When I first saw promotional images for Amanchu!, it screamed “summer show.” I really wanted to watch something that put me in the spirit of the season. Amanchu!‘s ocean-side setting seemed like an excellent fit. I’m glad I went with it: from its lightheartedness to the pretty scenes by the sea, Amanchu! is looking to be a real summer-time treat.
The first episode, like many anime before it, starts at the beginning of the new school year. Both lead characters, Hikari and Futaba, are about to begin their high school careers. The opening scene takes place in front of Amanchu-ya Diving, the diving business run by Hikari’s grandmother. I like that the episode begins the day before their first day of school. It offers a nice preview of where the characters are coming from, and some of the grandmother’s lines seem like things to expect from the show:
“The folly of youth, you see, is that you sometimes convince yerself that yer world is confined to a familiar object the size of yer palm. But it’s all right. Look up and see. There’s an endless world of fun starin’ ya right in the face.”
She’s not wrong: our phones have become a big part of our world. Pokémon Go has more people going outside, but they’re still looking at their phones the whole time. I’m not saying it’s wrong to enjoy what technology has given us, but it’s important to remember the rest of the world beyond those screens.
Even though the first episode mostly consists of their first day of school, it still feels pretty full. Since there are two leads, the focus switches between them. While that could potentially be jarring, the change in perspective happens rather naturally; they both occupy the same setting, and keeping them together allows for moments to seamlessly transition from one character to the next. For example, when the class introduces themselves to one another, the main focus is Futaba and her thoughts. Once she finishes her introduction, though, the focus moves to Hikari, since it’s her turn. Another benefit is having them sit right by one another; we get to see both of their reactions to an event at the same time.
One more thing I like about this episode is its comedy. It keeps the overall tone of the episode light-hearted, and a number of gags feel pretty fresh. Most of the comedy is visual, but it’s not too over-the-top or slapstick. Its lightness goes well with the setting of the story, and the timing is great. Junichi Sato is the chief director for the show, so it’s not surprising that this episode seamlessly blends comedy with more subdued moments. He not only directed the original Sailor Moon anime and Sgt. Frog (both known for having some off-the-wall comedy) but he also directed all three seasons seasons of ARIA. Both ARIA and Amanchu! are manga by Kozue Amano.
Hikari is one strange girl. That’s a good thing, though. Her oddities make her fun to watch. Her enthusiasm is charming, and her expressions are cute. I’m not sure if her periodic “whoop” will become annoying, but for now, it’s fine. I’m actually surprised that I don’t find her annoying. It might be because everything she does seems genuine. She isn’t acting cutesy, and her enthusiasm doesn’t consist of yelling and being in-your-face. Futaba is more shy and not as enthusiastic about her first day. She looks at her phone a lot, which puts them on opposite sides: one is happy to be where she is, and the other yearns to be someplace else. She’s also a bit of a blank slate, claiming to have few hobbies. This probably will make Futaba the vantage-point character of the show; the audience will learn about the area (and diving) alongside her.
I also quite like the side characters introduced so far. Hikari’s grandmother is a gem: she’s easy-going and understanding. She also has the best lines in this episode. In addition to the one above, there’s this one: “In that girl’s eyes, the world in there must be a lot bigger than the ocean…For now.” Like the first quote, this one relates well to our current society. However, it also alludes to Futaba changing as time passes. Hopefully, Hikari’s grandmother’s words will ring true by the end of the show.
The school scenes also offer plenty of entertainment. While we don’t get see much of the other students, they’re given a number of funny lines during the introduction scene. The girls’ homeroom teacher is amusing, as well, giving Hikari a swift slap when her antics go on for too long. I don’t know if we’ll get to see more of them (except maybe the teacher), but I’m sure there’ll be even more fun if we do.
The ocean is so pretty! There are so many possibilities the show can go with when it comes to underwater scenes. It leaves me eager to see more of the diving aspect of the story. If it’s as nice as the surface view of the water, I’ll be very happy. I also like the character designs of the two girls: Hikari’s short green hair matches her quirkiness, and I like how nicely they animated Futaba’s long hair in the breeze. The girls’ uniforms are pretty odd, though. I’d love to know why the mangaka went with long purple dresses.
The comedy is definitely enhanced by the animation style. The shift from their standard designs to round faces and circular eyes is cute and gets across the characters emotions nicely. I chuckled quite a bit when they made their appearance. The shift also adds to the fun atmosphere the show is trying to promote.
Like the rest of the episode, the music is light and mellow. The opening by Maaya Sakamoto starts off simple and quiet but becomes more lively as it progresses. It has that magic that her songs usually have. The ending theme by Hitomi Mieno is also mellow and relaxing. The soundtrack played throughout the show is simple, with a focus on acoustic guitars, some light percussion, and a hint of violin. It adds to the lightness of the episode, both during the quieter moments and the comedic ones. It may not be grand, but it’s pleasant.
I have to commend Hikari’s voice actor, Eri Suzuki. She really makes Hikari sound genuine in her enthusiasm and plays off her strangeness very well. All of the actors in this episode did a great job, especially during the comedic moments.
Based on the first episode, Amanchu! is a fun show. It has a good sense of humor, pretty-yet-quirky animation, and a cast of interesting characters. Based on Futaba’s final line of the episode, the rest of the show will be about her adapting to her new life in Hikari’s town. I’m ready to see her growth and their adventures in the sea!
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