It may not have had too much hype, but the second season of one of 2016’s most pleasant surprises, Amanchu!, aired this past spring. In short, it’s another pretty good reason why it’s so nice to be a yuri fan right now~
Synopsis: Kohinata Hikari and Ooki Futaba have together found joy in many things through scuba diving and the most everyday of events. Hikari was born and brought up in a small oceanside town on Izu, and Futaba moved there from Tokyo, but the two polar opposites met at Yumegaoka High and instantly hit it off. The always-reserved Futaba found her perfect foil in the cheery and optimistic Hikari, and their friendship gave her the courage to take the first step and experience many of the smaller joys in life. She also took the Open Water Diver exam and passed, and now she has her sights set on the Advanced Open Water Diver certification.
The first season of Amanchu! turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining story about two girls who form a strong friendship while picking up scuba diving, and contrary to what that synopsis might lead you to believe, this season isn’t as fixated on scuba diving as the first season was. Only about six of the twelve episodes feature diving, but at least there’s still that friendship between Pikari and Teko, and that’s always been the real focus of the story, at least for us yuri fans.
When they first met, Teko was shy and introverted, but with the help of Pikari and the others, she slowly started to open up, and she took a brave step forward. The process continues this season, and from how she is from the beginning of the season to how she is at the end of it, we see her come quite a long way. Compared to the glossed over process of her getting her advanced license, this aspect of the story seems to play a bigger part than the scuba-centric storyline, and I’m all for it. That’s good, though, there was something about the story that wasn’t so good…
In the third quarter of the season, a three-episode-long arc begins that I didn’t really enjoy much. Telling the story of a mysterious boy named Peter, I was surprised to see Pikari and Teko take a backseat to Ai. Over the first season and a half, Ai and her brother were mostly relegated to occasionally helping out the main duo with their scuba endeavors, but for this stretch, she’s the star of the show. It wasn’t the story being told or Ai herself that I had a problem with, it was the fact that this didn’t feel like the same Amanchu! that I enjoyed two years ago.
If this Peter arc had been an OVA or special, I think this would’ve been pretty nice and I wouldn’t have had any issues with it at all, but three entire episodes? I think that’s just way too long to focus on something that’s so different from what we’ve come to know and like about the series. What’s worse is that Pikari and Teko only play minor roles during this arc, so for those of us who started watching this just to see the two of them together, it’s very disappointing.
Aside from that stretch, this still feels like the same easygoing show that pleasantly surprised me back then. There’s something to be said about an anime that you can just put on after a rough day and relax your worries away, and Amanchu! is still one of the better ones that you’ll find at doing that~
As for the characters, there are only three new additions to the cast this season, so not too much has changed in this area.
Our two favorite divers are still making all sorts of fun memories together—in and out of the water—and the dynamic of their relationship is as enjoyable as ever. Between the cute, introverted one and the cute, outgoing one, it feels like the cuteness overload from the first season never left. I think these two were at their best when they were together, and those moments when they were apart really highlighted that fact for me. On their own, they’re fine enough, but that chemistry is so good that I’m glad that we often still see them share the spotlight.
As was previously mentioned, Ai takes center stage for a three-episode-long stretch, and she comes out looking pretty good. Apart from abusing her brother (and her adorable faces), she’s always seemed to have been underutilized, but all of that changes in the Peter arc. The romantic aspects of the arc weren’t very welcome by me, but at least we finally got to know her a little better. Makoto still gets no love, however. Poor guy… 😛
And then there’s Kokoro. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that his presence hurt the show, but I certainly don’t think it helped. His tsundere act wasn’t cute, and the love triangle-of-sorts that emerged between him, Pikari, and Teko was something that I’m sure no one asked for. If I had known that he was a boy earlier, I probably would have disliked him more, so I just think he was a completely unnecessary addition that I honestly could’ve done without.
Season one saw our two stars spend a lot of time together at the forefront, so the subtext was expectedly pretty high. When they’re together, season two still sees plenty of subtext involved, but I wouldn’t say it’s quite as much as the first season. Once again, they express their love for one another, and late in the season, Teko even gets another female admirer, but it’s all about her and Pikari, and their cute moments together can’t help but leaving you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
But it wasn’t all good news. It was disheartening to hear Teko tell Kokoro that since he’s a boy, his love for Pikari has to be slightly different from hers, and it was even more disheartening to hear her tell him that she’ll be rooting for him. For a moment, it almost felt like the air being let out of the yuri balloon, but I chose to mostly block it out, so all of the moments where Pikari is being Teko’s emotional support are what I choose to remember most. 😛
With no Peter and no Kokoro, things might’ve been different and this second season might’ve surpassed the first in terms of yuri, but even with all those roadblocks thrown in, you still can’t deny that there’s quite a bit of subtext thrown in. I shouldn’t complain much about a subtext-heavy anime, so I guess I’ll be happy with what we got.
When it comes to animation, Amanchu! Advance picks up where the original left off and once again shows us the beauty below the sea, but the more adventurous moments were welcome sights that I didn’t expect to see in this anime. Pikari going on a broom-riding adventure through the skies and a Super Mario Bros. 3-style airship are things that I never thought I’d see in Amanchu!, but there they are.
Of course, all of the goofy faces that made the first season a lot of fun are back, and compared to the slice of life shows that I normally end up reviewing, I like that this series has more realistic-looking character designs where teenagers look how teenagers are generally supposed to look. It’s sometimes cute when characters from other anime look like oversized grade-schoolers, but I think it ends up getting tiring to see.
Moving on, one thing I loved about the first season was how important the acoustic guitar was to the music, and I’m glad to see that things haven’t changed at all in this second season. It’s still the musical star of the show, and the rest of the soundtrack is just as relaxing and pleasing to the ears. A lot of the time, the music in anime tends to generally sound the same, though, the music here stands out more and is more memorable than what you’ll probably find in other slice of life shows.
Overall, I feel like Amanchu! Advance was a little lighter in some of the key areas that made the first season so good. Most notably, the focus on Pikari x Teko isn’t quite as strong as before, but if you can get over that, this series continues to be one of the more pleasant and watchable anime this side of Yuru Camp△.