Amanchu! – Mid Season Review

AMANCHU!:

Reviewed by: Linny

Original Air Dates: Jul 8, 2016 to ???

But I thought this was a show about scuba diving.

Synopsis: Hikari Kohinata is a cheerful, bubbly, energetic fifteen-year old who lives near the ocean and spends much of her free time diving. On her first day of high school Hikari meets a new classmate, the sixteen year-old Futaba Ooki, who’s just moved to town and is quiet and reserved. Sat next to each other, Futaba gets dragged into Hikari’s maelstrom like personality.

Mid season (6 EPISODEs) REVIEW (WARNING: SOME SPOILERS TO FOLLOW):

Amanchu started the season off bursting with colours and comical expressions and continues to do so well into the mid season. The scenes depicting nature, water and the open oceans continue to look mesmerizing and relaxing, giving the show a charm all of its own and is perhaps one of the reasons fans are praising Amanchu! for being a perfect show to unwind with.

On the other hand, the show might be overdoing the comical expression as Pikari seems to respond with peculiar sounds and unique faces to every situation even if it’s meant to be a heartwarming and intimate moment. Six episodes in and Hikari seems to ‘whoop’ at everything incessantly and while it’s clearly being done for cute comical effect, it’s sure to frustrate a fair amount of viewers. These expressions clash a lot with the rest of the animation as the characters keep morphing in between more realistic designs to muppet like over sized heads on curvy bodies, often staying that way even when the atmosphere of the scene is meant to be serious. It’s easy to ignore, and even to enjoy if you find them endearing but if they were already testing your patience in the first episode, the rest of the show might be impossible to sit through.

That pipe ain’t going to help at the bottom of the pool.

Storywise, the show sticks to its basic premise of Hikari and Futaba’s growing friendship and Futaba’s introduction and integration into diving and the diving club at their new school. The episodes are always playful and happy with the only serious parts centering on Futaba’s past and her struggle to come out of her shell when surrounded by Hikari’s boundless eccentric energy and enthusiasm for life and diving.

When it comes to the characters themselves, Amanchu is content to stay lighthearted and shallow just like the story. Even though Hikari’s grandmother was featured regularly early on, she seems to have pulled a disappearing act in more recent arcs as the focus shifts onto the diving club that Futaba and Pikari have joined. The show is now solely focused on their integration into the club, which so happens to have only two other members and one teacher in charge. From these new characters, Ai Ninomiya has a strong and violent personality which matches Hikari in energy levels for those who enjoy loud characters. Makoto is Ai’s quiet younger brother, who seems to occasionally try and reign in his wild and hot headed sister, but fails every single time. Lastly we have the teacher who wavers between a strict diving instructor to a passive observer who lets the students under her charge act as wild as they wish to. None of the characters really get any true exploration. Amanchu! seems content to let most of them be sources of comedy or general information about diving when needed. Our lead Futaba has her personality and her past revealed in bits and pieces through flashbacks and inner monologues. She does get some decent character development as the audience gets to see flashes of her emotional issues and her sincere efforts to overcome them and enjoy her new life and new hobby.

Please don’t ask me to explain this.

Moving onto the diving aspects, Amanchu divulges enough information that gives it an educational feel without boring the viewers.  As someone with zero prior knowledge or interest in the topic, Amanchu! does a great job of showcasing the beauty of the sea and highlighting diving as a serious hobby. It doesn’t go into hyperbole when it discusses the more serious risks that come with diving but dispenses them in a calm and matter of fact manner. There are no extended speeches about the ins and outs of diving and a lot of the information is divulged through practical demonstrations. This lets the story develop naturally as we see Futaba’s personality reacting to this new hobby and we get to learn about diving visually rather than having to sit through a bland verbal lecture. Keep in mind that this show doesn’t go in too deep though if you were planning to watch it for that aspect alone.

My high school life in a gif.

 All in all, I think Amanchu is the kind of show you can judge within its very first episode. What you see and react to is pretty much what you will be getting for the rest of the show. That’s not a slight by any means but it should make it easier for viewers to decide sooner rather than later if they’ve found a new show for themselves or not without having to sit through several episodes. Amanchu! has been hailed as a soothing watch, which is justified thanks to its healing colour palette, visuals, story of friendship and personal character growth. Despite the strong yuri vibes, manga readers insist that the story has remained chaste so far, so heads up to those who were hoping to see a romantic future for our female leads. Personally, while I enjoyed the visuals of the story, I found the muppet like chibi heads and expressions rather distracting and Hikari’s constant whooping reaction began to grate on me, especially when it was in response to more serious moments.  I am content to leave the show midway but my takeaway for everyone else is to give this a try if you’re on the lookout for a calming slice of life featuring two female leads and a diving theme. If you find yourself bothered by Hikari and Futaba’s chibi forms in the very first episode, then you can walk away immediately. However, there’s a chance you might find them endearing and cute (like I myself did when they were executed in a manner/pace that I enjoyed) and combined with the relaxing animation, Amanchu! just might be your go-to show that you can unwind with after a long and busy day.
Linny TiolI Art Badge

“Take it or Leave it: A calming and cute story about two girls exploring friendship and diving. But the chibi comedic expressions might prove too distracting.”

Amanchu! is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.

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