Amanchu! is about two girls who fall in love. They want to munch each other so bad that by the end that I was beaming from ear to ear during their whole love confession. Now I know it sounds silly to describe a slice of life show about girls diving, as a romance. While most of the content is spent on anoui, and the feelings of change, I think the most driving force of the show is the two main characters Teko and Pikari falling in love. The story presents both of them coming together rather subvertly and once you realize it (unless you were looking for it as I was) it almost floods your heart with warm feelings. All things that work into the show itself and make it my favorite of the season, possibly of the year so far.
Amanchu! is referred to the anime savvy as an “Iyashikey” or healing show. It’s meant to give off a nice and warm atmosphere where the cosmic injustices of the world are nowhere present and all that is left to overcome is your own feelings, or sometimes not even that. Amanchu! also has the bonus of being from the creative mind behind Aria, the king of Iyashikei shows. It even shares some of the same idea’s about water considering the mangaka Kozue Amano seems to have a fascination with the sea. Amanchu! even opens up with a little meta phrase referencing that this is basically going to center around the same kind of thing that Aria did.
While the narrative centers around Deep Sea Diving, there isn’t much of it actually going on. Partly because its more concerned with its healing nature, and also because the main character Teko is being freshly introduced to diving. We are literally following her journey to her first dive with the friends she make in the diving club. Her only friends mind you, since she is a freshman who just moved to this ocean town. Teko’s situation comes off very relatable and her personality is often very melancholic. Sure she has a reason to feel alone and sad because she misses her friends, but later on we learn that she was always a loner type who never really had anything to hold dear. It’s not necessarily that her circumstances make her sad, she’s more prone to that as a person. This makes her feelings of missing her friends so potent because we realize it’s hard for her to find things to care about at all. It also makes the scenes where she actually starts trying and caring about things seem more meaningful, because we know how rare it is for her to feel this way. Like when she first dive’s in the pool for the first time. Up to that point she was brooding and standoffish towards everyone and just being jerked around by her classmate, made friend, Pikari. But once she enters the water with Pikari and see’s what it feels like, and the emotion Pikari feels, her expressions changes into wonderment. She wants to feel and understand what Pikari is feeling from diving and share that with her. For the first time maybe forever she discovered something she is interested in, and we get to see that growth of interest turn into love.
While Teko makes the realizations for herself, all of this is instigated by the peppy Pikari, who sits in front of Teko and ropes her into joining the diving club. She is the exact opposite of Teko with only one similarity that only really shines at the end, so i’ll get to that later. At first Pikari takes Teko with her because she’s so obedient and complacent. I honestly think it didn’t really matter to Pikari who she took to the diving club that day but it just happened to be Teko. Pikari is the kind of girl who see’s wonder and happiness in everything. She is in love with diving and the excitement of discovery and freedom it gives her, but the moment she see’s Teko’s expression while in the water for the first time, something starts to change. She see’s a form of wonder that she doesn’t really understand even though she is always finding wonder in the world. This peaks her interest in Teko and thus their love story blooms over their shared path towards diving, with Pikari being at the finish line and Teko being at the starting line. Both are experiencing the same thing from different perspectives but eventually come to the same conclusion of affection. Not just for diving, for each other as well, and the show does this in a very specific way, motivation.
Now at the get-go it feels like their relationship is a one-sided benefit where Pikari is there to help Teko along the path of finding something she can actually love and express her love for. But as we learn about Pikari more her feelings get more complicated. While her personality is peppy and optimistic, there are few things she actually cares about. As she gets to learn more about Teko she comes to realize this, then over the course of the show she finds that more and more she grows to genuinely care about Teko. While she finds her insanely attractive, she also loves her reserved nature and when that nature overflows into happiness. If Pikari’s goal is to be happy with the people around her, then Teko is the ultimate stimulation of this desire. Once she helps Teko reach that point of happiness, the genuine nature of Teko’s happiness makes her see things as more beautiful and precious. This is mirrored in both their joy when they become diving buddies. Which is symbolism of their eventual growth. In the end they stand as equal now both seeing the world from a shared perspective. They take this one step further in confessing their love for each other and wanting to share those emotions about more things other than diving.
Enough about this relationship between Teko and Pikari because I could talk about that all day, and there is more to this show, believe it or not. For one its the incredible character design. Whenever I look at a character from this show my heart overflows with love. I’d have to say Amanchu! has the most attractive characters down right. But what makes them so special is that they are never used to push fan-service. Everything is shot very modestly and when there is skin shown it isn’t treaded any different from the rest of the show. With shows that can’t seem to help but put their lovely characters in less than modest situations at lest once, its nice that Amanchu! isn’t interested in that at all and instead decides to ignore it completely. (However I wouldn’t mind it considering those character designs are gorgeous and I need more of them in my life) Also the way that each character has a certain face they make where their eye change to perfectly fits with all their personalities, is genius. Just another aesthetic choice that makes the emotion of each character really stand out and makes for some nice visual comedy as well.
Another thing Amanchu! touches on besides love is the expression of precious moments. No not those pale figurines your mom has in her glass cabinet. The idea that events in life mean something to us as humans on a deeper level. This is most prominently shown with Teko and her obsession to take pictures. She strives to capture moments in life at first to be able to treasure them dearly. Later this is seen as a problem as she equates the deleting photos to the memories not being important or relevant anymore. Amanchu! handles this with giving her a compromise. She gets a digital frame to keep old pictures, once her phone memory gets filled. Now this seems rather insignificant if you take it at face value. Teko should just get over it. Whats the big deal with just moving those photos to her memory card. Well one you have to remember that Teko has a hard time treasuring or expression love for things in general. The pictures are her way of storing her feelings on certain events. But over her time spent time with Pikari her feelings become more defined where she doesn’t need the photos to store her emotions, but to remind her of the importance of the moment. Basically the pictures end up symbolizing the significance of taking the time to snap a picture and sink in what the moment is making you feel, then being able to look back and remind yourself of the importance. Ultimately what Teko chooses is to keep her current pictures as her scrolling background on her phone and put the pictures from her middle school in her digital frame. This shows us her love for the present and how she grew from the girl who despised her new situation and was dwelling on the past. It’s a balance though because both are important, but only the present is what will affect the person you become tomorrow. And in a show about Teko striving towards something I find that rather fitting.
If I were to say what my favorite thing about Amanchu! was, the relationship between Teko and Pikari would have to be a high number one (which you probably already assumed by now). To sum up my feelings of the show in another way I’d have to quote a conversation I had with my roommate. While watching the show he walked by and said, “This seems like something really cute”. I immediately felt awkward about that word and replied, “Its not really that, its more..pleasant.” As I thought more and more about it I realized that the point of the show isn’t to be cute. The point of Amanchu! is to heal and grow. The characters aren’t supposed to be looked at in an endearing cute way, their meant to gently grow through themes that put the viewer in a pleasant mood and make them optimistic about life in general. I’d like to delve into this distinction further and partly think that is the reason I rated this show a point above New Game! (also a show I loved), which embodied the “cute” tone perfectly I think. Either way Amanchu! is a show that aims to make your life seem better by showing you the best parts of life and that will always be a recommendation from me. And if you need more incentive the theme is by Maaya Sakamoto, so their you go.