Nearly two years passed since the Christmas which left a scar on Junichi's heart. Again Christmas looms in December, but this year a girl may finally free him from from the vivid painful memory he struggles to escape.
Visual novel adaptations either follow one girl (while flirting with all of them simultaneously), or attempt to cram each girls' story into an episode. Amagami SS properly follows each girls' story by giving them a few episodes to develop. It's hard to rate this anime as a whole, since each female love interest and her story are separate and vary with success.
With Amagami SS each girl gets four episodes, however there is also Amagami SS+ (plus) which adds an additional 2 episodes per story. If this franchise continues adding random things to names like Street Fighter 2, the next sequel will be Amagami SS++ Championship Edition Turbo. Anyway, story extensions in SS+ improve two arcs, and gives one girl a proper resolution. If you're going to pick this up, watch SS+ as well.
As a collection of stories, some are good and some are very skippable. The short version:
Haruka (1-4) - I kinda hated Haruka. She treats Junichi like crap because she knows he'll take it. I think Haruka is supposed to be something like a school idol, making Junichi "star struck". He becomes a doormat because he thinks he's beneath her. Strangely enough I did like Haruka when she wasn't the romantic interest. She's a weirdo, and interesting that way. I liked the confession at least. In SS+ (11-12) things continue much the same, with nothing improved.
Kaoru (5-8) - Junichi and his friend Kaoru mesh wonderfully. They've had a strong friendship through the years, but begin to take notice of each other as they've matured. Although the attraction is there, the familiarity of their friendship becomes a barrier, even if deep down they want it to go farther. For me this was the high point of Amagami SS. SS+ (7-8) does a good job continuing the theme. Even after they're in a relationship, they're unsure how to interact as lovers. I really enjoyed this story.
Sae (9-12) - Sae is cute, so I had high hopes for this story, but the whole thing is pretty shaky. Sae is too timid to drive a good story by herself, making this one kinda dull. A narrator takes the place of internal dialog, in an attempt to inject life into the story. While this helps it isn't enough. In SS it's awkward with Junichi acting as her "instructor", but SS+ (9-10) moves past this and I think it improves her story.
Ai (13-16) - Neither Ai nor her story captured my attention. I couldn't get a good grasp of her personality, and her situation is pretty generic. With each girls voice actress singing the end songs during their respective story, I did like Ai's the most. SS+ (5-6) unfortunately proves to be more of the same.
Rihoko (17-20) - I adored Rihoko herself as much as her story, and I'm rarely a fan of "airhead" type characters. I liked the chunky girl always worried about her weight, but amusingly procrastinating with EVERYTHING. Her relationship with Junichi is fun and lively. What I liked most about this story is that the childhood friend barrier seems very real. Even after 4 episodes Junichi doesn't think of her as anything more than a friend. This would be very frustrating if you stopped there, but things resolve satisfactorily in SS+ (3-4).
Tsukasa (21-24) - Amagami SS plays her card skillfully, as the viewer has already seen her as the dependable, kind, upbeat class president through the entire show. I enjoyed the spin with her character, but ultimately didn't find her story satisfying. In SS+ (1-2) she gets a political rival, and it really brings her personality to life.
Risa (25) - Risa ties many of the stories together. The more you've seen of Amagami SS, the more interesting you'll find her story. A very fun addition for anyone who wonders what happened to the rest of the girls not chosen in a visual novel.
Miya (26) - The annoying little sister's story thankfully has Risa involved in most of it, making it more interesting. Otherwise nothing noteworthy.
The stories of Amagami SS vary in quality and success, but it does school romance stuff well enough, and at least it looks decent. Even in stories I didn't like, the confession wonderfully captures the romantic feeling of the moment. SS+ improves some of the weaker stories, making everything better overall. There's more weird WTF moments than I would have guessed, like Junichi kissing the back of Haruka's knee, or Kaoru's navel. Thankfully he stops at those body parts. Amagami SS is straightforward, with weird spurts of bizarre stuff.
In addtion the Amagami SS OVA's feature short stories for each girl - basically visual novel scenes not included in the anime. These are hit and miss, but annoyingly take place before the last episode of the first season (right in the middle). I'd skip them, but might be worth watching if you become a big fan of the franchise (watch for Risa too).
If you're not a fan visual novel adaptations, Amagami SS offers nothing new. As a whole the series is so-so, but found Kaoru, and Rihoko's arcs to be gems (maybe Tsukasa's as well). I was hoping for more, but it's decent for what it is.
Junichi: What's fun about a job?
Kaoru: You get money.
Ruriko: If you act now, we'll throw her in for free!
Rihoko: What? I'm just a bonus item?
Screen Caps: >