First Look: Amanchu!

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Alternate title: The Misadventures of Whimsey Wetsuit
Manga Adaptation by J.C. Staff
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Futaba Ooki has recently moved to the seaside and is nervous about making her entrance at the local high school. Her worries are soon laid to rest, however, when an even stranger person turns out to be joining her class, and kooky, deep-sea diving Hikari Kinoshita is hell-bent on making Futaba her friend.

Aqua’s verdict: The Seaweed Is Always Greener In Somebody Else’s Lake

I can go off on another tangent about the iyashikei genre and my complicated feelings towards it, but you’ve all heard that one before, so let’s boil things down to the one thing that matters: yes, Amanchu! is one of the good ones. Or at least it caught me at a good time. While it’s distinct vibe and sleepy pacing still make it very much an acquired taste, Amanchu! is noticeably zanier than the likes of Flying Witch or Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, which could make or break it entirely depending on your tolerance the ocean’s quirkiest inhabitant since SpongeBob SquarePants. On one hand, Hikari’s wide array of wacky muppet faces and shameless glee bring a bit of spark to a genre usually drenched in an understated enjoyment of the little things in life. On the other hand, her outlandish antics and general lack of compliance with the conventions of everyday human behaviour might just as well turn people off.

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Consequently, Amanchu! may cater to a very specific need – the need for an enjoyable level of obnoxiousness – but it does so exceptionally. It’s sweet and relaxing, yet on the other hand has the defibrillator at the ready for when it risks getting too snoozy, with both aspects of its two-faced whole balancing each other out perfectly: consistently wacky and consistently soothing, but never too much of either. Given the fact that it is constantly at risk of ‘healing’ viewers straight to sleep, Amanchu!‘s eccentric sense of temperance may be exactly what the iyashikei genre needs.

Jel’s verdict: You Think About Going Up There, But That Is A Big Mistake

As I’ve been saying all this season, I love silly anime faces. So considering that is 90% of Amanchu!, I’m in. If you need more than that, it’s a rather lovely show with a good mix of easy going, sleepy seaside town vibes and infectious enthusiasm for life. How is this not a P.A. Works show? The weird, outgoing girl befriending the shy newcomer is not the newest story in the world, but it seems to be executed really well here. Maybe it was the faces, but I found our two lead girls instantly endearing. Throw in cool grandma and there’s quite a bit here to like. It might be a touch slow for some people, but if you want something pleasant to chill out with this summer, this looks like a safe pick.

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Iro’s verdict: Just Look At The World Around You, Right Here On The Ocean Floor

This sure is made by a lot of the same people as Aria, up-to-and-including the original mangaka! It bears a lot of the same hallmarks (soft, plinky mandolin; form-fitting dresses; probably-but-not-quite lesbians; cool granny; lots of pretty water), and I’m fine with that. Honestly, it’s probably a bit of a disservice to so readily compare Amanchu! with its cousin, but gosh it’s hard to not do so when they’re so spiritually similar. The lack of seemingly any supernatural elements (which Aria had all over the place) makes Amanchu! feel more grounded, which in turn makes the goofy faces and Hikari’s bizarre behavior stand out even more. If you can put up with some of the weirder stuff (and are up for a “healing” anime in the first place), then I can’t see you going wrong with this one.

P.S.: Aquagaze once featured Amanchu! for our weird old Random Manga Theatre feature! What!!

Zigg’s verdict: Such Wonderful Things Surround You, What More Is You Looking For?

Practically nothing of any import happens at all during this episode, yet it’s oddly charming in a way i can’t quite describe. The beautiful backdrops and interesting character designs help a lot, as does the show’s willingness to be silly about the whole thing. in fact, that last quality may actually be too abundant – as great as Pikari’s frog face is it’d be a better joke if she didn’t have it for like half an episode. I teetered right on the line between boredom and interest throughout this, but in the end i think I enjoyed myself enough to give it a second episode at least. It’s definitely not something I’m going to get too pumped up for though.

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Who lives in a diving shack close to the sea? 
Whim! Sey! Wet! Suit!
Annoying and quirky and buoyant is she
Whim! Sey! Wet! Suit!
If shows about nothing are something you like
Whim! Sey! Wet! Suit!
Then put on your swimsuit and jump off the dike
Whim! Sey! Wet! Suit!

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