by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Futaba, Hikari, and the rest of the club go for one last dive in this week's satisfying finale. Since Teko earning her open water certification was the series' most prominent focal point, it should come as no surprise that she has that certification in the bag by episode's end. While predictable, this ending suits the consistently relaxed mood of the series and serves as the perfect stopping point for this adaptation. Although the parent manga is still being serialized, this doesn't seem like a bad place to end Amanchu!
For the open water portion of Futaba's certification exam, Katori-sensei takes the group to Osezaki, which she describes as a mecca for rookie divers. No longer plagued by her character-defining self-doubt, Teko wastes no time in suiting up and expertly performing the standard safety checks. Aside from a few minor slipups, Futaba manages to pass the final stage of her exam with flying colors. Even her once-dreaded mask-clearing exercise can now be performed with confidence and finesse. After receiving her temporary Open Water Diver license (the real one will be ready in the near future), Futaba reflects on her recent accomplishments alongside Hikari, who admits to being a little too forceful in the early days of their friendship. However, Teko says that she's grateful for all that pushiness, since it enabled her to discover the world of diving and build lasting friendships.
We spend enough time in the water this week to make up for the relative lack of underwater sequences featured in the show's latter half. Animation-wise, the lengthy exam sequence isn't as visually stunning as the fluid swimming scenes from the first two episodes—but that's not to say it isn't impressive. The creative color scheme, interesting musical arrangements, and lack of dialogue help give Futaba's final exam a distinctly dreamlike, almost otherworldly feel.
While there was no doubt in my mind that Teko would emerge victorious, I kept expecting her to hit a few snags as the episode progressed. Although temporarily losing a flipper and screwing up the floating portion of the exam technically constitute blunders, I was pleased to see that she didn't respond to those setbacks with her usual sulking and self-doubt, electing instead to roll with the punches and carry on. Since we've followed Futaba on her journey from diving neophyte to certified open water diver, the confidence she displays this week is satisfying to watch. Truth be told, I was starting to tire of seeing her regain and lose her self-worth on an almost weekly basis, but this ultimately made the finale that much more rewarding. Then again, it's hardly unusual for people who suffer from chronic self-doubt to experience frequent highs and lows, and in that regard, Amanchu! offers a reasonably accurate portrayal of someone afflicted by this problem.
For a low-stakes show set in a small town, Amanchu! certainly feels like a big deal. With its unique cast, top-shelf visuals, and engaging character interactions, this show is a top contender for “Iyashikei of the Year.” (Or it would be if such an award existed.) Nearly every episode is likely to leave a satisfied smile on your face, even though most of the laughs are derived from well-timed SD instead of creative gags. While Futaba's inner struggle is given a little too much focus and not every cast member receives an equal amount of development, the things Amanchu! get right far outweigh any minor gripes I may have with it.
Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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