「ホントじゃない願いのコト」 (Honto ja Nai Negai no Koto)
“The Story of the False Wish”
If anime has taught me anything that anime has taught me—it being a font of infinite and practical wisdom, as cartoons are—it’s that women teachers are crazy drivers. Okay, that’s just mostly Azumanga Daioh, but I still somehow have this impression that there is something about Japan that compels their female educators to drive very bad cars very recklessly. Something in the water. I know there are those who think very poorly of the rigid gender roles in Japan, and the stereotypes enforced by media like anime, and I sympathise, but while a proper feminist would rail against social pressures on Japanese career women, Passerby just wonders what the deal is with their ladies and ad hoc motorsports. Japan certainly has an affinity with fast cars—hence the Tokyo and the drifting—but the men all follow the Initial D model of stoic, hardcore road kings while women are all lunatics.
Truth in television, I think they call it. *zing*
My real, slightly less sexist point is that Azumanga Daioh had conditioned me, as Pavlov’s Dog, to expect Sensei to drive off a cliff. A very scenic cliff, if you want (look, Amanchu! is pretty!), but I expected a cliff. When no horrific accident materialised and they all arrived at their destination safe and sound I suffered a split second of confusion. It just goes to show the difference between a pure slice-of-life like Amanchu! and a comedy (or a horror). In only a slightly different genre, the road trip would have ended very differently.
Not that this episode was really about driving around, of course. That was mostly to show off the town and some of its landmark locations. That’s important stuff, because Amanchu! does seem to want to inspire us to look around more (and not just to catch Pokemon), but we’re mostly here for the sake of Teko’s character development (as usual). Finally, her deep dark secret is revealed: she’s joining the diving club, but the only swimming style she knows is the brick-stroke. I had actually forgotten this little detail, since swimming ability is mostly taken for granted down here in Australia. Swimming is part of the school curriculum. It’s actually a citizenship requirement. At the ceremony everyone would get the certificate, sing the national anthem, then all jump into the pool. If you drown, you’re instantly deported. And those who don’t are witches.
It’s good to see how far Teko has come since the first episode, or indeed, since she was a sad little thing with no friends. Wanting to do diving but not being able to swim is a huge obstacles, and old Teko would have been dissuaded immediately. Now, she has the determination to soldier on. Having uncommonly supportive friends helps, of course, but it’s still heartwarming that Teko has found within herself a spark of positive energy. The moral of the story seems to be: everything in baby steps.
Indeed, Amanchu! the anime seems to be taking things even slower than the manga. For example, in the manga the ‘Teko is a sad landbound mammal’ problem is addressed and dealt with in the same chapter. I am completely fine with this, as Amanchu! is best enjoyed slow, with a gentle, almost idyllic pacing. And, as always, Satou Junichi-sensei can do no wrong. Continue as you are.