The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Amanchu!

Amanchu! Advance: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark, On Living In The Moment

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” –Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Preparations for the culture festival are in full swing. Futaba, Hikari, Ai and Makoto remain at school late into the night hours in order to finish their class exhibits. While Futaba and Hikari go around collecting juice boxes for use with their mural, Ai is creating tropical plants for her class. After Futaba and Hikari drop by with some gourd juice, Ai decides to buy another drink, and steps out to find a vending machine located at the top of a stairwell leading to the roof. She wistfully wishes that she could live in the moment forever, and encounters an enigmatic boy who goes by the name of Peter. He takes Ai on a dream-like journey through the school and mentions that she could stay in the moment forever should she chooses, but Mato intervenes, stating that Peter is a mischievous spirit. As the evening wears on, Ai becomes increasingly tired and dreams about Peter, where she runs into a much younger Mato and learns of Peter’s origins as an infant left behind at a shrine. Longing for companionship, Peter thus fabricated a dream-like world to be with others. Mato and Ai eventually board a large ship in the sky, and the younger Mato expresses a want to be with Peter forever before the dream ends. Shaken, Ai asks Futaba and Hikari to help her return into the dream, where she confronts Peter, declares that she’s in love with him, and subsequently helps him break free of his perceptual isolation in the dream world. Before the two part ways, Ai promises that she will remember Peter, and reawakens. She runs into Mato and explains that Peter’s spirit has left the school. They spot a cat that looks very similar to the cat seen in Ai’s dream, and following it to the local shrine, finds Mamoru Towano there. He explains that the infant was not left behind, and meeting Mato helped him to remember his dreams of old: Mamoru reveals that he is Peter, and it was thanks to Ai that he was able to recall everything. Ai leaves Mato and Mamoru to catch up, dissolving into tears. When she returns to the school with Makoto, she sees the mural that Futaba’s class had been working on, depicting Peter Pan and praises their work.

While the presence of the supernatural in Advance had remained quite ambiguous previously, by the Peter arc, it would seem that such elements have returned in full force: there is a limit to what neural science can account for in the turn of events that lead Ai to encounter the extraordinary. One could suppose that the drowsiness induced by working so late at school, coupled with the magical, uncommon atmosphere of being at school by night, and the amplification of the unknown results in unusual dreams: being in a school, one might say that Ai’s subconsciousness was able to piece together a story about Mato and Mamoru. However, this explanation fails to include how Mamoru knows about Peter and connects Ai’s involvement in his dreams through time and space, and similarly, does not include how Futaba and Hikari can appear with full control over their surroundings to assist Ai. The precise mechanism of how this works is not so easily fitted into accepted knowledge about memories and dreams, so one might simply be forced to accept that at least three of the Infinity Stones would be needed to make things possible and leave it at that. Instead, the focus of this arc, besides giving Ai a bit more time to shine in Advance, also deals predominantly with the dangers of living in the moment. In particular, after Ai wishes that the magical atmosphere of the night prior to the cultural festival would last forever, she is whisked away into a dream world where time has stood still, and one where feelings and emotions remain fixed in an unchanging status quo. The end result is an eternally wistful world where one can only wish for a future; Ai realises that the way to break this cycle is to accept that no moment can last forever, and that it is necessary to take the initiative of taking that step towards the future. In freeing Peter from his dream world, Ai also accepts that one must be mindful of the future. She is thus able to bring Mamoru and Mato together: throughout Advance, Mamoru’s growing feelings for Mato have subtly been hinted at, and it takes a push from Ai, although at her own expense, to advance things. Consequently, Ai’s arc marks the point in Advance where the narrative begins shifting towards moving forwards.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Culture festivals and staying overnight to prepare for them in the Japanese high school setting are a familiar aspect of anime: by nightfall, school grounds take on a completely different feel. Despite the lateness of the hour, everyone is hard at work, bringing life to a place that is otherwise quite deserted by the later hours of a day. In this Advance post, I’ve gone with the typical thirty images, although as a first for my Amanchu! posts, this post will not feature any screenshots that are underwater.

  • Futaba and Hikari have a reduced presence in the third quarter. Here, they are attempting to sell gourd juice; better known as lauki juice, this particular beverage has some health effects, but everyone in Amanchu! seems adverse to its taste. While said to be refreshing, bitter lauki juice has a high conceptration of cucurbitacin compounds. In moderation, these compounds can help with inflammation and cardiovascular problems, but in excess, can be result in gastrointestinal issues.

  • During my time as a middle school student, I helped with the computer science instructor’s school expos. There is indeed a bit of a magic to the school at night; a friend and I joked that we were demoing HyperCard projects, Flash Animations and HTML web pages…at night. I was very fond of helping explain to parents of newcoming students what the joys of the school’s computer courses were, and while I did not do anything of the sort for high school, in University, for my undergraduate and graduate programmes, I ended up helping my supervisor giving evening demonstrations of our lab’s work, and my last-ever full on evening presentation was a formal event celebrating my campus’ fiftieth anniversary.

  • I understand that operating at night can result in unusual phenomenon occurring. When we’re sleep deprived and exhausted, hallucinations can take place because the body begins reducing effort in processing information from external stimuli. Sensory deprivation then causes the mind to fill in the gaps with different images and sounds. Initially, when we entered this arc, I believed that science could be utilised to explain what Ai was experiencing. However, when it becomes clear that this is a shared experience (i.e. Mato is aware of what Ai sees), the scientific approach suddenly became ineffectual.

  • The manifestation known as “Peter” initially brings about questions of whether or not Ai is genuinely interested in remaining at this particular point in time forever. While we’ve seen Futaba and Hikari be challenged with a desire to let the good times roll for as long as possible, Ai had hitherto been given very little characterisation. In Amanchu!, Ai is depicted as hot-blooded, brash and occasionally violet, but also very caring and sensitive whenever romance is concerned. Through the Peter arc, one can then surmise that while Futaba and Hikari are focused on diving, Ai is dealing with her own challenges in romance.

  • Peter takes Ai on a very surreal trip through the school; jarring and quite surreal, the execution brings to mind the likes of the surreal spaces seen in ARIA. While one could enjoy Amanchu!‘s first season without having watched ARIA beforehand, Advance references numerous aspects of ARIA that make them difficult to discount. I would therefore contend that folks wondering about the supernatural, surrealist components of Advance would be well-served well to watch at least the first two seasons of ARIA and become familiarised with the lore here.

  • Mato counts Peter as a ghost, a malevolent force whose existence is to ensnare students. Peter’s supernatural nature becomes more apparent as time wears on: he seemingly phases through a wall at the top of the stairwell. The unusual composition and the merging of the supernatural with reality ties back in with Futaba’s belief that dreams and reality become more difficult to discern in youth; logical from a thematic perspective, I nonetheless found that conventional reasoning is inadequate to explain how things unfold for this story. This is nominally a deal-breaker for some viewers, but I’ve seen my share of stories requiring a willful suspension of disbelief.

  • As such, I will chalk up the experiences in Advance here to be a product of the Living Force and be done with it (hence the page quote). Of course, some individuals have tried to mask their incomprehension of the events in Advance by resorting to pseudoacademic means. One Verso Sciolto believes that the whole point of Ai’s experiences is to put “spirituality in a different perspective”. I’ve had my disagreements with this individual before, and despite their choice of name (“Verso Sciolto” is Italian for “extremely civil and pleasant, unthreatening and welcoming”), I’ve found that this individual is none of these things, being confrontational, vague and aloof. I’m not the only one who believes this is the case: they’ve been banned from a community that I frequent for arguing semantics with others. Such folk are best ignored: very little is to be gained by sparring with folk that believe themselves college professors lecturing first-year students.

  • I was tempted to count exhaustion as being the primary reason for why she begins seeing physical manifestations of Peter on the school grounds by the bonfire pyre, but from a narrative perspective, this also foreshadows Peter’s identity: Mamoru was last seen by the pyre, ensuring it was ready for the events ahead. Here, I note that this is why I don’t always write about the shows I watch immediately after I watch them; being able to reflect on what I’ve seen allows me to notice things I might’ve missed going from first impressions alone.

  • Watching Futaba and Hikari trying to distribute the juice boxes to their classmates so they may use them for an art project reminds me of an episode of the PBS series Arthur, where Binky attempts to make a Popsicle stick bridge by eating Popsicle. He’s informed that the sticks can be brought en mass at crafts stores and wonders if he wasted his time eating all of the Popsicles. In Advance, I do not believe such a shortcut exists for juice boxes, but I do note that going around and giving out juices boxes is clever: students can be refreshed, provided they do not pick up the gourd juice, and then the boxes are repurposed later.

  • While running in the halls, Ai trips and falls: Mamoru makes to catch her but fails. While these mishaps will come to serve a more important purposes later, they also have a more comedic purpose, revealing that Ai and Mio Akiyama of K-On! are not so different. This is the second time that Ai falls, and in retrospect, foreshadows Peter’s identity. While Advance has been more forward with its fanservice, nothing’s actually seen from our perspective, and this is the way I prefer it: ARIA is not known for unnecessary exposure, and it would seem out of place in Amanchu!, as well.

  • Ai later falls asleep again and enters a world that’s very nearly identical to that of her own, with the exception that older buildings are still standing, and that there’s a clear half-foot of water everywhere. This surreal environment is most familiar to ARIA veterans as the acqua alta events that Akari occasionally encounters on Aqua. These are modelled after Venice’s acqua alta (lit. “high water”), caused by the combination of high tides and strong winds. The phenomenon is never explored in ARIA, and in Advance, this is even more unusual.

  • While wandering the deserted, flooded streets, Ai runs into a much younger Mato, who’s also carrying a cat resembling President Hime M. Granzchesta of Himeya Company. Mato provides a bit of background into the phenomenon that viewers and Ai are seeing, clearing up some of the questions that might arise from a story that has become increasingly surreal with time. Advance‘s references to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan have become very overt at this point in time: while it might have been ambiguous when Peter wondered if Ai was interested in living in the moment for all eternity, entering a dream world with Mato and encountering a vast ship in the sky removed any doubts about the allusion.

  • As a child, I was minimally familiar with the story of Peter Pan and Neverland, having read it as a part of my early primary school curriculum. However, it’s been quite some time since I’ve actually read them, and the Disney interpretation is missing thematic elements, so I did some reading to familiarise myself with the original, which is considered a very well-known and famous story in the West. Dealing primarily with themes of innocence and conflicting responsibility.

  • Peter Pan is, in a way, meant to be viewed as a tragedy: to be stuck as a child forever is a curse, as it deprives one of the responsibilities and privileges of growing up. These particular aspects go hand-in-hand: with adulthood comes the increasing duty of contributing to society and family, as well as the freedom to pursue the things one wishes for, as well. Children, while free from many responsibilities, also lack agency.

  • Ai is minimally familiar with Futaba’s profound ability to have lucid dreams. For my part, I have full agency when I dream, although perhaps attesting to my character, I don’t do anything in my dreams that I wouldn’t do in reality. Most of my dreams are set in a largely-believable world not dissimilar to reality, but with minor differences, although there have been cases where I’ve had some incredible experiences through my dreams. With this being said, I wake up, and push the dreams out of my head because I need my mind firmly focused on what’s upcoming. This is why I don’t share my dreams with the world.

  • After reaching the airborne pirate ship, Mato and Ai breach into the ship’s interior, a portal to a Shrine on a hill. A large statue of the Cait Sith can be seen holding a bassinet where an infant sleeps, with tears from his eyes. The water the pours from the ship into the world below is therefore from the infant, who is full of sorrow for having been left behind. In his melancholy, the infant create an entire dream world with the hope of meeting others and tempering the incredible loneliness that he experiences. The sum of these meetings manifests as the young man that we see as Peter.

  • Mato’s strong choice of words to Ai about Peter in the present contradicts her actions within her dreams, where she interacts with Peter as one might treat a lover. Seeing these interactions also leads Ai to understand her own feelings. Peter represents the yearning to live in the present, so Ai seems to be drawn to her world and its people.

  • Ai reacts strongly to being unceremoniously thrown out of her dream, feeling that Peter’s fate is too sad to be left alone. She’s become very invested in what happens with Peter and Mato, but at this point, is still unaware of what it entails. Once all of the pieces come together, this arc might be seen as a bit of a love story for Ai: we recall her propensity for embarrassment where romance is concerned and also note that this love story is about falling in love with the abstract, rather than an individual.

  • Unable to let things slide, Ai recruits Futaba’s help in helping her return. It is technically possible to return to a dream and actively shape its outcomes: it requires a very strong imagination and will to execute. Thus, with Makoto watching over everyone, Futaba and Hikari help Ai out. They fall asleep with her and enter her dream world, being acutely aware that they are in a dream space.

  • Spawning brooms back in, Futaba, Ai and Hikari fly up to the airborne ship, where they keep the doors open long enough for Ai to step through the portal back to the shrine once again. After this point, Futaba and Hikari depart from the dream, leaving Ai to face Peter on her own. Futaba and Hikari return to their classmates and are not seen again until the episode’s ending.

  • While it comes out of the blue, it is no surprise that Ai openly declares that she’s love in Peter. However, rather than promising to stay with him, Ai asks him to take a step forward, waking up and crying out. Breaking this cycle of eternal longing would bring Peter what he desires, Ai reasons; her thoughts here show that Ai, while enjoying the present, is also aware that very little is to be gained by being stuck in one time period. Wanting what she feels is best for Peter is what prompts her to give this suggestion.

  • I do not believe I’ve included a screenshot of the vast airborne ship in whole. This ship is gargantuan and features elements common to pirate ships seen in fiction. I’ve never really been a big fan of pirates of the skull-and-crossbones, peg-leg variety: stories about pirates that interest me are much more modern in nature. The film Captain Phillips is an excellent instance of what I prefer my pirate stories to be, rather than things like Pirates of the Caribbean.

  • Ai’s persistence pays off, and Peter agrees to wake up and see what his future entails. In their final moments together, Ai promises to never forget about Peter. The dream world dissolves, and unlike Mitsuha and Taki in Your Name, Ai’s immediately reminded of Peter by seeing visual cues in her environment. She finds Mato and informs her that Peter’s spirit is unlikely to walk the halls of the school again. While it felt very much a dream, Mato and Ai soon spot a cat looking very much like the cat seen in Ai’s dreams. They follow him to the local shrine.

  • When they reach the shrine, Mato and Ai are disappointed to find Mamoru there. However, he reveals that he is well aware of his experiences within the dreams, recalling vividly his conversations with Mato and Ai. For him, he immediately connects the dots about Ai thanks to a very clear visual cue, and in the process, confirms that he had known Mato through his dreams, as well. From a logical perspective, one might surmise that Ai has developed a crush on Mamoru and the stressors of working late, while forgetting that Futaba and the others were doing something related to Peter Pan, resulted in her dreams, but Mamoru’s recollections immediately causes this bit of speculation to be incorrect.

  • Mamoru fills in the remaining story for Ai and Mato: the baby was recovered, having only been left there for a moment, and subsequently, grew up as everyone else did. I conclude that the supernatural is at play here, taking the form of either an anomaly of the Force or some clever use of Infinity Stones, and leave it at that. A trace of Peter’s smile is visible in Mamoru: Ai is embarrassed beyond all measure that he’d seen her pantsu, but later relents and understanding what is about to happen, excuses herself, allowing Mato and Mamoru to catch up.

  • Mamoru himself had been uncertain that Mato was really the same Mato he’d seen while dreaming, and Mato had long wondered when she closed her mind to miracles and the extraordinary. Mamoru’s long held feelings for Mato, and I’m curious to see if anything will occur now that Mato knows about Mamoru being the same Peter she’d dreamed about. What goes on in the minds of infants is presently not well characterised: babies sleep a great deal to build neural connections and learn to adapt to the different sensory inputs they have while in the world, so Advance‘s take on this might be to say that this is one possibility as to what’s happening in the minds of infants who’ve not yet learnt to communicate through a spoken language yet.

  • Makoto comforts the embarrassed and heartbroken Ai, reminding her that the school festival is a time of happiness and smiles. Having been there previously, I know that heartbreak is no joke, although as Makoto says, Ai’s best bet is to for now, be in the moment and appreciate all of the effort that she and her classmates have put into making the school’s culture festival a success. Of course, this is merely my interpretation of things, and I could be completely off-base here. If there’s another account for Ai’s reactions, I would love to hear it, since quite honestly, I’m a little unsure as to what’s happening.

  • This is the first time I’ve written about Amanchu! where diving is not featured to any capacity. However, I feel that despite the absence of descending into the ocean with specialised gear, this arc represents diving into the mind and the feelings that normally don’t come into the foreground. With the themes in Advance, I would not be surprised if the series ended up hinting at the idea that diving into the ocean is no different than dreaming: immensely magical and sometimes perplexing.

  • Here is the culmination of Futaba, Hikari and the remainder of their class’ efforts: a spectacular Peter Pan mural marking the school’s sixty first culture festival. The next I return to write about Amanchu! Advance will be the season finale in roughly three weeks, unless something occurs in Advance that merits additional posts. Upcoming posts will deal with The Division‘s Urban MDR, The Road To Battlefield V and some special posts ahead of this year’s summer solstice, so until next time, have a good one, and take it easy!

Given what we’ve seen, it is then reasonable to say that the learnings Ai has accrued will apply to Futaba and Hikari. This will in turn form the basis for the main message of Amanchu! Advance; it is likely that as the sequel gears up towards its finale, we will have the introduction of Kotori, who still has yet to formally appear in Advance, as well as Futaba going for her advanced certification and diving with Hikari by night for the first time. The anime has been headed in this direction for quite some time, and in its latest episodes, suggests that there are some phenomenon in this world that cannot be so readily justified by science and logic. In choosing this approach, Amanchu! suggests that the vastness of the world means that some things will be those that we cannot understand. This ties back in with the constant allusions to the idea that it can become difficult to separate dreams and reality, and although this can seemingly immobilise an individual, compelling the to live in the present, advancing and moving ahead become essential so one may explore the unknown and realise possibilities that otherwise remain a dream. This is what Amanchu! Advance has conveyed nine episodes into its run, and with three episodes remaining, it would appear that Advance must return to a more grounded world in order to fully convey messages of moving forwards and embracing the future. It will be interesting to see just how Advance does this, although depending on the direction that Advance chooses, I can also imagine that some members among the audience may not find the journey or outcome agreeable; with this being said, I’m definitely excited to see where things go, and will return to write about whether or not the remaining quarter did a satisfactory job with its execution.

Amanchu! Advance: Review and Reflection At The Halfway Point, and Remarks on Miracles

“I never bullshit, Pickle Man. This can only end with one of us dead, and I have never died.”
“That will be your downfall, Jaguar: not being open to new experiences.”

—Jaguar and Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

On an autumn day, Hikari runs into Kokoro, who is buying Marron Pie for her parents. She subsequently spends the afternoon with him, and they walk under the brilliant autumn foliage of a nearby park together. Meanwhile, Futaba is enjoying a cool afternoon at a café with a book, but falls asleep and has a lucid dream where she’s a witch. She takes another one of the café’s patrons into the skies with a broom and soars over town, before flying to a park, where sakura blossoms are blooming. When Futaba reawakens, she recounts her experiences with Hikari. Later during a dive using drysuits, Hikari notices that Futaba is highly motivated. Futaba panics when she finds herself unable to descend with the others, and is saved by Hikari and Mato; Mato lectures Futaba on the dangers of a rapid ascend. During lunch, the diving club meet Hikari’s younger sister, Kodama, and with encouragement from her friends, Futaba’s motivation is restored. While diving, Mato finds herself in imminent danger of injury, but is saved by the “Black Mermaid”, a gargantuan diver. He signals for them to accompany him; Mato, Hikari and Futaba accepts, so he brings them to a beautiful reef under the ocean. It turns out that the Black Mermaid is Hikari’s grandfather, who is an experienced diver. During Halloween, Futaba and Kokoro compete to earn the prize from a scavenger hunt: a kiss from Prince Hikari. Determined to win, Futaba overcomes her fears of talking to a stranger with a costume beard and pushes for the finish line, tying with Kokoro, who had his sights set on winning the giant octopus stuffed toy. Hikari and Futaba relax an exclusive spa with Mato and Ai, and later, Mato wonders when she lost sight of the magic in the world. Thus, we are at the halfway point of Amanchu! Advance, and by my admission, Amanchu! Advance is a step away from the grounded, ordinary setting of its predecessor. Fantastical escapes are explored, blurring the line between reality and fantasy: Futaba frequently alludes to this message, which is a recurring theme that we’ve seen so far.

One of the greatest joys about sequels are that they offer an opportunity for writers to present different aspects to characters that audiences have already become familiar with. In Amanchu! Advance, Hikari’s character is seen as being more prone to embarrassment: her carpe diem outlook on life has its limits, and she sometimes feels this when things cross the line. However, Futaba has received a more interesting bit of growth in Amanchu! Advance: having long regarded Hikari as a dear friend, her desire to be with Hikari has also manifested a hitherto unexpected side of her character. She’s expressing jealousy now at the prospect of someone else vying for Hikari’s attention, and similarly, has become more protective of Hikari, as well. Futaba’s drive in the scavenger hunt indicates this very strongly, as do her dreams of being the prince to Hikari’s princess. On the topic of dreams, Amanchu! Advance has also given audiences exposure to Futaba’s desires and thoughts through her dreams. While relaxing at a café, the atmosphere leads her to fall asleep. She’s well aware of being in a dream and all the more assertive for it; conjuring a broom and soaring through the skies, Futaba encourages another patron to partake, as well, expressing a confidence and assuredness that we’d previously not seen in her. In conjunction with Futaba’s allusions to the merging of boundaries between the tangible and dreams, I get the sense that Amanchu! Advance intends to convey to its audiences that magical moments are so moving they often feel unreal, and that these magic moments have profound changes, both good and bad, on individuals that experience them; it is clear that Futaba, for whatever other doubts she may possessed, has matured since meeting Hikari.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I continue to find interesting things to talk about in Amanchu! Advance, so this post will have thirty screenshots. We open with Hikari running into Kokoro. Both have their sights set on Marron Pie: having nothing to do with Hai-Furi‘s Maron, Marrons are another name for chestnuts, and in Japan, these chestnut pies are made by wrapping a light, flaky pastry around candied chestnuts. Japanese pastry shops mark this as an autumn specialty, the same way that pumpkin spice has more or less worked its way into everything when autumn rolls around in North America. While some folks find it overrated, the sweet and subtle kick of pumpkin does have a distinctly autumn taste to it.

  • It suddenly strikes me that none of the bloggers whom I’m in regular correspondence with, are writing about Amanchu! Advance. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this show, even if Amanchu! Advance might not be the most conducive towards discussions. While Futaba and another patron enjoy their books, hot beverage and sweets, I look back a few evenings, when I finally tried out the Louisanna-style fried chicken from a new place in the area. Their chicken is very crunchy and flavourful, fried differently from the place I normally go, and the cajun fries have a bit of a kick to them. The best surprise were their biscuits, which are moist and buttery.

  • The page quote for Amanchu! Advance thus comes from the notion of being open to new experiences, albeit one made in jest. In general, being open-minded leads to unexpected surprises, and here, Futaba encourages the other patron to fly with her. Futaba is enjoying tea at the Izukogen Rose Terrace café. With its unusual architecture, this cafe is well-regarded in both its atmosphere and menu: locals recommend it as a place to drop by if one is in search of a short breather while exploring the numerous museums in the area.

  • The events of Amanchu! Advance and Amanchu are set in the coastal town of Itō. With a population of sixty-nine thousand, most of the locations of Amanchu! are set in and around Itō, although unsurprisingly, some creative liberties have been taken to ensure that the locations of Amanchu! work with the story. Having said this, this aerial depiction of Itō is largely faithful to the real-world incarnation; Nagisa Park is visible in the image.

  • In her dreams, Futaba has the same grace and charm as Flying Witch‘s Makoto Kowata: she smoothly mounts her broom and takes flight using the same approach as seen in Flying Witch where she channels her magic into the broom. I invite readers to check out my old talk on Flying Witch; aired some two years ago, I greatly enjoyed Flying Witch, and readers will have noticed that I have a particular fondness for slice-of-life anime defined by a highly cathartic atmosphere. I’ve stated this previously: my enjoyment in these shows come from simply being able to watch them in the moment, and I note that I am never on the lookout for themes or analysis while watching a show.

  • While my posts on these anime predominantly feature thematic elements and the like, I only consider these elements once I’ve decided to sit down and write these posts. Back in Amanchu! Advance, Hikari and Kokoro stroll through an area with red leaves. Kokoro, being only eleven, is a ways younger than the other characters, and his dynamics with Hikari are endearing. He swings between wanting to hang with Hikari and wanting to avoid her at the same time for the latter’s indefatigable spirit.

  • The young patron that Futaba befriends is Kotori Misaki, who is Kokoro’s sister. She has yet to be formally introduced to the cast, and is voiced by none other than Ai Kakuma (Brave Witches‘ Hikari Karibuchi): characters in anime are not introduced on a whim, and so, I expect that Kotori will meet up with the main cast in due course.

  • A brilliant sunset marks the end of the day: in Japan, sunsets and sunrises come very early. While in Japan last year, the sun began setting as early as 16:00 JST, and it would already be fully up, equivalent to around 08:00 MDT when I woke up at 06:00 JST. I’m a morning person through and through, but waking up to see the sunrise, which is at a reasonable time back home, would be unfeasible for even me. When the sun sets at home, I usually am not treated to such a vivid experience as seen in Amanchu! Advance, either: the most beautiful of sunsets usually occur in late October and early November, when chinook clouds are illuminated by the last light of day.

  • The legend of the Jet-Black Mermaid is a story that Mato tells her students: this story is local to Amanchu! Advance and won’t be found anywhere else. Mato describes a beautiful and mysterious entity that roams the oceans, helping divers in need out, moving at quick speeds and also is willing to take them to Ryūgū-jō, a mystical underwater palace that is home to the Dragon God, Ryūjin. While an interesting story, Mato remarks that it is little more than a mere myth, and the diving club thus begins their day’s activities.

  • While underwater, Futaba experiences a curious phenomenon when Hikari, Makoto and Ai blow rings of air. I am reminded of folks who can make smoke rings. This is a technique that requires practise, and experienced individuals can create faster or slower moving rings, as well. Having said this, because I am a non-smoker, this is not something I will practise or take up any time soon. The most impressive smoke rings I’ve seen in any context goes to The Lord of The Rings‘ Gandalf The Grey, who created an entire smoke galleon in The Fellowship of The Ring.

  • After failing to modify her buoyancy before descending, Futaba finds herself being pulled upwards and risks decompression sickness, informally known as the bends. This is caused by a reduced pressure causing dissolved gases to come out of solution, creating bubbles in the bloodstream. Because these bubbles can form in any part of the body, the effects can be lethal. This is why Mato gives Futaba a stern lecture: the effects of the bends are not trivial.

  • While Futaba is a bit disheartened that she got a bit cocky, conversation with her friends allows her to regroup. Futaba is presented as being someone who’s quite hard on herself and doubtful, and while she still occasionally succumbs, it is clear that her friendships have given her a newfound confidence. Mindful of her errors, Futaba learns from her mistakes more rapidly now and seems less bothered by the weight of her errors.

  • While manga readers will be familiar with Kodama, Hikari’s younger sister, it came as a surprise to me that Kodama was introduced this late in the game. She’s the opposite of Hikari, being reserved and feeling that Hikari’s boundless enthusiasm is a liability. Despite her not being an active diver, she’s familiar with the basics. The two are as different as night and day, and Kodama thanks the others for looking after Hikari.

  • Hikari and Futaba prepare to enter the water. When Futaba expresses doubt at performing a back roll entry, Hikari suggests the giant stride. One of my impediments is that I cannot tumble at all, so when I was younger, the rolling entry into water was something I never could execute for swimming classes. The stride dive is usually employed when one is on a larger vessel, while the back roll is used if one is on a small boat or RHIB.

  • Yesterday, I went ahead and watched Avengers: Infinity War at a local cinema before returning home to a dinner of roast beef and peppercorn gravy and cheesy mashed potatoes with bacon and sour cream. This particular theatre has fancy, comfortable reclining chairs, and the film itself was superb. Like Girls und Panzer Der Film and Strike Witches The Movie, this is an experience that requires some knowledge of the previous entries in the film. It was a thrill to see all of the MCU characters bounce off one another, and despite being darker than some of the other MCU films, Infinity War does have its humourous moments, such as when Stark and Strange clash. References to earlier films are also made, and it is this a priori knowledge that makes some of the moments more enjoyable. The film is the first part of two, and the latter releases next May.

  • This is about as far as I’ll go in talking about Infinity War: my readers, who may or may not be fans of the MCU, are likely hear about my thoughts on anime, so I’ll return the discussion to Amanchu! Advance, where Mato’s just been rescued from a nasty bump to her dome by a gargantuan diver whose proportions defy normalcy. After this mysterious diver saves Mato, he invites Mato, Hikari and Futaba. With Mato’s story about the Jet-Black Mermaid still fresh on their minds, the girls accept the new diver’s invitation.

  • Swimming at a speed much faster than previously thought possible, the massive diver takes Mato, Futaba and Hikari into a beautiful coral reef under the ocean. While not Ryūgū-jō, this area is beautiful, being populated by colourful corals and schools of fish. With its vivid colours and volumetric lighting, Amanchu! Advnace has gone the full ten yards in creating a scene that captures the majesty and wonder of the oceans.

  • The result is a truly magical moment that stands amongst the miracles that Akari, Aika and Alice encounter on Aqua: Amanchu! Advance manages to accomplish this without any supernatural or otherworldly forces. Initially, the mysterious black-clad diver’s identity is not known, but his benevolent actions and calming presence is reminiscent of ARIA‘s Cait Sith, who appears to Akari occasionally and is considered to act as a spiritual guardian of sorts for Aqua. However, in the absence of supernatural, it is not particularly rational to consider this diver as Amanchu! Advance‘s equivalent of the Cait Sith. Instead, subtle bits of foreshadowing hint at who this diver is.

  • As it turns out, the diver is Hikari’s grandfather; he’s a big guy for you. The clue I refer to is the vast towel that Kodama brings to Kino, which the others immediately find curious for its dimensions. Despite his build, Hikari’s grandfather is evidently a skilful diver.

  • During a Halloween festival of sorts, Futaba dresses up in a vivid red dress and finds the scene surrounding her so unreal that she has to convince herself that it is not a dream. She and Hikari enjoy the festival, later running into Kokoro. When Hikari heads off to buy some drinks, an uncomfortable silence arises between the two, but the pair nonetheless draw a crowd.

  • While walking around the Halloween festival, Hikari and the others run into Ai and Makoto, who are handling a scavenger hunt. No one’s shown up, and Ai wonders if they’ll need to up the ante for prizes. The group brainstorm some prizes, landing on “a kiss from the prince (Hikari)”: this draws the interest of a little girl, and word spreads, hauling in a large group of participants. Feeling that Hikari is threatened, Futaba decides to join the scavenger hunt and win it to protect her. Kokoro can be seen here in a lilac cat costume, and he joins because the original prize caught his eye.

  • The scavenger hunt’s participants quickly hit impediments that slow them down for good. Kokoro’s assignment is to find a handkerchief, which he considers straightforwards, but he’s scared off by the principal and decides to ask a lady instead. His plan backfires when the woman asks him what kind of trick he might play on her should she decline his request, but the outcome later suggests that he managed to overcome his fear.

  • Futaba initially has trouble finding the courage asking a man dressed as a kangaroo for his beard, but like Kokoro, succeeds. It was unexpectedly adorable to watch Futaba squeal in panic when her prize was so near and simultaneously so far: we recall that she’s voiced by Ai Kayano (Chisaki Hiradaira in Nagi no AsakuraGirls und Panzer‘s Saori Takabe and Mocha Hoto in GochiUsa), who excels at gentle voices.

  • The conclusion of the scavenger hunt is a thrilling one, and it ends up a draw between Futaba and Kokoro, when Kokoro trips and ends up in Futaba’s arms. This outcome was not particularly unexpected, and from a narrative perspective, is done to indicate that both Futaba and Kokoro were motivated by their own, non-intersecting reasons for winning.

  • Futaba began Amanchu! with a graceful but distant expression that gradually shifted to one of wonder, warmth and happiness when she met Hikari. I believe this is my first time seeing Futaba wear such an expression on her face, when she remarks to Kokoro that she’s not about to let anyone steal Hikari from her. The afternoon soon gives way to evening, and after receiving a kiss from Hikari, Futaba declares that she’d like to be Hikari’s prince.

  • I’ve been enjoying Amanchu! Advanced considerably thus far, but even in a series as cathartic and laid-back as Amanchu!, it seems the deep places of the internet can still find criticisms to level against this series. In this case, accusations of discrimination against Amanchu!‘s author, Kozue Amano have been made because some entitled, ill-read individuals on Reddit cannot differentiate between different kinds of friendships. I’m normally accepting of Reddit discussions since they tend to be useful, but some parts of their anime community are about as credible and useful as that of /a/, which is to say, their discussions are a load of bollocks. Having said this, if there are people reading this who think that Redditors and /a/ have value, however negligible, then by all means, make it known to me. I welcome it.

  • I’ve also heard that one chapter of Amanchu! is controversial, and having taken a look, I can say with total confidence that this is a gross overreaction. The chapter in question might be adapted into Amanchu! Advance, and while I think nothing of it, the lesser parts of the internet apparently find it to be srs bsns. Quite personally, I hope they adapt this chapter into Amanchu! Advance so viewers can make of things for themselves, rather than leaving it to the sensitive and narrow-minded folk out there to shape perceptions on things. Here in Amanchu! Advance, Hikari and Futaba share a dance in one of Futaba’s dreams.

  • Enjoying their fancy spa experience, Futaba and Hikari share another moment of joy following Futaba’s recounting of her dream to Hikari. Lucid dreams were mentioned in this post, but I’ve not mentioned them in too much detail until now: these dreams are defined as when the individual is aware of their being in a dream and may be able to exert varying degrees of control over how things unfold. A few people I know, both in real life and among my fellow bloggers have such dreams – I am a bit envious, since the most amount of control I can exert in my dreams is to exfiltrate when I feel a situation is unfair or dangerous. Beyond this, my dreams are very mundane and ordinary for the most part; I’ve flown on a couch over my home town and duelled a Balrog of Morgoth once, but more common are dreams where I’m involved in my daily routine or treading familiar ground.

  • Outside, Mato walks about. Hearing the conversation that Futaba and Hikari share leads her to wonder when she stopped looking around the world for the magical and began viewing it in more practical, mundane terms. The presence of a routine tends to do that: adults tend to be a lot more boring in this regard.

  • With this final screenshot of Mato looking over a cluster of Jack’o-Lanterns, my talk for Amanchu! Advance after the halfway point draws to a close. We’re nearing the halfway point of May, and having another Amanchu! post in the books, the third and final part of my Yuru Camp△ Armchair Journey series will be completed in the near future. We’re also closing on the release dates for Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?: Dear My Sister – I intend to write about Dear My Sister as soon as it becomes available, and will be saving Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai for June. Finally, Gundam: The Origin‘s sixth and final instalment still needs to be watched and written about, so there is that to look forwards to, as well.

The past three episodes of Amanchu! Advance leading us to the halfway point have moved the series in a direction where it feels more like ARIA; magical moments are more common and suggest that miracles can be found in life’s smallest details. This is a welcome step for Amanchu! Advance, giving the show the chance to portray characters outside of their activities as divers. In doing so, Amanchu! Advance reiterates to viewers that while diving might be what brought people together, people (and not diving) are ultimately at the forefront of everything in Amanchu! Advance. Slow and calming in its pacing, Amanchu! Advance has shown that in spite of its presentation, there are definitely things worth considering. The anime continues to impress with its visual quality, and the music has also taken a step forwards, playing a more visible role in setting the emotional tenor for a moment. The sum of these elements come together to create an atmosphere not unlike that of ARIA, and even though Amanchu! is set in the real world, with a different premise and aims, the similarities between the two series in terms of atmosphere are evident. As we move into Amanchu! Advance‘s second half, I expect that audiences will continue to see different aspects for the characters that give them a more credible feel and make the show increasingly enjoyable. I further speculate that Amanchu! Advance will advance in a direction that sees Futaba working hard for, and earning her advanced diver certification. The rationale for this is that Amanchu! Advance‘s tile, in incorporating the word “Advance” to signify both the act of moving forwards and a higher level of knowledge, is leading Futaba down a path where she is able to do both and mature further as a person.

Amanchu! Advance: Review and Reflection After Three

“When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” —Osho

Hikari encounters a boy by the name of Kokoro while helping out at Amanchu, and follows him into the ocean, where she finds him admiring a mother octopus protecting her eggs. When she returns the surface, she calls Futaba about an upcoming fireworks show; Futaba is visiting family, but returns on the same day that the fireworks show is scheduled for. On the evening of the fireworks Futaba, Hikari, Ai, Makoto and Mato head to the beach for the fireworks show, and while the area is crowded, filled with other viewers, Hikari reveals that as a result of being one of the volunteers for the event, she’s got a special spot for everyone. The fireworks show leaves the others in awe: Mato recalls a time when she was younger and was given a piggy-back ride so she could see the fireworks better. The next day, Hikari finds Kokoro by the seaside. He missed the fireworks while trying to search for the mother octopus, worried that the eel had killed it, but when Hikari dives down with Kokoro, they find a swarm of paralarva swimming about. During the summer camp, Futaba learns the basics of using a compass to navigate in low light conditions, and manages to apply Hikari’s teachings to return to the others during an exercise. Later, when Ai, Makoto and Mato go diving by night, leaving Hikari and Futaba behind, Futaba becomes worried that she’s holding Hikari back. She speaks with Mato the next morning, who tells Futaba that all of her achievements are real, and later, Futaba announces to Hikari that she’s going to work towards an advanced diving license. Slow, relaxing and beautifully-rendered, Amanchu! Advance continues in the same vein as its predecessors, continuing to entertain viewers three episodes in.

Now that Amanchu! Advance is a third of the way into its run, its differences from the first season become more visible. New characters are introduced, and conflicts (in this case, character-vs-self) begin arising. The approach that Amanchu! Advance has taken is consistent with the continuations of every slice-of-life series I’ve seen previously; I’ve long noted that first seasons tend to establish initial friendships first, to create a status quo that can subsequently see disruption during a continuation. The end result of this is the creation of very life-like, dynamic characters. In Amanchu!, audiences are now introduced to Kokoro, a boy of eleven who counts himself a man of the sea. A chance encounter with him allows Hikari to make a new memory that she was not expecting. It is shown that there are unexpected moments that can surprise even someone as open-minded and alert for adventure as Hikari, and another instance where Hikari can be very mature and capable, where the situation calls for it, is presented. Amanchu! Advance is showing different aspect of the character with the aim of illustrating their complexity. Similarly, in spite of all of the growth Futaba has seen since the beginning of Amanchu!, she occasionally still harbours doubt about herself: all of the memories she’s made since arriving were made with Hikari, and Futaba wonders if the magical moments the two have spent together is a dream. Mato’s words of wisdom eventually motivate Futaba to do something of her own accord, and so, Amanchu! Advance‘s narrative is headed in a direction where Futaba will strive to take the initiative and make her own path, all the while continuing to treasure the time that she spends with Hikari. In slice-of-life anime, character growth occurs at a very slow, natural pace to drive the thematic elements, and it is typically during a second season where the more unexpected and interesting interactions between characters can occur.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before we dive further into this Amanchu! Advance discussion, I remark that I’ve recently crossed the finish line for Violet Evergarden and so, will be dropping by to do a talk on that before the month is out. There was a surprisingly solid story, and I’m immensely glad to have watched the series. For now, we’ll return the party to Amanchu! Advance, where I’ll open up with Hikari putting up a poster for the local fireworks show.

  • While serving some customers, Hikari notices someone sitting on the rocks nearby, and intrigued, makes off to check them out. Located on the Izu Peninsula near the town of Itō, the events of Amanchu! have capitalised on the beautiful weather and quiet scenery in the region to create a highly laid-back atmosphere. While anime like AIR or Ano Natsu De Matteru often convey long summer days and the vastness of the skies as melancholy in nature, series whose focus is not drive by romance tend to give summers as a time of adventure.

  • Hikari’s decision to follow Kokoro down is met with the discovery of an octopus protecting her eggs in an enclosed space underneath some rocks. Time and time again, Amanchu! reiterates to viewers that wonderous things can be found anywhere if one knows where to look, and I find that there is value in solitude; being alone means being completely aware of and open to one’s surroundings. While with others, I tend to focus my attention on them: I recall a walk that I took yesterday. Because I walked it alone today, I noticed things that I normally miss when I’m walking there with a group.

  • Kokoro is initially reluctant to give up his name, and from what I’ve been hearing, was mistaken for a girl until recently. His bold spirits and declaration that he’s a “Man of the Sea” subtly hint that he is in fact a guy, and while we’ve only seen him appear on a few occasions thus far, series do not introduce characters without reason: viewers will be seeing Kokoro, and his sister, Kotori, with a greater frequency in the near future.

  • Futaba was once distrustful of secrets, but in the time that she’s known Hikari, she’s become more open-minded and eagerly awaits returning to town so she may see what surprise that Hikari has for her. The changes that Futaba see in her worldview form the core of Amanchu! Advance, and one of the things I’d like to see more of is how Futaba’s had an impact on Hikari. While this has been mentioned in conversation previously, it would be fantastic to see things from Hikari’s perspective, as well.

  • While diving down to check on the octopus, Hikari and Kokoro witness an attacking eel. Despite seemingly losing the skirmish, the octopus manages to seize the eel and propels it far from her eggs. There are many marvels (and some terrors) in the depths of the ocean, many of which remain poorly-characterised; the comparison of the ocean to another world in fiction is a reminder that the vast, unexplored places of our world hold many mysteries, giving its exploration a sense of romance.

  • Last Friday marked the start of Poutine Week in my city. I’ve been participating since 2016, and the premise is simple: every year, restaurants participate in Poutine week by making unique poutines. People then go to these restaurants to eat said poutine, and proceeds from poutines purchased go to MealShare, a charity that helps youth in need by providing meals. This year, I opened up Poutine Week with Brasserie Kensington’s All-American Breakfast poutine, which is made with cold-press canola oil fries, white sausage gravy and Alberta cheese curds, plus a fried egg, breaded veal cutlet and sausage that was a rich, smokey and garlicky flavour. This is one of the fanciest poutines I’ve enjoyed: I don’t think I’ve had veal before, much less in a poutine. The veal was tender, and the sausage was seasoned well, resulting in a very flavourful poutine. I subsequently took a walk along the river and enjoyed the first rainfall of the year.

  • I say “enjoy” because, even though it was quite chilly, being there to see the first rain of the year meant a true return of warmer weather that my area’s been lacking so far. When Mato shows up at the Amanchu Beach House, Hikari invites her to accompany them to the fireworks event. Mato notices that Hikari is chipper, even more than usual, and Hikari responds that she’s been chilling with Kokoro. At this point, Hikari is under the impression that Kokoro is a girl, and viewers continue to be under the impression that this is the case until later in the anime: the manga similarly introduces Kokoro in a manner that readers would think of him as a girl, only for the truth to come out later.

  • Once Futaba is back in town, she and Hikari meet up, with Hikari gushing over Futaba’s yukata. Hikari herself is wearing sunflowers, a mirror of her bright and cheerful presence. The moment was bloody hilarious, and I note that people with a yuri perspective are quite excited about what’s happening in Amanchu!. I hate to burst that bubble, but there’s actually not too much to discuss in this area, since friendships amongst females are rather more open and more expressive. Guys tend to be more boisterous with the jokes, but the dynamics are quite different, which is one reason why there might be occasions where some mistake ordinary friendship for romantic friendship.

  • With this being said, Hikari’s mention of dates and the like does seem to come across as being more romantic in nature, and when Futaba finds out, she cannot help but feel a little jealous that Hikari is able to befriend people so quickly. These feelings quickly dissipate as Futaba begins feeling that Hikari’s bright personality is her strongest suit, and so, she sets off with the others to find a suitable spot for viewing the fireworks. The venue is absolutely packed, and Mato and the others wonder if they’ll manage to find spaces before the show begins.

  • However, it turns out that Hikari’s got an ace in the hole: as a volunteer, she was given access to special seating that puts them directly underneath the fireworks, and when the show starts, Futaba, Hikari, Ai, Makoto and Mato are treated to a spectacular fireworks display. I’m particularly fond of fireworks, and every summer, there are a handful of shows around town. The most famous is Global Fest, where dedicated performances are held at Elliston Park every August. Other shows include the nightly performances for the Calgary Stampede and Canada Day fireworks: the best shows are always on Saturdays, I find, since it means that I get to sleep in the next day.

  • Of course, as it’s still a ways off until the summer, I will happily accept anime fireworks as the next best option to watching real fireworks. A testament to the solid animation in Amanchu! Advance, the fireworks show was stunning: the animation in Amanchu! is handled by JC Staff, who’ve previously worked on Flying WitchUrara MeirochoTora Dora! and Azumanga Daioh. A sign of a good anime is that it immerses viewers in the universe being depicted, and for Amanchu!, the adaptation has done a spectacular job of creating this immersion, if I am remarking that the fireworks are an acceptable substitution when no real fireworks are available.

  • Spoiler alert: because fireworks are essentially explosions, they distribute their metallic fuels in a near spherical pattern, so independently of where one views a fireworks display, one will always see the disk facing them. I have plans to write about the upcoming film Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?: unlike some folks, whose home countries screened the film, I live in a dead zone where only the biggest anime films are screened, and as such, will need to wait for a bit longer in order to check this film out for myself.

  • The next day, Hikari finds Kokoro trying to make his way back to the spot where the mother octopus was and tries to dissuade him, telling him that death is a natural part of life. Dealing with death is a very tricky topic, especially when communicating it to children, and a part of properly addressing things is to be honest. This was dealt with in Non Non Biyori Repeat, surprising some viewers; a good slice-of-life series explores the everyday, and while it’s a topic some might be uncomfortable with contemplating, death is very much a part of our reality.

  • While having missed the fireworks of the previous evening, Kokoro bears witness to a swarm of paralarva glistening in the ocean waters with Hikari: it’s a miraculous sight that indicates the mother octopus had ultimately fulfilled its duty and ensured the survival of her offspring. These paralarva will consume other small copepods, zooplankton and larvae as they mature into adult octopi. Octopi tend to have shorter life spans, with some living for only a half year, while longer-lived species can push five years.

  • Hikari’s constant encounters with the extraordinary are very much presented as a strength in Amanchu! – she’s seemingly always in the right place at the right time to enjoy the present. Kozue Amane’s work illustrates that she’s someone who believes that miracles can be found in both the small of moments and most momentous of events. I’ve previously stated that this is the reason why I am particularly fond of iyashikei anime: people who are very task-oriented and goal-driven often forget to stop and smell the roses, and anime such as these remind me of the merits of doing so.

  • A qualified pilot must be able fly a plane with only the instruments and no visual cues of what’s outside, and similarly, divers must train to ensure they are able to navigate in low-light conditions. Futaba is practising how to navigate using a compass and manages to succeed in her simulated run on dry land, perfectly moving in the direction she intends to. After passing her trial run, she moves into the water to put her learnings to the test.

  • Unsurprisingly, the techniques outlined in Amanchu! Advanced are correct: compasses designed for scuba diving have a lubber line (pair of red lines) clearly marked, and this is first set to be oriented with the target. The bezel is then adjusted so that 0º is oriented to the north. Once underwater, turning in a direction so that the compass’ north marking lines up with 0º indicates that one is facing their intended direction, and revolving the bezel 180º will allow one to travel back the way they came from.

  • There’s always a degree of challenge when doing something in the actual environment, as opposed to in a training environment, and when Futaba sets out to put her navigation learnings to use, she becomes unsure as to whether or not she’s done things correctly and considers throwing the towel in when she loses sight of Hikari. However, while alone in the ocean, several thoughts return to Futaba, and spurred on, she makes her way back to the others with the techniques that she’s picked up.

  • When she’s doubtful of whether or not she set her compass up correctly, Futaba recalls bits of advice from Hikari, from various landmarks and species of fish she’s seen, to the orientation of ripples in the sand as a result of waves propagating through the water. This scene was intended to illustrate that, even if Futaba and Hikari are separated, their presence will endure in one another’s hearts, and moreover, it appears to be a powerful enough motivator as to bring them back together, if Futaba’s exercise was meant to be a metaphor of thus.

  • Futaba thus completes her test successfully, and Hikari is thrilled to see Futaba returns on her own without any assistance. To illustrate the lightening mood, the ocean water become much brighter, with lighter shades of blue returning into frames that were previously dominated by black. I’ve noticed that elsewhere, discussions on Amanchu! Advance have been rather minimal despite the near-universal positive reception to the sequel. This phenomenon is primarily a consequence of the slow pacing of Amanchu!, which is even more languid than the likes of K-On! or Yuru Camp△.

  • As a result, some bloggers have found it challenging to write about this series, much less on an episodic basis. It would be quite vapid to simply react to things as they occur in the anime, and Amanchu! isn’t the sort of thing where “deconstruction” can be performed, considering how open and clear the themes are: the messages that Amanchu! strives to convey are the sum of the events in the series, with individual episodes being snapshots and an example of how events drive the theme.

  • In the aftermath of Futaba’s exercise, they freshen up and relax under beautiful summer skies. The question that remains is, if writing for something like Amanchu! Advance presents unique challenges, then will I be continuing with posts after six and nine episodes as planned? The answer to this is that I will continue: my big picture discussions allow me to take a look at how the progression of an anime align with the overarching themes (or more appropriately, what I’ve interpreted to be a suitable theme), while the “screenshots and commentary” give me some space to simply react to moments and have fun with my writing.

  • Returning the focus back to Amanchu! Advance, here, Ai manages to elicit a squeal out of Futaba that sounds strikingly similar to Finn’s screams from Adventure Time. Having completed the navigation tutorials, Futaba feels she’s one step further along in acquiring the skills that divers require, even if there is quite a bit for her to learn, and is feeling particularly happy about things.

  • Ai notes that things only really get exciting once one has an increased skillset: I am brought back to my experience in martial arts. I teach occasionally, and there are some students who occasionally wonder what the point of doing all of the basics are. The basics (e.g. stances, techniques, discipline) are essential before one can properly learn kata, and as such, we place a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that our basics are satisfactory. Even though I am a ni-dan now, I feel that my basics could definitely use improvement still, but I know enough so that I’m able to do the more advanced things, which, as Ai says, is where the fun begins.

  • Ai and Makoto highlight some of their new gear, including a high-intensity flashlight and glowsticks, that allow them to safely descend and view the ocean by nightfall. Back on the surface, Hikari mentions to Futaba that night diving has its own charms: the use of white light allows for wildlife and structures underwater to be viewed with a more natural colour, and Hikari expresses a want to eventually try this out.

  • Futaba feels that she’s holding Hikari back in some cases, and that her achievements feel a little unreal at times. Futaba ends up waking up early and gazing at the ocean; after Mato joins her, Futaba decides to share with Mato the doubts that she has. While Mato has been shown to be energetic and similar to her students at times, even participating in a game of red light, green light, back during the first season, she is also reliable, mature and helpful towards her students.

  • One minor detail in Amanchu! Advance is the presence of Aria and Ohime’s antics, which subtly occur in the background while the characters converse. These dynamics add life to a scene, and while Aria was noticeably absent in Amanchu!‘s first season, it’s quite pleasant to see Aria getting along with Ohime now. Their interactions bring to mind Maa and Aria’s interactions from ARIA: Maa is quite fond of Aria and expresses her affection for him in a manner that is quite painful. Here in Amanchu!, Ohime often is seen kicking Aria around even though she’s much smaller than he is.

  • Mato reminds Futaba that all of her memories and accomplishments are very much real: while Futaba’s more mature and open now than she was at the very beginning of Amanchu!, personal growth is a life-long journey, and she still occasionally stumbles. Fortunately, it is with her friends that she’s able to slowly, and surely, develop a stronger sense of confidence. While Futaba provides this monologue, she is shown diving with Hikari, and in this sequence, animation of the world underwater is superb. Details in the anemone and clownfish are remarkable, illustrating to viewers what Futaba and Hikari see.

  • Futaba declares that she will be going for her advanced diving certification, which gives Amanchu! Advance a clear focus as we continue into the season. As mentioned earlier, it would also be nice for Amanchu! Advance to focus on how Hikari has seen personal growth since meeting Futaba. This brings my Amanchu! Advance post to a conclusion, and looking ahead into the future, I’m surprised that April’s almost over. I will be working on a Violet Evergarden post, since the anime seems to be the hot topic, and on top of that, with the upcoming Fireworks movie, I also will see if I can write about that in a timely fashion. Battlefield 1 and The Division also have exciting things in store: the latter is getting new weapons and content, while the latter is running a Global Event starting tomorrow. With all of this stuff on the table, and having gotten some feedback surrounding my prospective Your Lie in April talks, I’ve decided not to write about Your Lie in April until I know I can do the series justice.

With its cathartic pacing and focus on the minor details, Amanchu! Advance has hit its stride, acting as this season’s go-to anime for relaxing after the work week. Continuing to remind audiences that there is great value in taking things slowly and making the most of every moment, Amanchu! is also considered to be a series that can be difficult to write for owing to the rate of progression: a few activities that Futaba, Hikari and the others partake in are rendered in great detail, with Futaba and Hikari’s monologues informing audiences precisely how they are feeling about things. Amanchu! is very direct as to what audiences should take away from the anime, and consequently, some have expressed that episodic reviews of Amanchu! Advance could be quite tricky. With this in mind, my approach, to return every few episodes to offer some thoughts as to where things are going, is quite suitable for series like Amanchu! — dropping in to see where the story and characters are headed while considering the messages from a big picture perspective offers just enough to write about without things becoming repetitive, and as a second season, Amanchu! Advance will certainly offer something distinct from its predecessor precisely because the series is now open to introducing new characters and exploring hitherto unexplored interactions between different subsets of characters. These have always added a new dimensionality to the characters and augment the enjoyability of a show, so I am greatly looking forwards to seeing how Amanchu! Advance‘s journey will unfold.

The Story of One Summer Night and a Confession: Amanchu! Advance First Episode Impressions and Review

“Fun is infinite!” –Futaba and Hikari

During a beautiful summer’s day, Futaba meets up with Hikari, Ai and Makoto. When they arrive at the beach house, they find Kino swamped from the lunch rush and decide to help her. In the quiet moments after, Hikari invites Futaba to scuba dive for the next day, but Futaba decides to help Kino out instead. She arrives to find the beach house empty, and wonders how Hikari would go about making the most of the moment. Meanwhile, after their scuba diving excursion, Hikari enters a hot springs, leaving her swim top in the open. Mortified, she calls her friends for assistance – Futaba arrives to provide a distraction, and Ai retrieves Hikari’s swim top before anything can happen. Hikari decides to have a summer barbecue for the evening, and afterwards, Futaba shares with Hikari her fears about what would happen if they were to separate. Hikari assures Futaba that fun is infinite, encouraging her to simply make the most of the moment and enjoy the present. With this first episode, Amanchu! Advance marks a triumphant return of Amanchu! – the first season was characterised by a superb exploration of the growing friendship between Futaba and Hikari, and how this introduced gradual but profound changes on each. At the opening of the second season, it becomes clear that Futaba’s come to treasure her friendship with Hikari, Ai and Makoto as dearly as she does with Akane and Chizuru, and Amanchu! Advance follow what occurs as Futaba continues to spend time with her friends, as well as what occurs when new individuals are introduced.

With its opening episode, Amanchu! Advance submits to audiences that Futaba is someone who treasures her memories very greatly; the first season illustrated that Futaba was troubled by the prospect of not being able to store all of her photos, and Futaba’s monologues show that she’s very nostalgic. Further to this, once Futaba settles into a new environment, she finds it difficult to entertain the notion of readjusting to a new one; the first season depicted Futaba slowly easing into her new life with Hikari and scuba diving. Having grown accustomed to the energy and adventure that Hikari brings into her life, Futaba becomes worried that these experiences will end should they two ever separate. In conjunction with the addition of new characters into Amanchu!, which will act as the catalyst for pushing Futaba to embrace living in the moment and finding joy in everyday things, I would therefore imagine that Amanchu! Advance‘s main goal will be to present the journey that Futaba and Hikari experience together; their opposite personalities will doubtlessly allow the two to continue learning from one another, especially considering the strength of camaraderie that Futaba and Hikari share (to the tune of both girls openly expressing their feelings as love). These learnings will be set against the backdrop of scuba diving, and consequently, I’m very much looking forwards to seeing what directions that Amanchu! Advance will cover.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is why I watch anime – fluffy cumulus clouds rising high into the sky on a summer’s day evokes a sense of adventure, inviting hikes into far-flung forests or lying in an open field as a breeze introduces relief from a comfortably warm summer sun. Summer weather of this sort usually gives me a sense of melancholy; summer is when I would consider to be the most romantic season, and relationships that blossom during the summer in anime are characterised by equal measures of closeness and distance. Of course, being Amanchu!, the melancholy element is absent, leaving only the feeling of infinite possibility that accompanies summer days.

  • The weather of Amanchu! Advance‘s first episode is a world apart from the miserable, dreary and cold, grey weather my area’s experiencing. While it’s remained -10ºC and snowing, at least the weather in Amanchu! Advance is beautiful, and here, Hikari races Futaba to the viewpoint, remarking that she enjoys trying to find fun things to experience in common, everyday activities. It typifies Hikari’s character to live in the present. Here, at the beginning of my journey into Amanchu! Advance, I will note that this first episode post will feature the standard twenty images, and that I will likely continue to write about Amanchu! Advance as I did for Yuru Camp△.

  • Scuba diving is now second nature for Futaba, who spent a majority of Amanchu! easing into the activity and earning her certifications to be able to dive with Hikari and the others. The journey to the destination was meaningful, and the conclusion was a well-deserved one. In my review for the first season, I gave the series a recommendation – it’s an excellent anime and fell short of “strong recommend” only on the basis that Amanchu! moves very slowly, and the chibis might be a bit distracting at times. Anime I give “strong” recommendations to are the cream of the crop: these are the shows that even the most seasoned and perhaps, jaded viewer might enjoy.

  • After hearing some guests speaking about this being their last scuba diving trip for the present, Futaba begins wondering about what would happen once she and Hikari go their separate ways. She helps the guests take a group photograph, and subsequently, the crowds begin thinning. It’s not often that Kino’s beach house is this busy – it’s generally quite quiet in the anime, bringing to mind GochiUsa‘s Rabbit House, which was similarly quiet.

  • Once things settle down at the beach house, Hikari and the others settle down for lunch: Kino’s pork soup and ice cream. After Hikari mentioned making fun in every moment to Futaba, when Hikari invites her to go scuba diving with her and help with a programme she’s teaching, Futaba declines, trying to make her own path and feeling that helping Kino out would be a fun experience in its own right. Futaba’s decision leaves Hikari a touch disappointed.

  • I do not believe that I have any screenshots of Kino, Hikari’s grandmother, up until now: with a laid-back personality, she’s voiced by Kikuko Inoue (Ah! My Goddess!‘s Belldandy, Sanae Furukawa of CLANNAD and Megu’s mother in GochiUsa). I live in a land-locked place, and as such, views such as these are completely unattainable to me except during travels: Cancún was one such destination, and I still remember the mornings where I strolled along the beach and marvelled at the warm, turquoise waters.

  • The last time I wrote about Amanchu!, it was the OVA that I’d long waited to see. It accompanied one of the BD releases and released in March, although circumstances meant that I did not have a chance to watch it until August, after coming home from a hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse and Beehives in Lake Louise. The uncertainty of OVAs and movies means that I prefer second seasons to shows that I greatly enjoy: having a known schedule makes shows much easier to write for.

  • Hikari’s main shortcoming is that, in living in the moment, she occasionally fails to consider the consequences of her actions. After hopping into a hot bath, Hikari realises that she’d left her swim top slightly out of reach, but before she can retrieve it, some older gentlemen occupy another bath nearby, preventing her from getting out. She finds herself in a bit of a quandary, blushes in the style that is unique to Amanchu!, and then decides to call her friends for assistance. While they’re initially away from their phones, they end up receiving Hikari’s message and immediately move in to help

  • Futaba ends up giving the gentlemen some pork soup to focus their attention away from Hikari. Spending too much time in the hot springs causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure and inducing feelings of nausea. By the time Ai and Futaba reach Hikari, reach her, she’s beginning to overheat, and Ai is so focused on getting Hikari out of the water that she forgets Hikari’s got no top, resulting in a hilarious funny face.

  • Hikari cools off with Ai and Futaba by her side, quickly returning to normal after a dangerous situation. Here, I remark that the translations I’ve seen use a colloquial phrase associated with wardrobe malfunctions: Hikari’s original dialogue on her phone reads “SOS ポロリ” (romaji “porori”). This phrase is slang for “slipping out” or “nip slip”, and consequently, the choice of translation ends up being spot on. I further remark that I certainly don’t write with this set of vocabulary because it’s not the sort of things this blog covers, so unless there is another need for it, you won’t be seeing this phrase elsewhere.

  • Evidently, recovery from overheating and the effects of a prolonged stay in warm water is much quicker in anime than it is in reality. After a few moments, the effects have worn off, and Hikari hops up with a new announcement. Prompted by Futaba’s coming to the rescue, Hikari decides to throw a barbecue by way of thanks. Folks wondering why I don’t ever refer to Futaba as “Teko” and Hikari as “Pikari” will be disappointed to learn that it’s because it’s for clarity. As a bit of digression, I note that Pikari (ぴかり) refers to something brilliant, shining, mirroring Hikari’s high-energy presence. Futaba’s nickname stems from Hikari finding her eyebrows to resemble the tenten strokes, so Teko is the combination of te– from the tenten and ko is “girl”.

  • As evening sets in, the girls and their homeroom instructor, Mato, have a fantastic barbecue by the seaside.  Besides the assortment of meats and corn on the cob from Hikari, Ai and Makoto bring shellfish (prawns and scallops). Mato’s brought snow crab, and Kino provides onigiri. Anime such as Amanchu! are why I would suggest to bloggers not to write on an empty stomach, and is actually one of the reasons why I’m so fond of sharing food pictures in some of my anime discussions.

  • Having good food is precisely what is necessary to ward of the miserable winter days, and so, yesterday, while the world remained a dreary grey, I sat down to a home-made fish burger with a side of two kinds of fries, which was delicious and also a sight more colourful than the landscape around town. The weather’s begun warming up slightly, and we’re expected to see more seasonal temperatures soon, but expedite warming from within, we had prime rib with a salt-and-pepper thyme rub, mushroom gravy, loaded mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Tender, tasty and warming, it’s the perfect thing for when the weather has remained quite miserable.

  • Futaba and Kino share a conversation: audiences have been aware of Futaba being uncertain of her directions in life until she met Hikari, but Kino reveals that Hikari had a tendency to lose track of things when living in the moment until she’d met Futaba. A strong indicator of the strength of their friendship, both Futaba and Hikari have helped one another grow. There’s a subtle detail in this conversation: Ohime blows through her food and manages to eat some of Aria’s too, but Aria isn’t too bothered by this, and later settles down with Ohime.

  • There’s one another anime that immediately comes to mind when the preparation of and enjoyment of food is depicted to this level of detail, and that’s Yuru Camp△. The sizzling of crab on a grill is a sound for the ears to enjoy, and one can imagine the aroma that the cooking process produces. The cooking process isn’t actually too difficult: the crab legs should be brushed with a thin layer of olive oil, and after the grill is heated, they can be placed around 12 to 15 centimeters from the coals. Crab legs will cook in around four to five minutes, and should be flipped once during cooking.

  • Having eaten their way through the grilled meat, corn, shellfish, crab, pork soup and onigiri, everyone’s feeling the effects of the food wall, although not yet reaching a point where they get the legendary meat sweats. Both are encountered by Adam Richman in Man v. Food: the former is simply a consequence of beginning to fatigue from eating too much, but the “meat sweats” specifically refers to the phenomenon where one begins sweating profusely after eating excessive meat. This arises because proteins take a considerable amount of energy to digest, and the increased energy corresponds with increased heat production, which in turn results in sweating.

  • As their dinner winds down, Futaba receives a message from Chizuru, who shares her evening’s events with Futaba. Having eaten enough to impress the likes of Adam Richman, Futaba squeals in response to Chizuru’s photo of meat on a grill. Chizuru and Akane later call Futaba: it was a pleasant surprise to see Akane and Chizuru again. They’re essentially ARIA‘s Akari and Aika in the real world, sharing their respective voice actresses, and in this moment, some call-outs to ARIA can be seen. The Orange Planet emblem is seen on a pillow, and Akane is holding a Maa doll.

  • Today’s page quote comes from this moment. When Futaba voices her worries to Hikari about the possibility of them parting ways, Hikari reassures Futaba that even if this was to happen, then the only thing to do is to live in the present and make the most of the now. Both Hikari and Futaba represent the extreme ends on a spectrum, and in reality, people will find that they fall on a continuum between the two. I personally am more similar to Futaba; it takes me a bit of a kick to get me out of my comfort zone.

  • Because I’m now familiar with Amanchu!, watching the characters revert to chibi form is no longer a bit of a surprise to me. Hikari and Futaba more or less do a mutual kokuhaku here, although given the nature of Amanchu!, I would tend to believe that these feelings are more strongly tied to mutual trust, respect and the understanding that the two friends complement one another is what draws the two to one another, rather than anything associated with romantic love.

  • With the first episode in the books, I say with confidence that Amanchu! Advance is going to be this season’s Yuru Camp△, fulfilling the role of an anime that puts a smile on my face, helps me relax and also prompts me to take a look back and appreciate the simpler things in life. This is the main reason why I continue to watch slice-of-life anime, and I imagine that others of Amanchu!‘s ilk continue to be produced in Japan primarily because there is a market for shows that help people kick back after a day of hard work.

Right out of the gates, Amanchu! Advance is a visual treat on top of introducing new narrative directions. As the first episode progresses, I was superbly impressed with just how vivid the colours are. The deeply azure skies and verdant landscapes create a contrast of colours that fully and completely capture what a summer properly feels like. Kino’s beach house and its surroundings are rendered immaculately. Lighting is expertly applied to breathe life into the world that Hikari and Futaba live in. All of this comes together to create an unparalleled sense of immersion: Amanchu! Advance is quick to remind audiences that a vast ocean awaiting exploring, the endless summer calm and heartwarming characters of Amanchu! have returned in full force for another season. However, this is a continuation that will explore new directions, and a subtle reminder of this is found in the rather unfortunate and embarrassing situation Hikari finds herself in; audiences are to infer that Amanchu! Advance will be more bold than its predecessor. Amidst the cathartic atmosphere and valuable life lessons depicted, Amanchu! Advance will very much be this season’s equivalent of Yuru Camp△Amanchu! might have a dramatically different setting, premise and art style, but like Yuru Camp△, Amanchu! masterfully utilises dissimilar personalities and the resulting interactions to create stories that calm, warm and induce a sense of ease amongst viewers that entice them to return each week to follow the adventures and learning that Futaba and Hikari partake in.

The Story of Memories Made During the Promised Summer: Amanchu! OVA Review and Reflections

“I turned myself into a pickle, Morty! Boom! Big reveal; I’m a pickle! What do you think about that? I turned myself into a pickle! What are you just staring at me for, bro? I just turned myself into a pickle, Morty…here’s something that’s never happened before; I’m…a…pickle! I’M PICKLE RICK!!” –Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

Futaba’s best friends from middle school, Akane and Chizuru, stop by Izu to visit her and Hikari. They enjoy a tour of Izu with Hikari and her grandmother. Akane and Chizuru notice a profound change in Futaba, who has become more confident and expressive since they’d last met. She cites Hikari’s influence as being what introduced this transformation, leading Chizuru to begin wondering if Hikari’s taken Futaba from them. Later, Futaba invites Akane and Chizuru on guided diving. Akane pairs up with Futaba, leaving Chizuru to go with Hikari. Midway into their dive, water pressure induces pain in Chizuru’s ears, but with instruction from Hikari, she manages to clear up and continue; after realising the wonders of the ocean, Chizuru reveals she was a little jealous of Hikari, but having seen Hikari’s helpful and friendly nature, finds that Futaba’s met the perfect friend. They promise to visit again in the future. Released back in March, the Amanchu! OVA represents a welcome return to the tranquil, cathartic world that Futaba encounters after moving from Tokyo; like its predecessor, the OVA continues with themes of friendship and growth as a result of complimenting personalities: the bold Hikari encourages Futaba to open up and enjoy the present, while the more reserved Futaba reigns in Hikari some to prevent misunderstandings. Thus, when Akane and Chizuru were introduced, the girls find they can get along as well as any friends, even in spite of Chizuru’s initial reservations. Simple, concise and enjoyable, the Amanchu! OVA encapsulates the very same elements that made the original anime so enjoyable. In this OVA, there is an additional element that proved to be a remarkably pleasant surprise.

This surprise took the form of Erino Hazuki and Chiwa Saitō taking on the voices for Akane and Chizuru, respectively. Best known as ARIA‘s Akari Mizunashi and Aika S. Granzchesta, respectively, Hazuki and Saitō bring into Amanchu! a piece of ARIA that is captured in both their voices, mannerisms and even their appearances: Akane is evidently influenced by Akari, and Chizuru draws heavily from Aika. Amanchu! is quite fond of the chibi artstyle, with Hikari and Futaba taking on very distinct traits whenever rendered in such a form. This convention applies to Akane and Chizuru, as well: each character is quite similar to their chibi counterparts in ARIA. When I originally finished Amanchu!, I had not finished ARIA‘s three seasons, but having done so now, I can conclusively say that beyond being immensely relaxing and enjoyable in their own rights, ARIA and Amanchu! cannot be compared to one another from a thematic perspective. Having said this, there are definitely numerous similarities that the two series share, a result of both manga being written by Kozue Amano. Elements from ARIA make their way into Amanchu!, whether it be the solid presence of cats, a focus on the subtleties in life or the gentle music accompanying scenes (in the anime): nowhere else in Amanchu! are these influences as evident as they are in the OVA. Altogether, the Amanchu! OVA, in depicting a memorable summer event for Futaba and her friends, also crafts a wonderful anime that is well-suited for watching during the dog days of summer, when the weather is a trifle too hot for being outside.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • An immensely relaxing and satisfying anime to watch, Amanchu! was, along with New Game!‘s first season, one of the two anime I followed a summer ago. Since then, it would appear that writing two anime per season appears to be the upper bound for what I am able to commit the time to writing for this blog. Conceptualising and writing blog posts is a rather time-consuming process, and consequently, I have nothing but respect and amazement for the folks who manage to write consistently, sometimes even putting out several posts in a day.

  • While I certainly won’t be able to have that sort of output, I can definitely focus on the quality of individual posts. This is why posts are becoming larger as of late: OVAs and longer discussions of anime I am actively following usually have thirty images compared to the standard twenty of discussions dealing with an anime after three episodes and my older posts. This post on the Amanchu! OVA will feature thirty screenshots. Here, Futaba’s friends, Akane and Chizuru, arrive in Izu under pleasant summer skies.

  • Hikari’s excitement is palatable in all of the moments she’s present in, and while Akane rolls with things as they occur, Chizuru seems a little more uptight. This is not surprising, mirroring Akari and Aika’s respective personalities in ARIA. An anime about miracles, I also happened to play DOOM during the time that I began watching ARIA, so this blog is probably the only place that will dare posit that ARIA‘s Aqua is the consequence of the events seen in DOOM.

  • After introductions, Hikari’s grandmother drives the girls to their first destination during a tour of Izu, a restaurant in the area known for their quality. The girls are all smiles, and I’ve seen some discussions surrounding Chizuru’s semi-transparent jacket. If I had to guess, it’s either made with an uncommonly light material of sorts, perfect for hot summer days, or else is a rain jacket. Given the climate of Izu, the former seems more logical.

  • In shows like Futurama and Rick and Morty, food is depicted in a very basic manner: anime, on the other hand, is known for its exceptionally detailed depictions of food. If and when I’m asked, the only shows that can top out anime in making me wish to eat something would be an actual food show. Here, the girls look at an ebi furai (蝦フライ, “fried shrimp) in detail: popular in Nagoya, ebi furai differ from tempura in its preparation, being made with bread crumbs rather than a batter. Futaba and the others marvel at the amount of meat within and impressed the batter is quite thin. This is a useful metric for determining whether one is getting their value: some places will give the impression of impressive fried items by adding more batter or bread crumbs, but quality restaurants usually have thinner fried layers.

  • Closer inspection of this moment finds each of Chizuru, Akane, Futaba and Hikari with their distinct chibi appearances. We’re well familiar with Futaba and Hikari’s chibi forms, while Chizuru and Akane take on Aika and Akari’s appearances, respectively – Aika’s mouth takes on a cat-like form, while Akari’s face flattens out to become simple geometric shapes. I personally love them, as they serve as visual cues for when something unusual or ridiculous has happened, although some people find them to be ” just ugly and detract from everything else”.

  • Such remarks can only come from folks who do not appreciate the impact of visually representing emotions, and for the most part, such individuals are exceedingly rare; the prevailing opinion is that ARIA‘s chibi-forms add more to a moment, and personally, I’m rather fond of whenever Akari deforms. Returning to Amanchu!, while Izu is no Aqua, the quiet surroundings, vivid colours and seemingly-infinite wonders allows the areas to nonetheless give a similar sense as Aqua did. Overlooking the ocean, the cliffs create a sense of majesty.

  • One of the joys about anime such as Amanchu! is that whenever friends visit and are given a tour, they are invariably taken to places off the beaten track away from the crowds. Some spots, although well-known, can also be a little more involved to reach, such as Lake Louise and the Beehives, which is a moderate trail that offers hikers with a stunning view of Lake Louise from five hundred metres up, even when the entire region’s been smoked out from wildfires in neighbouring British Columbia. There’s more on this hike later.

  • Hikari’s grandmother is voiced by Kikuko Inoue of CLANNAD‘s Sanae Furukawa, Ah! My Goddess‘ Belldandy and Megu’s mother in GochiUsa. While her voice is generally very easy to pick out, as Hikari’s grandmother, Inoue is able to present an older-sounding voice that attests to her voice acting capacities. In Amanchu!, Hikari’s grandmother, Kino, runs the scuba-gear shop named Amanchu, from which the manga and anime derives its name.

  • Close inspection of the images will find that Akane is very similar in appearance to Akari: she even has Akari’s distinct sideburns, although they are not quite as long. Similarly, Chizuru has Aika’s shorter hair: after an accident causes her hair to be burnt during ARIA: The Natural. Aika subsequently sports short hair in expression of her confidence to be herself, and this is the hairstyle that I know Aika best for. Other trademark characteristics of Akari and Aika make their way into Akane and Chizuru’s dialogue, whether it be Akari’s “わーい” (waii~, or “yay!”) or Aika’s “禁止” (“kinshi”, or “not allowed!”).

  • While Futaba gazes into the distance, Hikari tosses Aria into the air. Akane and Chizuru remark that this Futaba is more confident and forward than they had previously known her. Chizuru’s conflicting internal feelings about Hikari bring to mind the sort of uncertainty and doubt that Aika faces as the heiress to Himeya. Noticeably absent in Amanchu! is an equivalent of Alice Carroll, whose personality is surprisingly similar to GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu. Like Chino, who becomes more open as a consequence of Cocoa’s influence, Alice warms up to Aika and Akari as ARIA progresses.

  • While on a rope bridge, Futaba asks Akane and Chizuru if they’re interested in taking a guided diving tour to experience the world that has so profoundly changed hers. Both readily agree, and Hikari makes to contact Mato. Because both Hikari and Futaba are now certified, Futaba feels confident in showing her friends the wonders of the ocean. Like numerous anime set under beautiful summer skies, the Amanchu! OVA confers a sense of longing, although here, the feeling stems from a yearning for adventure and making memories.

  • A sensation vertigo, brought on by the heights, causes Chizuru to lose her balance momentarily. She falls backwards, but Hikari manages to prevent any harm from coming to her, swiftly diving and using her arm to break Chizuru’s fall. This feeling stems from actions of the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance – heights and perception of instability can cause the system to activate in an attempt to return to a more stable posture, and when one is already stable, will actually induce a sense of motion that can contribute to anxiety. This is likely what’s happening with Chizuru, and I do not blame her; my legs become numb at great heights when looking down, and even in video games, jumping from heights causes me to experience a falling sensation despite my knowing full well that I am not in any immediate danger.

  • Amanchu! is mentioned to be set in Izu, which presumably refers to the Izu Peninsula just west of Tokyo. Specifically, the location is the eastern side of Izu, since the western side is more rugged and lacks a train station. A mountainous region home to around 470 000 people, the area’s geological activity corresponds to a large number of onsen in the area, as well as places where ocean gives way to sheer cliff faces. With this in mind, while Amanchu! could have done a hot springs episode owing to the geology, that the OVA chooses not to is a strong sign of the direction this series intends to take.

  • While Hikari’s friendship with Futaba is something she treasures greatly, Futaba has not forgotten her old friendships, either. Chizuru feels a little left behind, even envious, after seeing photographs of Futaba with Hikari and the diving club. Her doubts are not missed by the others, but like Aika, Chizuru tries to tough it out. It is therefore unsurprising that it takes a bit of support from her friends, old and new, to help Chizuru overcome these feelings, rather similar to how Aika can be dishonest about her feelings in ARIA and likewise required some coaxing to bring her feelings into the open.

  • The next day, Chizuru and Akane gear up in preparation for their dive. They meet Mato for the first time and are briefed on the very basics of diving. Some patrons of a beach-side café are visible here, with beers in hand, and I am reminded of the fact that I am susceptible to the effects of alcohol more strongly than my peers because of an acetaldehyde dehydrogenase problem. This runs in the family: my cousins and uncles report a similar problem, and from a populations perspective, affects around a third of people with an East Asian descent.

  • I’m now at that age where I’m closer to the instructors in age than I am the students – it’s that sweet spot where one is old enough to have a bit of liberty to come and go as they please, while still young enough to enjoy things in a (somewhat) carefree manner. Mato certainly seems to embody this spirit: she’s a responsible individual who can be quite strict, but also encourages her students to have fun and will not hesitate to participate with her students in more lighthearted moments.

  • The differences in Futaba at the start of Amanchu! and as she is by the OVA’s events are quite profound. It is here, close to Kino’s scuba shop that Futaba first encounters Hikari, and things have come full-circle: whereas the Futaba of the first episode was very much fixated on missing her old home and friends, the Futaba we see in the OVA is very comfortable with open-ocean diving at this poin, feeling right at home near the ocean, having come to love the seas for having helped her view the world in a new light.

  • While Akane and Chizuru familiarise themselves with diving, I capitalised on the weather to hike Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive today. These are some of Banff’s most well-known hikes, and while the skies were flooded with smoke, the hike itself turned out to be quite enjoyable: up to Lake Agnes and their famous teahouse, things remain quite easy. The trail only really becomes a bit more involved en route to Big Beehive; numerous switchbacks dominate the trail once past the rockfall.

  • Amanchu!‘s original divers, Mato, Hikari and Futaba, gear up in preparations for taking Akane and Chizuru out into the ocean. On my end, there was no ocean, but rather, an enjoyable hike up five hundred metres total. We stopped briefly at Lake Agnes for a break, accosted by numerous Tamias minimus looking for free apples, before continuing on to the Big Beehive viewpoint. The hike from the Lake Agnes Teahouse starts out easy, but after clearing a rockfall, where Devil’s Thumb can be seen, there’s a series of switchbacks up the side of the mountain. It’s quite dusty and requires slow, methodical pacing, being moderately steep, but the climb is well worth it.

  • Once the top of the Big Beehive is reached, there’s a small trail there leading to an observation gazebo. This proved an immensely scenic locale for stopping for a quick bite (a ham and tomato sandwich), and afterwards, climbed towards the edge of the Big Beehive overlooking Lake Louise. From up here, the Chateau is tiny, with with Lake Louise Village and the Trans-Canada highway visible even on a smokey day. While the smoke may have prevented fantastic-looking photographs, it did keep the temperatures within a comfortable range. We would come back down to the Lake Agnes Teahouse for some tea (I bought a Chamomile; the cooler weather made the tea an appropriate choice), before taking on the hike back down to the Chateau for the drive home.

  • After making our way back into town, I sat down to a pleasant dinner at Shanghai Palace, which featured crispy chicken, salt-and-pepper calamari, vegetable dishes and a sweet and sour beef ribs dish I only know as sa lai gwut. Dinner is now over, the sun is setting, and it’s a time to relax for the evening: I’m totally exhausted. For the record, Shanghai Palace is one such restaurant with high quality fried meats. Back in Amanchu!, Hikari helps remind Chizuru about equalising the pressure accumulated in her ears when the latter panics. Here, Chiruzu learns that Hikari is genuinely caring for her friends, and when she subsequently makes to reach Futaba and Akane, who are further ahead, she begins spinning about.

  • With assistance from Hikari, Chizuru makes it to where the others are, and finally understands what about the ocean that lead to Futaba’s transformation, being surprised that light can penetrate the ocean and illuminate it to reveal a vast world normally hidden from sight. This is true to a certain extent: sunlight usually penetrates to around 200 meters in the water, and indeed, the deep reaches of the oceans below 1000 meters are pitch black.

  • Diving in the ocean was something that Futaba was slowly working towards in Amanchu! itself; some viewers felt that things were occurring a little too slowly, but I counter that the slow introduction towards diving has a two-fold purpose: the first is to emphasise that it takes time to coax Futaba out of her shell and become more adventurous, and the second is that by going over the basics at a slower pace also allows audiences to pick up on the details, which allows them to understand Futaba’s actions by the time she reaches a point where she’s ready for her certification exam.

  • Akane marvels at the sights underneath the ocean. Compared to Chizuru, she’s less uptight and more open-minded, mirroring the dynamics between Akari and Aika in ARIA. As the Amanchu! incarnation of Akari, Akane brings into Amanchu! a piece of ARIA; her personality’s largely remain unchanged accounting for why she has little development in the episode, and as mentioned earlier, having Erino Hazuki perform Akane’s voice is a particularly welcome decision. Similarly, Aika’s internal struggles in ARIA seem to have been ported over to Amanchu! in Chizuru.

  • Thanks to Hikari, what began on a rough footing for Chizuru turns into a magical moment for her as she takes in the sights and sounds of the ocean. The OVA perfectly captures the sum of everything that’s happened in Amanchu! and features almost as much diving as seen in the full run of original anime itself. Here, I remark that I am coming from the anime-only perspective and have not read the Amanchu! manga as of yet; this particular limitation is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I can approach the anime from a naïf perspective, which frees me from bias and previous beliefs about the anime, but it also holds me back from speculating as to what will happen next, as I know the manga is always a few steps ahead of what I’ve seen.

  • All good things must come to an end, and as the Amanchu! OVA draws to a close, Futaba and Hikari bid Akane and Chizuru farewell, hoping that they will come visit again. On average, a train journey from Tokyo to Izu takes a hair under three hours, costing around 5400 Yen (64 CAD with present exchange rates) – such a journey, while not one to be taken on a whim, is one that shows that Futaba and her friends are not separated by insurmountable barriers of distance and cost.

  • Because I did not otherwise feature an adaquately large pool of moments where Akane takes on Akari’s trademark chibi expressions, I will now do so right before this posts closes fully. I cannot quite put my finger on why, but there is a character to the deformed appearance of Akari and Akane’s that is so endearing to behold. By now, I’ve become well-accustomed to Kozue Amano’s distinct style, so the appearance of chibi form character expressions in both Amanchu! and ARIA are no longer as surprising as when I first began watching Amanchu!.

  • One of the things I particularly liked as a small detail in Amanchu! is that characters blushing have diagonal lines drawn across their faces in addition to the distinct pink colour associated with blushing. Different anime approach rendering blushing differently, whether its subtle patches of pink on one’s face, a full-body transformation, or my personal favourite, an emissive blush that gives the sense that the individual in question is producing black-body radiation.

  • Akane pets Chizuru at the Amanchu! OVA’s closing; with this thirteeth screenshot and accompanying figure caption, the Amanchu! OVA I’d been longing to write about since March is finally in the books. We’re rapidly closing on the halfway point of August by now, and I’m also nearing the halfway point for Far Cry 4, meaning there might be a post coming out on that in the near future in addition to a talk for Brave Witches OVA. Finally, the page quote is completely irrelevant to Amanchu!; sourced from the latest Rick and Morty episode, it should be clear that I had a great deal of fun watching the third episode. I figured I should use the quote in one of my reviews before the next episode comes out tomorrow: many apologies in advance for f–king with Google’s search algorithms in advance! Finally, last weekend, I also watched Dunkirk: it’s a highly visceral depiction of the Dunkirk Evacuation in 1940 that I enjoyed most for the use of sound, non-linear storyline and suspense-building.

Looking ahead, Amanchu! is still presently running in manga form, and consequently, it would not be surprising if it were to receive a second season. I’ve heard from friends familiar with the manga that future volumes hold interesting events that are said to, and I quote: “[dovetail] back into the ARIA franchise in completely unexpected ways”. There is certainly quite a bit of content for a second season, and while I’ve heard very little about a continuation, any continuations of Amanchu! will be worth watching. For now, the Amanchu! OVA in the books, and I note that I’ve actually had plans to write about this for quite some time: the OVA itself was released back in March, although the opportunity to do so had not presented itself until now. With this being said, the OVA’s focus on the summer makes it a perfect accompaniment for the hottest days of the year: this year’s been much hotter than last year, with more days reaching above 30°C than last year’s comparatively paltry one day. While the sunshine and warmth have been a boon for folks seeking to make the most of the weather, it’s also meant wildfires and damaged crops; some rain would be nice in relieving the incredibly dry conditions all around. Returning to Amanchu!‘s OVA, I conclude by giving this OVA a strong recommendation for folks who enjoyed Amanchu!; it’s an essential addition to the series that was well worth viewers’ time.