「秘めた思いのコト／まだまだ知らないコト」 (Hime ta Omoi no koto/ Madamada Shiranai koto)
“The Story of the Feelings Yet Hidden / The Story of Things Yet Unknown”
Another two-parter this week, and where last episode was mostly about Katori-sensei, this episode broadly canvases the rest of the of major cast. Again, these are mainly simple short stories without much greater context, meant to let us learn something new about these characters, to give them nuance beyond our first impressions. And so that’s the overarching theme of the episode, that there are multiple facets to every personality, and we should be open to being surprised.
The Story of the Feelings Yet Hidden
First up, the twins. Having had a storied career as a professional younger brother, I tend to empathise more with the long-suffering Makoto more. I can totally relate to developing a danger-sense that warns of the approach of an older sibling. They are coming. Drums in the deep. We cannot get out. Staying out of the way is a completely valid survival tactic and, sometimes, the only survival tactic, especially for siblings prone to, er… physical displays of affection. In fiction twins are often portrayed as having an empathetic link between each other, but this is the first time I’ve seen that sixth-sense used only to avoid their twin. That’s both more realistic and more pragmatic than that ‘sense their pain’ stuff. Anticipate that personal pain first.
The point of this story, though, was that Onee-chan-senpai is more than just an abusive sister. Often does anime try to soften their violent tomboys, to make them more feminine (because yada yada gender roles), and having Ai find love (pun!) would be a cliched way to do it. I’m glad that Amanchu! doesn’t go so far, because that wouldn’t actually have been very interesting. Instead of fundamentally pivoting Ai’s character, we simply get another side of her, discovering one of the things that makes her tick. We’re a slice-of-life, not a romantic comedy.
The Story of Things Yet Unknown
By the same token, Teko is also a person of many facets, though considering she’s been the focal character for some time she’d better be. And while she’s not exactly complex, she is at least layered. The first impression of Teko, without the benefit of internal monologue, is that she’s a cool beauty, but in reality she’s… yeah. But she’s also more than just a frail ingénue as well. Considering how much the diving club has been forcing her to exercise, one really expects her to have better game.
And so the interesting thing about Teko, that she hates to lose. While in others this might manifest as a competitive drive, Teko instead prefers to pre-emptively give up. It’s not an uncommon thing, for people to embrace mediocrity to insulate oneself from real failure. Happily, Amanchu! is not the kind of show to wallow in what a sad human specimen Teko is, but be optimistic about her breaking out of her rut. All she needed was warm encouragement! Hurrah for feel-good stories! More importantly, I think, is that it also gives a bit more dimension to Pikari as well. The way she mothers Teko shows in her a level of compassion beyond a spastic muppet. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH BEING A MUPPET. You guys are all racist.
Back to a one-part episode next week, so perhaps we’re returning to Teko’s quest to get into the ocean, which as close to an overarching plot as Amanchu! gets. While I’ll welcome that, I also enjoyed these bits of character development that we’ve been getting. In slice-of-life anime I look for strong characters above all else. I really want to feel like I know these people, as surrogate friends of my very own, before the end, and Amanchu! has done a good job of that so far. No doubt it’ll keep building on that even as it goes back to its sporty diving thing. Amanchu! is nothing if not steady. And that’s a good thing.