OP: 「Million Clouds」 by 河野伸 (Sakamoto Maaya)
「少女と海のコト」 (Shoujo to Umi no Koto)
“The Story of the Girl and the Ocean”
I can’t find any subs for the last of ARIA right now, so let’s go for another Amano Kozue manga adaptation instead: Amanchu!. Now, I noted in the preview for the series that Amanchu! is definitely not ARIA, and I stand by that. It should have been evident immediately in this pilot when the OP didn’t melt into the episode as it does in ARIA, and so even though the two series share the same director there’s definitely a conscious decision being made here to distinguish Amanchu! from its predecessor. I think the most obvious sign, though, that Amanchu! is not a earthbound clone of ARIA is the exclamation mark in its title. ARIA is not really an ‘exclamation mark’ sort of series, while Amanchu! may prove itself worthy of its punctuation yet.
I imagine that, despite my insistence otherwise I will probably be comparing Amanchu! to ARIA! quite a lot anyway. Partially it’s because you should do what I say, not what I do, but also because while Amanchu! may not be a genetic copy of ARIA it is at least a distant cousin. Stylistically, one can easily spot the the same love of unique, super-deformed faces for every character. Thematically, it’s similarly easy to spot that Amanchu!, like ARIA, talks of natural wonder and of zest for life. Ultimately, though, every Amano Kozue work is about only one thing, and that is cats. Amano’s on true love, blob-shaped cats. Sometimes, I wonder whether the soul-healing properties attributed to Amano-sensei’s manga and subsequent anime are the product of any particular magic, or whether it’s just because everybody likes cats.
The most notable difference between Amanchu! and ARIA, though, is something I think is made clearest in some adaptation decisions for this pilot, so I should probably talk about both at once. Overall, Amanchu! looks to be a fairly faithful adaptation of the manga right down to the art style, as I’ve noted, but manga readers may notice that this episode’s proceedings do not match source exactly. I personally don’t have a problem with this, partially because as far as I’m concerned director Satou Junichi can do no wrong, but mostly because I can see why it was done. You see, in the manga, the first few chapters had more focus on Kohinata ‘Pikari’ Hikari (Suzuki Eri), but that was scaled back somewhat for this episode. I’m glad they did this, because it shows that our good director and his team gets it. While Pikari does tend to attract more attraction, she’s not the protagonist; it’s, really co-star Ooki ‘Teko’ Futaba (Kayano Ai). And of course she’s the protagonist; in class she’s seated second from the back, next to the windows, which is traditionally reserved for protagonists everywhere. Familiar dynamic? Perhaps. Point is, though, that much of Amanchu! is from Futaba’s point of view, and she’s really the inverse of ARIA‘s own protagonist, which changes some of the dynamics. Amanchu! is in large part the story of Futaba’s growth from the insecure introvert she is today.
Amanchu! won’t be getting into it’s other big thing—SCUBA diving—with any real depth (pun!) until next week, so be sure to at least stick around for that as well, if this week interested you in any way. That’s right, Amanchu! is a sports anime as well! I personally knew very little about diving before Amanchu!, so this angle, which Amanchu! is surprisingly technical about, was rather interesting for me, and could be for you as well. Healing, and educational. Amanchu! really can’t go wrong.
As is our custom now, Random Curiosity won’t be settling on which shows its writers will be picking up full time until the waters have been tested a few weeks into the season. If you have any particular views about coverage of Amanchu!, please be sure to let us know in the comments.
ED: 「ふたり少女」 (Futari Shoujo) by てこぴかり: 茅野愛衣, 鈴木絵理 (Tekopikari: Kayano Ai, Suzuki Eri)