Sometimes the simplest premises offer the best results. I have to say when it comes to “Amanchu!” this is definitely the case. It is a slice of life anime that makes a simple but profound statement about finding good friends, overcoming your insecurities, and discovering what you love to do.
Right off the bat I must say the art, the shot framing, writing and the majority of the creative choices made for “Amanchu!” were good ones. It’s a stunningly beautiful anime, done in a shojo art style. The story revolves around two girls Hikari and Futaba who meet serendipitously the first day before they begin high school at a small coastal town.
Futaba is a new student, who had recently moved into the area due to her parent’s work. She struggles with lacking confidence and social anxiety (as any other normal teenager moving to a new place might), while Hikari is the complete opposite. Hikari is a very confident (but not arrogant) individual who has discovered a passion for scuba diving and has made it her life. She is extremely extroverted , a little dizty, but infinitely kind as she takes a shine to Futaba and becomes her friend right away (even though Futaba, at first, doesn’t really want to be friends).
From Hikari Futaba learns about scuba diving for the first time. Here’s where the show really begins to separate from the normal dime-a-dozen, slice- of-life anime high school drama. We can all relate to that first time we discovered something that we were passionate about. What follows after Futaba’s discovery of scuba diving is a journey of personal development and discovery that is both wholesome, and profound without needing the clichéd dramatic twists you’d often see in most anime of the same stripe. Here are some of the immediate differences:
- There is no physical antagonist. No mean classmate, no evil teacher, nothing other than Futaba’s own fears and insecurities regarding her abilities. In fact, she is surrounded by an excellent and supportive peer group, a patient, perceptive and caring teacher in what is very much a normal, small Japanese community. Don’t get me wrong, there is real internal conflict, and you will be rooting for Futaba the entire time, but it’s kinda nice to not have to hate anyone in the show.
- There is no real romance. There is no crush or desirable man to be fought over, or pursued which is a refreshing change. The choice to forgo the typical high school romance was a good one, as I believe it would really take away from this change or personal transformation Futaba undergoes throughout the story.
- There is no petty catty drama. Imagine that! A show that portrays relatable, likeable female friends who don’t need to become entangled in clique-ish catty nonsense and can instead interact in a healthy, supportive and realistic fashion while treating each other with respect. Be still my heart!
This is not a show for those who enjoy explosions, or heightened ultra-dramatic twists and turns. It is a slower moving story overall as most slice-of-life anime tend to be, but it is most definitely a charming, and enjoyable story from beginning to end. Another nice aspect to the show is that the entire story is encapsulated in one season which is extremely satisfying to have a story arc that peaks, and completes in just 12 episodes. For those looking to watch “Amanchu!” you can catch it on CrunchyRoll.