What They Say:
Junichi Tachibana hasn’t exactly been lucky in love, but was that because there’s something fundamentally wrong with him, or simply because he wasn’t trying hard enough? How many girls could he have struck up a meaningful relationship with if he’d done the right things, said the right words?
The answer has yet to be unveiled as new versions of Junichi’s prospective romantic future continue to appear. One boy and a whole lot of different girlfriends to be: if it sounds like wishful thinking, it is. But wishes have a habit of coming true, so the odds are definitely on Junichi’s side!
Contains episodes 13-24 plus two specials.
The audio presentation for this release is done with just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. Amagami: SS is a very dialogue driven show but it has a little bit of fun to work with when it comes to the music as that adds to the experience and it has to be well done to make you feel the relationships and mood. The series does it well here and the audio encoding captures it pretty much spot on. It’s not a mix that stands up and does a dance around you, but the dialogue is well presented and the mood of it all comes through very clearly. There isn’t a lot of placement or depth because of the nature of the show but the dialogue comes through clean and clear with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during normal playback.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set contains twelve episodes plus two OVAs and breaks tradition by being spread across three discs, four episodes to a disc with the third disc having the additional OVAs. This is done to keep the story arcs together rather than splitting over discs, not that it feels terribly necessary. The series has a very good look to it as it deals with familiar school environments with AIC giving it a bit of extra flair and vibrancy with the characters and colors. There are some moments where it has a bit of line noise and some of the blues in the backgrounds have more noise than they should, but in general it’s a good looking DVD release that has a lot of color and appeal that makes it very easy to settle into and enjoy.
The packaging for this release is pretty good considering what it has to accomplish in making fans of whichever of the girls that are in this release happy. The front cover goes for the three pictures across it where each of the girls that are featured in this set get their chance to shine. The character artwork is a bit darker than I’d care for in some cases but it’s good overall as each of them gets to shine with a look that definitely represents them well. The rest of the cover has only a little bit of space but it gives us some good colors with reds and blues to brighten it all up. The back cover works it in much the same way but with thinner strips going down it that has shots from that show, a pair of girls in between them and a breakdown of which stories are on which discs. The summary is pretty expansive considering what it has to do as well but it covers the basics just right and draws you into it. The remainder of the cover has the usual breakdown with a clean listing of the discs extras, production credits and the accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release utilize the episode/story spread well by letting the romantic interest of that arc to become the focus. The character artwork is kept to the right and all three of them look good here with great colors and a wonderful brightness about it all. The left side has the navigation which is the episode numbers and titles while the background and other areas bring in various reads, whites and blues to make it a very lively feeling menu. The layout is done well and the whole thing is easy to navigate. Due to it being a monolingual release, there are no language submenus and defaults aren’t useful here.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences for each of the arcs as well as the two individual OVAs which had their own versions as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Amagami SS was one that initially threw me a fair bit until I got into the rhythm of it where it reset every four episodes with the story. It’s something that I really got into, but when it first happened it left me wondering what the trick was. With this set, knowing what’s going on, it made for a more enjoyable experience overall since you can just get into the whole story itself without wondering what’s next. The main draw for the show though is the fact that in the space of four episodes, we get a look at a blossoming romance and see how it comes together bit by bit. What I found I appreciated the most, especially with this set, is that we do get to see so many different possibilities for Junichi and realize that there are so many different ways one can be happy in life with a true love.
The opening arc introduces us to Ai Nanasaki, a year younger than Junichi and a friend of his sisters. She’s a bit of a fun girl but has her insecurities as she’s working her way through the swim team training in order to try and make the team that goes to competitions. She’s a bit sensitive about her appearance but she’s generally a good girl and ends up growing close to Junichi through Miya at first and then because Junichi is open and easygoing around her. It takes a bit before they really start spending time together though and some of the fun comes from the way she’s very sensitive about her chest size, some of which comes from her chosen athletic passion and the swimsuit she has to wear for it. It’s a slow progress kind of relationship but there’s a great, warm and natural feeling between them as it comes together. Nanasaki isn’t a favorite, but it worked very well overall.
The second arc is a lot more appealing as it deals with Rihoko, a girl in his own class and one that’s actually a childhood friend of his. She’s a very fun girl that you don’t want to classify as ditzy, but she’s just a generally happy young woman with a few quirks. Her main problem as she sees it is that she wants to exercise and get thinner, not that she’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s comparing herself to the ones considering the best of the best in the school. But she loves to eat and to spend her time as the junior in the tea club room with the two upperclassmen that are graduating. She’s got a real interest in Junichi but they don’t play up the childhood aspect all that much, instead focusing on the here and now. She’s just such an appealing girl so watching this romance blossom is simply extra sweet. Junichi definitely gets into her, but it’s such a distant dance for much of it that when they do connect, it’s very, very cute with the way in which it all comes together, revolving around the tea ceremony club.
The final TV arc involves Tsukasa, the do it all member of the class as she’s the one that runs things like the Founder’s Festival planning and a great deal of other events. Tsukasa is the type that tends to take on most of the work herself and Junichi ends up getting involved to try and help her out some, but finds that she’s pretty capable all on her own. They end up spending a lot of time together, but it’s very, very hard to see them coming together as she almost seems like a split personality for a lot of it with how she interacts not only with him but also with others in the class. It’s not a tumultuous relationship, but when things do finally click with the way they’ve danced around things in a confusing way, it’s one of the better ones. Similar to an earlier one in the series overall, we get a look ahead ten years into the future as well which is really cute and definitely one of the things I wished more of the arcs did in full.
In addition to the series, we also ended up with a pair of OVAs after the fact that deal with two very different types of stories in short form, which is a nice bonus. The first one involves Risa, a girl that saw what was really happening to Junichi a few years ago and gives us closure on that date that never happened, and shows what she did to protect him since. It’s quite nice and again shows just how open and caring Junichi really is. The second one is given over to his sister Miya, and thankfully it avoids anything meaningful in terms of a “relationship” beyond examining the way she can’t understand why he doesn’t have a girlfriend yet has so many girl friends. It’s a cute episode that reinforces the family bond more than anything else, but it does steer lightly at the very end into pervy territory, which isn’t a shock. It could have gone a lot worse than it did.
Amagami SS is a series that definitely stands out because of the nature of the romances and the way it works through so many in such a distinct way. When you look at it from the perspective of showing that everyone can find multiple true loves in their lives, find different ways to connect with people in a profound way, it’s a great reminder that there’s a lot of potential and different paths we can all take. Junichi isn’t exactly defined by the women he falls for, but he also doesn’t define himself much either. There are some small moments where his character is developed consistently across the arcs, but mostly he’s an everyman that gets to deal with the women who have all the personality and interests. This makes it easier for the usual male viewer to connect but it generally just keeps the focus on the girls which is done well. The main draw for me continues to be the whole thing does move the relationships forward, has them confess and deals with it in a short form. Though it’s not a huge, stand out series for me, it’s one that definitely appeals a whole lot with its animation style, character designs and the short form stories. Definitely worth watching and spending an evening with for each of the arcs just to enjoy on their own.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closings
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.