by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 9 of
This week's Amanchu! actually feels like the natural end of Futaba's character arc, though I highly doubt this is actually the case. Ever since the series premiere, Teko's struggle with social anxiety and waning self-confidence has been the show's most consistent point of focus, and even though the Futaba-centric stories are starting to feel a touch repetitive, the character remains as fascinating as ever. Episode 9 changes things up by giving us a glimpse into Futaba's immediate past—something that's barely been touched upon until this point.
Early on in the episode, we learn that Futaba has grown very attached to the photos on her phone. Since each photo represents an irreplaceable memory, she's loathe to part ways with any of them after discovering that her phone has run out of storage space. Not crazy about the idea of transferring to a memory card to free up space, Teko is driven to reflect on past friendships and the initial sadness she experienced after moving, questioning the true value of her expansive photo collection. When her Diving Club cohorts present her with a digital picture frame, Futaba comes to realize that appreciating things as you experience them is ultimately more important than idealizing memories.
The story is also interspersed with brief flashbacks of Futaba's junior high school days in Tokyo, when she formed a close friendship with two classmates: the easygoing Chizuru and the slightly Pikari-esque Akane. Just like the Teko we met at the beginning of the series, middle school-aged Futaba adopts a largely passive role when it comes to social interaction. Had Akane and Chizuru never took the first step by approaching her, she never would have gotten to know them. Similarly, had Pikari never set her sights on Teko and strong-armed her into joining the Diving Club, it's unlikely the two of them would have interacted at all.
Futaba's definitely been lucky in the friendship department, but I found it a little strange that none of her peers attempted to form connections with her prior to middle school. As reticent as she is, she's not repellent, to say nothing of her fierce loyalty. On some level, it seems like Teko is drawn to powerful presences like Pikari and Akane. Since these individuals dominate everything with their mad exuberance, they provide Futaba with a sense of direction and purpose.
While solidly paced and consistently entertaining, episode 9 tackles a subject that's already been given a great deal of focus. Teko's personal journey is certainly interesting, but seeing her lose and regain her confidence with such regularity makes each victory a little less meaningful. Futaba has broken out of her shell, not once, but twice in her burgeoning youth, and she now realizes how to reconcile her old life with her new one while treasuring both. This is symbolized adroitly by Teko finally using the phone strap her Tokyo friend gave her instead of keeping it squirreled away, as well as her willingness to use the gang's digital frame despite her earlier aversion to outside storage.
As usual, this week's Amanchu! doesn't skimp on the warm fuzzies. Nothing extravagant happens—in fact, there's nary a mention of the club activities that initially seemed to be the focus of the series. Despite all this, episode 9 is one of the stronger “Futaba is depressed” stories, though it would have been even more enjoyable had it not come hot off the heels of so many others.
Amanchu! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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