm disappointed with the way Hisakawa Aya (Hisakawa Aya! for crying out loud!) delivers her transformation announcement. She could take some lessons from Yukana on this one. Seriously, though. When Yukana starts going off about Pretty Cure's "beautiful souls," that is some good shit right there.

Wait until Rihoko finds out she's fatter than Meyrin.

As far as gimmicks go, I still prefer the one Hatsukoi Limited employed. Nevertheless, Amagami SS continues to provide mildly amusing episodes about Potato-kun's serial harem. Despite my dislike for dumb girls (Mouri Ran being a one of anime's All-Time Babes notwithstanding) and my loathing of dojikkos, the first Rihoko episode was rather endearing. She's slow and clumsy and an unwitting compulsive eater with low willpower, but somehow manages to be a sweet kid. If this keeps up, Rihoko may surpass SEX HAIR as the Best Girl of the show.

Are genki vampires moé?

Shiki is still the anime equivalent of a B movie, but I'm pretty pleased Megumi gets around a lot for a dead girl.

Between the Tortilla sisters and Haruka, 2010 has been
a good year for off-the-shoulder dresses and blouses.

Finally, I've probably dropped Psychic Detective Yakumo, but I may pick it up again if I get sufficiently bored with the above shows. It's not exactly bad, just sort of uninteresting. The presumptive love interest is a real dish, but I'm getting impatient waiting for her to shoot someone in the face. This is still a Bee Train show, right?

Dated 21 November 2010: Respecting Amagami SS 20 in the morning

Rihoko sure has skinny arms for a fat girl.

The end of the Rihoko arc in Amagami SS was a bit unexpected. Based on the four previous arcs, I had come to expect certain conventions, so their absences are a bit perplexing. I suppose the differences this time around serve to give the show as a whole greater depth.

Ai and Sae
Parallel universe Ai and Sae awkwardly greet Junichi.

I still say Rihoko is one of the more likable girls in Potato-kun's serial harem, although I felt her arc was rather unsatisfying. This probably says more about how little chemistry Junichi has had with basically every character in the show aside from his childhood friends, to tell you the truth. It also makes it all the more perplexing that neither childhood friend option got nearly as much action as the less believable pairings. And when you consider how much attention that damn tea club table has gotten over the past 20 episodes, Potato-kun's failure to bend Rihoko over the kotatu is especially egregious.