「上崎裡沙編 シンジツ」 (Kamizaki Risa-hen – Shinjitsu)
“Kamizaki Risa Chapter – Truth”
I probably should have held off on the poll until this first of two bonus chapters, but I’m almost certain I would’ve felt bad for Rihoko if I did. With just a single episode to her name, Risa would’ve easily surpassed her and probably some of the other girls too. As Junichi’s stalker since elementary school, she’s not nearly as bad nor plain as she makes herself out to be. In fact, I couldn’t help but feel a bit stricken by the cute charm from her forwardness about both her bust size and her feelings by saying “ureshii” a lot. I’m not even a huge fan of her seiyuu Kadowaki Mai either, since she tends to fade into the background with her soft-spoken roles. As Risa, it actually turned out to be the perfect voice to portray her timid yet adorable personality though. She sure made a case for herself as far as stalker girls and straight bang haircuts go as far as I’m concerned, the latter of which edges out Tsukasa’s because of long side bangs and dyed color. What can I say? I’m a fan of her character.
On top of all the cuteness that she exuded around Junichi, this bonus episode’s seemingly comedic take on her meddling with all the other girls ended up being quite a pleasant way to conclude the series. I realize that “conclude” is kind of a wishy-washy term for a series that’s already provided us with six different endings, but Risa’s addresses the untold story on Junichi’s Christmas trauma. The girl in question all series is Makihara Mika (Harada Hitomi), who’s currently attending KimiKiss‘ Kibina High School (much like her uniform indicates), and whom Risa protected Junichi from after finding out she was going to dump him in front of everyone as her messed up form of entertainment. While I can easily cough that up to the heartless immaturity of middle school kids, the interesting bit is how Risa saved Junichi from that traumatic experience and presented him with a different one when she lied to Mika about a meeting location change. In light of how she’s been looking out for him all this time, Risa really started looking like Junichi’s fated girlfriend, which was further reiterated by how her love for him stemmed from his days as a spirited boy drinking her milk. It’s probably no coincidence that they wanted to make Junichi out to be the one responsible for her small breasts, due to the superstitious Japanese belief that drinking more milk helps them grow, but even that was kind of cute to see since I was thinking how Junichi better “take responsibility” for it.
Looking back, it’s a bit of a shame that Risa’s story was only covered in a single episode; however, AIC went about it really well by showing the lighthearted side of things with her fake photograph of Junichi with another girl to get all his potential love interests off his back. Tsukasa in particular was funny to see, as was Ai who tried to feign indifference but failed miserably. Following up on that was Risa’s touching apology for interfering and tearful thanks to Junichi for letting her be his girlfriend for a short period of time. I don’t know how anyone would have not felt compelled to reach out to a kindhearted girl like Risa after learning that she likes him and meant well, so the final scene where Junichi stopped her yet seem upset at first was one of the sweetest moments all series. It gave new meaning to the whole traumatic premise and addressed it, making this worthy finale to an omnibus formatted series that didn’t seem like it even had one lined up.
While there’s still the chapter on Miya that’s will be available on the 13th and final BD/DVD volume slated for April 20th as the mid-episode ticker announcement indicated, this is the conclusion of the televised run and warrants a look back on the series as a whole. It’s hard to believe I’ve been covering this series for six months and now it’s suddenly over, because it’s easily become one of my favorite to watch this past year. I was already eagerly looking forward to it after seeing the cast of characters and the seiyuu set to play them, in hopes of getting a very similar romantic drama like its sister series KimiKiss. Much to my pleasant surprise, the use of the omnibus format that sections off the series into various mini stories made this latest adaptation of Enterbrain‘s romance simulation game better than I was anticipating. It’s not a format I’ve seen anime use before, but its use here drove the point home that it’s exactly what I’d like to see in future adaptations of this kind. Rather than stretching out a single pairing for thirteen or twenty-six episodes, having four on each felt like the sweet spot and came with the obvious advantage of providing multiple endings. In addition that benefit, what I particularly like was how each arc depicted how Junichi changes depending on who he’s with, emphasizing the idea that falling in love can really changes a person. From the more unsightly side to his character to the more admirable ones, we got it all thanks to the once iffy-looking omnibus format.
As far as romance drama anime go, Amagami turned out to be a very good offering even though it didn’t get nearly as dramatic than another series this past fall. Regardless, I really like how it maintained the high school feel and kept things interesting within that realm. There weren’t any potentially gimmicky plot devices and instead just a diverse cast of characters and their distinct nuances, whose interactions with our male protagonist were enough to provide ample romantic entertainment. Only on a few occasions did I really get a sense of profound love was in the air, but the back and forth developments leading towards an eventual relationship made it a lot of fun to watch. The girls are the focus after all, so seeing them in all types of scenarios and how they react and fall for a fairly normal guy had plenty of perks on it own. Given how that was all I was hoping for, this series delivered really well in that regard and has me hoping for more lighthearted romance like this in the near future. It’s a bit difficult to compare it to the likes of true tears that I was hoping it would fill the void it left behind, but Amagami is praiseworthy in its own right for everything it did well. In terms of being my favorite romance/drama of the year, it’s definitely high on my consideration list for 2010.
Finally, here are the results from the Amagami poll posted last week as promised. Much like I was expecting, Tsukasa took the win easily with Haruka a somewhat distant second. At the bottom, it doesn’t come as any surprise that Rihoko is dead last after the ending she got. I am a bit surprised that Ai edged ahead of Kaoru by a fair margin though, as I am with the paltry number of votes that Sae received. I’m fairly confident that Risa would’ve eclipsed both Rihoko and Sae, and probably would’ve stolen some votes from Kaoru and Ai as well.
Final results: Tsukasa, Haruka, Ai, Kaoru, Sae, Rihoko.