「光といけないコト」 (Hikari to Ikenai Koto)
“The Story of Doing Something Bad with Hikari”
Hardcore parkour anime Amanchu!
This is about as action-packed as Amachu! is every going to get.
Perhaps that may be disappointing to some viewers, but of course was never going to be a very intense kind of sports anime, about power-walking or otherwise. Besides we already have a power-walking anime (though that hardly needs to be said, since there is by now anime about absolutely anything) and hardcore fans of the prestigious foot-locomotion genre no doubt know where to get their fix. Amanchu!, is sadly for all of us, probably not it. Instead the emphasis is, as one may have expected from sensei’s speech last week, on fun, more specifically the ability to seek fun in all the little corners of life. Sure, racing your teacher to school is a tad silly, and something I’d never have dared to do back in my school days (possessed as I was with a desire to actually graduate), but it served a neat contrast to Teko, who could hardly get out of bed, let alone show enthusiasm for the commute. Her moped license was simply a matter of pragmatism, if you recall.
Interestingly, the race that served as the first half of this episode was actually the second chapter of Amanchu!, and actually took place before the first day of school. Last week I noted that Amanchu! was mixing things up slightly, and it was this scene (or rather, the lack of) that was on my mind. I’m still fairly sure that the purpose was to shift some of the focus onto Futaba, and am fine with the change as I did last episode, so let me find something else to praise this week. Y’know when Hikari finds out that Katori-sensei (Itou Shizuka) is a fellow diving enthusiast? Well, in the manga, this was before Hikari introduced herself in class as having SCUBA diving as a hobby, so there was actually surprise on both sides, as opposed to just Hikari being at a disadvantage. More approval points from me here; perhaps it’s a given, but when there are adaptation changes it’s always good that they also have causal consistency. The team’s paying attention, hurrah! Also, Katori-sensei wears a different outfit than she did on the first day—that’s attention to detail! That’s two thumbs up.
Not taking a dive yet, in more ways than one
Of course, Amanchu! is not actually about sports-walking, but sports-diving, and more of the technical details do come out in the second half, even though they’re still just floating about for pretty shots instead of actually sports-ing. I think it just goes to show that Amanchu! is not your typical sports anime, just as diving is not your typical sport.
A lot of sports anime is hot-blooded shounen fare, but of course Amanchu! is going to need to have blood of any significant temperature without switching genres and also catching malaria. Then again, even baseball can create drama, and baseball is five-minutes of stretches followed by three hours of lawn appreciation (this coming from a man from a country that plays cricket). Baseball is competitive, though, and from competition there is drama, or at least enough testosterone that someone will eventually do something stupid enough to be called drama. Is there competition in diving? I don’t know much about it, I admit, but I don’t really see it. Sure, there’s likely some sort of competitive event surrounding it somewhere, sometime (again, testosterone) but as far as I’m concerned the record for holding one’s breath underwater is probably as thrilling to watch as the record for ‘Wall with Least Damp Paint’. Which means both will be in the Guinness Book, which somehow still exists to record human inanity despite being obsoleted by Youtube.
‘Get in the water, Shinji.’
No, there’s little testosterone anywhere to be found anywhere in Amanchu!, as you can probably tell. It’s not really about competition, or at least not competition between people. Diving, it seems, is about challenging the sea, about personal benchmarks, about finding inner strength. And the accomplishment comes not from throwing down your rival, breaking his will, and taking the spoils, but about the sense of achievement from being able to successfully plunge into the depths and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. Which is perhaps why Amanchu isn’t in a big hurry to do the diving just yet; the process counts too, and there’s plenty of character development to be done along the way. If gentle, personal journeys sound good to you, then while Amanchu! may be a very atypical sports anime, it is definitely for you.