Anime Review: Amanchu!

By Drew Hurley 10.04.2019

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Amanchu! (UK Rating: 12)

All the Anime, or Anime Limited, is not just doing the amazing work of bringing phenomenal series to the UK and giving the UK some of its biggest cinema releases of anime of all time, it is also finding gems that may have been missed by even the most hardcore anime fan and bringing them over. Case in point is Amanchu!. This release is the first English speaking territory release ever of this series from 2016. Joining the ever-expanding line-up of "cute girls doing cute things," this series is taking on Scuba Diving.

Futaba Ooki has moved from her home in Tokyo to the quiet, seaside town in Shizuoka province. Yes, it's a girl from the big city suddenly trying to fit in - a story seen countless times. To make things easier for her, she's not the only one. It's her first day in the new school, but it is many first kids' first day in this school. They are all first-year high school students. As Futaba struggles during the icebreaker of her first day, trying to drum up the courage to introduce herself, the student sat behind her repeatedly blowing out a tune on a whistle. This hyperactive little lady is Hikari Kohinata, a froggish-looking lass, with green hair and a hugely wide mouth. During comedic moments, her exaggerated features craft a visage reminiscent of Keroro. Hikari is drastically different from Futaba; the quiet, tall, reserved, and beautiful girl.

While this pair could not be more different, they find they share a love - that being the sea. That shared obsession blossoms a friendship between Kohinata, or Pikari as she prefers to be called, and Futaba, now dubbed "Teko" by Pikari, thanks to her thin eyebrows. The duo joins the diving club at school, first by breaking into the team's room and stealing equipment, and then officially after finding their homeroom teacher is the club's advisor.

What follows is a warm, happy, little show that is a light-hearted but enjoyable watch. The girls learn all about diving, going from the first days in the swimming pool - especially difficult for Teko, who it turns out can't even swim - to stepping out into the ocean. The whole show is showcasing the world of diving, and with good reason. This story comes from Kozue Amano, of Aria fame. It seems she has something of a fascination with water, but this is an infinitely more grounded tale than her previous work. Here, she's just showcasing her hobby. She loves to dive and, using her knowledge and experience on the subject, she crafted this tale.

Outside of the duo, there's an extended cast of some fun characters. The girls' teacher, Katori Mato, is passionate about her students enjoying the three years they have there, telling them to enjoy their time with everything they have and to care more about their fun rather than their grades. She turns out to be the coach for the diving club, too, so becomes a core part of the series. She can be short-tempered, and not very sensible, but clearly cares. She loves getting overly competitive with Pikari, along with regularly beating the heck out of her. The diving club isn't just this trio, though, as there's a pair of siblings, brother and sister, Makoto and Ai. These two become the slapstick comedy of the show - Ai regularly beating her brother up, for no good reason.

This anime adaptation comes from J.C. Staff, formerly best known for its work on the A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun anime adaptations, amongst many others. Although, for this show, it may be better to bring up a series it has produced, like Little Busters - the quality is a bit hit and miss. When it wants things to look good, they look great; bringing out rich colours from under the sea, and scenes punctuated by beams of light. Then there's when the series goes all Lucky Star, breaking into chibified comedy scenes. Here, the characters exhibit genuinely funny scenes - so good, in fact, they regularly appear as reaction images online. It's not all good. During the everyday scenes, the characters proportions and features far too regularly slip, making it look like the work for the quiet, everyday scenes - of which there are many - have been farmed out and outsourced for pennies. A fact that is very worrying for the upcoming second season of One Punch Man; a series that requires phenomenal visuals and, in its recently released trailer, a series that is currently looking less than wonderful.

This release comes with only the original Japanese dub. Sorry dub fans; subs only here. For those sub fans, Pikari is played by Eri Suzuki, a voice actress who has played many supporting roles over the years, along with a handful of starring roles, such as Momoka in Girlish Number. She perfectly captures the hyperactive enthusiasm of the role, while Teko is played by Ai Kayano, a very familiar voice. Her impressive biography includes March Comes in Like a Lion, as the motherly Akari Kawamoto, Saori from Girls und Panzer, Nana from Golden Time, Iori from Guilty Crown, among many more. She manages to portray a much more rounded character than just the usual quiet shut-in.

This release contains all 12 episodes from the first season, combined with the 13th bonus OVA episode that sees Teku's old friends - who are regularly mentioned throughout the main show - come to visit Teku and grow jealous of her new friendship. It's a fantastic episode, and easily the best in the whole first season. There's also a set of bonus features, including the usual clean opening and closing, but most importantly a series of shorts entitled Dive into Seaworld - a set of seven short comedy episodes.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
There are many slice-of-life shows like Amanchu! out there, and while this does little to elevate it above the many others of its kind, it still is more memorable than many of its contemporaries. It manages this by not relying on fan-service, despite plenty of opportunities to do so, and by not dragging any aspect of the story out; there's perfect pacing here. It's just twelve little episodes showing a friendship growing; showing two girls learning to dive, and yet every episode feels worthwhile. A strangely engrossing dive into the slice-of-life genre.

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