by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Futaba takes center stage once again in this week's feel-good Amanchu! At this point, Teko's journey from “reticent sidekick" to “capable diver” has essentially become the series' overarching plot. Unlike Pikari, who began the show as a fully-formed character, Futaba has experienced some measure of personal growth every week, and episode 6 does a nice job of continuing that trend. Although I suspect she'll continue to grapple with confidence issues for the foreseeable future, this latest chapter makes it clear that she's headed in the right direction.
While training for her Open Water Diver Certification with Katori-sensei, Teko projects confidence, creating the impression that she'll ace the pool portion of the exam. However, despite performing admirably in the regulator-recovery and mask-clearing tests, she's unable to tackle the swimming and floating tests on account of not being able to swim—which explains why a water-filled mask filled her with such dread a couple weeks back. (I'm shocked that Futaba apparently never thought to tell anyone in the club she couldn't swim. She's even loaded herself down with equipment and gotten underwater without thinking that might be an issue.) Eager to let off some steam (and show off her new car), Katori-sensei drives Teko and Pikari to a touristy seaside plaza after wrapping up practice for the day. While there, Futaba confides in Hikari that this is the first time in her life she's had genuine aspirations—and their friendship is largely to thank for this.
We also learn a little more about Futaba's personal struggle this week. In addition to her crippling confidence issues and social anxiety, she's always had trouble thinking of things she wants, much less asking for them. The Tanabata-centric flashback to her childhood illustrates how alienated Teko felt from her peers. While her classmates had no problem coming up with requests to hang on the school's wish tree, Futaba found herself hard-pressed to think of any, ultimately causing her to write down the most generic wish possible. However, by episode's end, the newly-confident Teko is able to express a genuine desire to become a better swimmer via one of the plaza's “joy ribbons.” As Pikari aptly puts it, “For you, it was a giant leap!”
The side trip, ostensibly to celebrate Futaba's slow-but-sure progress, makes thematic sense, since Teko has finally learned to acknowledge her own desires. Her first wish for her own sake may have come about as a result of Pikari's insistence that she join the Diving Club, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful. Futaba needs to take baby steps to become more confident, and the Diving Club represents the ideal environment for her to move forward at her own pace.
Although fluidly-animated diving sequences are notably absent for the second straight week, there's enough character growth, plot progression, and comedy to keep viewers entertained. Plus, the hands-on instructional portion of the episode proves considerably more entertaining than Katori-sensei's usual long-winded lectures. Best of all, Futaba has finally come to realize that her needs matter, and minor setbacks aren't the end of the world.
Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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