Now that the serious business of this weekend's MCM London Expo (the closest the UK gets to a major anime event) is over for another six months, it's time for me to ramp up working through my viewing backlog... again. Of course, I couldn't help but put the possibilities of a new story arc of Amagami SS towards the front of that pile, if only to see what bizarre goings-on it might bring us this time around.
For this latest arc, Rihoko Sakurai is the star of the show, giving us that all-important "childhood friend" angle which has been lacking thus far. This arc also differs a little in that Rihoko is already in love with Junichi, but has never done anything about it since the time she thought he'd invited her on a date only to find he wanted her to help him choose a present for his girlfriend. Of course, we all know how that one turned out...
In fact, this episode as a whole switches things around a little by focusing far more on following Rihoko herself than I remember seeing with any of the previous girls and their story arcs, setting up its premise when she gets stuck under the fence which has become her regular short-cut to school which leaves her requiring the assistance of Tachibana to be saved. This event, coupled with Junichi's comments, lead Rihoko to decide that it's time for a diet - and this isn't the first time she's thought so by all accounts. Still, we get to watch her fight between a love of food and concern over her weight, while Tachibana is as oblivious as ever to the girls around him and their attractiveness because he's a complete dolt.
Although this episode has all been very much as you might expect, I've got to say that I really liked a lot of the aspects of this opening to Sakurai's arc. For starters, the fact she's interested in him from the outset makes a refreshing change from the previous girls and their stories, while the dynamic between Rihoko and Junichi means that the pair are practically made for one another - they're both up-front with each other most of the time, and they're both slightly dim but ultimately nice, good-natured people, which leaves me liking them rather a lot. Even though Tachibana has been a bit of an idiot at times throughout this series, his actions towards the end of the episode to help out Rihoko made me smile. So far so good then, even though this is threatening to be a more generic love story than previous arcs judging by this instalment.