Episode 13

by Amy McNulty,

After a year-long absence, Pikari and Teko resurface with another top-notch piece of iyashikei. Although the main series devoted a great deal of energy to chronicling Futaba's quest for confidence, this special helps hammer home just how much the character has grown since the first episode. If you enjoyed the easygoing misadventures of Hikari, Futaba, and the rest of the Diving Club back in 2016, odds are you'll eat up this bonus installment of Amanchu!

Episode 13 finds Futaba's old friends Akane and Chizuru (who Teko spent most of the main series pining after) visiting Shizuoka. Following their arrival, Chizuru notices that Futaba has adjusted a bit too well to her new surroundings and grows slightly jealous of the close friendship she shares with Hikari. Hoping to show her besties the wonders of diving, Futaba arranges for Mato to lead the group on a hands-on diving course for beginners. Despite being somewhat reluctant, Chizuru goes along with the plan and winds up with Hikari as a diving partner. After receiving some valuable assistance from Hikari and seeing how beautiful the underwater world can be, Chizuru comes to view Futaba's new life (and Pikari) in much more positive light—though she's still sad to leave her friend behind.

Evolving relationships are a fact of life, especially in adolescence. Though Chizuru is afflicted with unjustified jealousy, she doesn't seem to realize how badly Futaba needed new friends in her absence. (It's sweet that Futaba still has equal room in her heart for her old friends.) Chizuru coming to the realization that Hikari hasn't taken her place is a fairly predictable resolution, but the realistic character interactions and sharp narrative beats help prevent it from feeling hackneyed or overly schmaltzy. Even though the character comes across as mildly abrasive, Chizuru's actions reflect those of many a real teenager in a similar situation.

On the aesthetic front, Amanchu! remains a feast for the eyes. The bright colors, unique character designs, and fluid movement are every bit as pleasant to look at as they were last year, though this is far from the series' best-looking episode. Unfortunately, this special's underwater sequence isn't quite up to par with the main series' moments, but since diving only accounts for a small portion of the proceedings, this is mostly forgivable.

In light of its low-key premise, Amanchu! didn't exactly need more episodes, but it's the type of show that's easy to enjoy in small slices, even after a lengthy breather. Considering how often Teko reminisced about her old friends, it's nice that we got the chance to meet Chizuru and Akane. It's also interesting to see an episode where Futaba isn't the one struggling with insecurity and self-doubt. While it's uncertain if more animated Amanchu! is on the horizon, if episode 13 is reflective of what future installments might look like, its audience will always be up for more.

Rating: A-

Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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