by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 8 of
This week's dual-segment Amanchu! presents us with two separate character studies, giving the audience a chance to view Ai and Futaba through the eyes of Makoto and Hikari. Like last week's installment, episode 8 has virtually nothing to do with diving, but at the end of the day, this show's strength lies with its colorful characters, who remain as likable as ever. Even though we don't learn anything particularly surprising about the highlighted characters, both segments are entertaining enough to warrant staying out of the water for another week.
In the first half, Makoto is shocked when his sister finds a love letter in her shoe locker. (Since Makoto is the least-developed member of the main cast, it's nice to see him take center stage for a change.) Too embarrassed to read the note in its entirety, the normally-abrasive Ai quickly discovers that the note is from a boy she has a mild crush on. Surprised to see his rough-and-tumble sibling in such a vulnerable state, Makoto encourages her to read the rest of the letter and respond to its author in earnest. Unfortunately, the first few lines reveal that the letter was never intended for Ai—but for the girl whose shoe locker is directly below hers. The second half finds Futaba and Hikari taking the freshman class' annual physical education exam. Throughout the segment, Hikari reflects on how nervous and unsure of herself Futaba becomes when she isn't by her side, comparing her to a loyal dog. However, some timely advice from Pikari during the closing relay race encourages Teko to put her best foot forward and reach the finish line with gusto.
Because Ai has been so consistently abrasive, it's hard to believe that her peers view her as attractive and refined. Her own brother sharing the audience's surprise at how out-of-character she acts in response to receiving the love letter nicely drives home the episode's theme: every so often, we discover new sides of the people closest to us. (Ditto the second segment's revelation that gentle, soft-spoken Futaba hates to lose.)
Although the second segment is focused on examining Futaba, we also get a glimpse of a different side to Hikari. Viewing Teko through her eyes, we come to see that the puppet-faced bundle of energy is far more insightful and aware of her surroundings than she lets on. (This also makes Hikari seem a little less zany.) It's clear now that she puts more thought into the crazy things she does than we originally thought—in part because of her desire to make life easier for Futaba.
Even though the denizens of the Diving Club once again stay out of the water this week, Amanchu! remains a reliably entertaining good time. The character interactions feel more organic than ever, and everyone continues to grow at a believable pace. Pikari and company discovering unexpected secret sides to one another helps illustrate this show's propensity for avoiding ruts and shaking up the status quo.
Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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