「消せない思い出のコト」 (Kesenai Omoide no Koto)
“The Story of Memories You Can’t Erase”
After a series of shorter stories that canvassed the whole of the main cast, the focus turns back squarely onto Teko and her troubles this week, in particular her unassuming little hobby. Ever since the first episode, we’ve known that Ooki Futaba enjoyed taking photographs and staring wistfully at old ones. The obvious metaphor is these were happy memories, and that Teko clings dearly onto them (hence the title of the episode; nothing cryptic here). What better to represent those halcyon days than Teko’s old school friends—and perhaps they’re old friends of ours as well, for Akane (Hazuki Erino) and Chizuru (Saito Chiwa) may well have been lifted out of straight out of mangaka Amano Kozue’s earlier work, ARIA.
In the manga, the true forms of Teko’s old friends aren’t actually revealed so early (technically the anime hints at them in the very first episode), but when they were there was no doubt that the two were nothing less than Akari and Aika’s soulmates from modern Tokyo. In the anime, they have a different colour scheme and all, but in monochrome manga they were just a few tones shy of being spitting images of their Undine predecessors (I know ARIA is set in the future, you know what I mean). In return, in the anime their voices are instantly recognisable for any ARIA fan; no effort is taken to disguise the fact that they’re exactly the same. And why should they hide it? In a different context, this may seem like a bit of a shameless, self-referential, fourth-wall-breaking cameo, but when discussing the themes of The Story of Memories You Can’t Erase, this feels right. Akane and Chizuru are Teko’s past just as ARIA may be ours, and we may feel the same nostalgia as she does for those good times.
I basically started coverage of Amanchu! saying that I really didn’t want to compare it to ARIA, and then failing to hold to that repeatedly. Part of me knew that, personally, Amanchu! would never, ever hold up to ARIA. ARIA is just too dear to me, and I have too many fond memories of it. I don’t think I can look back on ARIA with anything but rose-tinted glasses, and thus it will most likely be my very favourite slice-of-life anime until the end of time. And so I’m glad that Amanchu! is coming out and telling me that, in a way, that’s okay. Never once does Teko’s friends belittle her attachment to her photographs, or lecture her about letting go of the past, or wax lyrical about the beauty of the ephemeral. Instead, they go out of the way to encourage her. It’s alright to be sentimental, Amanchu! says. The past doesn’t just go away; its still with us, and we should remember it, and we should treasure it. Indeed, I still re-watch ARIA, once in a while. I don’t need to push it completely aside to make way for the present. And meanwhile, Amanchu! is quite enjoyable, too.