Amanchu! Advance

Amanchu! Advance

It is spring, the season of great changes. Hikari Kohinata is an overwhelmingly cheerful and outgoing 15-year-old girl who has spent all her life in a small and beautiful seaside town on the Izu peninsula. On the first day of high school, she meets Futaba Oki, a slightly introverted girl who has just moved from Tokyo. Before she knows it, Futaba gets dragged along into Hikari’s passion for scuba diving. And from there, Futaba gradually starts to come out of her shell, and learns how to take challenges and dive into the ocean of life.

I’m so pleased we have a second season of Amanchu! on our hands. With its second season being set two years after the first, I wondered if much had changed. But the characters are as cute as ever, the landscapes are breathtaking and we get to see more of the beautiful friendship between Pikari (Hikari) and Teko (Futaba).

One thing appears to be different this time around – where the first season was more about Teko discovering who she was, making friends and coming out of her shell; this time Teko’s aware that her time at school, on the Izu peninsula, and with Pikari, are finite. There’s an elements of her preparing for the time where they will have to separate after finishing school, and that she may have to move back to Tokyo where places to dive won’t be as readily available.

What I enjoy about the artwork of Amanchu! is that everything seems to be adorable without being moe. The characters still have those long, willowy legs and large, round eyes and slightly elongated bodies that make everything just shoujo enough to give everything a slightly romantic feel. And then there’s the two adorable cats, Cha and Ohime, that are one of the many reasons why I love this anime. Amanchu! has always had the ability to switch between the two art styles seamlessly to convey the best emotions. When Pikari gets enthusiastic about something, her eyes and mouth become comically large; and when Teko becomes flustered her eyes become nothing but scribbles and her mouth will always form a small triangle. And it goes without saying that the landscapes surrounding the Izu peninsula, above and below water, are just stunning. There are a few scenes that stick in my mind: Ai, Makoto, Mato and Pikari under the sea blowing air bubbles and Teko being completely mesmerised by the beauty surrounding her. The detailed effects of the water rippling and the 3D shots of fish are very impressive. The second would be when the group attend a summer fireworks display and we see all the rockets going off across the bay – so stunning.

What I think makes this anime is the wonderful and realistic friendship between Teko and Pikari. Teko lacks confidence and, thought she has grown some, is still afraid to try new things. In this season, it’s the prospect of night-diving. Even so, she knows that anything she does with Pikari will be fun and safe for her to do, but sometimes she just can’t take that jump. And Pikari is patient and good-natured and won’t let Teko get too down on herself if she struggles when diving or backs out of doing something new.

Watching their relationship develop and Teko coming to the realisation that she can’t rely on Pikari to guide her through life forever gives her the conviction to face her fears and weaknesses in a way that’s realistic and inspirational. And, of course, Pikari is totally on board with Teko wanting to develop herself more and she thinks it’s all very noble and pure – her enthusiastic (and slightly ditzy) behaviour making her the best supportive friend anyone could ever wish to have.

Amanchu! Advance continues to be a beautifully-drawn, laid-back anime. I want to see how Teko and Pikari’s relationship develops and how this series will end. Will Teko have to go back to Tokyo? Will she want to? Does she feel prepared to leave Pikari? Or will she make the decision to stay in the peninsula? She’s determined to get her advanced divers licence, but will she be able to