「棚町薫編 第一章 アクユウ」 (Tanamachi Kaoru-hen Dai Isshou – Akuyuu)
“Tanamachi Kaoru Chapter 1 – Bad Company”
The story may have reset and started off very similarly for Tanamachi Kaoru’s route, but it’s like a whole new ball game with the spunky attitude she brings along. She isn’t nicknamed “Kibitou’s Nuke” for no reason, and goes on to show how much fun her outgoing personality is. Voiced by Satou Rina, Kaoru has that older sisterly feel to her presence, but is so easygoing to the point that she’s like one of the guys. On top of her wavy hair that sets her apart from the other girls, she also happens to know Junichi from back in middle school, which leads to her husband/wife teasing and melodramatic sarcasm — both of which I absolutely fell in love with here. She’s not quite the same kind of tease that Haruka was, as her misleading acts of fawning over Junichi more or less stems from the fact that she’s very playful and doesn’t feel that he sees her in any romantic sort of way. She’s more or less the close female friend that most guys have, whom they’ll hang out with but don’t see as anything more than a friend.
As this is an anime, it’s pretty hard to gauge exactly who’s considered really attractive since all the girls are designed to look pretty. Haruka was a given since she was the touted high school idol, so all the signs she gave Junichi during her arc came off as a huge tease. In Kaoru’s case, she looks equally as attractive to us and would easily have any guy considering her as a girlfriend with the way she nibbles on Junichi’s ears just to tease him, but his lack of initial interest in her suggests she’s not quite at Haruka’s level story-wise. I find that’s the shallow truth as to why real life isn’t more like all these high school anime, so assuming Kaoru is of only so-so looking, Junichi’s disinterest in her doesn’t seem all that unbelievable. She is known as a troublemaker of sorts after all, even though she means well, and is a tsundere to boot with the way she’s quick to lash out.
Now call me crazy, but the idea of a clingy tsundere just totally blows my mind away. It’s not something I see every day that’s for sure, so it totally crept up on me and caught me off guard. After seeing her try to cast off knocking out Junichi and sending him to the nurse’s office as his own fault for tripping and falling, only to wind up apologizing afterward when it was clearly a lie, I became an instant fan of her character. The delusions that Junichi had about her calling him out to the flower garden after school for a confession served to up her appeal more, and left me wondering if my feelings are actually that fleeting towards anime characters. I mean, Haruka did make a brief sleepy appearance in this episode, but I was entirely in “Kaoru Mode” and didn’t even care. It looks like I’m going with the “flavor of the month” at the four-episode pacing set forth for each of these girls’ arcs.
Anyway, the best part of Kaoru’s character is how quickly she was turned into a love-struck girl when Junichi nonchalantly mentioned that he thought she was going to confess to him. It’s almost as if Kaoru had already secretly liked him on some level yet had no expectations from it — which would explain her overly friendly behavior around him — and this opened the door to the idea that he actually sees her as a potential girlfriend. It was a pretty nice follow-up to his disappointment over being asked to serve as a representative for all the male students, where he actually gave some good advice to Tanaka Keiko (Kadowaki Mai about a month old confession she gave a guy but has yet to receive a proper response from. It looked like Junichi took Kaoru a bit by surprise on how dependable he can be, which snowballed into a very flustered waitress when Junichi decided to go to the family restaurant she works at to return the teasing favor.
While Haruka had the back of the knee as her charm point for Junichi, Kaoru appears to be countering very quickly with “Absolute Territory”, a.k.a. zettai ryouiki. I’m completely sold on it already, plus Kaoru’s character ending theme song for her arc. Originally, I was thinking this series would have worked better if it remained one continuous story, but have to say that the omnibus format does allow each of the girls to get much more focus. At the end of this series, I imagine I’ll be hard-pressed deciding which route and girl I enjoyed the most, as it looks like all of them are going to turn out pretty well. Needless to say, Amagami SS is definitely turning out to be the romance drama I’ve been looking for for the past while. I can’t wait to see more of Kaoru and then the other four girls remaining!
* Trivia: Amagami SS takes place at Kibitou High School 「輝日東高校」, which is intended to mirror KimiKiss’ Kibina High School 「輝日南高校」. i.e. East rather than South.