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Amagami SS+ Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Amagami SSExtended epilogues to be sure, but beautiful epilogues to a solid series.

What They Say:
So far, Junichi Tachibana has been luckier than any guy has any right to be, getting to experience what it would be like to be romantically paired with not one, not two, but SEVEN different beautiful girls in a multiple of alternate universes. So how can he possibly follow that up? Well, how about with continuations of all of those storylines!

Yes, all of the pairings are back as each of the girls returns to follow up the romantic advancements in each of their possible futures! Is Junichi going to be able to handle a second go-round with Tsukasa, Rihoko, Ai, Kaoru, Sae, Haruka, and even Risa? Will little sis Miya get a follow up to her own sneaky storyline too? The answer’s yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, maybe, yes and oh yes as boy meets girl, girl, girl, girl, girl, girl and girl again!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is done with just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. 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. In comparison to the DVD, there’s not a really noticeable difference when you get to the majority of the show since it’s all dialogue based, but it does have a bit more warmth and clarity. The opening and closing sequences make out the best, but it’s incremental as well. 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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with eight on the first, breaking down into four two-part episodes, and five on the second. 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. The look of the show is definitely a nice increase over the standard definition release as the colors are more solid, the line noise we had before is minimized to non-existent and there’s a lot more pop to certain colors throughout. The show does hew to a certain color palette and a slight softness to romanticize things, but the upgrade here is definitely welcome with how it lets things stand out all the more.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is presented in a standard sized Blu-ray case that has the two discs against the interior walls. The cover artwork uses the same design as the DVD releases where the front cover shows off six of the girls that are involved in the story arcs, allowing them each to highlight their uniqueness, while the logo plays out along the top nicely with the additional “plus” to it, we also get a good breakdown of discs and episodes along the top. The back cover plays similar as well with a detailed look at the premise along the top in a small font while below it we get the breakdown of the episodes by disc and several shots from the show as well. Add in a listing f which girls are covered in the TV series discs and it’s nicely done. The remainder has the usual listings such as the extras included and the production credits. The technical credits list everything clearly and accurately while there’s no reversible artwork or inserts included.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is quite appealing and mirrors some of what was done with the DVD releases as well. Both discs break things down where we get the navigation along the left, where it’s blocked out by story arc, while the right side has the character artwork slices that represent the girls for the arcs on this disc. This has a lot of nice color and design to it even as they show different situations and colors, allowing it to blend better than one might think. It’s all simple and straightforward but it has a nice bit of pop and color to it that’s also rather warm. Submenus load quickly and easily and it works nicely during playback as a pop-up menu so you can see which part of each arc you’re in.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the success of the 2010 series which spanned twenty-six episodes, a second season was commissioned that ran for half that length and served a different purpose. The original series spent its time doing four episode arcs for most everyone as we got to be introduced to the characters, their relationships with each other as friends and acquaintances and how they were connected to Tachibana in a romantic way. Each of them progressed in a different way and it was really engaging to watch shows that focused on the actual relationship itself, as well as some of the chase. The admittance of feelings and reactions to it is something most series never get to, so I was really enthused to see so many stories about it and the way the lead male interacted with each of them differently in his pursuit while not actively pursuing each of them at the same time.

With this follow-up series, it does things one better in a way here as it provides for six follow-up stories to what happened in the first season. If you treat each two episode arc as an epilogue and “what happens after” kind of story, there’s a whole lot to like here. And it even gives the last episode to Miya, Tachibana’s younger sister, but it does it in a way that doesn’t actually get creepy. Instead, Tachibana is almost entirely absent from the episode as it’s Miya and several of the girls going to visit a new indoor hot spring business where there are multiple springs designed around different ideas, including that of increasing bust sizes. This provides a lot of different kinds of interactions among the girls without Tachibana present and is just a lot of fun, especially since it just has Miya being silly and fun without being over the top.

Going back again to all of these girls after being away for well over a year was definitely a lot of fun and it reminded me of favorites and those that I didn’t think too highly of. On the favorites side, I really liked seeing how Haruka and Tachibana continued to get along so well and the kind of relationship they have, especially since she was a year older and getting closer to graduation. What complicates their relationship here is the arrival of her sister Jessica from England and the realization that Tachibana has that she’s going to be going herself and is hiding the trip from him. The thought of losing her for any length of time is hard and I really enjoyed the way Jessica messes with them. And the way she’s just a mirror image of Haruka but as a blonde. The pair was the first one in the original season and is the last main coupling brought to light here, so as a bookend for both seasons I loved the way he worked hard to express himself in such a big and public way and the distance that he’d go for her.

Similarly, I really enjoyed seeing the follow-up to Sae’s story since it works in a slightly different direction. With her being a year younger, there’s different issues at play than Haruka and it’s a lot of fun to see the struggle they have as she gets nominated to become the festival director and gets caught up in all the hard work that may be just beyond her age a touch. This puts a strain on their relationship and seeing them deal with it, to even just admit it later on and talk through what they can do, was a welcome touch. There’s internalized drama going on here but it’s not something where it becomes an over the top issue to deal with. Similar to Haruka, we also get a good extended look at their life some eight years down the line to see what happened to the relationship and it just absolutely made me grin. Sae’s youthfulness is apparent in both ages we see her and she’s just an infectious character that avoids being obnoxious.

The other girls we get here are all dealt with in similar ways, though they don’t go for the long haul in the same way as these two. Tsukasa and Tachibana have to deal with student council elections and a new arrival that wants to steal him away to mess with her. Rihoko’s story is one that left me feeling a bit bland if only because she wasn’t all that interesting of a character, but it was interesting to see how Tachibana becomes kind of younger and simpler in mindset while being with her. Kaoru was also problematic for me in a way as the two just didn’t seem compatible. Their story of going on a trip together on a bus has them separated from it and they end up with little money to try and get it settled but have a fun time anyway. There’s a carefree nature about her that’s interesting, but the personalities are ones that never seemed to click well for me. The story with Ai is kind of similar in a way as the two do connect a bit, but it’s not the kind of driven romance like we get with some of the others such as Tsukasa and Haruka.

There’s a whole lot to like across this set as we see the months and sometimes years of what follows from the first season. The relationships certainly change and expand and sometimes there’s trouble. But similar to the first season, the surprising draw to it is in seeing how Tachibana is with each girl. We all present different faces to different people, but getting a look at a standard good guy with a mildly pervy mindset at times in six different relationships (seven if you count his sisterly relationship) and the way he acts differently with them. There are core ideas about him that stand true throughout them, he doesn’t become a schmuck in any of them or overly sexual as he’s definitely into all of them, but he shifts subtly in some of his personality habits as he spends more and more time with them. Some challenge him, others are easier and some are just stronger connections that make for a more heartfelt approach. And I love that we see these kinds of differences here as it makes it all the more compelling.

In Summary:
Frankly, I can watch this series and the one before it every year and enjoy it each and every time with what it does in showing us welcome teenage relationships. I was thoroughly surprised by the original series when it came out here as I had no idea what to expect and the way it reset for each arc was jarring at first but ended up being the perfect way to do it. Rather than provide more girls for Tachibana to deal with in a new season, we get shorter two episode arcs that provide an expansion on those original relationships and shows where they went afterwards, from the highs to the lows, the strengthening of the bonds and some of the times that they became weaker.

A few of the stories go much further down the road to show us the various futures and it’s easy to get behind some of the girls but not others. Which in itself is a good thing as it can be reflective of what you’re looking for yourself and what you see in the characters. This show was a real surprise and getting more was just a wonderful little treat that was the icing on the cake. It’s also a show that’s definitely helped by a high definition transfer as the style of the show, its colors and its detail, really come across beautifully here to make it warmer and more inviting. Amagami SS+ and its predecessor may fly under the radar, but it’s exactly the kind of show I want to see more of when it comes to relationship series.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.

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