Japanese dating simulations are a dime dozen out there. And for a big majority of them,  they have erotic or adult contents in them. I mean, that is the motivation to buy those games, right? Who would ever buy such games? Only lonely otaku loners and perverts… Maybe… But not all dating simulations contain such elements and a handful manages to stay clean. Amagami SS and Photokano are both considered spiritual successors to the Kimikiss dating simulation. Although I have not played any of these games, I read they lack that erotic content. Even the anime adaptation is considered ‘clean’. Maybe a little fanservice here but nothing explicit.

Total number of episodes:
Amagami SS: 26 episodes for season 1 and 12 episodes for season 2. Total of 38 episodes.
Photokano: Only 1 season of 13 episodes.

Multi-arc branching style:
Amagami SS: For the first season, each girl is dedicated 4 episodes while only 2 episodes in the second season.
Photokano: The first 4 episodes are common arcs. The remaining episodes dedicate 1 episode for each girl involved (with exception of Haruka’s arc that covers 2 episodes).

The school:
Amagami SS: Kibitou High School.
Photokano: Kouga Academy.

The hero:
Amagami SS: Junichi Tachibana.
Photokano: Kazuya Maeda.

His story:
Amagami SS: He was stood up on Christmas Eve 2 years ago and this trauma left him heartbroken. His encounter with the girls will open up his heart to love again.
Photokano: He has tried many club activities in the past but none was interesting enough to make him stay in the long term. But when he receives a camera from his dad at the end of summer vacation, he starts taking pictures with it and this leads him to romantic encounters with various girls.

His little sister:
Amagami SS: Miya.
Photokano: Kanon.

The girls:
The girls who have episodes and arcs covering them.
Amagami SS: Haruka Morishima, Kaoru Tanamachi, Sae Nakata, Ai Nanasaki, Rihoko Sakurai, Tsukasa Ayatsuji and Risa Kamizaki (only in first season).
Photokano: Haruka Niimi, Hikari Sanehara, Aki Muroto, Nonoka Masami, Mai Sakura, Rina Yunoki and Tomoe Misumi.

Other girls:
The rest of the girls who act as supporting characters and do not have an arc themselves.
Amagami SS: Hibiki Tsukahara, Keiko Tanaka, Kanae Itou, Ruriko Yuzuki, Manaka Hiba and Yukari Ayatsuji.
Photokano: Yuko Uchida, Katsumi Kurebayashi and Ruu Narita.

The other guys:
Amagami SS: Masayoshi Umehara.
Photokano: Hiromichi Kudou, Itta Nakagawa and Takashi Azuma.

Teacher:
Amagami SS: Maya Takahashi.
Photokano: Misa Kitagawa and trainee teacher Momoko Ootani.

Stalker girl:
Amagami SS: Risa.
Photokano: Uchida (her specialty is stealth mode so that’s practically like stalking, right?).

Childhood friend:
The girls who has been friends with our male protagonist since younger days.
Amagami SS: Kaoru.
Photokano: Haruka.

Student council president:
Amagami SS: Tsukasa.
Photokano: Muroto.

Swimming club girl:
Amagami SS: Ai.
Photokano: Muroto.

Lone club member:
Amagami SS: Tea Club. Rihoko will be the only member once Ruriko and Manaka graduate.
Photokano: Rina is the only member of the Cooking Research Society.

Going on a diet:
Amagami SS: Rihoko.
Photokano: Mai.

Most popular girl:
Amagami SS: Haruka – Has half British blood.
Photokano: Haruka – A tennis club member.
Coincidence that they share the same name? Also a coincidence that both girls are the only ones that the male protagonist said anything about marriage to them.

Bustiest girl:
Amagami SS: Sae.
Photokano: Momoko.

Challenge of love:
Amagami SS: In season two, Kurosawa openly challenges Tsukasa over Junichi.
Photokano: Nonoka challenges Maeda to a love challenge for a chance to become a girl he can love.

Cultural festival feature:
Amagami SS: Best Couple Contest.
Photokano: Photography Club’s photo exhibits.

Cat outfit:
Amagami SS: Ai and Miya dress up as a pair of cats in the Best Couple Contest. WTF…
Photokano: Maeda borrows and dresses up in a cat suit just to amuse Sanehara.

Cosplayer:
Amagami SS: Sae?
Photokano: Uchida? She may also be the legendary cosplayer named Alice.

Unusual episode ending:
The kind that doesn’t end with the typical guy ends up with girl.
Amagami SS: In season one, Rihoko didn’t become Junichi’s girlfriend but remained friends.
Photokano: Misumi transfers away to another school due to her father’s job.

Remarrying parents:
Amagami SS: Kaoru’s mother with some other man.
Photokano: Maeda’s mom and Kanon’s father.

Opening themes:
Amagami SS: All sung by Azusa. First season’s first opening theme: I Love. First season’s second opening theme: Kimi No Mama De. Second season’s opening theme: Check My Soul.
Photokano: Koisuru Lens by Kaori Hayato.

Ending themes:
Amagami SS: For the first season, each girl has their own song customize to their character. For the second season, a standard song, Kokuhaku by Azusa.
Photokano: Although Smile F is the only song, they are sung by the character who voiced them during their arc. For the general arc, it is a group performance by all the seiyuus.

Studio production:
Amagami SS: AIC.
Photokano: Madhouse.

Conclusion
To be honest, I thought the girls in Amagami SS look much better than their counterparts in Photokano. Seriously. In terms of character development, Amagami SS rules the day because it has more episodes which means more focus on the couple as compared to Photokano which may feel a little too fast. On the other hand because of this, the former may sometimes feel draggy and the latter would suit for those impatient people wanting to quickly watch the relationship go somewhere. In the end, it mainly boils down to the guy getting the girl. Happy ending? Only in your dating simulation games and anime but so hard in real life… It doesn’t have save game points where you can reset or go back to the point if you screw up. Are dating games an escape from the harsh reality or a way to fight it? Where else can you find a harem in this world and date different girls at the same time?

What the hell?! WHAT THE HELL???!!! WHAT THE F******CKING HELL?????!!!! Here, I thought there was this new special from the DVD for Amagami SS Plus and even if it turned out to be a picture drama, I really thought it won’t be that bad. I mean, despite having only 1 stinking episode, I was expecting yeah maybe I’ll get to see my favourite Haruka again for a short while.

But no… It isn’t really what I expected and the only thing that came out from what I expected is that this is a picture drama. So what the hell is this picture drama that lasts only over 6 minutes of ‘picture’ time all about? Apparently with Junichi and Umehara screaming the opening lines of “GIVE ME CHOCOLATE!”, one would have guessed the loser guys are still without girlfriends and Valentine’s Day is coming. So what? It doesn’t harm for them boys to do a little fantasy and simulation of the main Amagami SS heroines giving them chocolate, right? Right. That’s good but everything else seemingly goes downhill from here.

Instead of hearing the cute girly voices of the girls, we are made to withstand the torturous and unconvincing falsetto voices of the guys! YES! You heard that right. You thought you would hear Sae’s sweet and soft-spoken voice or maybe the lovely Haruka, the double-faced Tsukasa or even some tsundere-ness from Kaoru, Ai or glutton Rihoko. But nooooooo… All you hear is that bad imitation of Junichi and Umehara fantasizing of what these girls would possibly say when they hand their chocolates to them. Don’t you just feel ripped off? I watched Amagami SS for the girls and to hear them if I can’t see them. And what do I get? A couple of loser boys in falsetto voice.

If that is not bad enough, to add salt to injury, we only have one stinking still picture of the girls. And even that, it is just a head and shoulder shot. Man, and it’s not them in sexy poses giving us viewers the chocolate. I suppose this isn’t really an ecchi series but it makes you wonder if the ‘creativity’ of those loser guys is as lame as the picture the girls are shown. I mean, they aren’t that all pure and goody-goody, right? So I thought they would have at least imagined a little more daring pose for the girls. This is after all their fantasy showdown, right? Eh? How did it even become a showdown I wonder. Don’t you just feel ripped off?

Okay, so I admit that there are some cute moments when they try to imitate the girls and the heroines still look lovely as I remember them. Some of their wise cracks are also funny so it is not all that bad. Just lacklustre. I wish this could’ve been done better even if they have budget issues (just speculating) and couldn’t give us a proper OVA. All this has made me want to scream for chocolates to douse my frustration. GIVE ME CHOCOLATES NOW!!!! Or more importantly, give me back those 6+ minutes of my life!!!

Amagami SS Plus

October 27, 2012

Once you have gotten the girl, it isn’t really the end of it yet. Now this is where the hard part comes in. The next task is to of course maintain that love and relationship so it will last till the end of time. I don’t want to say ‘last as long as possible’ because it is a bad indicator that the relationship will end. And even if forever does seem impossible but heck, that seems to sound way better. Thus when Amagami SS Plus sequel came into the scene in early 2012, it is interesting to see how our main protagonist guy will preserve his relationship. Will he get a fairytale ending (at least for this season) or will it suddenly turn into a bad end? Let’s hope it is the former.

For this season, looks like the number of episodes have been halved. So from 24 + 2 episodes in the first season, now we have 12 + 1 episodes. I guess it’s a sign to say that there isn’t really much to tell as 2 episodes are only dedicated to a girl. I mean, if it was 4 episodes per girl like the prequel, I think it might bore the hell out of viewers because it follows mostly the same concept. Instead of Junichi trying to woo the girl of give love a second chance, he is trying to enhance their relationship and make memorable memories. So yeah, nothing is really new here and preferably you should watch this after watching the first season because it makes more sense. To spice things up, they are starting the order of the girls’ appearance from reverse now.

Tsukasa Ayatsuji’s Arc
Episode 1
What’s this?! They’re starting off with Tsukasa giving Junichi a back scrub in the toilet?! How hot can this get?! Turns out to be Junichi’s dream after all. No harm dreaming, right? If only Miya didn’t wake him up… F*ck!!! So in school, the elections for the student council president draws nearer and Tsukasa is one of the candidates for that post. She is going to be president so it will look good on her resume when she enters university. Yeah, that dream of hers never changed. The other candidates in the fray being Sae, Noriko Kurosawa and Seiji Hanazono. However their school rules have it that the elected president gets to choose his/her vice and guess what? It’s okay that Tsukasa has Junichi as her vice president but what’s this? Kurosawa also listed Junichi as hers?! I remember Tsukasa has a darker personality… Oh Junichi, how can you explain it all when you yourself don’t know what’s going on. As Kaoru puts it, Kurosawa is trying to do a public confession. So obviously Junichi has got lots of his mind trying to figure out why Kurosawa did so and Tsukasa may know the reason why. She’s out to get her. By putting down his name, she is trying to provoke and put her down. Tsukasa is confident that all she has to do is win and that once tomorrow’s survey comes out, Kurosawa will know her place, just how far she lags behind her. Life has a strange way of springing surprises because when the polls are out, Kurosawa is leading by a mile! Worse, Tsukasa is in a lowly third place! (Hanazono raked in second place). How could this be?! Isn’t Tsukasa more popular for doing many things during the Founder’s Festival? Well, that scheming look in Kurosawa’s eyes sure indicate this is going to be one hell of a fight. It’s not over yet. Tsukasa isn’t going to be put down by this although Junichi is naturally worried. She thinks she persuaded her dad who is a city council member to convince people to vote for her. So the election campaign is in full swing as all candidates go all out to woo voters (does Sae think she can garner more votes in a swimsuit? It’s Miya’s idea by the way). Junichi suddenly gets an idea after the wind almost lifts up Tsukasa’s skirt. Huh? Anyway he thinks she should have an election poster to make more impact. So Junichi starts taking photos of Tsukasa and even persuading her to get into all sorts of poses. Naughty, naughty… Till he saw her ferocious face, he tripped on all the camera equipment… The second survey results come out and though Kurosawa continues to lead, Tsukasa has made headway and closes the gap. Though the posters worked, partly it’s because Hanazono’s exposure of his porn mags has his female voters turned against him. Now he is dead in last place. Good looks can only get you so far. It’s safe to say he is out of the running. Unless a miracle happens. Not likely for a side character! Kurosawa and her friends discuss the need to turn things around. And quick. Seems like she is going to resort to that. Her friends see Junichi and convince him to meet Kurosawa behind the school because she wants to talk to him. Then they purposely spread rumours so it will reach Tsukasa’s ear that Kurosawa will be finally confessing to Junichi. Junichi sees Kurosawa and the latter puts up an award-winning confession act in front of him. Her friends signal Tsukasa’s arrival and like they say, curiosity kills the cat. This is cue for Kurosawa to suddenly jump into his arms and her hands holding his cheek. Want to bet Tsukasa saw all that?

Episode 2
The demons are coming out from Tsukasa! Not. All she did was pull Junichi away. They need to talk. Oh sh*t. Inside the shed, Junichi tries to explain but Tsukasa shuts him up with a kiss! Woah! Didn’t see this coming! She’s not made because he almost kissed Kurosawa but rather he fell for that simple trick. It’s obviously a trap to shake them up. So in order for him not to fall for such trap again, she makes him swear an oath that will have him kiss no other than Tsukasa. Maybe he should just ask for more kisses… Tsukasa’s friends give her a sash with written support from everyone from her class. During the speech, Sae must be making the crowd laugh with her shy speech. Tsukasa is next and to calm her nerves down, she hugs Junichi from the back. On the rostrum, she lets her flare flow and everyone is captivated by her speech. On the day the results are out, the winner is… Drum rolls please… Heartbeat, heartbeat… The winner is… TSUKASA!!! The class celebrates her victory but she attributes her win to them because without their support, she wouldn’t have made it this far. Miya also celebrates Sae’s result. It might be dismal but the reason why she was running for presidency was to cure her shyness. Well, not that I could see any improvements anyway. Kurosawa sits dejectedly in class after her loss. Then she admits she’ll use any underhanded tactics next time to steal Junichi away from Tsukasa! OMG! So was Junichi her target in the first place? Junichi walks home with Tsukasa and a stray dog is coming their way. Junichi feels he needs to be a hero and protect her and becomes the decoy to get the dog away. Too bad he didn’t see where he is heading and falls into the river. Probably this is a blessing in disguise because Tsukasa invites him to her house to clean himself up. And her parents are not home… Is his dream coming true? Well, she might not be naked only with a towel like he dreamt but the swimsuit is good enough. She scrubs his back and even giving him a few ‘service’. She hopes he can keep his other promise of not kissing other girls. Sure, if you give him lots of good kiss, I see no reason why he would. Here’s one for a start… So graduation looms for the third years and Tsukasa becomes the next student council president. It’s going to get busy but with Junichi by her side, she’ll definitely get by.

Rihoko Sakurai’s Arc
Episode 3
Sleepy head Rihoko could’ve slept much longer if not for her friend Kanae coming to wake her up. It’s been several months since Junichi has become part of the Tea Club. She won’t be lonely as her seniors have already graduated. Even Kanae can’t stand how slow Rihoko is in advancing her relationship with Junichi. It might seem that they’re a couple but they aren’t actually going anywhere. Better do something fast because the semesters will come and go in the blink of an eye. Because Junichi thinks she has gained some weight, she weighs herself and Junichi pulls a little prank by stepping on the scale to make her heavier. Of course he can’t look at her weight too. She remembers when they were in elementary school, they challenged each other’s height. That was the only time Rihoko was taller than him and won. I don’t know why, he thought of measuring their chest size to see who is bigger?! WTF?! Of course Rihoko will win even if they’re not the melons they are right now. Yeah, Junichi takes one right now and from his expression, it must have exceeded his expectations. Later Junichi seems to be feeling the heat wave. Since his uncle strained his back, his parents are away and he dreads eating Miya’s horrible cooking. Rihoko suggests she could come over and cook for him. Oh, please do! So happy Rihoko dresses herself up to go shopping for ingredients that evening and bumps into her seniors, Ruriko and Manaka manning a fish stall. It’s part of their university assignment for some ecological research. After learning there is no progress whatsoever with Junichi, they give her an eel which supposedly cures his heat fatigue. On the house. They also advise her to make some lotus roots but Rihoko remembers being tricked by the same choux creme incident (from last season) and doesn’t buy their story. But they use ‘trust’ and ‘friendship’ to make her believe them again. Easy meat. And the eel doesn’t really cure one’s heat fatigue. It’s for virility and they hope Junichi will get ‘it’ up! Rihoko is on her way home when she bumps into a classmate, Makabe. He was the guy seen earlier trying to get a girlfriend before his summer ends. He suddenly realizes how pretty Rihoko is. Junichi at the store thought he saw them both. At the alley, Makabe confesses he likes her and wants to go out with her. However Rihoko is reluctant as she says there is someone she likes. Even if the train noise drowns out what she says, I’m pretty sure we know who that guy is, right?

Episode 4
Makabe shows he is not a jerk so he lets her go but cautions her not to regret rejecting him. Don’t worry, she won’t. But did Junichi witness all that? Makabe resumes his hitting spree but when he realizes the next girl is Haruka, he decides not to play play and runs away. Hey! What’s so bad about her?! Rihoko arrives at Junichi’s place and cooks a decent meal. Junichi wanted to ask her about that incident so he indirectly asks about seeing many couples during summer. She’s too slow to understand, he’s too shy to ask directly. So nothing that we want to hear gets answered. After that wonderful dinner, Junichi offers to help clean up. Probably Rihoko wanted to confess something important but noisy Miya came in with news that she’s going out with Sae and Ai tomorrow to the amusement park. After having shaved ice for dessert, it suddenly starts raining heavily so Miya suggests Rihoko stay for tonight. While she takes a bath, Junichi goes over a photo album and remembers all the nice childhood memories he had with her. Rihoko wears Junichi’s clothes because I guess it’s probably ‘big’ enough to fit her. In the dead of the night, Miya sleep walks to the toilet but she didn’t really go to the toilet and almost pulled down her pants in Junichi’s room! I’m speculating, in her dream, the toilet is his room? After that commotion, Rihoko can’t sleep and wanted to knock on Junichi’s door but finds him sitting at the veranda. They talk about the good ol’ times and play some sparklers. Rihoko probably wanted to take this chance to say something important but she accidentally got her sparklers on his feet. One tumble leads to another and he ends up on top of her. Their face is so close that they could’ve, you know, that. Once they’ve composed themselves, Junichi beats Rihoko into admitting that he likes her. He never notices it because they have always been so close. Yeah, like just now. He realizes he has always been in love with her and wants to be with her from now on. Forever. And finally the moment we have all been waiting for. After 2 seasons, they kissed! Wohoo!!! Finally they’ve become a couple! Morning comes and Miya wonders why their faces are so red. Maybe the tea is hot…

Ai Nanasaki’s Arc
Episode 5
Junichi and Ai lovey-dovey by the beach? Well, I guess they need it since Junichi has been attending cram schools and Ai is busy as the captain of her swimming club. They hope they can spend time together on Christmas Eve. Ai visits Junichi who has been studying up late for his exams. So naturally he is still in bed. Guess what? He pulls her in! What are they doing underneath the sheets?! Naughty, naughty! In class, Umehara is so desperate that he needs a girlfriend that he seeks Junichi’s help. Too desperate that he fell onto him. Gay scene? Junichi goes to see Ai at her swimming club but he gets caught since there is this rule that boys aren’t allowed when the girls are using. Her friends hope she could cut him some slack since at this time, they notice she has been anxiously looking at the entrance like as though she’s hoping for someone to turn up. They let him off with a warning. However Junichi is surprised that Miya has joined the club. Miya doesn’t want Ai to let her brother go easily and accuses him of peeping at their swimsuits. He wasn’t convincing enough to make them believe in him (his nose bleed was a dead giveaway). We’ll leave you to your imagination on the punishment he got. So on the way home, Ai forgives him after he explains himself but has him accompany her to go shopping. Junichi is resting at the infirmary as Ai comes to see him. He thought he could sleep better if he slept on her belly while she sings a lullaby. Is he serious? No wait. Is she serious to agree? What if people come in and see them in such an embarrassing manner? Just draw the curtains! And so, Ai puts Junichi’s head on her belly but her hands over his eyes since this is really an embarrassing scene. It might look like porn… Ai’s lullaby works like a charm and Junichi is sleeping like a baby. Ai is looking forward to Christmas Eve when Junichi starts apologizing. Seems the results of his mock exam are bad. And all those who don’t do well will be sent to some rigorous boot camp. More like hell camp the way he puts it. This means they can’t be together on Christmas Eve. So the duo work hard in their respective areas that they have no time to see each other. It’s taking a toll on Ai as she starts missing him. Then she gets bad news from Miya. Last night the camp people showed up at their doorstep and whisked Junichi away to camp. His camp starts early because those who do badly will have to well, start early.

Episode 6
While Founder’s Festival is underway, Ai can’t help think back the good times they’ve spent together (scenes from last season to refresh your memory). As for Junichi, he really is in hell camp because he’s taking mock exams right at night! After the festival, Ai turns down to sleepover with Miya and Sae since she remembers she needs to buy a present for her brother, Ikuo. She sees the Grasshopper Mask toy, the exact one from last year and is forced to remember how lonely she is without him. But her eyes are not deceiving her when Junichi pops up from behind. Seems he has escaped from camp because he wanted so bad to see her. Of course he finished all that he needs to do for the day. So all is not lost for Christmas Eve as they get to spend some time together. Umehara is still without a girlfriend. So desperate that he yells his frustrations out in the middle of the streets. He is surprised to see Junichi and Ai together. Then a couple of guys from the camp bump into him and ask him if they have seen this kid in the picture (Junichi). Umehara points the other direction to send the guys away. This is his Christmas present to him. I guess he’s a good friend after all. Just that he doesn’t seem to be a hit with the girls. Junichi and Ai have their fun outing and they didn’t realize they have walked into the love hotel area. An awkward silence between them before their homeroom teacher Maya pops up. She just came out from the spa saloon ahead. They make a run but before she could catch them, she heard Umehara calling her. He thought she was some cute babe till he realizes she is his teacher… At the hilltop catching their breath, snow starts falling. Ai spills out how lonely she was when he wasn’t around and has become weak. He assures nothing will change and that they’ll always be together. Okay, maybe he needs to get back to boot camp before they realize he is missing. Well, I thought they knew he’s already gone. Heck, think about that later. To cap it all, they share a wonderful kiss. Finally they watch the fireworks from his room and hope they can do this every year. Watching the fireworks, that is.

Kaoru Tanamachi’s Arc
Episode 7
Eh? Shouldn’t it be Sae’s turn? Anyway we see Kaoru and Junichi working part time at a live hero play of Grasshopper Mask. Because Junichi is acting as the bad monsters, he didn’t like how Kaoru is enjoying all this as he gets beaten up by the hero. He devises his own plan to mess with Kaoru and turn the tables on her. Wow. Fanservice for the grown ups… Hey! This is supposed to be a kid’s show! This was what happened. In class, Junichi is sketching a scenery from his window. Kaoru offers to complete it, sits between his legs and starts drawing! The way she is moving her body is just stimulating Junichi! I thought she was very close in impersonating Death Note’s Kira… Oh, everybody saw that too. Later when Kaoru talks to Keiko, seems that even though they’ve become a couple, they’ve been doing the same things as they did as before. In short, nothing that progresses their relationship to the next level. Keiko suggests they take a trip and what wonderful way to make some memories in their final year of high school. Sure, Junichi’s mind is filled with lewd scenes of the kind of outfits Kaoru will be wearing but really, he has no money. So how? Get a part time job. So this is where they got the Grasshopper Mask job thingy and since they blundered everything, they only got half the pay. So it’s either they get another job or they don’t go on a trip. But wait! There is still hope because Kaoru spots a flyer of a really cheap bus tour holiday plan. So cheap that they can even get on it tomorrow. Junichi and Umehara hang out together and since the latter will be on sushi training, he thinks Junichi will be on man training. For that, Junichi gives him a stash of porn to keep him company. Hey, that’s what friends are for. The bus tour leaves at midnight and Kaoru has got all the snacks she want for the trip. Because Kaoru lost to Junichi in a race to see who could reach the bus first, he metes out her punishment. She needs to eat the chocolate part of the cookie without touching his lips. What’s with this lame idea? Kaoru tries her best to bite off the chocolate bit but their ambiguous moaning, groaning and steamy vague position has awakened the other passengers from their slumber. Wow! They must be curious to see something hot and passionate going on! Kaoru manages to bite the chocolate part off and the watching crowd is relieved. Oops! Get back to your seats quickly! The bus makes a stop so Kaoru quickly goes down to get all the limited-time snacks she can get. She just bought too many… To avoid being a laughing stock by others, she covers it all on their seats with a blanket.  Seeing they have time, she wants to try some eel dish. Perhaps they lost track of time and when it’s time to go, the bus conductor thinks Junichi and Kaoru are sleeping since they’ve got the blankets entirely pulled over. Since all is aboard, it’s time to move on. So when Junichi and Kaoru return, they are of course shocked that the bus is gone. They’ve been left behind! Junichi calls the tour company but nobody works at this dead of the night. Then he tries Miya. But that sleepy head is in dream land and returns to her dream without even answering the phone. There goes their only hope. Heck, was she ever one? Sure, they are both alone now. Yes, only them together. But what are they going to do!?

Episode 8
Thankfully a kind trucker hitches them a ride to the nearest train station. The duo continue to argue and blame the other so the trucker notes how they are like a couple. Well, couples quarrel a lot naturally, right? He gives them advice of having the compassion to support each other in life’s journey. He drops them off at a hotspring inn for them to stay for the night. Hmm… Looks creepy. If Kaoru’s not afraid of ghosts, why is she clinging behind Junichi’s back? The inn hostess is kind enough to let them stay. In fact, they’re the only ones. Then they heard strange noises and investigate. They see silhouette of the hostess chopping things up!!! She’s just preparing their meal. Phew. While they take a bath separately, Junichi heard Kaoru’s scream and rushes in. She saw ‘everything’ and tells him to leave. On second thought, maybe he should stay. Then she saw the monkey stealing her bra and stands up. Now he sees ‘everything’. Well, that’s his scream of pain. When it’s bed time, the duo are embarrassed since the hostess has set their bed next to each other. After leaving a gap in between, Kaoru talks about their blurring line between being friends or lovers, that’s why she wanted to find out on this trip. Oh. Junichi fell asleep. Next morning as they leave, Junichi realizes he forgot his wallet. He left it at the phone booth after calling Miya. To save the embarrassment, Kaoru pays but they barely have any money left. Then they start arguing (again) and blame each other (again). They just walk along as their relationship gets strained. Then it starts raining and Junichi trips. Kaoru shows concern. Thankfully he is fine. Taking the nearest shelter at rundown bus stop, I guess it’s Junichi’s fault for ogling at her chest (because she’s not wearing a bra) and got slapped. Kaoru starts laughing because it left a hand mark on his face! This loosens her up and she apologizes for all the mistakes she made and even putting the blame on him. She wants to start anew and have fun from now on. Then the rain suddenly stops and an old guy on a bicycle thankfully passes by. He says the bus will never come as this is an abandoned stop. Yeah, they would’ve been waiting here for the rest of their lives. So when Junichi manages to find a decent phone booth and calls Miya again, that noisy girl didn’t give him a chance to talk because she is so panicky that the tour company called her this morning and that they’re holding their luggage and… Oops. Time has run out. So has their money. Since they’re at the beach, they might have some fun here. Kaoru realizes she has a lot of fun when she’s with him. Then she kisses him and could’ve lasted longer if Umehara didn’t call out to them. Hey, if he’s on a boat at sea, how can he spot them on the beach? Junichi is happy because they are saved. Thanks to Umehara’s sushi training, they now have a ride back home. In class, Kaoru thanks Keiko for her suggestion. Then she hands over the sketch she finished for Junichi. It’s a picture of a silhouette couple on a beach together against the sunset backdrop. She feels she needs to fix something and sits on between his legs again. Deja vu? Isn’t she embarrassed? Not really. Because that’s how they are like.

Sae Nakata’s Arc
Episode 9
What the heck is this filming? Junichi recording Sae in a bear outfit? Anyway it’s good to have that narrator back too. So after 10 months together, Sae is able to converse normally with others (she no longer sees the cafeteria ladies as vending machines!) and isn’t afraid of small dogs (albeit she still have issues with bigger ones, she now has a little doggie of her own). Because of last year Best Couple Contest, Sae’s popularity has sky-rocketed. Lots of guys really find her cute but what bugs Junichi more is that they don’t think this plain guy could be her girlfriend. So desperate to prove them wrong, he even comes up with a plan to choose exactly what Sae wants to eat and escort her flawlessly. Seems like a nice plan. In theory. But does she even know what she likes? Hmm… Tough choice. Gather all the memories you can about her. But one choice leads to a tougher one. What sauce does she like? What dressing does she like? Hurry up because the queue is getting longer and the people are getting impatient. So it’s either he gets them all (to play safe) or he finds out from the cafeteria lady. Which is not a good thing because somebody else other than him knows what your girlfriend likes. Worse, Sae even knows what he likes to drink. So much for not knowing likes and dislikes of your girl, eh? Sae and Junichi visit the shrine. She makes a wish but refuses to tell him what it is. This bothers him very much. Then at home, Miya has breaking news. Seems Sae will be having a marriage meeting today! Junichi fears her wish was probably for them to break up. Junichi is going to stop that meeting and save her from the hands of evil. Eh? What? That is, if he could find her in this freaking huge hotel. So paranoid that he interrupts a cake cutting ceremony of a wedding couple. He thought he saw shades of Sae in her. Boo! Then he finds her with a guy at the lakes. You thought he is going to make a heroic entrance but he tripped. Ouch. Then talking out, he learns it is a marriage meeting between their dogs. Since Sae remembered she told Miya about it, Junichi could imagine how his sister screwed up. Yeah, probably she wasn’t paying attention and when she thought about it, she got it all mixed up and panicked. So while the duo sit together, obviously they’re too embarrassed to say what they want in their hearts. Frustrating, isn’t it? Finally Junichi admits that he got scared if she actually married someone else. However Sae says she wouldn’t do so with someone else because she made a wish. A wish to be with him forever. When she made it at the shrine, she couldn’t tell him as she believes wishes won’t come true if you say it out. But trouble is not over yet. Seems at school Sae is in a pinch. Due to her popularity, she has been chosen as the committee president for Founder’s Festival. Junichi thinks he is the only one who could help her and that she should go for it. Since she has his support, she’ll gladly go with it and starts calling him ‘instructor’. Ah, that title. Brings back good memories, eh?

Episode 10
That wish of being called ‘instructor’ isn’t materializing and he’s not much help either since Tsukasa has been helping Sae quite a lot. He sinks into depression and watching videos he filmed of Sae (animal outfits video lah!), he suddenly gets an idea. He wants to follow her closely and record all her work in his camera. So the filming gets underway and Sae has much on her hands. So much so Junichi hears from Miya that Sae has collapsed! He rushes to see her sleeping at the infirmary. She’s sleep talking and screamed. Bad timing because Miya thought he did something bad on her. Once Sae is up, she reveals she was working up late last night and decided to rest here. And as for her dream, she couldn’t really say. Why is she blushing? Sae continues to work hard and Junichi to film hard as the festival closes in. Then Sae experiences her first crisis. The drama club wants an increase in budget since they need to get new costumes for the festival. Then there are other clubs too that also request for additional budget as their equipment is getting old. Sae starts to feel the pressure that she is not cut out for this job and of course Junichi is worried because he can do nothing to help her. Then talking with Tsukasa, she advises that he should talk it out with Sae instead of wanting to solve everything or keeping to himself. He gets the motivation needed to not just be by her side but to also support her. Junichi shows Sae the footage he has. He’s covered almost everything she did. Like as though he’s a stalker… He says she could talk to him if she needs any help. She wants him to continue following and filming her closely. Sae solves the drama club’s problem by renting costumes from the shopping district and if that is not enough, she can help sew some for them. Sae initiates Founder’s Festival and at the backstage before the Best Couple Contest is about to start, she sees Ai and Miya going up as a pair. In cat outfits? Will that even work? Oh well, Umehara still hasn’t give up with Toroko fish partner. I guess everything goes, huh? More surprisingly, Sae molests Miya who finds it ticklish! Role reversal! Once everyone is on stage, Junichi comes to see Sae. He gives her a present and asks what she would like. Well, she says they haven’t kissed for a long time. Did he hear that right? And without further delay, here is to the long awaited kiss they’ve been waiting for. Have another go while you’re at it. And what’s this? I didn’t think they would put an 8-years-down-the-road epilogue. Junichi and Sae are married. They’ve got a daughter that pretty looks like a mini version of Sae! Kawaii!!! They have got another kid coming soon! Sae notes this is another wish she had made the other day at the shrine. For them to be together forever as a family watching the hero play. Well, some parts don’t really grow up.

Haruka Morishima’s Arc
Episode 11
I guess they saved the best for last, eh? Yeah, my favourite girl’s turn is up! Instead of starting from the 10-years-later when her arc last ended, Junichi is happy for Haruka being her girlfriend after they have officially become a couple a few months ago. Haruka happens to see the wedding gown being displayed at the store and asks Junichi when he will come to meet her parents. Oh… Of course he couldn’t answer and perhaps it was his cute reaction she wanted to see. Haruka talks to Hibiki and a magazine article features a chapel in England where her grandparents got married. It was a whirlwind romance for them as he suddenly proposed to her after graduation and they got married. Haruka always wanted to tell her British relative, Jessica how she yearned for this kind of wedding. Speaking of which, her boyfriend also did something similar to her in very similar circumstances. So was this the reason why Haruka made Junichi look at the wedding dress and meet her parents? Well, she only remembered this proposal thingy just now but it would be even better if Junichi did the same. She doesn’t want Hibiki to tell Junichi since it will make her look like begging. Speaking of the devil, here he comes. So what did Hibiki tell him? About Jessica. How does she look like? Just imagine Haruka, only with blonde hair and green eyes. It’s like a clone… The next thing Junichi knows, he is playing mock wedding with Haruka and Hibiki as the priest. Well, I guess to calm those jittery nerves, what better way to practice, eh? Everything goes according to what should happen in wedding procession. Till the kissing part. The duo were about to go ahead with it for real but Hibiki couldn’t stand watching them and breaks them up! But what Junichi is thinking is the wedding night! Oh yeah. The wedding night alright! Before he knows it, they are in a mock play of Haruka expecting her first child with Hibiki as the doctor. Eh? What happened to the part in between? The ‘process’ in making the child? Damn. Junichi was looking forward to that, eh? Then they’re playing mock family and Hibiki is now their ‘daughter’. Wow. She really took on so many roles. Hibiki is embarrassed that they actually played this right in the middle of the school cafeteria. Hibiki as the ‘daughter’ asks her ‘father’ how she met ‘mother’. Junichi is embarrassed so he replies that’s a secret. Disappointed?

Well, Haruka seems disappointed so on their way home, she isn’t in the mood to talk to Junichi. Then they meet Jessica and she knows about Junichi since Haruka frequently talks about him. She even pecks him on his cheek without hesitation! Even if it’s a greeting, make sure you mind your manners in Japan, okay? Jessica is here to attend her graduation ceremony. She’s about to spill how she might end up like grandma but she got the hint not to. Back home, Haruka explains why she wants to keep it a secret from him. Jessica supports her but cautions she is running out of time. Junichi is so deep in his thoughts that he isn’t paying attention to what Miya is saying to him. Why is he imagining a blonde version of Miya?! He worries after she graduates, he won’t get much chance to see her. Haruka seems down too. Junichi thinks it’s his fault for stopping that ‘game’ halfway. He suggests continuing but she’ll think about it. I guess some of his friends want to cheer Junichi up but it feels like they’re taking advantage of him. Kaoru inviting him to work part time at her cafe. Rihoko hoping he would join the tea club. Junichi gets a call from Jessica. She is going to Kyoto for some sightseeing. But that’s not the reason she called. She tells him Haruka is lonely and if he is too slow, there are plenty of guys back in England who might take her away. I guess this guy really get the idea he needs to act fast. He takes Haruka to the shed and reiterates he loves her and is not going to lose to those English guys. Was it necessary to repeat all their names? Haruka assures him those guys were from a long time ago and that she belongs to only him. Haruka is happy he brought her back to this place where they did that kissing on a certain odd place (who couldn’t remember that scene from last season?). But she’s not going to let him do it again. Haha. Haruka mentions about wanting to make memories by seeing this place one last time before she graduates. She didn’t expect this wish to come true. Since Haruka is back to her happy self, Junichi summons his courage to invite her to his house.

Episode 12
Since Junichi’s parents are away on an overseas trip and Miya is staying at her friends place, I guess this leaves them home alone, eh? And what better way to practice living as a newly married couple. Well, Junichi’s nervous but Haruka’s just cool and having fun. Then when he learns she is staying over, Junichi is starting to fantasize all the things they would do. Yeah, even that steamy one. Can’t wait to get to that part, eh? But wait. Can he really handle it all? After that toes-tickling-under-the-kotatsu fun, Haruka takes a bath. I guess Junichi clearly remembers his lesson about last Christmas whereby he lost the chance to peep at Haruka. Yeah, he’s got another one now. To peep or not to peep. It’s decided. He’s going to do it. Unfortunately he chickened out and out Haruka comes in a… See-through negligee! WOW! For the sake of his mental stability, he hopes she could change into something less ‘provoking’ but she says she is dressed this way because she wants him to see it! Oh my. Here’s another dilemma for Junichi. To see or not to see. Oh man. This is tough. Okay. He’s going to see! By the time he turns around, Haruka has changed into her normal pyjamas. Disappointed or relief? Later that night when they can’t sleep, Haruka tells Junichi something she forgot to say. After her graduation, she’ll be returning to England since her grandparents are asking. Junichi is worried but she pats his head. Junichi sinks into depression and realizes the words Haruka said did point to this. He sees Hibiki and asks if she knows of Haruka’s departure. Since she does, he wants to know why she kept it a secret from him. Hibiki doesn’t know the answer and instead asks him back what he is going to do. Is he going to let her return to England without asking her what’s going on? Can he still call her his boyfriend that way?

Junichi calls Haruka to talk to her but Jessica pick up. Kyoto trip was fun, right? Anyway she can’t let him talk to Haruka. She explains Haruka was reluctant to return to England and he was the reason why she did not want to. That’s why Jessica is here to take her back. So if he allows him to talk to Haruka, it may make her long for Japan and it’ll be bad if she ends up running away. Haruka may not return for a while if she gets back to England. Or she may never come back at all. Jessica doesn’t want him to misinterpret that he is against their relationship and is actually rooting for them. She wants him to think what he should do to stop her from leaving. And obviously I guess Jessica was lying to her teeth because she tells Haruka to expect something interesting. Besides, Haruka will only return to England for a week. Yeah, it may seem like an eternity if lovers don’t see each other that long. Then graduation day looms and the shocking part is that Junichi has been invited up to the stage as the student representative to give his speech. Wasn’t it supposed to be Tsukasa? Well, he begged so much that she relented. First, Junichi starts off generally but I guess he is implying the wonderful days he spent with Haruka. Then he mentions with enough details the things they did together! Wow. Won’t that be embarrassing telling it to everybody despite everyone knowing they’re dating? The first rejection, the second rejection, the leapfrog, the search for dog photos in the library, the swimsuit incident, etc. Hell! If it was me, I would be so embarrassed that I would die on the spot! Thank goodness he didn’t mention about that kissing scene. Suddenly Junichi screams at the top of his voice that he loves Haruka and wants to marry her! OMG! The crowd goes wild! Even Miya is cheering how cool her nii-nii is! This graduation ceremony has become an elaborated proposal scene! Haruka is so happy that she runs up on stage to kiss him. Wohoo!!! This beats the boring old graduation ceremony anytime! Maya hopes they will stop because it’s making her jealous. Oops. Don’t mind her. Keep going. Have another one for the road. And it’s a fairytale ending for them as Junichi and Haruka are soon married at the chapel. Wow man. Haruka looks lovely in her white wedding dress!

Miya Tachibana’s Arc
Episode 13
Despite being Miya’s arc, it feels like a short reunion of all the other Amagami SS girls. Miya is going to a newly opened hotspring facility and females get to use it free of charge as commemoration for their opening. See Junichi’s face contorted to the perverted side after fantasizing about Sae’s bust and Ai’s slender curves? Miya? She has nothing. “Stupid nii-nii!”. You can guess this is a fanservice episode of the girls visiting the hotspring. So the first thing Miya tells her friends when she meets up at them outside the hotspring is how perverted Junichi is. Do they want to hear that? What about breasts size? Well, Miya just couldn’t resist in molesting Sae, couldn’t she? Then they hear Rihoko scream. I guess she saw something horrifying: Her weight. She tries to hide it from Miya. That bad, huh? Jessica is also with Haruka and Hibiki at the hotsprings since Haruka needs to take a breather from studying for the exams. After this, it will be hell… Kaoru takes a dip in a hotspring supposed to improve the size of one’s breasts. Tsukasa is also there and she has second thoughts about coming in but Kaoru persuades her not to pretend. After all, they’re ‘comrades’, right? The duo have soaked for too long but can’t find the ‘guts’ to admit and get out. It’s getting pretty hot, you know? And they’d die of embarrassment if any big breasts ladies come in. Speaking of which, here comes Haruka and co. Kaoru and Tsukasa feel relief when Miya and Ai follow next but when they see Sae, that must’ve been the last straw. Kaoru ‘stops’ Sae from getting it since it’s already ‘big enough’ while Tsukasa convinces Haruka and co to try the other cute baths. Hibiki can tell their motive and brings the big boobs to another place. So the ‘smaller’ ones make an alliance as Miya describes the fluffy marshmallow feel of Sae’s boobs.

Rihoko and Kanae are letting the Doctor Fish nibble at their feet but Rihoko feels ticklish. Ai and Miya have left so Kaoru and Tsukasa continue to be stubborn in not moving out and start laughing like maniacs. I think the heat has really gotten into their head. Elsewhere, Risa and Keiko talk about their rejected loves. And from the way Risa says things, she still harbours some feelings for Junichi. Speaking of that guy, Umehara visits him knowing that Miya is away with her friends so they’re going to have a viewing party of porn mags and videos! Miya enters a rejuvenating sauna and sees Maya sweating it out. Since she can’t take the heat, she leaves. Maya continues to persevere in hopes the effect will make her younger again and then… You can guess what she wants for this single woman, right? I hope the heat won’t get to her head. So Kaoru and Tsukasa almost got heatstroke as they have their feet massage along with Ai and Rihoko. Rihoko knows about Junichi’s bathing habits and this causes the girls to be alert that she bathed with him. Well, that was when they were younger as childhood friends. But of course. As Miya freshens herself up with milk, she is surprised to see Maya turned into a kid! For real?! Did the sauna really work? Coincidentally, that was just another kid named Maya. Our real Maya is still the same single woman. I don’t think she looks any younger. Since Miya believes the effect was real, she thinks the bath salt she got for Junichi will work too. Back home she gives it to her brother to soak in his own mini hotspring (in the bathtub lah). When Junichi comes out, he is enlightened! So pure! Free of the world’s desires! He is going to turn over a new leaf by burning all his porn collection and this includes those he borrowed from Umehara! Seems the bath salt has abstinence formula in it. OMG! It worked?! However Miya panics and doesn’t want this reborn Junichi to rush things! She wants her old perverted brother back!!! I know. Where’s the fun if he’s all clean and good, right?

Specials
Short 3 minute specials that come with the DVD. Little extra scenes to see Junichi with his girl. Little extra scenes to warm our hearts or make us grin with what they do. Do I need to say more? Just watch it.

Special 1: Tsukasa – I guess Junichi needs to take more pictures of her for the election poster and convinces her with that convincing and passionate speech to get dressed in different outfits and do different poses. Tsukasa is embarrassed but she goes with the flow while Junichi is just snapping away like as though he is a professional shutterbug for a porn magazine. Tsukasa is tired (who wouldn’t after making all those hot poses?), Junichi has her do a final pose and wants to close her eyes. He sees how sweet her lips are and can’t resist the temptation to kiss! I’m sure that took her by surprise. In the end, Junichi uses Tsukasa in her ordinary school uniform in the poster because going standard was the best idea. It’s actually his secret ploy to have those photos for his secret stash. But easy come, easy go because Tsukasa confiscates them.

Special 2: Rihoko – The sudden rain has Junichi and Rihoko seek shelter in a phone booth. You know how such booths are only made to have one person, right? Yeah, they’re so close to each other in that cramp space that the only thing that came between them is Rihoko’s boobs. Haha! Their face got too close so embarrassed Rihoko takes a step back only to fall out of the booth. Junichi quickly pulls her in and they end up in a hugging position. Imagine if someone they know sees this. Don’t worry, the glass is all fogged up so feel free to hug as long as you want. And while you’re at it, you can kiss too! And make it longer! Rihoko feels ironic that they’ve been together for so long and have never made such memories like this. Well, it’s going to be memorable from now on. The rain stops and snow soon starts falling. I guess they’re all warmed up to walk home hand in hand.

Special 3: Ai Junichi falls sick so Ai is at his place to nurse him. She is worried since he has been studying hard for his exams and will do her best to nurse him back to health. I guess being sick too has its benefits, eh? Junichi tastes her delicious porridge but has to put up with the awful ginger tea. Medicine isn’t supposed to taste good, right? Now all he needs is a good rest. Junichi says when he was sick as a kid, his parents used to sleep with him to make him sweat out and speed up his recovery. So? He pulls Ai underneath the blankets with him! OMG! My mind is going wild thinking just what he is doing to her underneath those sheets! I want to see! Good news: Junichi recovered. Bad news: Ai caught his cold. Feel guilty passing the flu to her? Well, he doesn’t mind getting it from her again since he wants to do that pulling in and give it back to her. Hehe… Hey, it’s not good passing around or recycling the cold!

Special 4: Kaoru – Taking place during their stay at the hotspring inn, Junichi wakes up that night to go to the toilet only to see Kaoru sleeping in a tempting position. Plus, she’s a little ‘revealing’. His heart is racing if he should take this chance. After all, they’re already a couple and took this trip to have some time together. So what’s it going to be? Here comes Junichi! Kaoru happened to opened her eyes small enough to see what’s going on. She may look like she’s sleeping but her heart is panicking what the hell is this guy doing. Feeling a little breezy and her blanket not over her, it hit her she must be in quite an embarrassing position. Maybe she’ll just go with the flow and make some memories. Not this kind of memories! His hands are inching closer… Closer… Closer… And… He covers the blanket over her. Disappointed? Then he pecks her forehead and leaves. Kaoru woke up and thought felt a little bit scary, she thanks Junichi for these kinds of memories don’t come too often.

Special 5: Sae – This is a Little Red Riding Hood movie which stars Sae in all the roles. Yes, she is everybody. We see Red Riding Hood (in a swimsuit?) on her way to grandma’s place when she meets a hungry bear who wants to eat her. Despite being a big bear, it was polite enough to apologize that she wants to eat her. Then all the other animals came to offer themselves to be the bear’s food. I’m not sure what the last animal was because it was Sae on a bed and in her lingerie undressing! I think somebody else wants to ‘eat’ her. The bear felt guilty and bad by her actions but Red Riding Hood considers her with a heart of gold and invites her to grandma’s house. So along with all the other animals, they skip along over there. Happy ending. Junichi is very satisfied with the outcome and wants to do more tales featuring her! I hope he doesn’t get any weird ideas.

Special 6: Haruka – The best girl with the best scene! Woot! Haruka bathing! Yeah! She’s staying at Junichi’s place and her heart is beating with excitement. Mine too. She hopes Junichi will come to peep on her (I want to!) and imagines several scenarios to surprise him that includes spraying him with hot water, throwing a tub or pretend she is not him and then surprise him from the back to make him slip on the soap and fall into the bath. Yeah, she’ll go with the last one. Wait and wait… But he’s not turning up. What a disappointment. By the time Junichi decides to head in, Haruka already comes out. However her see-through negligee is too much for him to look as he blushes. I guess that’s the kind of cute reaction she wants to see. After all, she can’t bring herself to hate him if he comes to peek or not. So about changing her negligee? She brought it along so she can show it to him… I love this girl.

Sweet Dessert Bites…
I guess this sequel was fun in its own ways as they try to give a setting variety to the different girls so it won’t be boring and monotonous in seeing how Junichi would maintain the relationship. It’s like having your sweet dessert after the main course. We had a new character introduced and love rival in Tsukasa’s arc, a conclusion to Rihoko’s arc to make her finally a couple with Junichi, Ai’s arc focuses on the loneliness when the duo had to be away from each other due to circumstances, a change of scenery for Kaoru’s arc as I believe many of the settings are around their neighbourhood so it was refreshing that the setting this time was somewhere else further, Sae’s arc mostly centres on Junichi and his insecurities wondering if he has what he takes to be his girl, Haruka’s arc felt like a big practice act for the big day. And no Risa arc? What happened to that stalker girl? I thought in her arc, Junichi became a couple with her? It would have been interesting to see how her arc plays out too. Seeing that the number of episodes is halved for each girl in this season, since Risa only had 1 episode, maybe she’ll get half an episode? So I suppose that won’t be enough and thus no reason why she needs a sequel for herself. But it won’t hurt if I conjure up what her arc would possibly be, right? Maybe she’ll become an over-protective girl and ‘gets rid’ of any girls who come close to him. Even his friends. And sister. On second thought, I don’t want this to turn into a murder-cum-horror-cum-yandere series. So yeah. Maybe it’s okay to leave her out of this season.

Well, there’s nothing much I could say for the characters since most of them are still the same people we know from last time. Just with some minor changes, that’s all. But the only interesting new character that intrigues me is Kurosawa. I really wanted to know if she really likes Junichi and the reason why she wanted to steal him away from Tsukasa. Or does she really have a grudge towards her and will try to take her down and that means taking away her boyfriend. I definitely remember she wasn’t in the first season so by introducing a new character that rivals Tsukasa was a surprise. Also in this season, Tsukasa doesn’t really show her other dark personality too often. I guess the fun is gone once Junichi and us know about it. Rihoko still has her weight problems but I don’t see her munch snacks as much as she used to before. Maybe the focus was on her trying to sort out her feelings for Junichi. Of course for Sae (specifically her arc, that is), she has opened up with more confidence and not the shy and timid girl we once knew. Because Kaoru’s arc was a trip, we don’t really get to see her doing her part time job. Ai is still the cool and calm swimming club member but we see her displaying a lot of worrying and anxiety in her arc. And Haruka is still spunky, lively and of course lovely (which coincidentally is her middle and mother’s maiden name). If Hibiki had trouble dealing with 1 Haruka, now with Jessica in the picture, she’s got her trouble doubled. Even if they are half the world apart, I guess their genes are strong enough to display to same spunky nature. Maya and Umehara are still trying hard to score with the opposite gender and my guess is that they’ll need a little spin-off of their own if they are ever to achieve that. If viewers care enough to make producers notice and produce them of course.

Because Junichi is already going out with the girls, we don’t see him having this fear when Christmas approaches. It was a traumatic experience for him to be dumped and girlfriendless on that day Jesus Christ was born. It’s as though if I didn’t read back my previous blog, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that Junichi had this phobia on this day. I guess you can say that love made him overcome that. So for this sequel, the romance factor is up as we see some really close moments with Junichi and the girl of the arc. Like bathing together with Tsukasa, Ai allowing Junichi to use her belly as his pillow, that passionate ambiguous ‘kissing’ scene in the bus with Kaoru, every second of filming he recorded on Sae’s committee work for the festival and the ultimate public proposal he did for Haruka. It gives the feel that they are taking another step closer to each other than before. Of course for Miya’s arc, he wasn’t a siscon in the prequel so I guess it’s only right (of course it should) that he shouldn’t break some taboo and fall for his own sister. That will be just too awkward for this series.

The next episode preview segment is still amusing like its prequel. Well, at least some of them. For instance my favourite one was right at the end of the first episode whereby Tsukasa explains the use of a boxing mouthpiece, which she so happen to carry in her pocket. Get where she is going at? Junichi, you better put it in your mouth and grit your teeth hard with it! Brace yourself for impact for fooling around with another girl! I’m sure he knows the outcome considering the scary face he mentions Tsukasa was putting on. Other ‘previews’ include teasing Junichi of changing to another girl (that’s how this show plays about when an arc ends, right?), assuming Junichi has already died and ascended to heaven (too much cram school can be detrimental to your health), Sae calling Junichi all the great titles and he is really loving it (“Champion Junichi!!!”) and worrying if the episode title “Sexy” is really appropriate (how else would you describe Haruka’s epic first half?). Anyway it’s either the characters are having fun themselves or love messing about with Junichi. The lead guy always has it tough. For the fanservice part, it depends on how you view it. The game itself doesn’t have explicit adult contents so I guess as far as the anime goes, the furthest it would go would be to show the girls clad in towel. That’s really nothing. Really.

Azusa, who did the opening themes for the first season, returns to do this season’s opening theme. Entitled Check My Soul, though this is a nice pop piece, I feel that it lacks the oomph that the first season’s first opening piece had. Nevertheless it is still has a memorable tune even though it didn’t make me want to shuffle my feet or sing along like I Love did. As for the ending theme, there are no character songs. Meaning, there are no songs sung by the seiyuu of the particular heroine in focus of her arc. I guess this is only economical because you won’t want to burst your budget by having them sing a song that would probably last for a couple of episodes. Of course, I’m speculating that. Unless you are the crazy kind of anime which changes every ending theme for every episode, so I suppose it’s enough that we have experienced them for the first season. So for this sequel, we have a fixed ending theme from of course, Azusa. The slow and calming pop balled of Kokuhaku sounds rather okay for a love-romance genre. Also, this season doesn’t feature any insert songs.

I’m not sure if they’ll produce a third season. Chances are they might not since this show has reached its peak. Unless they want to focus on the other supporting characters but I suppose that is also unlikely. What more is there to tell? I certainly don’t want to see troubles that would rock their relationship which will ultimately lead to break up. If I wanted to see that, real life offers a much realistic ‘show’. I’m watching this to feel good for a happy fairytale ending. If only real life was just as bliss as this, how happy the entire world would be. Of course love isn’t as straightforward and predictable as everyone think it should be. I might still be single and girlfriendless now but perhaps in some other alternate universe(s) I would have racked up a cutie for myself and possible a gorgeous harem. Beautiful ladies aplenty. Dream on. Yeah. How I wish I was that other me…

Amagami SS

February 5, 2012

I’m sure many of us guys would love to have the idea of having a few girls by our side simultaneously. That’s what we call a harem. However if that is not possible, don’t despair as there is an alternative to it. It’s called multi-arc branching. You’ll know what I mean if you watch Amagami SS, the anime that has been adapted from the dating simulation of the same name. Well, to put this multi-arc branching in a nutshell, you can date all the girls you want in mind. But only one at a time and in a different ‘universe’. After every ‘success’ scored with a girl, everything pretty much resets as you restart doing everything from scratch again for the other girl. So is multi-arc branching the new cool to harem?

Our main lucky guy who is going to shag, oops, I mean date the lucky pretty heroines of the series is Junichi Tachibana. However he had a bad spell with love because his supposed girlfriend stood him up on their date on Christmas Eve 2 years ago. Ever since, he has been heartbroken and is wary and a cynic when it comes to the topic of love. However we all know love works in mysterious ways and time heals or sorts of wounds (maybe not everything but the pangs of love is one of them) so you can expect and hope Junichi to believe in the miracle of love once more.

For the TV series, there are 24 episodes and 6 heroines. If you do the simple arithmetic maths, you’ll find that each heroine will be dedicated 4 episodes each to strut their stuff and make love happen (please not this is not anything close to an ecchi series). The heroines are (in chronological order) Haruka Morishima, Kaoru Tanamachi, Sae Nakata, Ai Nanashi, Rihoko Sakurai and Tsukasa Ayatsuji. When a particular heroine is the main focus of her arc, the other heroines (and their supporting friends) too make their appearance albeit on a minor scale and are not directly related to the happenings of that arc. I guess this is to remind us that they still exist or a little ‘distraction’ away from the main dish.

Haruka Morishima’s Arc
In episode 1, Junichi is still reeling from the traumatic effects of his date disaster 2 years ago that he has made his closet his own personal universe recluse. See the stars in his closet? It’s like a mini planetarium. His little sister, Miya tries to get him out so that he can go to school. On his way, he meets his friend, Masayoshi Umehara and they both share a secret passion for… porn. Well, I guess at least he isn’t totally ‘dead’ yet. They also spot the popular and pretty Haruka with her friend Hibiki Tsukahara. Seems Haruka was popular enough to have many guys confessing to her but she rejects them all. During recess, Junichi lost a game to Kaoru and Umehara so he has to go buy bread for them. He helps shy Sae purchase her bread from the ‘unruly’ crowd. On his way back, he drops the breads (because he only has 2 hands to carry all of them) and stumbles upon Haruka. She notices he has lovely eyes. After she leaves, Junichi feels he is in heaven since he got to talk to her. Yeah, she smells good too. After school, he is looking for Umehara and was told by Tsukasa that he may be at the library. Well, he didn’t bump into him but Haruka. He offers to carry all the books on cute puppies that she borrowed. Then they meet Hibiki who is appalled Haruka didn’t even know his name and made him carry this much books. She didn’t mind because she knew she could rely on him as he is a really nice person. When a pretty girl says that to you, you have got to be an idiot not to give love a second chance. And yes, Junichi starts liking her. Now it’s Haruka’s turn to crash on him because as Junichi and the guys play some leapfrog game, she jumps on Junichi! After school, Junichi sees her sitting alone at the fountain and offers her his disposable hand warmer. Finally Junichi sums up his courage to say he likes her. She didn’t panic (because she had lots of prior experience, remember?) and though finding him interesting, she told him no. Because she prefers someone older and reliable. Well, Junichi doesn’t look like the part. Junichi trudges his way back home and returns to his recluse. Maybe this isn’t going to work after all.

Poor Junichi didn’t get much sleep that bags are forming underneath his eyes in episode 2. He goes to the infirmary to see Haruka sleeping there. She’s actually not sick, just borrowing the bed after staying up late watching TV. So she’s a normal girl too. Junichi is visibly down so he asks if they could continue to talk as normal. He starts getting happy when she mentions she is interested in him. But this mixed signal doesn’t mean she has totally rejected him yet, right? Anyway Haruka wishes they both get along. He asks what other traits she looks for in a guy. Tough, charismatic, fascinating, cool… It’s going to be tough to qualify in her books. Junichi is taking out his pro-wrestling moves on Umehara when Haruka wants to join in only to be stopped by Hibiki. Haruka suggests for all of them to walk home together. They talk about Haruka being busy recently running all over school to reject confession (that popular, eh?) so what about cases of somebody confessing twice? Don’t know. Never happened before. Oh, it’s that gloomy feeling for Junichi again. Haruka sees Junichi and wonders if he has a girl’s swimsuit. What? Why would he have that? Anyway she wants to take a swim after seeing the swimming class in action. They go borrow one from Ai and after donning on, Hibiki (the swimming club captain) puts her foot down on non-club members taking a dip. To cheer her up, Junichi suggests looking for books on cute puppies at the library. If Junichi hadn’t chance upon Rihoko, he could’ve got the books faster and not make Haruka fall asleep at the table. But he stays with her and lends her his jacket till she wakes up. Junichi is hinting that he won’t give up and doesn’t care how many times she turns him down. What he is afraid most is not getting a reply. She suddenly kisses his eyebrow and notes that since he is so serious, his eyebrows furrowed. They were kinda cute so she kissed them. Stunned…

Now Junichi must be feeling like at the top of the world in episode 3. While he is talking to Kaoru and her friend, Haruka pulls him away. Could this mean she’s jealous? Junichi gets this weird request he wants her to kiss his eyebrows again. More the better. Isn’t that pushing your luck? But she says it’s his turn to kiss her and find a place suitable for it. Think fast! A kiss is on the line. He brings her to a little shed where nobody will find them. Then she wants him to kiss somewhere else on her body. Gulp. Where did he pick? Behind her knee! Of all places why? Something to do with what he saw in the books filled with little puppies. She agrees. Junichi starts but the kiss is dragging longer than usual. Hey, he’s moving on to some other place! If she hadn’t stop him, who knows where his lips might end up. She asks how does it feel (amazing of course lah!) but seems he forgot something in the middle. She won’t tell him till he figures it out. Over the next few days, he can’t get the kiss out of his head and even had the guts to ask and kiss behind her knees once more. Now, he’s like a stalker begging her. Please. Please. PLEASE! Haruka is at a loss and calls Hibiki for advice. The only way to find out is to try and see. Next day, Haruka surprises Junichi by hugging him on his back. Then she wonders if there is anything exciting to eat so he orders a ramen dish. May look ordinary but he is going to make it interesting with some weird scenario that she’s being kidnapped. They even act out a scene that he’s feeding her. Yeah, everybody’s watching… But Haruka is having so much fun she didn’t mind.

Christmas is coming soon in episode 4. Junichi is made to carry bags for Miya and Rihoko’s shopping spree. He spots Haruka and takes up their offer to go to the toilet as excuse to meet her. They spend some time at the arcade when Junichi realizes the need to ask her out on Christmas. He takes her to the park atop a hill (the place Junichi was stood up). Seems Haruka did meet Junichi before at this place. When he was down, she talked to him and it made him feel better. She realized that guy she talked to was him because that day too left a deep impression on her. Haruka learns of his disaster 2 years ago. Then Junichi gets the courage to ask her out on the Eve. She can’t. Eh?! Rejected? Actually her grandparents from England will return on that day and she’ll be celebrating at home. It won’t be a problem if she invites him, right? Of course! On that day, Junichi is nervous because she’s taking him to a hotel. Sure it’s got a nice pool to have some fun but is this the real intention? Actually they’re supposed to meet her parents here. An hour ago. Oh, now they’re late. Better hurry. But don’t sweat it. Haruka takes Junichi up the elevator (he’s got fear of heights) and mentions that flight delays have caused her grandparents to cancel their flight. Her parents? Since they’re not coming, no point turning up. So they’re both alone?! At a hotel?! Well, she didn’t want to waste it. Haruka takes a bath and ‘warns’ him not to peep. Of course that guy is in a dilemma whether to do so or not. Then the lights go out. Don’t worry, Haruka turn them off herself because she thought it was embarrassing. Why is she clad in only a towel?! But she’s rather upset that he didn’t come to peek at her!!!!! F*CK! Wasted chance! Is it a wonder why men sometimes don’t understand women? But now it gets serious. Haruka starts crying and was worried that he may have started losing interest in her. For the first time, she felt she wanted to keep him but felt lonely, scared and waited all this while. Junichi hugs her and confesses he loves her too. There is nobody else he’d rather be with forever. Ten years down the road, the married pair seems to be lively, dramatic and most important of all, they love each other like as though their flame never fizzled out as it started a decade ago.

Kaoru Tanamachi’s Arc
In episode 5, 2 years ago when Junichi left broken-hearted, Kaoru was there to ‘distract’ him and gave her a ride to the bakery. In present time, Kaoru and Junichi are so close friends that they can act out silly manzai comedies that make them look like a married couple. But still if he sees her pantsu, she beats him up. This lands him in the infirmary as Kaoru visits him and is somewhat apologetic. She wants him to meet her at the flower bed at the back of the campus after school. Junichi’s mind is overflowing with thoughts on what Kaoru meant. Would it be a confession or trying out some wrestling move on him? He is so noisy thinking aloud that he disturbed Haruka in the next bed. After school he goes to the back of the school and this is not what he had in mind. Kaoru wants to hear a problem of her friend, Keiko Tanaka and then voice his opinion. Huh? Why him? She chose him the representative of all boys in their school. Yeah, you should be honoured. Seems Keiko confessed to a guy she liked. He didn’t give an answer and she waited for a month when he suddenly popped up and wanted to kiss. Junichi advises that she should write a letter, take an indirect approach instead of being persistent so if she comes across him, he won’t be able to ask her to kiss again. Kaoru is taken aback by his answer. On the way back, Kaoru invites him to patron the cafe she works. Junichi mentions back then he thought she wanted to confess to him but dismisses it himself. Kaoru hits his arm with her bag. True or not? Look at her body language. Junichi is a customer at her cafe. He orders the cheapest thing: A glass of water. But as she is serving other customers, she starts to become clumsy each time she observes Junichi. Back at the shop, she starts flustering about the feelings she is experiencing and her heart won’t stop thumping.

Kaoru is facing a dilemma that she might be in love in episode 6. In class, Junichi sees a commotion between Kaoru and a guy. She was ready to beat him up but Junichi breaks them apart. Later it is revealed that Keiko wrote him a letter but he passed it around and laughed. She was supportive of Keiko though she knew it would turn out like this but lost her cool when he did that. The conversation topic changes with Junichi asking her if there is someone she likes. She’s not going to admit it. For now. So it’s a no. So what do you call their relationship then? Well, they maintain a certain lukewarm distance. Then on a topic of changing their relationship, Kaoru hugs him and their face got to close to each other (okay, it met) before she pushes herself away. She doesn’t count this one. Junichi plans on getting his revenge on her since she ‘stole’ his kiss by tickling her ribs? Since that won’t make him feel better, he is going to kiss her bellybutton. Previously it was the back of the knee, now the bellybutton? What next? As Junichi kisses it (Kaoru covering her shirt over his head!), Miya spots this unholy act and is stunned. Later Kaoru suggests taking a walk in the park so that he could further show off his manly side. They help a couple of boys bring down a shuttlecock stuck in a tree with Kaoru riding on Junichi’s shoulders. He never felt this sensation before. When she leaves, he never realized there was a cute side to her smile. Kaoru is about to meet her mom but gets disheartened when she sees him hanging out with another man.

Kaoru is absent in episode 7 and Junichi wonders if that kiss was his fault. Junichi suspects something amiss when he learns from Keiko that her teacher called her home but was told she never returned last night. He skips school to go look for her. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. As he whizzes pass several shops, he remembers his outing with Kaoru there. He chances upon the badminton boys and they think it’s his fault for making his girlfriend cry. Oh, she’s at the beach by the way. But when he got there, she’s nowhere to be seen. The only place left is the cafe she works. Yup, she’s there. He waits till she finishes her shift and talks to her. She brings up the unknown man she saw her mom with. She remembers she got into a fight with her because she thought of remarrying. Kaoru doesn’t want a new dad and would rather continue the way things are now. Junichi tries to console her that it’s okay to cry but he got a judo throw. So does she need his help? Well, just stay by his side. After she cools herself down, she calls and talks to her mom. Junichi gives her favourite ice cream to cheer her up and assures he’ll always be by her side supporting her. Back home, he is confused why he is going so far to help her and starts thinking that he might actually be in… Just maybe. Next day Kaoru returns to class and completely recovered. Junichi offers to help carry her printouts so she dumps everything on him. Back to normal, eh?

Umehara and Keiko set Junichi and Kaoru up in episode 8 so that they could talk together. Since he isn’t going to ask, Kaoru fixes the date for them to go out on Christmas Eve. As he waits at the park, Junichi fears she may not turn up. Don’t worry, even if she’s a ‘bad friend’, she isn’t that bad to stand you up. She keeps her promise and shows up. As they make their way up to the Port Tower, they talk about the old memories they had and the crazy things they did. Oh, don’t forget Junichi has a fear of heights. Thankfully he made it to the top. Over a glass floor, they hold hands and watch the snow fall. She starts telling him her feelings and in the end, manages to say she loves him. I guess having 101 good points is still better than having 100 bad points, right? Now it’s Junichi’s turn to make a confession. He wants to be with her forever and also loves her. And they kiss. A proper one on the lips, not the bellybutton mind you. He brings her back to his room and nearly got busted when Miya suspects something amiss but tells him to keep it down while watching his ‘video treasures’. Well, Kaoru found one. She notices his planetarium closet and suggests that they sleep together. Serious?! Serious. How can he sleep like that? Impossible. Next thing he knows, Kaoru is on top of him. They kiss but too long that he couldn’t breathe. Oh, looks like she’s fallen asleep. Just like that? Boring… With that, Kaoru and Junichi’s relationship continue to blossom from now on. Uh… No 10 years down the road finish?

Sae Nakata’s Arc
Of all the arcs, this is the one I enjoyed the most because of the sarcastic and perverted-sounding narrator. Yes, there is a narrator for this arc which makes it fun and turns the dramatic into funny since the previous arc was getting a little tad draggy. Junichi is on his way to school in episode 9 when he spots pretty Sae. Is it her nice body that he got attracted to? During recess, he dropped his wallet after bumping into Haruka. Sae saw it but her soft shy voice couldn’t reach him. She manages to return to him but since she is so shy, she runs away. He can’t keep this off his chest so he decides to go find her and surprisingly, she is Miya’s classmate and friend. If you think Junichi is a pervert, then you can consider Miya one too because she molests Sae’s tender boobs for good luck. WTF?! Junichi later treats Sae to a drink at Kaoru’s cafe as Sae mentions her interest to do a part time job. She has Kaoru help her out to see if there are any vacancies. But bashful Sae whose voice wouldn’t come out even if she screams at the top of her lungs, how is she going to pass the interview? Don’t worry, Junichi will hold a mock interview practice at his home. Seems to be proceeding well till the practice of bringing a drink on a tray. Sae got clumsy and spilled the hot drink over his pants. Natural reaction? Take it off. Then Miya comes in. Let’s say he got more than just being labelled as a pervert. Ooohh. I wonder how many marks are there on his cheek. Though the misunderstood is cleared up, they walk Sae home and also play a game called piggyback rock-scissors-paper. Let’s say Junichi is always the loser and has to piggyback Sae. And he doesn’t mind losing forever since her boobs are pressed against his back. Yeah, this is heaven indeed.

Three weeks later, Sae’s practice has bore fruits. She’s confident in her speech. So long as she’s talking to a VENDING MACHINE!!! Hahaha! To up the level, he has her speak to the cafeteria lady. She flops. To counter this, Junichi has her view all cafeteria ladies as vending machines! Odd but it works! Talking vending machines… The next training is speed changing. Why the science lab? Somebody may walk in. Need to work under stress conditions? Uh… But change into her PE clothes? Then asking her to strip?! Don’t worry, she’s wearing a swimsuit underneath. She slips and falls on top of him. Then Miya comes in. Round 2. Notice both his cheeks with scratch marks? The next training ground is the hotspring. They soak their feet into a pond with those fish nibbling at their feet for therapeutic treatment. Sae is making erotic-like sounds each time the fish nibble so much so Junichi’s mind goes wild and causes him to pass out. With today’s training pass, Sae requests more training so it’s back to his home again. Well, I can guess why there’s another reason why she wants more training. They played some Monopoly game and Sae gets permission from her dad to sleep over. Sae borrows Miya’s pyjamas and Junichi notes how looking at it makes him feel like wanting another sister. But Sae says she doesn’t want to be his sister. This pretty much sums it up, eh?

Because of that, Junichi is bothered by her words and in episode 11, she asks Umehara for advice. Of all people. But Haruka heard him and knows what that means. It means she wants to be his older sister! Unbelievable! Sae seems to have landed a part time job as a waitress in a cafe near Kaoru’s. Junichi and co pay her a visit as customers as she serves them. I guess with Sae totally cute, is there any other reason why Kaoru’s cafe is losing customers? Sae’s like a pro even if she’s clumsy so Umehara teases Junichi that he feels lonely that the student doesn’t need the master anymore. But I don’t think that’s the reason of what he is feeling now. A customer gave Sae some tickets to the amusement park as thanks so she invites Junichi out. After the rides, they go watch a live tokusatsu show, Grasshopper Masks. Sae seems to be a fan of it. During the show, Sae is ‘chosen’ to be the evil squid’s hostage. Yeah, he even thinks she can’t be an elementary first year student for having such a gorgeous body. Junichi can’t stop laughing. At the end, she got a souvenir photo and managed to shake hands with the heroes. During a meal, Junichi’s heart can’t stop racing each time he looks at her. Shy Sae manages to eke out a favour to join the Best Couple Contest during their school’s Founder’s Festival. While waiting at the bus stop, though shy at first, they eventually hold each other’s hands.

But can Junichi do it and confess his love straight to her face? He seems to still have that trauma. But in episode 12, Junichi and Sae are at a cafe (why is he the only guy there?) are trying to finish a large parfait as training to win first place for the contest. The day comes and the participants stream out on stage. I don’t know if this is a joke since Umehara turn up with his life-size fish partner, Toroko. He expects to win like this?! Then a cowboy-lady combo from Hibiki-Haruka team. Junichi and Sae were the last one to come on stage and their bride and groom outfit stuns the crowd speechless. The results are out and the winner turns out to be Hibiki-Haruka with Junichi-Sae taking second place. They won tickets to a private room for a movie. At the cinema, Junichi is calming himself down at the toilet, some cool elderly foreigner (Steven Spielberg?) tells him to sum up his courage and go for it. In English. I wonder if he understands that. Returning to the room, he sees Sae in a stunning sleeveless black dress. She talks about the movie when Junichi realizes that old guy in the toilet he just met is the director of this movie (like I said, Steven Spielberg?). At the end of the movie, Junichi fools around that he is the camera and she the actress. He stumbles and falls over her. She mentions she is happy to spend time with him as he hugs her. After sitting back up properly, Junichi gets the courage to say he loves her and his feelings won’t lose to anyone. Then they kiss. Because Sae puts on the cutest moe face ever, his heart stopped and he died from all her moe-ness. Okay, that was just exaggerating. Later they hold hands at the Christmas tree and Junichi notes that they aren’t just a couple, but lovers. I’m not sure about this ending because Junichi films Sae and Miya in animal costumes. Huh? And wait a minute! No kissing on other body parts? Went straight for the lips, huh?

Ai Nanasaki’s Arc
In episode 13, two years ago when Junichi got rejected, he bumped into Ai who is happy on her way back with her Christmas present to her brother. Two years later, Junichi and Umehara are passing by the park (Junichi needs to find a toilet) when they see Ai jumping from the swing. She thinks they are perverts and threatens to call to cops since they introduced themselves (easier to report to the police, eh?). The guys start panicking but it was just a joke. Who could tell that kind of serious expression she had was a joke. At school, Ai ‘witnesses’ more of Junichi perverts when Kaoru comes up behind that guy and grabs him so he thought of doing the same to her. She also sees him ‘hold up the queue’ at the cafeteria when he can’t decide which lunch he wants to eat. As Ai practises during swimming class, she hears a cat meow. She goes out and thinks it’s Junichi trying to act like a pervert again (he’s looking underneath stairways so he might be mistaken for looking underneath girls’ skirt). The cat is real as Ai teases him if he wants to see underneath her skirt for real. She flips up and of course she’s wearing her swimsuit underneath. Gotcha! Ai knows who Junichi is because she is Miya’s classmate. She advises him to stop being a pervert because she doesn’t want her friend’s brother to be a criminal :). At home, Junichi ignores Miya’s plea to enter the shopping district’s contest to win a grand prize to Hawaii. For his cute sister, please? “You’re even cuter when you keep your mouth shut”. Oops. Because of that, Junichi became a laughing stock in school when words “Win a trip to Hawaii” are scribbled on his forehead. Ai spots this and learns what happened. Ai asks him for a favour to accompany her out shopping later. They got some coupons for the raffles and they won the 6th prize, which is a 500 Yen gift voucher. Well, I guess it’s not a trip to Hawaii, how could he possibly face Miya now? He suggests sharing the voucher since they both won it. As they rest and eat a snack at the beach, Ai seems to be collecting trash as part of the swimming club’s volunteer work to take trash home. She thanks him for the treat as Junichi tries his hand at collecting trash too.

Umehara invites Junichi (Kaoru tagging along too) to see some pretty rumoured chick in episode 14. But Junichi was too noisy at the library and was told to shut it by Ai. Junichi notices Ai studying for next week make-up exams and she has to pass it or else she can’t attend swimming activities. Junichi has great pride in his maths and offers to coach her. Really. Even Tsukasa was pretty much surprised to see Junichi doing so. Seeing that Junichi’s like a kid, Ai wonders if he could reach out to her little brother, Ikuo since they’re both guys and kinda childish. Some reasoning… Junichi is being called by his homeroom teacher, Maya Takahashi that he is slacking lately and coming late to school. His reason? Engrossed in the manga, Beaver Romance of the Three Kingdoms?! True or not, why are his eyes focused on her boobs?! Then when Miya, Ai and Sae are talking on the topic of brothers, Junichi gatecrashes in as he’s looking for Ai. Miya introduces him to her friends but again, why are his eyes fixated on Sae’s boobs?! He even thought how nice if Miya and Ai’s boobs level up to Sae’s! All this boob talk has Sae leaving. As Ai practises swimming, the other swimming club members catch Junichi for peeking. Yeah, I’m thinking he’s really into boobs. Was he really peeking at them? “I wanted to see them, filled with so much energy it’s like they’d explode beautifully like gunpowder any minute!”. Sicko! Then he apologizes to Ai so the rest leave them to talk alone. Ai finishes up as they talk outside. Junichi apologizes for this afternoon’s antics. Actually he was there to tell her that it’d be a good idea to spoil her brother once in a while because back then just like him, all he really wanted was her attention. Ai giggles at his answer and then shows him an Action Belt from Grasshopper Mask. She wanted to give it to Ikuo but he didn’t want last year’s hot item. And since Junichi is like a kid, she thought of giving it to him. Well… Junichi teaches Ai how to play with the toy, including making poses of Grasshopper Mask. She’s pretty convincing so much so a bunch of kids want an encore. She gives the belt to them and they’re very happy. Ai thanks Junichi for everything and when she goes back, she feels much better and thinks Junichi is cute and may be interested in him. Oh, you will be.

Junichi got tickets to the amusement park and is supposed to go with Ai and Ikuo in episode 15. But Ikuo caught a cold so only Ai turns up. After riding several rides, they enter a haunted house. Oddly, Junichi starts seeing visions of Tsukasa. It gets even weirder when they enter a room with a Pharaoh. He lunges at them and the next thing Junichi knows, Ai becomes a miso ramen! WTF?! Junichi feels tempted to ‘eat’ her but he finds himself sucking on her fingers. What is wrong with him? Hmm… I think it was some weird gas Junichi inhaled earlier on. I think. At the park where they first met, Ai is embarrassed that he tried to ‘eat’ her. Then they both ride the swing. She swings faster but Junichi is looking elsewhere…  As punishment, she sits on his lap so he can’t look up her skirt anymore and then KISSES HIM!!! Wow. Not some other body part, but straight to the lips. Next day in school, he is confused if Ai is interested in him. So deep in thought that he didn’t have any reaction to Umehara’s new porn. Junichi is supposed to meet Ai after school but notes she is late. He goes see her at the swimming pool but sees her in tears after an argument with Hibiki. She dives into the pool and he tries to chase her. Yes, he also gets wet. Once he catches her, he hugs her. After calming down and on their way home, Ai lets him know that a junior was selected in her place for a swim meet. Well, she’s got her make-up exam and brother to deal with so her hands are pretty much tied up. But she still won’t give up since she has 2 more years. The reason why she ran away was because she didn’t want Hibiki to see her cry, what more Junichi. However he notes that seeing her different side made him happy. Ai asks if he is free on Christmas and could help out with the swimming club’s oden food cart. Of course. This is the least he could do for causing trouble to the swimming club. Must be that boobs comment.

Ai and Junichi man the oden food cart at Founder’s Festival in episode 16. Why is Haruka trying to steal some oden? Food tasting to make it acceptable to customers? At this rate, she’ll finish everything! Well, looks like Hibiki will have her hands full in making sure she doesn’t do anything funny. The tea club members of Ruriko Yuzuki and Manaka Hiba are causing a ‘commotion’ at the oden stall. Ruriko thinks the swimming club’s fabled oden has fallen in its standards. Ai puts her swimming club’s pride on the line to make the legendary oden. In the end, the duo find it very delicious and this causes an influx of people flocking to their stall to get a great traditional taste of their oden. Another problem crops up when Maya is drunk just having drank sweet sake. Yeah, she’s noisy. Looks like it’s Tsukasa’s job to take her away. At the end of the festival, their oden was a sell-out. Hibiki has them go rest while the others handle the clean up. While they are eating some of their oden, Junichi wonders why she asked him if he was free that day. By bus, she takes him deep into the mountains and they finally arrive at a hotspring. This mountainous area belongs to her grandfather so no worries if they’re trespassing. Ai used to frequent this place when she had muscle aches from swimming practice. Then they go change to take a dip. Wait. They don’t need to change. You can’t soak in a hotspring wearing anything. Yup. Go in naked. Nervous? Well for Ai, she had her towel over her swimsuit so it’s not that bad. Disappointed? They talk about how they did lots of things together even though it was a short time. Finally Ai has something to tell him. Yes, you guessed it. She loves him. She is finding it hard to hide her feelings anymore so Junichi also replies he loves her. Then she suddenly hugs him and her towel came off. She’s not wearing her swimsuit! So they both have their naked bodies against each other. So why did Ai lied about having her swimsuit on? She was embarrassed. But it’s nothing compared to the confession. There’s nothing wrong with them getting very close to each other, right? After all, she loves him very much. Love makes you do these kind of things. I guess the deer will be the only witnesses to their second kiss. So in the aftermath, Ai wakes up sleeping Junichi at the beach. If a girl allows you to use her lap as a pillow, that means they’re officially a couple, right?

Rihoko Sakurai’s Arc
In episode 17, two years ago Rihoko was elated when Junichi asked her out. But it was to buy the girl he likes a present. Though she was disappointed, she felt sorry for what happened. Yes, it’s a one-sided love for Rihoko ever since. Of all the heroines, Rihoko is the sloppiest. I wonder if that’s the understatement. Even if her best friend Kanae Itou takes to trouble to wake her up, she still wants to sleep in. Who else to blame but yourself for being late? She tries to squeeze through a hole in the fence as short cut but her flabby waist means she’s stuck. Lucky Junichi was there to pull her out (yeah, I guess he’s running late too). She blames her thick clothing but as the school bell rings, Junichi slips through the hole. Now what are you going to do girl? Rihoko is also a diet freak. If she could only stick to her diet schedule. She is easily tempted to eat any snacks without remorse and when she is reminded about her diet, she puts it off that she’ll start for real the next time. At this rate, is it a wonder why she’s growing fat? Anyway Kanae must have heard this story of dieting once too often. Yeah, she’s going to slim down enough to slip through that hole. Wouldn’t it be better if she just wakes up early? Meanwhile Umehara and Junichi are in one of their porn discussions and Junichi seems to take a liking for a slightly chubby model that resembles Rihoko. Rihoko comes by to give her handmade cupcakes to him. She doesn’t need it since she’s on a diet. How long would that last? Kanae invites Junichi and Umehara to go skating with them on Sunday. At the tea club with Ruriko and Manaka, Rihoko is tempted to eat choux creme since they invited her. There goes her diet… Ruriko tells her the meaning of its name derived from Hebrew: Love charm. So it’s like a treat you’d give to someone you like when proposing to them. Though it was just a bluff (it’s from a French word that means ‘cabbage with cream’) but Rihoko doesn’t know that. All she is interested is in the delicious choux creme. She remembers her diet and promises to start tomorrow -_-. What Ruriko is concerned about is not only Rihoko’s future but the tea club’s as well since currently the trio are the only ones forming the club and when Ruriko and Manaka graduate next year, Rihoko will be all alone. Plus. Without other members, the club will be disbanded. While Junichi and Umehara are secretly trying to indulge in their porn, they see Rihoko eating choux creme. Junichi reminds her of her diet and she is confident she’ll succeed this time. Hopefully. Better think about it because when the duo pass by the park that they used to play when they’re young, Rihoko tries sliding down but her butt got stuck at the end. And when she weighs herself at home, she thinks the towel is the one making her heavy… Then doing a little stretching, she tires out and decides to start tomorrow… Next day she is running late for school again. She decides to slip through the hole in the fence and to her delight, she manages to pull through! Did her diet work?! Well actually Junichi passed by earlier on and he foresaw this would happen and made the hole a little bigger. Too bad Rihoko got the wrong idea her diet and a few stretches had made her lose weight…

Rihoko is once again a klutz during skating in episode 18. Junichi must have a hard time trying to catch her that he accidentally caught her boobs. Then she slips and falls down, making ‘it’ visible to Junichi. Kanae didn’t think that tactic was bad. I guess she’s trying to play match-make with Rihoko and him. She suggests of using the Founder’s Festival next but on that day Rihoko will be busy with the tea club activities. See how dunce Rihoko is in filling up the application for the festival? So much so she tires out poor Tsukasa! While pervy Junichi is comparing Rihoko’s boobs with the bun he is eating, Ruriko and Manaka make him carry a table top for their kotatsu. They invite him for tea in their club house and you can’t help the way they talk to Junichi it’s like as though they have an ulterior motive for him. They also ask him for help during the festival to carry things since they need a guy’s strength to do so. He can’t turn them down, can’t he? The tea club members discuss their club’s future. Looks grim if Rihoko doesn’t recruit another member. But they have a bright prospect: Junichi. Will he really join? Well, they have a plan. As promised, Junichi helps out the club during the festival. The girls are in their kimono while Junichi and Rihoko are to help distribute flyers. Rihoko asks if he’s interested to join the club but as of now he has no intention doing so. Rihoko doesn’t look worried. Yeah, that’s bugging me. As they spend time together at the festival, they reminisce about their younger days like how Rihoko tried to eat falling snow and Junichi making a snowman with boobs! Maybe his pervertness stamps from here. Then she gives him a pair of knitted gloves as his Christmas present. Though it’s too thin, it fits nicely and warm. Junichi realizes he doesn’t have a present for her but she’s okay with it. In return, if she has anything in mind, she can ask him. Not necessary now but later. Unsure, she calls Kanae for advice. It must be something that even Rihoko would disagree. I bet it’s a kiss or a date.

In episode 19, Junichi are Rihoko are called by Ruriko and Manaka to observe and appreciate the process of making tea in the open air. Then they talk about the prospect of the club next year and Rihoko is adamant she’ll keep the club going. They let Junichi and Rihoko mix tea. It’s understandable it’s tough for him but Rihoko too? I guess all she knows is just eat and eat. Haha. Oh, here’s another bad habit from Rihoko: She can trip even there’s nothing at her feet. As Junichi and Rihoko are at the cafe Kaoru works at, Rihoko keeps staring at Junichi’s cake.  Well, you want it or not? Diet? Heck, you broke it so many times it doesn’t actually matter. Anyway Rihoko has finally thought what she wants: To go to the shrine with him on New Year’s Day. You sure that’s it? And yeah, you can have the cake you’re tempting to have. Junichi bluffs her by saying that Kanae is around the corner. This alerted Rihoko for a moment before realizing she’s been had. He cheekily presses her cheek when she looks the other way and in retaliation, she bites his finger. So what about the diet? She’ll be okay if she works out more. Easier said than done. Well, back home she starts doing some pumping (even that was after Kanae’s reminder) but gave up after the count of 2. That was freaking fast!!! While Junichi is taking a bath, Rihoko is at the doorstep. Miya wasn’t around to answer the door so Junichi had to do it himself. Then his towel came off. Surprise! Junichi makes tea for Rihoko and Miya and it seems his tea making skills may even surpass Rihoko. She has some cheese souffles for them. Isn’t that filled with calories? Don’t worry, she put less sugar in it… Oh dear. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? As midnight looms, Miya the kid falls asleep. Junichi gets prepared to go out but it seems Rihoko can’t resist and sleeps with Miya! What to do? Shrine trip cancelled. But it might be a blessing because they visit it the next morning where there is no crowd. They remember their younger days how Rihoko used to doze off in the middle of homework. Not only that, she took snack breaks more frequent than studying. So are you convinced why she can never slim down? At the shrine, they have their luck reading (Rihoko’s love is forecasted to be uncertain – depends how you interpret it) and Rihoko writes her wishes: A successful diet, new members to join the club and her feelings will reach Junichi some day. Boy, that’s a lot.

Well things are pretty much the same for Junichi and Rihoko in episode 20. No advancement in their relationship. Even Kanae is starting to think Junichi is dumber than she thought to be. Oh, Rihoko is still at her diet. And still breaking it. Back to square one as always. Junichi thinks of dropping by the tea club (is this a sign?) and learns that Ruriko and Manaka were out trying to recruit Haruka into the club because of her leadership skills. If they win in a contest, she must join them but they lost badly. While Haruka easily summoned a litter of cute puppies while Manaka couldn’t summon a dragonfly. By the way, there are no dragonflies in winter. Besides, isn’t Haruka also graduating with them? Ruriko feels like promoting Rihoko as the new club president but doesn’t have much confidence. So they have this idea of Junichi joining the club and become the new president. Though he’ll just be the figurehead. They’ll throw in Rihoko as a bonus item too. Haha! On the way home, Rihoko’s concern of the club is genuine and she feels she has been taking her seniors for granted and the thought of them graduating never seemed to cross her mind. At least it doesn’t seem very real to her. She needs to do something to repay their kindness. Junichi goes to see Ruriko and Manaka and tells them about Rihoko being lonely after they graduate. This is a chance for them to strike. Mentioning Rihoko is popular among the guys (think not!) but they think Junichi and Rihoko match each other perfect. They try to persuade him with all the things he has done with her and recently he has been visiting the club often. Ruriko hands him the registration form but he got ‘scared’ and leaves. For Valentine’s Day, Rihoko gives Junichi choux creme (because of that Hebrew word still ringing in her mind). Yeah, she had some herself too. Don’t get too disappointed when you weigh yourself later. Too bad Umehara is left out this year because girls like Kaoru and Tsukasa don’t give obligation chocolate as their policy. As the season passes, Rihoko continues to work hard for the club and soon graduation day looms and though Rihoko apologizes for not being able to find new members for the club, the seniors are okay with it and thank her for the wonderful years they had. Rihoko becomes emotional as they hug her and assure they will always look out for her. Then Junichi comes in and he has a surprise. He gives his registration form and looks like he wants to join the club after thinking the tea club won’t last with her around (hope that wasn’t sarcasm). Plus, he wants them to graduate with no worries. Spring arrives as Junichi and Rihoko make arrangements to recruit new members. Ruriko and Manaka pay them a visit to see how they’re doing. Rihoko narrates she is confident that the tea club will grow popular and her feelings will reach Junichi someday. And yes, she still continues dieting. And her tripping.

Hey wait a minute!!! Rihoko’s arc ends just like that without them being a couple?! Wow. This is a surprise. You could say it’s such a ‘sad’ ending for her. I guess there were tell-tale signs. If Junichi and the girl don’t become a couple on Christmas Day, you can forget about it even if you’re way past Valentine’s Day. That is nothing. Plus, Rihoko should have reworded her wish of her feelings reaching Junichi some day. Yes, some day. Looks like today is not the day. Neither is tomorrow. But some day. Some day. What do you expect when Rihoko is being such a slob (although she looks cute when she’s eating food because she looks like a squirrel munching). If she can’t even stick to her diet (or even close), how can she expect a guy to stick to her? And she doesn’t even seem very worried and care-free. Even if it was a cause for concern it was probably because her friends reminded her so she doesn’t want to be seen as a liar. So is she serious? Yeah. Some day…

Tsukasa Ayatsuji’s Arc
A year ago in episode 21, Junichi is still feeling the pangs of love on Christmas Eve. Bust buddy Umehara cheers him up for them loners to hang out at his place for some gaming and porn mag reading party. What else? They even made a vow to find girlfriends and have a fun Christmas the following year. So it’s that time of year again as Tsukasa once more volunteers herself to be the head committee for the Founder’s Festival. To help lessen her burden, Junichi surprisingly volunteers to be her assistant. Junichi works hard with nice Tsukasa guiding him by his side. Helping her with some stuff at the store room, they got accidentally locked in. While waiting for help, they clean up the place and talk about their motivation in joining the committee. Tsukasa, she wants to bring happiness to others while Junichi thought it would be his first step for change so that he wouldn’t run away or feel scared each time this season comes around. At the end of the day, Miya and Sae came by so the duo are lucky not to spend the night alone inside the store room. Would it? On their way home, they chance upon Tsukasa’s older sister, Yukari. However Tsukasa doesn’t seem too happy to meet her though Yukari is rather friendly. Tsukasa quickly takes her away. Next day in school, Junichi is having trouble trying to appease the unhappy crowd with their demands. Can’t take the pressure? He goes to find Tsukasa for help as she is handling supplementary swimming lessons (why the heck is Haruka peeping?!). Later that evening, Junichi finds a dropped notebook in class and browses through to find the name of its owner. Meanwhile Tsukasa has just finished her lessons and finds her notebook missing. She rushes back to the classroom unchanged and sees Junichi looking through it. Upon finding out that he has read it, she pulls his tie and jerks him! WOAH! That sure caught Junichi by surprise. I always suspected Tsukasa was more than meets the eye but I didn’t expect she had this dark personality!

Junichi apologizes in episode 22 and pushes her off, accidentally touching her breast. Then she forces him to come with her to the shrine. With that evil stare, he can’t refuse. Oh, what has he gotten himself into? He tries to explain why he did so but looks like Tsukasa feels it’s a shame that she’s going to lose a classmate! But upon knowing he saw was just schedules and memos, she quickly got embarrassed that it was a misunderstanding. However it’ll be okay if he doesn’t tell anyone this, right? He wouldn’t. I assure you. Using that breast touching defiling excuse is enough to make that guy sweat. Or else he’ll never come back alive. Next day in school, Junichi is puzzled to see Tsukasa putting up her angelic side. He tries to talk to Umehara about it but was caught by Tsukasa. Did he forget about the ‘threat’? Blame yourself if you get killed! But she’s not going to do that. Rather, she’ll have him work his butt off for the festival. And so Junichi works hard like a horse till late one night he sees Tsukasa trying to paint away graffiti on a structure. He wonders why she’s working so hard so she replies it’s to protect her image as the committee chairman and this will lead her to have good recommendations that will get her into college. It’s all about herself, eh? But Tsukasa is amused by Junichi’s behaviour. Knowing her kind of character, people would’ve stayed as far as possible but instead, he continued supporting her. Junichi says because it’s fun and fulfilling. He’s not lying. Tsukasa orders him to go home and get some sleep. Junichi has a feeling that she doesn’t want to go home because she’s been staying late at school finishing work for a few days. Because of that, she falls ill the next day. Junichi pays her a visit as Yukari ushers him in. She is surprised to see him but nevertheless thanks him for the banana and energy drinks. Next day, Tsukasa is regains her health back and it’s back to more committee work (Hibiki and Haruka discussing the possibility of wearing daring outfits for the Miss Santa contest?). Later that evening, Junichi hears Tsukasa’s cries. A dog urinated on her feet. Don’t ask. Junichi carries her to the wash area and she’s embarrassed that people might see them so she calls out Junichi a pervert as she thought he’s groping her butt. Wouldn’t that attract people instead? Back home, Tsukasa finds Junichi a curious person and can’t concentrate on her homework. She thinks she is interested in him. You don’t say?

In episode 23, Maya sees Tsukasa about the festival and suggests she should cut down the activities since they are behind schedule. But she’s confident everything will go well. Tsukasa nags to Junichi about the lecture she got and tries to come up with a solution but couldn’t. Junichi suggests asking their class for help and though they are reluctant, everyone eventually agrees to help out. But a group of girls aren’t happy that they’re stuck with this job and they start accusing Tsukasa she is slacking and that they’re made to do this because she’s flirting with some guy. Junichi tries to explain that all they did was work but was made to shut up. Then Tsukasa snaps. She gives out a creepy laughter and goes into her superiority mode. She makes those girls eat humble pie like how they do nothing but complain and there is nothing about them that’s better than her. Wow. Right in your face! Later at the shrine, Junichi sees Tsukasa burning her notebook. She doesn’t need it anymore and have something more important. She wants Junichi to be her boyfriend, be with her forever. What?! So fast? He’s surprised as I am. Think twice before you get into a relationship with a cunning and manipulative woman. Oh what the heck, just say yes. As proof of the ‘contract’, she wants him to kiss her. Sealed with a kiss, eh? I don’t know if this is a joke or what because Tsukasa’s nose is bleeding. Junichi comments that she could get excited sometimes and he got a slap. In school during PE, Junichi notices those girls are bullying Tsukasa by ganging up on her in dodgeball. But Kaoru steps in to be on her side and even pulls Keiko into it. Junichi must have run finished his 10 laps in record time to even go join them. The bullies give up and leave. That night Junichi knows Tsukasa is staying late for work again and goes to see her in the classroom. She instantly hugs him for her much needed recharge. He suggests they should ask the class for help again but she thinks she can do just fine on her own. But when he mentions it’s not like her, she gets violent with him yelling back what he knows about her. He gives his honest answer and knows she is giving her best for the festival. That’s why she should apologize and ask for everyone’s help. Or else they’ll have to scrap some events. Another slap across his face. That’s for talking like as though he knows everything. She runs away in tears. But surprisingly, Tsukasa swallows her pride, apologizes to her bullies and politely requests their help. They refuse and this brings Tsukasa to tears. However the class is staring and at this rate, they’ll be seen as the villains so they drop the b*tch attitude and agree to help her. Later Junichi sees Tsukasa about her sudden change in character. She says that stubborn girl that he once knew no longer exists anymore. Eh? She has a split personality?

The day of the festival arrives in episode 24. As everyone helps out, Junichi can’t help think about Tsukasa’s answer on her split personality. Though she denies anything near that, she didn’t divulge on anymore further details. Tsukasa and Junichi patrol around the festival as Haruka goes bold with her daring Santa outfit for the Miss Santa contest. Want to bet this is the clincher that she’ll win the title for the third year running? (Spoiler: She did win. Again). Tsukasa changes into her Santa outfit and hands out presents to everyone. Meanwhile Junichi feels gloomy though it’s good news that Tsukasa casted away her dark side. Don’t tell me you’re a masochist. Then he sees Umehara with a lighter and thought he is going to burn himself! Actually he’s just burning his old love letters. Junichi is down and is filled with regret but Umehara comes up with advice that motivates Junichi to go on. And you wonder why he doesn’t have a girlfriend of his own. During the after-event party, Junichi talks to Tsukasa in an empty room. He hugs her from behind and says he loves her. He goes on reiterating the good and bad days they spent together including her good and bad personality. He likes them all and doesn’t want to hear her say a part of her has disappeared. But this only serves to upset Tsukasa as she gives him a 3-hit combo! Step on his feet, punch his jaw and knee kick in the gut! Emotions got the better of her as she explains she was trying hard to get rid of that side because of what he said. But Junichi is glad that the Tsukasa he loves still exists. He hugs her. Drunken Maya spots them from outside. Maybe she drank too much. A male teacher thought he heard somebody screamed but Maya ushers him away. Looks like she knows what’s going on and decides to leave those lovebirds alone. Once Tsukasa calms down, she tells him about her past. It was a big shock to her when she found out Santa Claus never existed and that it was her parents that put the presents under the tree. Then she thought she’d become Santa and though not the real deal, at least she would bring happiness to other people. That’s why she became part of the committee and thought she could make everyone’s Christmas happier through her own efforts. She has been attending the Founder’s Festival since young (it’s open to the public as well) and before she knew it, her goal to bring happiness to everyone changed into one of satisfying herself. Junichi notes that Christmas comes around every year so why not bring happiness to everyone. Including him. Not a bad deal. So for their first step to happiness, I guess the gust of wind was just a prelude for them to kiss and Tsukasa’s turn to say “I love you”. Unlike the first kiss, this isn’t a contract, but a promise. And that mini scene of 10 years down the road is back. Junichi and Tsukasa are married and have a cute little daughter. They visit the festival as they tell her this is the place where they made their promise. Since Junichi is happy, he gets a peck on his cheeks each by his ladies. They wish everyone in this world can be as happy as them on this day.

Risa Kamizaki’s Arc
Eh? There are more heroines? Well, Risa is actually a secret character in the game. So I suppose there is no harm giving her an episode to hog the spotlight. Starting right off at episode 25, Risa confesses to Junichi in the storeroom that she likes him. Guess what? He likes her too. So they become a couple right at the start and end of story. Hah! Just kidding. Risa will do anything to make him happy and wants him to kiss her. However the bell rings so they have to postpone it same time, same place tomorrow. Dang bell. But it’s something that Junichi looks forward too as he makes his way there during recess. Before they continue where they left off, they talk like how Risa has been watching him for a long time (stalker?) and she wonders if he prefers girls with big boobs. It’s an awkward situation for him but it’s okay to her. Yeah, she’s even working hard to make them big. How? That’s a secret ;p. Junichi wants to introduce her to his friends but she disagrees. Instead, this tryst will only be between both of them and nobody must know of it. I guess they can’t forever meet in the storeroom so Junichi meets her at the park where he got stood up 2 years ago at night when there’s no one around. It may not bring pleasant memories but he’ll remember it as the place he had his first date with Risa. With Founder’s Festival around the corner, Junichi wants to tour the festival with her but she seems reluctant. Later alone, Risa really does want to go around the festival with him but she has a reason why she can’t. It seems she has done horrible things to all the girls that have gotten close to him. Each time she sees one of the heroines getting real close to Junichi (see her stalk from just about anywhere, the bush, the pillars…), she calls them, shows them a fake photo that Junichi has a girlfriend. Either this news sends them into shock, agreeing to lay him off so as not to give a wrong impression, or in Tsukasa’s case, doesn’t give a damn about that jerk (yeah, see her true colours too). Though Risa felt bad for deceiving those girls, at least he ‘protected’ him. She notes if that incident did not happen 2 years ago, she could’ve confessed to Junichi normally and all these never would’ve happened. Hmm… Something just bugged me. If Risa was able to intercept the heroines at the crucial time Junichi first helped them, doesn’t it feel like she’s traversing different universes and time of the different arcs? Like Junichi helping Sae at the vending machine or helping Tsukasa with the committee work or visiting Kaoru at her cafe, all these could only happen at a single time and in a single arc, right? But yet here… So mind boggling.

Meanwhile Junichi meets Makihara at the park. She is the girl that stood him up 2 years ago. Junichi wonders why she is able to speak so casually to him when she asks why he didn’t turn up at the place they’re supposed to meet 2 years ago. Junichi is confused because he was waiting at this park all the time. Makihara mentions that a girl told him that he wanted to change the meeting location so she waited in front of the cinema for him. So I see that Risa girl was partly responsible for his traumatic heartbreak. During the festival, Junichi meets Risa back at the storeroom. Risa starts saying she has no right to date him and knowing the truth will only make him hate her. Junichi asserts that he will love her no matter what. So okay. Risa spills everything. However it wasn’t entirely her fault. The reason she lied about changing the meeting place was because she heard Makihara intended to dump him right there and make a joke out of his date invitation in front of her friends. Risa was one of the girls Makihara invited. Of course Risa couldn’t do it because she truly loved Junichi. Either way, Junichi ended up hurt on that day and she felt so guilty that she decided never to confess her feelings to him. But 2 years on, she observed he has moved on and getting friendly with other girls. Then she started thinking, what if Junichi gets hurt again by another girl? That’s when she decided to become his girlfriend and protect him forever (I thought this made her sound over-possessive). She showed the doctored photo because she did not trust any other girls and ended up hurting them, the reason why she doesn’t want anyone to know they’re dating. Risa’s love for him went as far back as elementary school. She was the new kid in town. The school had strict rules about leaving food on one’s tray. She couldn’t handle milk so Junichi the hero drank it for her. It may seem normal but to her, it was something special. Risa apologizes for everything and can’t go with him for the festival. It was a short period but she felt happy to be his girlfriend. She hopes he’ll find a wonderful girlfriend next Christmas. But Junichi isn’t going to accept this crap because it’s like she’s going to give him another lonely Christmas memory. He’s sick of that. He hugs her and says he likes her. He suggests that they go apologize to everyone together and after she came clean with him, he understood how much she loves him. He wants to wrap this up so they can date with no regrets. However Risa wants to do it alone as this is a mess she created. When she’s done, they can go tour the festival. And sign off with a kiss.

Miya Tachibana’s Arc
Oh. So the little sister too has her own episode, eh? Well, I guess it’s for those imouto-con fans. Anyway episode 26 sees Miya trying to wake up Junichi for school. Sleep head doesn’t wake up. And when he does, it’s too late and he even blames her for not doing so. Maybe he was so deep in dream land that he didn’t even remember hearing her. On their way to school, Umehara shows Junichi the latest and hottest porn mag and Junichi is ever so grateful to his porn buddy. How can he act so happy in front of his sister? I know boys will be boys but it’s so disgusting. Miya talks to Ai and Sae about Junichi’s bad habits and asks for their opinion. They find him interesting. What? They think Miya likes her brother a lot since she is worried for him and his future. Yeah, she’s worried he’ll graduate without a girlfriend, talk about porn, oversleep and spend his time in his mini planetarium. But her friends are confident that won’t happen and he’ll do just fine. Miya thinks deep and wonders if Junichi is a different person in school and at home and decides to spy on him. Herald Stalker Number 2. Yeah, she spies on him getting friendly with the heroines. Look at those jealous eyes… Oh, looks like Miya isn’t alone stalking. Risa is doing the same too. Looks like they have the same goal. They stalk from behind trees, stairs, walls and doors to see Junichi getting pretty well with the heroines’ friends too. Wow.  Thanks to stalking expert Risa, Miya is able to spy on bog brother. The stalkers have a little chat and it seems Risa has always thought of Miya as her little sister and allows Miya to call her her big sister. But she disagrees seeing that they’re not blood related. Risa is disappointed and I’m sure her true intention is so that she can get close to Junichi and if his family members accept him, she scores, right? Confused Miya wonders why Junichi is so friendly with many of the girls but yet can’t land a single girlfriend. Then it hit her. That night she confronts him with those suspicious eyes. She asks him if he is gay!!! Plus, she saw him getting close with Umehara about the porn book and was convinced he is one. Junichi vehemently denies and that he likes girls. To top it, he admits he likes perverted stuff. Ah…

Next day Miya and Risa go out together so Miya relays the good news that Junichi isn’t gay. Risa suggests Junichi’s girlfriend should be someone who has been watching him for a long time (hint, hint) and feels Miya should call her big sister. Again she turns her down seeing Risa is her friend. Disappointed yet again. Suddenly a guy from Miya’s neighbouring class shows up and confesses his feelings. But… Miya turns him down. Talking to Miya over it, Risa feels she can consult big sister any time but Miya is not interested and leaves. There goes her plan again. Miya feels confused and perhaps this is what Junichi feels because she too isn’t into love and that kind of stuff. Miya picks up a stray kitten home but Junichi feels she should put it back since their parents do not allow pets and that mother kitty may be looking for her offspring. Miya doesn’t want to leave it alone at the park again so Junichi agrees to help her search for its parent. However they couldn’t find the mother so Miya starts getting depressed. Junichi allows Miya to let the kitten stay for tonight and will try to convince their parents. But then the kitten’s mother show up and the felines happily reunite. Miya is shocked to see the mommy biting the child and thinks it was her fault. But Junichi points out that was just playful bites, a form of expression of love. As they head home, Miya asks if Junichi would look for her if she got lost. Of course he would because she’s his precious little sister. Feeling happy, Miya jumps on his back and gives him a playful bite on his neck! Yikes. That scene looked like she’s a vampire trying to suck his blood. Back home as Miya takes a bath and notes even though Junichi is a slob, pervert and uncool at times, she now understands why he gets along well with many girls. She is confident he can get a girlfriend of his own. Till then, he can play with her. Then Junichi walks into the bathroom naked. Oops. Maybe she should take that last sentence back. So they didn’t end up in an incest relationship, eh? Disappointed or good thing?

Short Animations
These couple of specials come with the DVD and each heroine will be dedicated around 5 minutes with Junichi. Thinks of it as something extra and like a ‘dessert’ after the main course (the TV series). The setting takes place days before Christmas and the festival. And if you keep your eyes peeled, notice how Risa is spying at them at a corner? It’s a hit-or-miss scene so better be quick to spot her!

Haruka – Junichi and Haruka are at the family restaurant as Haruka orders the deluxe Shining Lovers Parfait. It is Junichi’s happiest day till he spots Kaoru coming to serve them the parfait. Worried about her seeing them together, Haruka suggests to hide under the table! Kaoru delivers the parfait and is surprised Junichi ordered this and wonders which lucky girl he brought along. Guess who? Umehara! Haha! No wonder both girls give out a good laugh. After Kaoru leaves, Haruka returns back and was totally amused by his ‘interesting excuse’. Yeah, she totally enjoyed it. They finish the parfait together and though Junichi felt it was delicious, he also felt he lost something… Hope those 2 don’t think he’s gay.

Kaoru – Junichi is surprised to see Kaoru selling Christmas cakes in a sexy Santa outfit. She is as much surprised to see him. Junichi learns she holds 5 part time jobs and his answer is the same as her stepdad’s: They feel she doesn’t need to work. Because Junichi’s eyes are straying to a lower area, Kaoru catches him in the act and forces him to buy a Christmas cake as penalty. Is 2,500 Yen considered cheap and selling at a loss? Plus, she wants him to pay her back with his body! OMG! His body?! Use his body and help her sell the Christmas cakes, that is. In no time, the cakes are sold out. They both had the same idea of asking each other out for Christmas but got embarrassed when they spoke the same time. They drop the subject as Junichi goes away. She thanks him and is looking forward to Christmas with him.

Sae – Oh, that annoying but ‘likeable’ narrator is back! Anyway Junichi is depressed and locks himself in his mini planetarium. Why? It’s his birthday and nobody is at home to celebrate it. No birthday cake, no birthday presents, no birthday celebration, no… Oh wait. Somebody is at the door. It’s Sae! She’s here to wish him happy birthday and hands him his present! How thoughtful. How did she know it’s his birthday? Miya told her. Now the duo are alone in his room. Heartbeat getting faster… Junichi opens his present to see an album. Not just an ordinary album. But an album filled with photos of Sae in cosplay outfits! YEOW!!! Super sexy! Enough to turn Junichi’s mind into a runaway berserk train. Unstoppable. Apparently Sae asked Miya about Junichi’s fetishes and came up with this. I see. Just when Junichi is getting to the juicy part, Sae flips and tries to prevent him from looking. The struggle has him fall on top of her boobs. Best present ever, eh? Does he like it? Of course! Now, which present is he referring to? Junichi escorts Sae home as he is surprised to learn those photos were taken by Miya. I wonder what that sister is up to.

Ai – Because she wasn’t able to go to the swim meet, Ai seems depressed so Junichi has this plan to cheer her up by talking to her. At the place where they first tried to find the cat, Ai remembers this as the place he tried to peek up her skirt! But noticing Ai is still gloomy, Junichi feigns that the cat is here so when she starts looking, he ‘attacks’ her by placing his hands inside her skirt pocket!!!  Skinship, says he? Well, she doesn’t think so. Yeah, it’s so nice and warm he doesn’t want to take it out. And just by moving his hands, it was enough to tickle Ai. Ai needs that pervert to take his hands out because he has to go home and do some chores. How? Step on his feet. That will teach him. She then asks him to accompany her for errands. With that, Junichi is relieved that she feels much happier.

Rihoko – Junichi notices 2 things: The tea club is getting awfully peaceful these days and Rihoko is getting fat. What?! Yeah, it’s that diet lie again. Rihoko notices Junichi drop a nail clipper and proceeds to take off her socks. Uh huh. She wants him to cut her toe nails. She felt ticklish and like a queen. I’m sure she can get use to this. Junichi flusters when he thinks he saw Rihoko’s panties. Well, if you don’t make a fuss then she wouldn’t have notice it too right? Junichi continues cutting her toe nails as she sings some toe nail anthem, supposedly some major festival song. WTF?!

Tsukasa – As Junichi and Tsukasa walk home, she smells sweet and freshly baked melon bread and goes to buy them. But her cunning behaviour has the seller giving her lots of free extras. See what a cute smile of a girl can do? Since Junichi’s hands are full, he can’t eat them. So don’t. Eh? Okay, she’ll feed him. Okay. But she’s just teasing him! And loving it. Each time he is to take a bite, she pulls back and eats it herself. Devil woman. So when Tsukasa finally feeds Junichi for real, she force feeds him! He has to bite the next one even before he finishes swallowing! It’s a torture! You can’t say no when Tsukasa is making that evil stare, right? So poor Junichi has to eat all the heaps of melon bread as appreciation for the seller’s kindness. And somehow that sweet taste of the melon bread became bitter…

The Guy Always Gets The Girl In The End. Sort of…
A happy ending for everyone? Well, this could only happen in a multi-arc branching format. It was fun while it lasted but just when I thought the series has ended for good, I read an announcement that a second season has been given the green light (currently in the midst of its run at the time of this blog). Wow. I wonder how the sequel will play out. Will it be a continuation for the heroines or will it be the heroines’ friends will take centre stage this time or perhaps new characters all together? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves shall we? We’ll cross the bridge when we get there. So for this series, some of the arcs were enjoyable and some close to boring but in the end, it is a happy ending for the main characters. Well, except for Rihoko but her arc didn’t have a bad end either so I guess it still counts as a happy ending.

As mentioned, I particularly enjoyed Sae’s arc the most because of the funny narration. I guess the narrator is only unique to her arc. It would have been too repetitious if we had the joking narrator in every arc. To me, Kaoru and Ai’s arc was the least I enjoyed because there wasn’t anything unique. Rihoko’s arc wasn’t considered that boring because the way things were going in her arc, I was really curious to actually know if they would end up as a couple. They did not so it was a surprise. Haruka remains my favourite girl of the series because she’s pretty (of course!) and the liveliest and sporting one among them all. Man, I would really love to have such a girlfriend. Tsukasa’s one was the most surprising one. I guess that’s why they leave her the last one, eh? Her opposite character was a surprise and shock to anyone who gets to know her so it was quite interesting in a way to see how Junichi could change Tsukasa or she changes herself to fall for him. Her character is probably the most dangerous one and could even surpass Kaoru as being the bad girl of the series. While Kaoru’s actions lean towards playful (and the fact that Junichi knows her for years so it’s like he knows every bad vibes she pulls), Tsukasa’s was just cunning and sly. She has a potential to be a yakuza head or a con woman! But all the heroines in this series are lovable because of their unique personalities. They may have nice personalities but at the same time they are not perfect. Like Haruka may be bubbly and spirited but she is also insecure and fickle, Kaoru sporting and ‘bad friend’ personality but can be unpredictable at times, Sae soft and polite but too much of it can be detrimental to interact with others normally, Ai humble and calm but needs to smile more often, Rihoko a clumsy slob (yes some find that a moe point) which makes it both her good and bad point, and Tsukasa her angelic side that makes her a tidy, polite and systematic lady as opposed to her dark devilish side. Risa may be a stalker but all she wanted was to protect Junichi from getting traumatized again.

When I first looked at the drawing and art of the characters, I had this familiar feeling that I may have seen this kind of character design somewhere before. I couldn’t put my finger on it so I did a little research and found out that the game’s creator, Enterbrain was the same one who created Kimikiss Pure Rouge. No wonder the girls here look familiarly pretty. Furthermore, Amagami SS as I came to know was a spiritual successor for Kimikiss in the sense that though the character and the story may be different and not related, the themes, styles and design are somewhat similar. So you can’t really call it a direct sequel whatsoever. Just like in Kimikiss, this series lacks fanservice. Unless you consider some parts like Ai in her swimsuit and that hotspring event, Kaoru exposing her belly, Haruka in a towel and Sae’s hotspring training trip to be one. Even so, I would consider this mild and nothing ‘stimulating’. Please don’t get the wrong idea about me. Oh, there is perhaps one part you may consider as fanservice. In the ending credits animation, there’ll be a scene in which the heroine will be totally naked but with the necessary parts covered. One of the amusing segments in the series is the next episode preview. Though we have the characters ranting away, sometimes unrelated to what is going on in the next episode, my favourite one was whereby Junichi was dreading the fact that Umehara would become the heroine for the next arc! (It was the start of Ai’s arc and with the title labelled as “Worse”, it’s no wonder Junichi may have gotten the wrong idea, eh?). When the series ended, I happened to notice that there was still a next episode preview! But… It was a preview of the start to Haruka’s arc. So to say, love is looping? On another trivial note, each of the episode titles comes in exactly four hiragana or katana letters. Which means it will be only one word when translated to English. Easy to remember?

Rina Satou was the voice behind Kaoru so initially I had this feeling that she would pop out and become To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaka and do her trademark lightning zap! Who am I kidding? Though she may sound close to that character but is just less tsundere. The girliest of the girliest voice award (if ever there was one) would definitely go to Hiromi Konno who did Sae. Her voice is so soft-spoken that it feels as though she has something stuck in her windpipes and the way she talks is akin to whispering. But this role is so much different from her bratty roles like Akira in Lucky Star, Hakase in Nichijou, Maria in Skip Beat and Letuchaia in Kiddy Girl -and, all of which are somewhat ‘noisy’ lolis. Ryoko Shintani was recognizable as Rihoko since she sounded close to her other ditzy girl roles like Milefeulle in Galaxy Angel series and Himeko in Hime-sama Goyoujin. Besides, her voice is unique enough for me to recognize ‘a hundred miles away’ ;). As for the other casts, they include Tomaki Maeno as Junichi (Touya in White Album, Fujimoto in Kobato), Shizuka Itou as Haruka (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Yukana as Ai (Eriko in Dragon Crisis, Teletha in Full Metal Panic), Kaori Nazuka as Tsukasa (Shizuku in Kampfer, Yui in To Love-Ru), Takuma Terashima as Umehara (Teppei in Princess Lover), Kana Asumi as Miya (Poplar in Working, Yuno in Hidamari Sketch), Mai Kadokawa as Risa and Keiko (Illya in Fate/Stay Night), Risa Hayamizu as Maya (Kumiko in Gokusen), Yuu Asakawa as Hibiki (Motoko in Love Hina), Hitomi Harada as Manaka (Himeji in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu), Izumi Satou as Ruriko, Yuki Matsuoka as Kanae (Orihime in Bleach), Aiko Igarashi as Yukari and Jouji Nakata as that pervy narrator (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou).

I prefer the first opening theme, I Love by Azusa. It is catchy and light which fits the pace of this series. However I wish this theme would have remained throughout the series instead of being replaced by the slow-moderate pop ballad of Kimi No Mama De also by Azusa. Though the second opening theme doesn’t sound horrible but I felt it lacks the hip-hop-like appeal that captivated me. As for the ending themes, each of the heroine’s seiyuu does a take of that for their own arc. The songs they sing reflect the personalities of the heroines. For instance, Tsukasa’s Nageki No Tenshi had that darkness ambience (heck, her ending animation had even dark aura coming out!), Kaoru’s Kitto Ashita Wa had a hint of sadness, Rihoko’s Koi Wa Aserazu is carefree and happy while Haruka’s Kimi No Hitomi Ni Koi Shiteru a lively rock beat. Sae’s Anata Shika Mienai sounds as girly as ever and her very soft voice somehow felt like she was whispering in her singing. I thought you need to turn up the volume to hear what she sings. Erm… And also this song resembles very closely to School Rumble’s first ending theme, Onna No Ko Otoko No Ko. Of all the ending themes, Ai’s Koi Wa Mizu-iro is my favourite because of its catchy hip-hop swing-like rhythm. Not to be left out, Risa and Miya also have their own ending themes, Koi No Yukue and Suteki Na Aruhi respectively. Each of the ending credits animation ends with the heroines smiling at the viewers.

Perhaps it is to tell us that love is like a double-edged sword. It can hurt and it can also heal. Sometimes it goes the way we want but most of the times it takes us on an unexpected journey of discovery. Junichi was able to bury the demons past of his and overcome his fear of Christmas when he truly falls in love again. Yeah, six times over. Oh, make that seven if you include Risa’s arc. Yeah, the wonders of multi-arc branching of getting the girls without hurting the feelings of the other. I also dream of having my own 2D harem and multi-arc branching events and stories. But each time, I still end up being a loner on Christmas Day every year. Well, there is always next year to look forward to. And the year after next… At least I’m not afraid when Christmas comes around.