Hikari Kohinata is a cheerful 15-year-old girl who lives near the ocean and she spends much of her time diving as a result. On her first day of high school, she meets a teacher who also likes scuba diving. There's also a 16-year-old classmate, Futaba, who gets dragged along in Hikari's maelstrom as soon as they meet at school.
This series. This healing series is one that is perfect for the Summer. Taking place near an aquatic setting with fun, waters, and diving. Amanchu! is a show that I can safely recommend to just about anyone.
Adapted by the manga of the same name, you may find some similarities between this and Aria with its atmospheric setting. Also, it’s co-directed by Junichi Sato and his talent is easily recognizable in this series. Transforming a slice of life story into anime form isn’t always easy but he gets the job done with this anime. And I have to say, that is an achievement not to be
The series has a relatively small cast but is very colorful in establishing their personalities. Hikari Kohinata (nicknamed Pikari) is the most cheerful girl you’ll probably meet in recent years as she spends her days being happy and diving. On the other hand, her classmate Futaba Ooki (nicknamed Teko) is a bit more on the timid side. Unlike Pikari, she lacks self-confidence and doesn’t have many friends. However, she is a sincere girl with a gentle personality. And through her growing relationship with Pikari, Teko begins to show more confidence as a person while also making valuable memories.
In general, the show is pretty much a golden slice of life. What I mean by that is how the show is able to focus each episode like an episodic adventure of its own. It’s a series that doesn’t rely on complex storytelling but rather with its themes and characters. A major theme in the show is also friendship with Pikari and Teko’s relationship being the most prominent. The two are almost always seen together and they later join the school’s diving club. This opens up new possibilities for Teko as she learns about the mechanics of diving, as she didn’t even know how to swim prior to joining. Their teacher Mato Katori may be a strict person but she is also caring and really wants the club’s members to succeed. Furthermore, Teko meets new friends such as the Ninomiya siblings. In essence, Teko experiences new possibilities in her life that really makes a change in her character.
If you want to experience some laughs and fun, this is definitely a show for you. Its comedy is well timed by the character expressions, dialogues, and reactions. I can also safely say that Amanchu! never relies on cheesy lines that may throw the viewer off. It comes out rather naturally with how the characters express their thoughts. Even though Teko can be quite timid, her dialogues in the series also feels fitting for her character. Of course, there’s Pikari who is hyperactive so expect tons of eccentricity out of her. The Ninomiya siblings fits somewhere in between as Ai resembles more like Pikari while her brother resembles more of Teko. These four makes the core of the diving club and their adventures is the reason why this series can be so exciting.
In the meantime, the anime adaptation handles the show faithfully despite rearranging some chapters. I think the main point is that they are trying to construct the series to capture the important elements. The mechanics of diving, the relationship between Teko and Pikari, and making valuable memories are just a few to name. Background storytelling is kept at minimal although there is one episode that really gives the viewers an insight on Teko’s character. There’s also some subtle yuri vibes as the show likes to play around with Teko and Pikari's relationship. In retrospect, Amanchu! relies a lot more on its slice of life aspects that expresses excitement and fun.
Anyone familiar with Kozue Amano’s Aria will easily find that the character designs from this series are also similar. Indeed, character designs looks very fresh that accurately adapts them into the story. Hilarious and super deformed character expressions seems to pop up often that are infectiously amusing; especially Pikari. In the meantime, the backgrounds feels natural and rich that depicts the ocean and other aquatic features with realism. There’s very minimal fan service as the show doesn’t rely on skin to deliver what’s intended. To easily sum it up, Amanchu’s visual quality can be easily described as visual porn.
Character voice mannerism and soundtrack also deserves praise in the show. In particular, Pikari is like an energetic light bulb that never stops shining. Their teacher is also able to carry out her role with a mature voice that is very easy to understand and listen to. Soundtrack is quite atmospheric and smooth with a light touch for its OST. The OP and ED theme songs possesses a light voice tone that is exactly fitting for this series.
Honestly, this is one of those shows that can almost make anyone feel relaxed after a stressful day. I mean, even if you plan to watch it on a random occasion, it will still induce you with its feels and heals. Amanchu’s story may not always be so appealing or complex. However, each episode has a life of its own that is valuable. The characters are represented quite well that comes together to share their love of diving, school life, and the joys of living. It’s just like the tagline, “fun for all, all for fun”. And you’ll get a lot of that.
Can you make something interesting about the mundane aspects of life? This series tries to be relaxing and soothing which is typical for any anime that follows the Iyashikei format. There is no actual progression in this show making it a genuine timewaster. If you’re the type to enjoy a common prosaic structure, then this may be the show for you.
The starting point of this show is very banal, here we follow the journey of Ooki Futaba (aka Teko) moving to a coastal location in Japan presumably due to her parents being transferred or something. It is known that she has moved from the busy
city life and has to immediately adapt to her new surroundings. She later meets a peppy and energetic girl in Kohinata Hikari (aka Pikari) who has a burning passion for diving. Teko is encouraged by Pikari to join the high school diving club, only to find out it’s on the brink of closing due to a lack of numbers. There we find out the other members are the Ninomiya twins, Ai and Makoto respectively. Katori is the club advisor for the club who also happens to be the teacher for both Teko and Pikari.
The early episodes were actually interesting due to the basics of diving being explained in a way manageable for newbies. Concepts such as pressure increasing along with depth is relatively easy for anyone with common physics knowledge. The appropriate use of wet-suits and dry-suits being determined by the water temperature is just another example. It looked promising until we find out that Teko can’t even swim for sh*t once she gets into the training pool in episode 5-6. This is just deplorable writing, as it doesn’t make any sense for a non-swimmer in equipment to just plunge into the water. My anticipation for her to dive turned into dread when she needed swimming courses to participate. This is the last time we will see Teko diving for a while, which makes the rest of the show an everyday slice of life focusing on minor philosophical themes such as preservation of memories.
Teko being the main character at first looked like another dull and simple-minded teenager but after moving locations it is hinted she grew more despondent, considering she had far less contact with her middle school friends. There was even a time where she mentioned she had a personal ‘void’ before starting middle school and that it was her old friends that enclosed the hole. Teko is an individual who resets mentally every time things don’t go in her direction. I guarantee you once she moves on to the next stage of her life (into higher education) she will be more dejected than usual, hence she is very flawed as it is inevitable the same process will occur periodically. This time it being with Pikari, who she has formed a very close and intimate friendship after her recent move.
Teko does have some redeemable factors though, despite being timid at times she is very keen to experience new things with the help of her peers from the diving club. She is not extremely ambitious as she does give up at times probably due to a lack of confidence resulting in her low self-esteem. Despite that she does make solid progress from a fitness standpoint, by making more regular jogs and being able to fulfil the swimming requirement assigned by Katori. This causes no problems for Pikari, who is understanding of her circumstances and is willing to patiently wait until Teko is capable of doing so. Pikari enjoys the prospect of having a diving partner to accompany her which is a testament to the promise they made earlier.
The art style for me is gorgeous, exquisite and really pleasing from an aesthetic standpoint. The female cast who make up the majority are very attractive looking and are a delight to look at, and then you have Makoto being the anomaly who gets some screen time. The character designs are intricate with them being highly detailed which suggests the animators have been quite meticulous with this project. Everything from the scenery backgrounds to the hair of the characters being colourful and dazzling just adds to my own immersion to the series. There are huge references to the Aria series with the Undine outfit being incorporated into the school uniform, as well as other things such as the chubby cats more or less looking the same. The use of puppet faces in the animation is new from the original creator Amano Kozue, which to me adds spice of variety to prevent things from becoming dull due to repeated use.
The sound is very befitting for a SOL with the calm background music gradually setting the mood for the show. It really creates an atmosphere that would suit a quiet, plain town which is the setting for Amanchu! The music is being performed by Gontiti, a veteran group that haven’t worked on a TV series to date and for me did a fantastic job with their experience. The voice actors have done a spending job performing as their respective characters and they all more or less matched what was expected of their personalities.
Great and heavily detailed art style (damn them girls are stunning and Makoto) ✓
Nice complementary soundtrack ✓
Iyashikei theme ✓
Somewhat average characters that need more fleshing out ✘
Pacing is lethargic (a marathon would be detrimental) ✘
Can be repetitive at times ✘
200+ reaction faces by Episode 2 and over 3500+ Reaction faces towards the final episode. (This includes groups, background characters & teachers.) I excluded previews for the next episodes along with flashbacks. 38 seconds is the longest time a character spent holding a reaction face. The title of most reaction faces and time spent making time is... Hikari, or “Pikari.” With all that nerdy stuff out the way, let’s get to my review.
Perhaps one of the most underrated shows this season, Amanchu is a chill slice of life anime. The story focuses mainly on character Hikari and Futaba’s high school life, and their love
of diving. Hikari the lovely, energetic, frog faced angel has a love, hobby rather of diving. At some point in the beginning of the story Hikari and Teko are introduced. Hikari then initiates a conversation with Futaba at school. It’s their first “real” interaction until Hikari encourages Teko to join the diving club… and well you know the rest.
Narratives, transitions, character introductions, were fine. The settings where certain events took place were great however, when it came to backstories and proper explanations the story falls flat. It took 9 episodes to finally get some information about Futabas’ past. Futaba being the main character, or the character that the story focuses on the most, you would expect the writer to go into more details about her. This simply was not the case for a long duration of the story. The lack of any proper backstories made me feel like important information was missing or that perhaps the writer had been planning to wait until the last moment to drop an important & dramatic scene. It’s like there was always a sense of some sort of build up that never seemed to be released.
The pacing of the story is slow. This is a good thing because it lets viewers absorb little details, and really take in the beauty of the settings that the characters are in. Not only that, because Amanchu has an awful lot of dialogue, this keeps things fresh, and allows viewers to understand the characters current situation better. If I had to say what my biggest concerns with the story were, the lack of any major developments in the plot and the story. The plot… it’s iffy. Sometimes there is a plot for an episode for example the writer was like “The plot for this episode… well I think I’ll have an entire episode focus on Teko and why she can’t delete pictures on her phone.”
Sometimes a majority of the plots for certain episodes came off as uninteresting. Understanding that the manga is roughly 50+ chapters it’s sort of understandable that the story lacks a bigger goal for the characters. I believe that maybe if the was an ultimate goal for the characters, for example, Hikari and Futaba want to become professional divers and win some sort of trophy for their schools’ team. Then I would love to stick around and see the resolution. The plot itself is so simple, that’s why I mentioned earlier that there were no major developments, and honestly it makes the show, feel almost incomplete. All of these, and I want to be nice and say “minor” but all of the problems are what ultimately led me to give the overall story a lower score.
The show is very well animated, good quality and details all around. The opening animation was beautiful although I did have one problem. There is a scene where they’re all on the boat right. They jump off the boat wearing the diving gear and then the next scene they’re all in bathing suits. After that, towards the ending of the song, Hikari and Futaba are shown wearing their diving gear again. I’m sitting down thinking to myself “bruh, is this a joke?” I don’t know if this was done intentionally or if that was planned out. Either way that scene sort of ruins the moment a little. I mean I understand if they were doing it for fan-service bu- Oh! look at me, I’m rambling.
I honestly love the anime’s character designs and background settings. The character designs, the school uniforms were certainly unique. One of my personal favorite things in school anime is seeing unique uniforms. This ranges from colors, designs, etc. I like that with the girls school uniform shows the shape and figures of their bodies. It leaves a lot to the imagination so to speak. The appearances of the ladies were pretty interesting. To me, the girls look like re-mastered 90’s anime girls. The eyes and hairstyle kind of make me think this way. The backgrounds like the beach, the ocean, clouds and pools. All of the background settings were amazing. Albeit they weren’t as great as I thought they would be.
I’ll be honest, in time I would love to see a more romantic relationship between Pikari and Teko develop. However, at the moment I am fine with them simply being best friends. I mean Hikari is so energetic and Futaba has such a calm personality. I believe that opposites who attract make better partners.The two are obviously my most favorite characters in the series because they have the most welcoming personalities. It’s fun to see them interact with their classmates and teachers. It makes me feel like I’m involved in some way. A majority of the characters with the series are inherently funny, friendly and likeable. However, I don’t think they are on the same level as Pik & Tek. Character development in Amanchu isn’t the shows strongest point. Although character growth does happen and personal changes through the story do occur. It does in fact take some time for the characters to realize their changes and accept it. It’s almost like a moral of the story feeling. I personally enjoyed seeing characters absorb new knowledge and make changes to their lives. The characters were great and I have very little complaints about any of them.
The opening song was pretty good, it was catchy sweet and mellow. The ending song was nothing special, it was catchy but not as special. I think that catchy songs tend to work better with slow-paced slice of life anime.. the voice actors were pretty good. I think that the female cast did an amazing job bringing their characters to life. I would’ve liked to have heard less “Gyops” and “Upyo’s” however; I did think it was kind of cute. The background songs were light-hearted, well composed, and did an excellent job setting the mood for certain exchange of dialogue.
Enjoyment/Overall score 8/10
As I may have mentioned earlier, the show is pretty chill. It’s full of dialogue which makes for very interesting conversations between characters. The art style, maybe the atmosphere makes it even more of a relaxing title. Now what do I mean when I say relaxing? To put it simply, Amanchu is a title that if you need to take a break from watching a bunch of action and fantasy titles. You could put it on and admire the beauty & quality that it has to offer. The only downside is that it has an awful lot of dialogue so if you’re transitioning from a title with lots of action and violence then you may want to skip this title. Now, when it came to my enjoyment with the show I’d have to say that the characters are what made this show fun. Overall I enjoyed the title very much and would probably recommend it to anyone who likes to take things slow.
Iyashikei is a sub-genre of slice of life that I've started being aware of after reading the critically acclaimed manga series named "Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou", one that I still love and consider not only one of the best additions into the respective sub-genre, but of the slice of life genre itself in general. A great female character, a really interesting take on the future landscape of Japan and AIs, episodic stories that are no less than charming and a very powerful ending make it one of the most fascinating experiences that come to mind when it comes to this industry. Following that, I had the
pleasure of coming across the all famous Aria, which is one that I really liked, taking place on planet Aqua (Mars after colonization and inhabitation), with a main character from Manhome (former Earth), that travels to Neo Venezia in order to become a successful Undine, making new encounters and experiencing happiness all over. Getting progressively better while focusing on both characters and worldbuilding in the first and second entries and finally unleashing all of its emotional prowess in the Origination, the whole franchise was nothing less than a ride. Home to powerful themes, both of the aforementioned series are optimistic in nature, and are very enjoyable at that. However, what I would consider their stupid little sister comes in. That stupid little sister definitely is not as good as the big ones, as implied, but definitely managed to be as fun, and of course, has a lot of room to improve. And maybe become better than the other two.
Amanchu! is yet another anime project adapted from the manga of the same name, written by Amano Kozue of Aria fame, and directed by Satou Junichi, the master of the sub-genre. The latter has directed many works that I consider some of the best, including Princess Tutu and Tamayura, another underrated iyashikei gem. It takes place in a rural area very close to the sea somewhere in Japan and is about a girl named Ooki Futaba aka Teko, that came to live there from a city. A girl full of worries and anxieties, Teko does not know what to do and where the path named "life" will lead here. That's until she meets Kohinata Hikari aka Pikari, a very energetic, fired up and all gung-ho girl, who happens to be a scuba diving enthusiast, maniac even. The latter drags the former around and into the world of scuba diving. Teko experiences many new things that take a toll on her coming of age, meets new people including her homeroom teacher, an indecisive upperclassman named Ninomiya Ai, and her quiet brother, Ninomiya Makoto. All of them together dive into the sea of happiness and fun and learn how important these two things are. After all, this is exactly what this anime series is about.
As previously implied, the plot itself is very simple. In fact, there is no definite plot to speak of, as the series take the episodic approach and is about random happenings in the characters' lives, as well as others that emphasize Teko's development mostly. On another hand, Amanchu takes advantage of its simplicity and gives it yet another touch, that makes it even more fun than what normal iyashikei seems to me. That touch can be found in several scenes, such as the one in which Pikari chases after the teacher, as well as the easily recognisable yet sometimes overused chibi faces that are quite enjoyable to bestow. Another positive point is that, despite it being a series that takes a really optimistic point of view in life, it does not completely discard the sadness, worries, and implications that a person might experience in life, something that can be seen through Teko's face. Her development is significant and another really important plot point that reinforces the amount of good things Amanchu has, also coming into perfect contrast with Pikari, who might get lost sometimes, but indeed does think positively all the time.
Nevertheless, as people say, there always is the positive and the negative side of things. To say the truth, more scuba diving would be plausible. Sure, the basics were introduced eloquently at the start, sure, Teko did not know how to swim and learnt how to later on, but I was not able to fully take a taste of this beautiful world of scuba diving. This is not as much a negative, as a personal complaint of mine, but I felt like expressing it. Now to truly start with them, Amanchu sometimes might seem to stick its arse into repeating the same messages over and over. In different ways most of the times, but the fact that it does repeat them still is there and is one that can not be ejected. Unfortunately, a second shortcoming is the pacing which sometimes strikes me off as inconsistent. The transition between the scenes might seem random in some cases as well. However, as repeatedly indicated throughout its length, Amanchu has this message of positive perspective, which might make us look at negative things as a double-edged sword. The way it portrays everyday things such as "fun" and "entertainment" is subject to savour, something that can not make me fully well dislike it. Even as I am writing this review, specific scenes come to mind, ones that made me happy helped me full well realize that yup, having fun is very important for a person, especially when he or her is undergoing peer pressure.
In addition to the simple yet charming plot, Amanchu hits home with a vibrant cast of characters, that all are different yet share some of their worries. From Teko to Pikari to the teacher to Pikari's grandma, all of them seem to worry about life, because they are humans. What I truly loved about the section though, is that every single character seems to be true to themselves. What is meant by that is Pikari will always be the energetic person, Teko will always be the worrywart, Onee-chan will always hit Outoto-kun and Outoto-kun will consistently worry about her. How Amanchu handles archetypes, whilst managing to be consistently pleasant, is something I could appreciate to the fullest. Letting alone that those characters are always involved in wacky and unforgettable scenes, I was finding myself caring about them, and especially Teko, whom the spotlight will shine onto for a seperate percentage of this review.
Teko is your everyday shy high school girl who does not stand out and does not have many friends. Her inside is full of worries and questions, about what to long for. Her encounters truly make her a character of wonder. This sense of empirism that always is present in the series manages to flesh her out exceptionally well. From her grade school days to her high school ones, the concept of changing is always evident when it comes to her character. She herself realised that she is the one that does not look at things positively enough, she is the one that realised that she can not appreciate things to the fullest, and finally she is the one that understood that both her past and present meetings are ones that belong to her and ones that only her can treasure. In the end, she had a lot of fun and so did I. Her coming of age, which will continue till the end of the whole story I presume, is something that is a sight to not miss. It is simple, it is fun, coupled off by the wacky adventures of our whole cast of course, it is easy to relate to, and it is something that does not try to be more than it is. What a great character Teko is. She also is super cute, with her chibi face and stuff. Her relationship with Pikari is a really enjoyable aspect of Amanchu, them being polar opposites and fitting the deal ideally.
To get on with the other characters, Pikari, Ai, Makoto and Sensei and her worries about the weather which should be mentioned, all get seperate episodes throughout the series' length, but are characters that I feel like need more introduction, after me loving Teko all that much. Even if they do not get developed more, I would not mind it, that being exactly one of the main characteristics of iyashikei itself, but I would definitely count it as a positive. The chibi faces each and every of our significant characters have are mottos and work as additions to their character and, most of the times, are really cute. Advisor Cha/Aria deserves a special mention because he is the best character in the whole series after Teko. Teko is a masterpiece herself.
The art section is, for the lack of a better term, beautiful. The character designs are highly detailed and aesthetically spot-on, the landscape and sceneries are intricate and a really pleasant sight, the character designs are charming, especially the girl's bodies and uniforms which are given enough attention to detail, and the expressions are no less than wondrous. The chibi faces are sometimes annoying, other times work perfectly, but the characters' facial expressions when things get emotional is when shit hits the fan. The animation, as expected of JC Staff and its animators, is smooth, with some exceptions of lower budget that could as well be passed by unnoticed.
The soundtrack is a really strong counterpart of Amanchu, the exact same going for its predecessor, Aria. The music pieces create an atmosphere of wonder that fits the setting, with its calm and healing songs for the longest run, and ones that share a more playful tone when it comes to the wackier scenes. The opening piece is sung by Maaya Sakamoto, voice actor of Shinobu from the Monogatari Series. With her calm and soothing voice, and the lyrics that befit the series quite well, the song itself made me look forward to watching the content that followed it even more. The ending song is quite cute, though one that I did not give that much attention to.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed Amanchu, in a way that it almost made me forget about all of its shortcomings. To be taken in such a fun ride of both style and substance, one that is definitely not something that deep, but really relatable was my pleasure. I feel like I am way too biased, especially towards Teko and all the things surrounding her, but I do not care as much about it, because the series managed to take me on a trip, a small one, of conviviality.
To conclude, Amanchu brings all mundane aspects of life together and, along with the interesting setting and its vibrant cast of characters, manages to become one of the most fun anime journeys that come to mind. It has its fair share of shortcomings, I am aware of that, but as long as I was left satisfied, I am content with it. The final episode was easily the best one out of the bunch, but I work by the phrase "The journey always is more important than the destination" and I can assure you, this particular one is worth it. Anime of the Season.