Amanchu! – Preview
Original Air Dates: Jul 8, 2016 to ???
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.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: For those unaware, Amanchu is based on a manga with a strong yuri theme, so I went into this show expecting it to fall under one of the popular yuri story set ups. And it does. In this case, it goes the route of lonely, depressed girl meets a crazy, hyper, in-her-own world girl who is obviously going to turn her world upside down and make her fall in love with the world and with her. Or for those unfamiliar with Yuri, a western counterpart would be something like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it as we go on. Basically this means that we have a show that’s going to be filled with lots of whimsy and exaggerated facial and physical expressions that is sure to sweep many a viewer off their feet…unless you’re someone who dislikes characters that transform into creatures that look too cartoon-ey or puppet-ey for comedic effect.
Tom: Amanchu seems dedicated to exploring the growing friendship/romance between Hikari and Futaba. It’s pretty obvious from their interactions that Futaba is going to be dragged out of her shy shell and made to face the world and expand her horizons through Hikari’s outrageously hyper and odd ball behavior. It’s a cute little story, but will most likely hinge entirely on how well you’re drawn to either characters.
Linny: While the promotional material and even the show itself seems to tease of a grounded tale of a shy girl being brought out of her shell, all the hyper expressions and character behaviour really disrupts the more calm content of the episode. One second you’re postulating on the beauty of nature and the next you’re staring at the face of what looks like a sock puppet. The way the show changes the facial design of its character for humourous effects, while cute, does clash against its softer elements. While I personally am a fan of how anime can get away with giving its characters the most insane and unique expressions, it made it hard for me to take the more solemn parts seriously.
Tom: Futaba is your classic shy and reserved girl, with Hikari the hyperactive, catalyst character that’ll help her to open up and grow as an individual. Hikari, however, is a bit too much for my tastes, a spastic girl who is constantly ‘on’ in any and every situation. She’ll probably appeal more so to viewers who enjoy their anime always turned up to eleven as she feels like she wouldn’t be too far from home in other anime such as FLCL, Luluco, or Gurren Lagann.
Linny: Hikari really seems to dial the crazy up to 11 and while I personally found her exhausting as she seemed to overreact to everything and in every situation, she’s sure to please viewers who like extremely quirky and energetic characters. My word of advice is if you find her annoying you within the first 5 minutes of the show, you can safely step away as her hyper behaviour only gets more pronounced. I consider her to be an anime interpretation of the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ and I would like to elaborate for anyone who is curious. Manic pixie dream girls are a trope defined as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer–directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”. It is a bit of a cruel sounding description, one I got off of Wikipedia, but I feel like Hikari is exactly that bubbly, shallow creature that’s going to teach broody Futaba to embrace the joys of life through deep sea diving. Or she seems like that for now. There’s also nothing wrong with her remaining as that. It’s just that if you want more fleshed out and realistic leads, Amanchu might be lacking.
Tom: A big point in Amanchu’s favor is how vibrant and fluid the water looks. They’ve clearly gone to great lengths to depict the ocean and seeing as this is an anime about scuba diving, I imagine we have some really impressive art ahead.
Linny: Amanchu is an enjoyable show with characters that will win over fans of quirky comedies, and beautiful animation that should help sell the more sombre and nature related parts of the story even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of diving or the ocean. It is also one of the more grounded and playful stories to feature a female pair with romantic undertones. Usually, stories with romantic female couples either become extremely sexualized with the sole intention of getting male fans or are extremely dramatic. This means Amanchu gets to appeal to all those who want a yuri story but are tired of all the ways it gets represented otherwise. However, the extreme animation change used to often denote Hikari could be a major distraction and if you can’t get over how chirpy and hyper she is constantly, the first episode alone may be enough to dissuade you from continuing.
Tom: Amanchu does a pretty solid job of introducing itself, and as long as you take to both Hikari and Futaba I’m sure it’ll be one of the stronger comedic slice of life offerings this season. Unfortunately I’m not smitten with the type of character Hikari is, and I’ve also had my fill of quiet, shy and reserved female characters.
Amanchu! is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.