Episode 4

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Amanchu! ?

Like last week's installment, the latest Amanchu! dials back the comedy in favor of showcasing some genuine character growth for Futaba. There are still plenty of Muppet-y faces and humorous moments scattered throughout, but the show's general mood has grown more introspective with each new episode. Now that the girls have sat through the necessary safety lectures and the Diving Club is officially active, it feels like Amanchu! can truly get started.

When Futaba sees the professional (well, professional-ish) attitude Hikari adopts while working as a part-time diving instructor, she can't help but become inspired. However, when the first day of diving practice rolls around, a minor setback and heightened anxiety levels almost cause Teko to throw in the towel for good. Endlessly frustrated by her inability to keep water out of her goggles, Futaba becomes distraught to the point of crying, but some heartfelt words of encouragement from her newfound best friend inspire her to suck it up and head back into the water with renewed vigor.

Like Futaba, the audience is eager to hit the water, but for much of the episode, we're left watching from afar. While this certainly makes the pool-centric second half of the episode feel more rewarding, it also seems like a tease. The beginning of the first segment also features a bevy of practical diving tips—which is great for viewers who are itching to learn more about diving but dull for those who are more concerned with the actual plot.

The sense of panic Futaba feels each time water finds its way into her goggles is palpable. As evidenced by Teko's insistence that she wasn't able to breathe, the lengthy lecture the girls received from Katori-sensei last week likely put the fear of God in her. The prospect of falling even further behind Hikari—someone whose diving prowess she clearly admires—only increases her already-high stress levels. Coupled with Futaba's panicked thoughts, the music and sense of genuine tension effectively make the audience squirm on the character's behalf. The fact that holding Hikari's hand helps her relax underwater nicely underscores how much Teko has come to trust her new confidante. Futaba's musings about the activities she's given up on in the past are also likely to resonate with viewers. Who among us hasn't given up on something we regret not seeing all the way through?

If this episode is any indication, Amanchu! will become less and less reliant on Hikari's manic personality and hyperactivity as the series wears on. While the girl is still as goofy as ever, her antics are no longer being used to propel the plot forward. Although the instructional diving aspects of the story felt less like a classroom lecture this week, I still think the show is being more technical than necessary. Minor gripes aside, episode 4 makes some major headway into conquering Futaba's confidence issues and expertly showcases the growing friendship between the show's leads.

Rating: B

Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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