「わくわくと幸せのコツのコト」 (Wakuwaku to Shiawase no Kotsu no Koto)
“The Story of the Secret to Excitement and Happiness”
In a sense I suppose Amanchu! as ARIA before it, aspires to be the Chicken Soup for the Soul of anime. It is a feel-good show, or at least a feel-better show, filled with little life lessons that, we assume, are supposed to make life in our uncaring and senseless world slightly more bearable. What elevates Amanchu! above an uninspired self-help book you picked up for two dollars on a whim and then promptly forgot under a pile of magazines you keep around only for toilet reading is that Amanchu! isn’t satisfied with just lecturing about better ways to live life. We all know that it’s probably healthier to be optimistic and positive and adventurous and all the buzzwords that let you score in Meaningless Platitude Bingo. But Amanchu! offers an entire thesis in the beauty of its world and the genuine happiness in its characters. ‘Look at all these satisfied customers!’ it says. ‘Our product can work wonders for you too!’.
Change is not scary, it’s exciting
If Teku was still living in the big city instead of the nice rural suburbs where she is now, she would never get away with leaving her moped unattended like that. Look away for a minute, and bam, it’s gone. In the big city, your unsecured moped is someone else’s free moped. That said, I was told by a Japanese man that if you were to leave your bag on a bench in Tokyo in the morning, you can safely go back to pick it up in the evening. Not because the Japanese are an exceptionally moral people, but because they’re too risk adverse to touch an unattended bag.
Er, I didn’t really have a point with that story, I just felt like telling it. I suppose I was trying to say that, for Teko, getting shipped out to the boondocks is not all bad. It does seem to be the moral of the first half of this episode of Amanchu! at any rate. Moving to a new town may take getting some use to, but look at all the neat things there are to discover anew. ARIA did a similar theme (with the difference being that ARIA protagonist Akari moved on her own initiative, whereas Teko wasn’t so keen), but ARIA‘s Neo-Venezia was arguably naturally romantic, being based on the Earth tourist trap from which it takes its name. Amanchu! has to go the extra mile to sell the appeal of the town of Ito, and to their credit it does manage to make it look very pretty indeed, despite being the usual blocks of beige buildings we see all the time in anime. And it’s not just the sweeping vistas—someone obviously worked pretty hard on these reflections. For an anime tied closely to the sea, it’s fairly important that the water looks good. I was anticipating seeing Amanchu! in colour in this anime adaptation, and I’m completely satisfied with what we’ve been getting. Now I really want to see them do more diving.
Never stop breathing
The fundamental reason why Teko is so insecure about moving from Tokyo, amongst other things, is that she is a self-professed coward (seriously, she does uncontrollable meltdown more than Chernobyl and Fukushima combined (too soon?)) which makes her decision to trial the diving club doubly impressive. As some of you noted in the comments last week, deep-water diving carries a lot of unique dangers (humans just aren’t made to survive getting that wet). This is where Amanchu! justifies being referred to as a sports anime, as it goes into the topic with quite a bit of technical detail. I don’t actually know all that much about diving so I can’t really verify if any of this is standard practice, but it sounds sensible enough, so I’m just going to assume that Amanchu! is doing its sports thing properly.
Of course, the sports is also a metaphor (isn’t it always?). One of the fundamental rules of diving offered by Amanchu! (the one that doesn’t involve dislocating your jaw) is ‘don’t stop breathing’, and it applies as much on dry land is it does underwater (breaking news: Passerby supports consumption of oxygen). Teko is nothing but a ball of nervous panic, so it’s the kind of advice she really needs. Just remember to breathe. Contrast Teko with Pikari, who has been a mass of unquenchable energy up until now but is revealed to have more nuance. As noisy as she is, she’s actually has no confidence with expression. But panic is useless—just keep breathing. Hurrah, life lesson! Amanchu! is bound to have more of those. I wouldn’t call it a philosophical show per se, but it does have a philosophy—one that it will continue to share, I’m sure.