A show about lovely ladies going scuba diving was too good to resist. Question now is whether it is worth watching. Let us find out as we take a look at Amanchu!
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Iyashikei
Themes: Diving, School, Yuri
Number of episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
Plot Summary: Hikari Kohinata is an overwhelmingly cheerful and outgoing 15-year-old girl who has spent all her life in a small and beautiful seaside town on the Izu peninsula. On the first day of high school, she meets Futaba Oki, a slightly introverted girl who has just moved from Tokyo. Before she knows it, Futaba gets dragged along into Hikari’s passion for scuba diving. And from there, Futaba gradually starts to come out of her shell, and learns how to take challenges and dive into the ocean of life
First of all readers need to accept one important fact before picking the show up, a majority of the younger characters, including the teacher who is a young adult, are half-Muppets, meaning they often show faces like the ones seen in the above image, usually for comedic purposes. If readers can tolerate the puppet faces while watching the show then they are good to go, otherwise do not bother.
Beyond that the show falls under the iyashikei genre like its spiritual predecessor ARIA, Yama no Susume and the recent (as of this writing) spring 2016 show Flying Witch, where the main goal is to help viewers relax after a long day’s work with a show that is slow paced and pleasant to look at. An iyashikei show also works when the activities and main plot being told are engaging in a way that does not get the blood pumping. Shows like Amanchu! and the other examples I mentioned are meant to heal, not entice a thirst for bloodshed.
As far as the draw of there being scuba diving in the anime goes it is similar to Flying Witch and HaNaYaMaTa, meaning there is not much of it. However, the lack thereof, in a kind of similar manner to HaNaYaMaTa is intentional because it is part of the main story being told. That story is one of a socially awkward person coming out of their protective shells and facing a new world with the help of love and friendship. It is a heartwarming journey where the shy girl Teko, as she is nicknamed by her future bride Pikari, is encouraged by her and other supportive people to work hard to slowly but surely become brave. Since this is an iyashikei the process is a slow one, like real life, where overcoming something that has been looming over you like a dark shadow is not that easy and takes time. This is also where the diving comes in as Teko is a newcomer to both it and the ocean whereas her friends are all experts but want to help her get ready for that big moment where Teko and the audience cheering her on finally take that big step into a beautiful new blue world.
And oh how beautiful it is. Amanchu! continues the iyashikei tradition of having a GORGEOUS world to take in thanks to its stellar animation when not showing off the half-Muppet expressions. It has been many years since I had gone to the beach or near an ocean so I can gladly say that the show motivated me to go for a swim again after so long. Now obviously it will not have the same effect for everyone when it comes to swimming or diving (Which I might give a shot one day) but the show’s stellar animation cannot be overlooked either. The same goes for its serene soundtrack. Its OP and ED are personally one of the best anime tunes in 2016 and the soundtrack is delightfully tranquil as is expected from a calm show like this. Also the OP blessing viewers with the ladies’ sexiness and the eventual swimsuit episode being wonderful also helped boost the animation’s appeal.
As far as the cast go, I noticed some not liking the twins (especially the sister Ai) for being too loud apparently but other than her everyone is instantly likable from Pikari’s wise grandmother to the sexy but clever Katori-Sensei and the show stealing background cat “Cha” who has little effect on the main plot but his amusing antics and adorably funny butt face are too wonderful to ignore. He has mascot privileges and he takes full advantage of them to entertain viewers every time he is on screen and for that the world thanks “Cha”. While Teko is the main protagonist, Pikari and the others also get time to shine with segments/episodes either centered around or narrated by them. Again everyone for the most part is cool.
As for the yuri…let me put it this way. Imagine Re-Kan but with little to no on-screen shipping. Teko and Pikari’s not-so subtle at all show of affection for one another throughout the show is more than enough to imagine them living a wonderful life together at the seaside village of Teko’s. The yuri is THAT STRONG. Every time the two have a moment alone together…or even near friends they can barely contain the urge to snuggle.
Overall Amanchu! is another wonderful iyashikei anime to pick up and enjoy when in needing to chill. Its presentation and (most) of its cast are likable, the main story is charming and the yuri is soft but oh so heartwarming. Mainly recommended to readers who enjoy chillaxed anime and slice of life aficionados. I reiterate that the show is slow paced so do not expect fast paced action of any kind here.
PS: Readers who have seen the author’s previous work ARIA will notice many references to the series while watching Amanchu! that might have fans asking if the show takes place in the same universe’s past, so that is a neat bonus.