Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome to the three different alternate reality romances of one boy.
A single human life can see a hundred different people pass them by and many of which a person never really gets to meet. However, what if there are multiple universes and thousands of worlds where we and everyone know exists within them? Imagine that girl you met briefly in high school became your sweetheart in one universe while, in another similar world, you totally ignore her instead and romance a childhood friend. This is the alternate lives and loves of one boy as we witness three different “What if?” moments that make up a multi-verse in Collection 1 of Amagami SS. Things are about to get cosmically interesting in a good way.
There is something all three multi-verses – that make up Collection 1 of the series – have in common and that is young high school student Junichi Tachibana has been stood up on Christmas by a nameless/faceless girl he really liked. As a result, Junichi finds himself wondering what he did or said wrong two years after the incident as he lays depressed inside his closet he set up to look like the galaxy. Would he ever find love again? Would he even attempt to fall in love? Those are question he continuously asks himself.
However, in the first story arc, he discovers that he’s very fond of an upperclassman named Haruka Morishima who is seen by his classmates as the school’s idol. Although she sees the girl as unapproachable thanks to the fact that she’s very popular, Junichi and Haruka have a chance meeting that makes him realize that he is completely smitten with Haruka. The more they hang out together the more he realizes that he is falling in love with the beautiful and sweet girl who has a puppy obsession.
Junichi is so in love with Haruka that he finally confesses his love for her and is rejected right on the spot. Fortunately for him, however, Haruka would still like to hang out with him and Junichi sees this as a sign that he still has a chance with her. Despite the fact that she had shot down many guys, Junichi tries again and makes a second confession that gets a very different reaction from Haruka who sees this as a first time a guy would put his heart on the line by risking rejection a second time. Could it be that she might actually be falling in love with him?
In the second story arc, Junichi doesn’t think he could ever find love two years after he was stood up so, instead, he find solace and companionship with his two childhood friends, Masayoshi and the lively and beautiful Kaoru Tanamachi. As fate would have it, though, Junichi and Kaoru spend more time together as their friendship suddenly starts getting a wee bit awkward. It becomes clear – when Junichi wants to see Kaoru in her cute waitress uniform – that their friendship is evolving to that of mutual attraction. When they accidentally kiss, things really change.
Oh, it gets a bit kinky too when Junichi is dared into kissing her naval as the two close friends start considering the possibility of becoming a couple. It’s not an easy thing considering their past history but Junichi has fallen in love with Kaoru who does not want to lose a beautiful friendship yet wants more from her relationship with Junichi.
Then, in the third story arc, this Junichi doesn’t want to risk getting hurt ever again so he dismisses love altogether to just simply enjoy his school activities. Then he gets an eyeful of an extremely shy yet busty underclassman named Sae Nakata who just so happens to be a transfer student who befriends Junichi’s sister, Miya. Once again, fate has these two meet but despite thinking how cute she is this Junichi really doesn’t see anything remotely romantic in his interest in Sae.
Out of pure friendship and the fact that Junichi is a nice guy, the young man and his sister help Sae overcome her shyness and help her get a job as a waitress. It is Junichi who becomes her coach as he gets her to speak a little louder and become more confident in herself. As a result of his oftentimes hilarious and unusual methods, Sae is the one who falls in love with an oblivious Junichi. It isn’t until she makes it clear to him that she does not want him to see her as another little sister that he slowly comes to realize that she likes him and that he might actually like her too.
Amagami SS interestingly weaves each story arc together so we can see just how easy it is to dismiss the numerous possibilities that life throws at us. In the second story arc, for instance, Haruka is just but a familiar face and nothing else just as Kaoru was in the first story arc. We can also see that there are other girls that Junichi comes across in all three story arcs that could eventually end up as love interests.
The series handles the romance well enough; sometimes the story takes its sweet time taking us through the motions of Junichi’s romance with all three girls. Personally, I felt the ending of the first story arc was more fulfilling than the others. There’s also fan service in the series with Kaoru’s mentioned naval kiss and Sae’s bountiful bosoms standing out. Junichi is actually a pretty cool guy and watching him stumble through each romance is a blast.
It is these things that make Collection 1 of Amagami SS a worthwhile and utterly entertaining romance anime series that makes this a fun series to watch if you’re into the genre. Each of the three story arcs offers their own highlights and, in the end, we get alternate endings that are as unique as the girls Junichi romances. Still, despite a few slow moments, Amagami SS proves to be a great first half. We definitely will look forward to Collection 2.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
High school student Junichi’s heart was broken when he was stood up on a date on Christmas, however, he discovers that there is room in his heart to fall in love again … in three different alternate realities. In the first reality, he falls for his senior who happens to be the hottest girl in school. In another alternate universe, Junichi finds love with his childhood friend. Finally, in yet another reality, he finds love while helping a cute underclassman.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The animation in the series isn’t bad at all and the overall visual design is handled beautifully enough despite the fact that the girls could have looked a lot cuter. There fan service that ranges from light nudity to some kinky moments but nothing too outrageous.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
While the soundtrack feels like it comes straight out of an old-school Japanese dating sim, it’s the excellent voice cast that more than makes up for it with Tomoaki Maeno as Junichi pulling off a standout performance. The opening and closing theme songs are actually really cute as well.
Each of the three girls get their individual DVD but only two of the DVDs contain slim extras such clean opening and closing animation plus a few trailers. That’s all there is in terms of extras.
While not all of the three romance stories are perfect, there’s a lot to like about each of them that ultimately makes Collection 1 of Amagami SS a very delightful treat for those who love the genre. Sure, there are moments where each story takes it too slow but when things get interesting they do so with enough charm and humor to keep shoujo fans happy.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks