Well, the “finale” of Amagami SS (more on that later) seems to have gone over exceptionally well with the fan base. And that proves the writers did something right, I suppose, since pleasing the audience is what it’s all about. For me it was rather a yawn, I’m afraid.
While Ayatsuji presented no danger to Haruka for the top spot among Amagami girls in my book, I did find her arc above-average in terms of interest. There was certainly an edge to it – she showed flashes of tsundere and yandere to the point of disorder, and even a physically abusive side. That’s certainly darker than the rest of the material here. But it never really achieved transcendence – and the reason is that it lacked the subtlety a really great character study achieves. Everything was painted in pretty broad strokes, including the ending.
Really, this was utterly conventional in the way it was executed. Ayatsuji buries her nasty side to try and please Junichi. He wrestles with himself, obviously disturbed by the change in her. He confesses his love, but conditionally – he wishes the “real” Ayatsuji would come back. She turns on him viciously, punching and kneeing him and screaming, and Junichi – showing a bit of his M side – seems to enjoy it. He tells her he loves her unconditionally and they live happily ever after. We even get out second “10 years later” segment of the series – apparently validating the writers belief that Haruka and Ayatsuji are the two most serious girlfriend options – where they reunite around the HS Xmas tree with their daughter. There wasn’t a remotely surprising moment anywhere in the episode.
I didn’t dislike that ending, especially – but it was just too broad and pandering to have any real emotional impact. The effectiveness of the arc was also somewhat blunted for me by the fact that this was probably the most boring of all of Juinichi’s personalities. He displayed a wide range in the first five arcs with varying degrees of likability, from the good (impish puppy to Haruka) to the annoying (snarky to Kaoru). But here was just plain yogurt – passive, bland, uninteresting. Whatever Ayatsuji dished out he pretty much just took it. There wasn’t a lot of depth to the romantic development here – the Ai arc probably comes closest to matching the Haruka for that. As a result Ayatsuji pretty much had to carry everything herself. She was certainly more interesting than most of the other heroines, though a little more examination and a little less explanation would have done wonders to leaven things here.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t the series finale after all – we get a 25th episode next week. This one features Risa, the girl who broke Junichi’s heart in the first place, and I presume it will be a single episode. Should be an interesting way to end the series without choosing a “winner”.