「蒼い世界のコト」 (Aoi Sekai no Koto)
“The Story of the Blue World”
I’m late already, so let me combine my final impression with my episode impressions and jump straight into things. In this episode, Amanchu! finally returns to the sea, and also finally gives Teko, along with the audience, a look below the waves. Being Teko’s driving goal, this has been a long time coming; we’ve been waiting for this moment ever since she joined the diving club. It just goes to show how many little steps lead to the simple wish of, ‘I want to go diving with my friends’. Teko was basically starting from nothing, not even knowing how to swim, so when she finally got there there’s certainly a satisfying sense of achievement. Also, Amanchu!‘s ocean is, as always, very pretty, both above and below (pretty scenery all around, really), so it’s all payoff for this finale.
That said, let us also recognise how slowly Amanchu! has taken things. If we’re just weighing Amanchu! by how much stuff it had gotten done, it is certainly light. In fact, if we compare the anime to how much manga is available for adaptation, Amanchu! has hardly started. This was arguably the opening act, with the diving club finally being able to fulfill its charter of actually diving. But it’s also, I think, the appropriate way to both tell and end this story when in anime form. In fact, it’s a great demonstration of how director Satou Junichi can do no wrong. With only 12 episodes to work with, it’s evident that he has chosen to create an experience that, at least in the short term, feels complete. Thus the main focus Teko’s journey, and each small step made towards getting her underwater. So rather than call it slow, I would call it methodical. Amanchu! is calm, steady, and gentle—an ideal slice-of-life atmosphere. While it speaks of ‘fun’, it obviously is not talking about the high-adrenaline excitement, but more of a mellow whimsy. Compared to median anime fare, it’s a welcome change of pace. The atmosphere also played well to the overarching themes of Amanchu!, which were neatly capped off in this finale. The sea is a metaphor for the world in general, and Amanchu! gently urges its viewers to dive into it. Sure, it says, at first it may seem deep and dark and scary, but if you look closely you’ll find that it’s full of good people who are quite open to helping you along. That, and cool fish. Such is the positivity of Amanchu!; I’m sure if I went diving and found that it was so crowded I’d have no end of snark about all these bloody tourists mucking up our reefs. Good thing I’m not in charge of Amanchu!. Good people! Play nice!
So, yeah, that was Amanchu!. While it does end quite well, with a pleasing sense of closure, there’s no climatic finish here. It’s steady as she goes, the entire way through, which is how it should be. From a blogging perspective, perhaps it was a bit tricky to cover every week, since there’s really nothing very overt to comment on other than perhaps an embarrassing homily and a bag of good feelings. That’s the way of slice-of-life anime though; they’re not really made to inspire commentary, but to be watched by the fire with a mug of something warming as accompaniment, or while enjoying the autumn breeze and a cup of tea. And in that vein, I liked Amanchu! a good deal—as I knew I would, because for me neither Amano-sensei nor Satou-sensei can disappoint. Because I did, though, it does perhaps feel a bit short. I know the industry has changed much since ARIA, and a run as long as that would be excessive to ask in this day and age. I also don’t know if there’s a large appetite for these kind of shows out there. Still, a single cour is a bit of a pity, and since ‘healing’ anime do pop up fairly consistently each season, perhaps Amanchu! can make a reprise. I’m hoping for more. That’s how it is with good anime. You always hope for more.