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Dated 2 August 2010: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi is horrible

Urashima and Otohime
Try a little tenderness, Urashima.

The Ayako Doctrine doesn't compel viewership, but it does compel consideration. In the case of Ookami-san, being the only source for Kawasumi Ayako in the summer of 2010, I stayed with the show too long. Granted, it had an amusing first episode, but that second episode was God awful—easily the single worst episode of anything I've seen this season. The third episode was actually a nice bit of storytelling with some parallels to the fable about the ugly duckling, and the fourth episode even focused primarily on Ayako's character, but it's not enough. I stayed with the show through five episodes—long enough to determine Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi just didn't have anything worth watching, even with the Kawasumi Ayako + Horie Yui + legs-that-go-up-to-her-neck trifecta. I'm done with it.

Manami, Eris, and Itokazu
Asobi ni Iku yo! is awesome because it is preposterous.

On the other hand, Asobi ni Iku yo! is amazing. Why didn't anyone tell me this show was actually good? I was sold when I found out the Girl Next Door was a crazy stalker. Also it has guns and cars. And swarming robots with "..." signs.

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 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 16 July 2010: Strike Witches II and its new Mio


I'm opposed to changing voice actors as a matter of principle, and I still lament the absence of Chiba Saeko (one of my favorites) from the Strike Witches sequel, but I have to admit Seto Saori is doing a good job through at least the first two episodes.

Dated 14 July 2010: The Ran service in Detective Conan gets completely out of hand

Ran and Conan
Switching to widescreen has been such a boon for Ran service.

Ran has to find excuses to bend over a lot because otherwise her head won't fit in the same frame as Conan's. This is also true when her father is passed out unconscious on the floor. I counted at least two occasions during the most recent episode of Detective Conan where she had to do this. You know, now that I think about it, I guess Ran is eligible for Girl of the Year 2010 contention as well. Shimizu might end up third.

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 2 July 2010: Joining the Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi bandwagon for two reasons

Nice lobster bib.

First, I fully expect Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi to be a J.C. Staff layup. It's got Yui Horie sweetness and, oh yeah, THE AYAKO DOCTRINE going for it at least. And the scenario seems interesting enough. As long as they don't Index it up, it should be okay.

Ringo and Ookami
Looks like Ryuuji's and Taiga's kid attends J.C. Staff boarding school.

Second, Tall Taiga has legs that go up to her neck, and you're nuts if you think I'm going to pass up a chance lengthen my "legs that go up to her neck" tag count.

Dated 30 May 2010: If true, the worst Strike Witches news ever

29:09:10< Seem> Evirus you're apparantly going to need to pick a new favourite Strike Witch, Saeko Chiba is being replaced with a different VA for season 2

That is some straight dog shit right there.