July 23, 2010
Amagami Ep4-Final: Haruka GET! (Arc review)
Yes that’s a miserably unoriginal title but considering we’ll be getting this type of closure with every multiple of 4 episodes might as well get used to the fact that we’ll have some degrees of closure every 28 days.
Consider this also a review for the Haruka route, so I’ll after the episode itself I’ll just break it down by section.
Since this is the first arc of Amagami we can’t actually compare it to those yet animated, but as it stands, for something that was only 4 episodes, I can say that her story is generally good.
Christmas time is approaching and doe-y eye Junichi is looking for a way to get together with Haruka on Christmas eve, a big holiday for couples in Japan if you didn’t know. Compared to the previous episodes this is more or less a buildup towards the final night that makes or breaks their relationship, the very same eve that scarred him before. His turnaround from a emotionally scarred and moody teen to someone taking the risk and the initiative is a breath of fresh air from the usual angsty male lead.
So it all culminates on Christmas eve, where despite his attempts Haruka still has the lead on him. Whether or not her plans for him to meet her family or it was all a trick to get him into the hotel is all up to speculation but you have to give her credit for going that far, knowing that he’s nervous as heck.
My only major criticism for this finale is the flashback. It comes out as a bit too… convenient. So apparently they’ve met before but Haruka never knew who Junichi was that previous year, but the thing is it comes as a bit sudden and convenient that the story would reveal this now to reinforce on the viewer the feelings Junichi has for Haruka. Personally it would have been better used as foreshadowing of sorts, where they could have dropped hints here and there that they’ve met before, perhaps dropping some scenes from Junichi’s mind every now and then. It’s a bit hard to digest how he becomes so enamored with her and from there on it’s as if everything is destined for them from that one single meeting. I mean it’s been done before, but compared to other uses it lacks an impact.
As a finale it’s pretty good. It ties up their relationship quite adequately when you consider that Haruka never really verbally returned her feelings towards him. From that perspective it’s understandable how he moved on from words to actions when dealing with her when you consider that she’s always been a woman of action, even if not all of it makes sense.
Which makes her eventually admission to him about how she was worried sick that Junichi never repeated his confession after the second all the more surprising and revelatory about her personality. Despite being someone who seems to put actions over words, she still gets agitated and insecure when Junichi no longer tells her that he loves her. In the end she’s still a girl, and she still wants to hear those comforting words from the person she loves.
So now, moving on to the arc review.
If you want fluffy and cheesy teenybopper romance then this arc is for you. Haruka’s arc has very little to no drama almost at all, save for the small amounts of sappiness in the finale, so it’s straight up romance with very little angst and all that. Quite frankly all these angsty romance series gets tiring after watching a lot of them, so watching a regular romance story without all the emotional baggage is a nice change of pace. No brooding or bitching whatsoever. They in fact didn’t even drag out Junichi’s previous emotional problems which, given the apparent nature of this story, is a good thing. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb and, assuming it was milked for all it’s worth, I would have dropped the series at that point.
The pacing. It’s not so much that everything’s going by like the characters are on crack, but the absence of a relative time frame and progression makes it a bit hard to digest how believable the evolution of their relationship is going. I mean for the most part it’s believable, but as I said in my comments in episode 3, the progression from fanciful to fetish is a bit jarring when you don’t know what really happened in between. It could simply be an issue with the 4 episode format, but I’ll get to that later. As it stands I hope the following arcs can spread the pace a bit more equally among the 4 episodes.
The Four Episode Format
The four episode format isn’t really new. It’s pretty common for limited release series and OVAs but it’s not something you see everyday for a full 24-26 episode run where it resets after every arc. Personally I think they did an acceptable job on trying to put a game’s worth of a VN path into only 4 episodes when some others needed twice that many. Granted they probably needed to make cuts and pacing issues are bound to come out, but of course this is still the first arc and they can make alterations to future ones. Of course I don’t know how this story stands comparatively to the others but safe to say that as studios hopefully learn from the viewer response to the start, future episodes should only get better.
So as the very first arc of Amagami SS, I can give this a solid B.