Praised by manga readers, and sadly dropped by others, Amanchu! is arguably the best Slice of Life of the summer season 2016. The fact that its setting fit perfectly with the season in which it aired made Amanchu! a very enjoyable viewing experience for the warmest months, as well as a pretty decent contender to be in our summer-themed anime list.
NOTE: This review does NOT contain spoilers
“Is it yuri?” was probably one of the most asked questions before viewers ventured to watch this series, so I will address this topic from the beginning: I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t like yuri and just want to see a story about two friends, you will get that. And if you want to see two girls fall in love in the purest of ways, you will also get that. I’m not one to defend writers beating around the bush when it comes to same-sex relationships in media, but this is anime, and getting a story that could be easily interpreted as two girls falling for each other without it being sexualized is already deserving of a hallellujah.
They say characters can make or break a Slice of Life. In the case of Amanchu!, its two main characters, Pikari and Teko, are the reason why the series works so well. The reason why is Pikari and Teko represent two different ways of looking at life and the world we live in. While Teko is an extremely insecure and anxious person who’s never found her place in life, Pikari is a cheerful adventurous girl who’s amazed at the littlest things of everyday life. What ends up uniting these two friends is scuba diving, but the truth is it could have been anything else. While Teko does learn different things from swimming to how water pressure works, it’s the life lessons she learns from Pikari and the other characters that make her grow as a character.
Teko and Pikari are surrounded by other cast members like the Ninomiya twins and the diving instructor, and while they are not as well-developed (probably a matter of not having enough episodes), they never feel out of place, and compliment the series’ themes perfectly.
In fact, Amanchu! does not even fit the genre ‘Sports’. There are some episodes more focused on the technicality of diving, but that doesn’t stop the viewer from enjoying what’s going on. If anything, it’s easy to have fun while learning new things, and you also get to enjoy some gorgeous water animation. On the topic of animation, J.C. Staff did a wonderful job at showcasing the strengths of the series through the pretty art style and gorgeous color palette. Along with the soft, relaxing OST and Opening, there are moments in which Amanchu! will literally make you feel like you’re floating in water with the characters.
At the end of the day, Teko getting to discover the ocean and the hidden world under the sea is just a metaphor for seeing life from a different perspective. The moral of the story here is that, if you’re able to let go of your insecurities, anxieties and fears, it’ll become clear as day that nature is a wonderful thing and something to be grateful for everyday.