Next on my line of harems to spite comes Amagami SS (Jesus, I’m still on letter A). This anime is somewhat weird to talk about as it is constantly deletes the progress in the story. Before I get to nerdraeg about the show, first I must clear my thoughts on one of the most dreaded recent additions to one of the stalest and lamest anime categories ever.
There is this scenario format where the story resets every few episodes, just so the lead character can choose a different action in some point in his life that will change the later events of the story. It is an element introduced by date sims, where there you chose a girl and move towards winning her. Replaying the game by choosing a different girl, meaning following a different path. This in anime terms, means that time resets and you get to see the same things again, only this time the character will go for a different girl. This is the chance to win all the girls, one at a time
… and it sucks.
I am vertically negative towards such a trope in anime form, thus I am writing a biased review from the start (as if hating harems wasn’t enough already). Some may like the option of having the guy winning all the girls and making time reset so to see how things will turn out if you make a different choice somewhere in your life. Although this concept was quite interesting in movies such as Groundhog Day or The Butterfly Effect for showing you how fragile the outcome of the future can be, here it is nothing but a lame excuse to render all character development and the gravity of one’s choice completely useless.
Another thing I want to mention is that unlike in the above movies where the lead remembers each reset, here he does not. Every time is like we watch a different alternative reality, making even the notion of maturing and learning from your past (or possible future) mistakes equally useless.
And finally, I want to make clear that Amagami IS A HAREM despite some refusing to accept it as one because the lead goes for one girl at a time and there are no cat fights. Well excuse me but one guy surrounded by pretty chicks, and he needs to pick one, counts as a harem, even when the choice is clear from the start. The oldest and most famous harems are Love Hina and Ah My Goddess and there the chosen girl was also clear from the start. Thus Amagami IS A HAREM like it or not.
So starting from the worst part, the story, I say it is bollocks. Using the reset button after the lead wins a girl means we practically watch 7 short romantic comedies of roughly 4 episodes each. The same characters are present in all of them but their interactions are different each time, so you might as well consider this a collection of similar short romantic school life stories, with the same actors in each one (sometimes called an Omnibus). Thus we practically have a typical slice of life school romance that begins and ends in 4 episodes maximum before throwing to the bin all that happened and going back to square 1, where we see the same formula, but with a different girl being the main target. Some may like this gimmick for making them feel like they are watching a date sim in anime form
… but I find it stupid as heck. Here I am watching a story unfold and then is deleted like it doesn’t mean anything.
It’s not like I reject the notion of the reset. It is ok in date sims and it was great when they implemented it in Tatami Galaxy. Using it here, in a typical story about typical people, feels disappoint. What is the point? Some will say it is a great way to please all shippers, which are guys who prefer one specific girl to end up with the lead and even argue with others who prefer a different girl. All these dudes can just choose the arc where the lead wins their favorite girl and reject all others, so everybody is happy.
Again, I am against that. Making an important choice in your life means to reject all other possible options. Winning something means at the same time losing everything else. The little pebble you chose out of a huge rubble of other pebbles will be more important to you that all the rest you sacrificed just to get this one. So what is this crap; doing anything I want and forgetting everything just to do something different? It sounds like cowardice in the least. Where is the importance of choosing? What is the point in having free will without the notion that you can’t undo what you chose to do?
Enough with that babble; it’s practically off-topic and random rant visualized by a biased mindset that loves to space out and overanalyze shitz. Let’s talk about the cast a bit; shall we? What we basically have here is seven girls and a main lead, teasing each other in a game of who gets to win whom. The lead is not the usual spineless dork of harems, as he is quite open with his feelings. Well, it’s not like he had the time not to be; he is roughly given enough time to waste in indecisiveness in a show of short arcs. He practically fools around a bit and confesses his love rather fast, the girl also agrees rather fast, the arc ends in a weird or funny moment and abracadabra we are transported in a different alternative reality where he now pulls the same with a different girl. Takes away all sense of progress or meaningfulness.
… Woops, again with that off topic fuss.
The girls themselves are practically seven basic archetypes, found in many date sims, each accompanied by some clothing fetish to act as a vague character trait, just so we can set them apart easier.
Yeah, we get to remember them as an archetype and a fetish; how romantic and noble for the female genre.
But it is true that although they are stereotypical caricatures, they get colorized very well throughout the series. The nice visuals, the good voice acting, the romantic foreplay, all that work fine at bringing out all that it’s available on each archetypical trait.
So they may all be omelets but you will not get to confuse one omelet with another, thanks to the cooks’ ability to bring out a special and unique flavor on each one of them. After that, it all has to do with your own personal perverted fetish … errr, I mean taste. If girl A is better than girl B will be up to you and not because some are not as well done … errr, well presented as others.
Other than that, they are not special or memorable for any given reason.
Animation and sound do their work in a fine way, helping you to get in the light and fuzzy feeling of the show. The backgrounds and the character figures are nicely drawn and colored, there is attention given to various lightings effects and camera angles. Voice acting is good, if you don’t find the rather high pitched voices that weird. Music themes are good and fitting for such a type of show.
But again, after all is done I found nothing memorable in all this fuss. It was just an average school setting with average people doing average things. Average is a hard thing to remember you know; it is so much easier to remember very happy or very bad moments. But this comes to no surprise for a show made by studio AIC, which is infamous for its anime soups. The director is also some nobody who never managed to produce a good anime. It has a very good pacing and atmosphere for its kind, while visuals and sound are quite nice. Other than that, there is nothing overall WOW in it; just a typical omelet that was cooked nicely. Plus that reset thing GOD I HATE IT.
If we had a story about a guy gradually mating and separating with girls until he finds the proper one in the end, as corny as it would be it would still be more solid and memorable than THIS mess.