Oh, my dear Amanchu!, what happened to you? I don't remember you being so messy. I don't remember you being so unrelatable. And I certainly don't remember you being so mediocre.
Amanchu! Advance is really a textbook example of how sequels should not be made.
Before we start, it is important to express what does the original Amanchu! mean to me. I've always been a fan of Slice of Life. However, it is always very hard to find a SoL with good characters, healing atmosphere and, most importantly, enough entertainment value. Amanchu! had all of those and to this day I consider it to be the third
best anime of this genre I've seen. So, you can guess that I was really looking forward to it's second season. And it hurst me to say that it left me disappointed.
The daily stories of Amanchu! were one of the things that made the original series so good. If they were dramatic, comedic or both, they always managed to be impactful and brought a message with themselves. In which we get to the first huge problem of Amanchu! Advance. That it refrains from doing things the same way as before. The first hit comes very early on, with an episode about dreaming and flying on a broom. Oh no, Amanchu!, ghost stories are really not the way to go. Sadly, the show doesn't think so and decides to continue. Which is a decision that comes back to haunt it immedieatly. The ghost stories are not very interesting, drag on for a huge ammount of time and the fact that everything is a dream also makes them feel less touching, meaningful and nowhere near as impactful as before. In comparison to the daily stories it presents at the start, they are a huge dropout, both quality and entertainment wise.
This is not where things end however. The character department is also a place the creators wanted to add in. And so we are presented to a couple of more and less important newcomers to go along our original core five. First of them is Kokoro-chan, a tsundere-ish kid trap... *sigh* Do I need to say more? ;Actually, let's keep this un-biased; Kokoro is a beautiful case of an character who gets a lot of screen time yet ads absolutely nothing to the show. His only role, despite appearing in most of the episodes, is fall in love with Pikari and act like a kid. What I always liked about the characters of Amanchu! is that they all had their purpose. They were helping Teko with her diving training or they had their own little moments here and there. If Kokoro hasn't been in the show, literally nothing would've changed. Hell, he doesn't even bother telling others that he's a boy, even though he knows that everyone thinks of him as a girl. If you really had to add a childish character, as if Pikari herself wasn't childish enough, you really could've done a better job. Like with the other new character Kodama, Pikari's little sister. She has layers and overall felt like she brought a bit of common sense to the group, even though she appeared very little sadly. If she got all the screen time the show wasted on Kokoro, maybe I would't be writing this review.
Another area I didn't expect would happen is the yuri-bait feeling. As far as I remember, the first season didn't have any moments that would bait you into shipping characters. Because of that, it remains a huge mystery to me why do characters suddenly battle for Pikari's heart now. Why not leave them just friends? Do the people behind this seriously believe that the cringe-worthy dialogues about who loves Pikari more add anything to the show? Well, they technically could. But not when you know that nothing is ever going to happen. You know that nobody's going to ever express their feeling, you know that they'll stay just friends in the end. Then why all this battling for Pikari's heart? I just don't get it. The yuri-bait cliche which arose in the last couple of years is really starting to annoy me. And that is coming from a guy who normally very much loves yuri.
It's also important to talk about the satisfaction factor this series brings. Because of all the things mentioned above, the original Amanchu! is one of the most satisfactory shows I've had the pleasure of seeing. At the end of every single episode I had a wide smile on my face and was genuinely happy. With Advance, not so much. There are a couple of episodes that focus of everyday's life, and these are all very good. However, like I said, the ghost episodes in particular feel very weird and not like something you can relate to anymore. Their purpose in general is very questionable, as I don't think there is any particular reason they were thought up in the first place. That as a whole brings the satisfaction factor of the show much lower that I wanted it to be.
The animation and sound both stayed very much the same as in the first season. Character drawings are still very good, though I think they used chibi cheap faces way too much this time around. Background are still good, everything looks clean and sometimes it has very nice shots. I could very well be lying right now but I think the OST stayed almost the same as in the first series. Which is not a problem, because it is still generally very good and atmosphere fitting. Other than that, everything good.
Believe me when I say that I have nothing against adding or changing things for the greater good. I really don't. However, why did the creators decided to add elements that were destined to worsen the show lies beyond me. It hurst me to say, but Amanchu! Advance is a failure of a sequel. It's the same show deep in heart, but the things around changed so much you have to dig way deeper than before to find it's real value. And that's a shame, especially for a small-audience show like Amanchu!.
Some people count sheep, I count Amanchu's moe faces. Without a doubt, the latter is more efficient when it comes to falling asleep, and when I do, I sleep like a baby. No, I do not mean that I wake up every 2 hours, cry, shit myself and suck titties. I mean I sleep without worries, wearing some sort of moe face myself, and it's great.
This second season is much like the first one in terms of story. Slice of life silliness, school time and scuba diving. Everything there needs to be for the series to work. No one really cares what the story
is so let's focus on things that make this show good.
Our characters are the epitome of kindness and happiness, but just like last time: never too much so. If there was any problems with Aria, it was how overly sweet it could be at times, making it almost nauseating to watch over and over again. The author has fixed this with Amanchu, making the whole cast well-balanced.
The art is amazing. According to anonymous 4chan source, the series has had over 1200 different moe faces by far. The nature's backdrop alone is soothing to watch, and whenever there is animated water present, I can almost smell the fresh air. It's hard to believe that J.C. Staff can create something like this.
The sounds are the best part of this show. I have seen the first season something like 6 times, 4 times practically eyes closed. You don't really need to even watch it to see it. The music is beyond calming and voice acting is almost ASMR. If there ever was an anime that needed to be watched while wearing headphones, it is this one right here.
When it comes to enjoyment, Amanchu has given me a lot. Sometimes I put it to play in the evening before I go to bed, and it helps me to relax and fall asleep. It's rare for any series to do this to me. Non Non Biryori and Nichijou are practically the only others that give me this. Amanchu is and probably will always be my favorite healing anime.
In the summer of 2016, J.C.Staff released an anime based on a manga by the creator of Aria. This element alone was enough to get some people’s eyes to light up, but the anime also featured diving, strong friendship/possible yuri subtext, cute animals, and memorable verbal tics. This anime went by the name of Amanchu!, and was a moderate success with fans of slice of life anime, as well as those who either were familiar with or were fascinated by knowing more about the sport of diving.
Two years later, a second season has come onto the scene. While every fan seemed to initially welcome
it with open arms, this season has taken some directions that has the fanbase split.
For one thing, there’s the matter of the show completely abandoning the diving aspect of its first season for several episodes. This feels a lot more like a normal “slice of life”, as we watch the characters do things like set up for the school festival and celebrate Teko’s birthday. This may be disappointing to those who enjoyed the diving focus in the first season, though it’s not completely abandoned and has a few moments in the spotlight of the show.
There’s also the introduction of what at first appear to be a one-off side character - an older, dark-skinned child named Kokoro, who strives to “become a man” despite their feminine appearance. (I won’t spoil their true gender identity.) However, this side character continues to pop up in the series, and shows a mild romantic interest in Teko. Some have called this character a “yuri killer” and a flaw in the series.
The third (and final) negative point against Amanchu! Advance compared to the original is the introduction of a three-episode arc that seems like an odd shift in tone from the rest of the series. This arc focuses on the supernatural, introduces a new character, and gives them a backstory associated with a minor character we haven’t spent much time with before. The first episode of this arc was moderately interesting...then it dragged on for two more episodes, for the most part Teko and Pikari-less. It honestly felt like the Endless Eight, and so did the fan reaction in the forums/comments I saw. (“Is the arc over this episode?” “Yes.” “Oh, thank god.”) The original author has a thing for supernatural elements, since they also made an appearance in Aria, but it worked much better there than in this more down-to-earth series. This arc also would have made more sense as OVAs then smack dab in the middle of the second season.
So, since I’ve spent all this time complaining about Amanchu! Advance, why have I still given it a 6/10 score? (Some might consider that a bad score. I don’t. There’s ten points on the system for a reason.) Well, Teko and Pikari are still cute and perfect for each other, even if the show tries to stomp on my dreams by introducing a “rival.” They have some great scenes together much like the original. The more slice of life esque episodes have some humorous moments. Our cute mascots are still present and charming. Ai even seemed to abuse her brother less this season...or perhaps she just wasn’t around as much.
Overall, I would recommend Amanchu! Advance to anyone who enjoyed the characters enough in the first season that they would want to spend more time with them rather they’re diving or not. If you got into the first season for the diving aspect, you might not have a pleasant experience with this season.
I’m just gonna be straight: if you love the first season, there’s no reason to not follow the 2nd season…right? Unfortunately, this new season is an awful disappointment and a big step down from what was already founded of the previous season 2 years back.
Anybody who is a fan of Amanchu! and/or Amano Kozue’s works will know that she is the one who created the Aria series, one that stresses on the light-hearted SoL features that we have come to know and love, and the same thing is brought forward to the manga adaptation of Amanchu!.
The pivotal point is where the first season ended with
the first 20 or so chapters adapted into what as considered as an impressive feat in its time, and the second season attempted some ideals that quite frankly, don’t one mesh quite as well as what was already done with the all-new supernatural settings (the story of Peter Pan, the school’s ghost arc) and stuff that’s NOT about scuba-diving.
Blame the anime adaptation all you want, but Amano-sensei has her faults too, because when you feel the main plot device of your series is getting stale, and you try injecting some new things that just don’t resonate with your viewers, you know the feeling that you have lost some dedicated fans when we crave for more of the plot device that keeps us entertained and showcases what the series is all about.
At first, while I realized that the original team for Season 1 is back to reprise their roles (albeit with a new director), I immediately thought that it was the director’s fault for not choosing to adapt the manga chapter stories evenly, because for Season 1 it was ¾ scuba-diving and the rest SoL, but this season went the other rout and gave us less former and more latter, which mind you by the way, isn’t bad but kinda lost its footing in the process.
The good stuff:
Pikari, Teko, the Ninomiya siblings and Katori-sensei still live on with their lives, albeit SoL-ish and more of the same, and that’s not bad. The characterization in Amanchu! has never been the strong suit (but it does when it comes to scuba-diving), and I certainly can STILL appreciate it for what it is.
J.C.Staff’s art and animation are also consistent across the board, and made me feel like I’m re-watching more of less the same from the foundations of the first season, I’ll give the acclaimed studio that of its professionalism.
The bad stuff:
Aside from the new director (which I’ve heard it’s a 2nd-rate one) whom IMO has no idea how to pitch this new season with the weird stories and such that it became a huge turn-off, I never appreciated the story arcs presented here (VERY particularly the Peter Pan arc, the one with supernatural dreams that span times past and future), because it didn’t click well with the main series, and as a manga reader, that is exactly the same sentiments I have here (and it spans 30+ chapters in the manga before getting back into the plot device). The SoL-esque segments also didn’t quite have the same sentiments as Season 1, so it was nothing but dull the entire way through.
The music, particularly the OST, is not as well made as Season 1. While I have a soft spot for musical OSTs, what was featured here are good on their own, but nothing made me want to listen to them again (therefore making them Side-B tracks). I absolutely love the OST in Season 1 because it resonated with the series (as an introduction), but Season 2 made me lose faith in the series in terms of musicality, and just became a copy-paste thing.
In the end, is Amanchu! Advance a good follow-up? Yes and no.
Yes, if you want more of the characters and the art and animation,
No, if you are anime-only and/or have watched Season 1 and wanting to know whether if Season 2 retained much of the quality that’s to be expected of the series.
It’s not bad really, but I wished it could be better. Just a decent follow-up when all is said and done.
In these opening weeks of the Spring 2018 anime season, Steins;Gate 0 starts off as the by far highest rated anime, although Megalo Box is the new heavy hitter if we look past sequels. This and more in the opening edition of The Seasonal Quarterly.