Friday, September 23, 2016

10 Second Anime - Amanchu! - Episode 12 [END]

The Diving Club goes diving as Futaba takes her certification exam. Hikari and Futaba thank each other for their friendship. Season finale.

Episode 12 - "The Story of the Blue World"


This was quite the satisfying conclusion to a story about a shy, closed-off girl opening herself up to a new friend and a new hobby. A common device in Healing Anime is to use a mundane event as a metaphor in service to the theme of the episode or the overall theme of the show and we saw that here with the air bubbles coming from other divers.

Another common device in Healing Anime is that the main character realizes she's not alone in following an arc of growth. We saw that here too.

But first, let's look at Futaba discovering how large this new community of diving enthusiasts really is.

Part of Futaba's character narrative was being afraid of joining in with people who have already started an event, a hobby or sport. This season showed her slowly becoming part of a larger group first by sneaking around with Hikari, then meeting Ms. Katori as an advisor and meeting the upper classmen in the Ninomiya twins. That was plenty big for Futaba, but look at all these people going diving!

Instead of being shy about joining them, she was still excited about actually diving in clear water. Progress! That's another hallmark of Healing Anime that sets it apart from the rest of the slice-of-life genre.

The cats did their own thing. The little kitten Ohime needs a nickname like Aria aka Cha does. She kept making a little "chu!" sound and sneezing too, so I'm going to call her Choo Cat to go with Cha Cat.

Choo Cat is still the cutest thing I've seen all season. And she's still using her pre-equipped sucking action with Futaba's finger.

Gear check and buddy checks were okay. Ai was fine too!

Cha cat did his own buddy check on Choo Cat. Now why was he in a collar and tie? His owner the principal has some odd ideas...

I loved how the story used the mundane to point us toward something else mundane which then became a special symbol. Futaba had lost a flipper paddling out to the buoy but a helpful diver from down below had it drop on him, so he came up to give it back.

Futaba had been feeling trepidation at the darkness near the bottom of the lagoon and it was no accident how it looked similar to the dark isolation she always placed herself in. But then she saw all the columns of bubbles coming up. Each column represented a diver down there.

Her dark spot that she was going down into was already filled with people! A visual metaphor for loneliness in her mind had suddenly become a place of belonging. And it was only dark because of the relative brightness near the ocean surface. She just needed to adjust her eyes, which was another reference from earlier in the season.

Before Futaba could enjoy all the diving stuff, she needed to take her test. Katori-sensei has mad mask clearing skillz yo.

It was time to check off the list the kids had made with all that colorful chalk.

And then, the show became complete for me. Since I first saw the opening credits, I had been waiting to see the girls treat diving as underwater dancing in their skimpy swimsuits. We got a slight tease of this when Futaba realized there were people in her dark scary place, but we got the full treatment after Futaba's test was over.

Very nice. They opted for the bathing suits they bought at the mall instead of what we in the opening sequence, so yay for continuity. Sadly, no Ai or Katori, but at least Hikari and Futaba made good on the promise of the first episode.

I liked how Futaba was such a chatterbox when she came out of the water. Usually it was Hikari doing all the talking when they walked together, but here it was Futaba commenting on all the sights they saw. Just more subtle signs of her character growth.

Incredibly, Futaba was the genki girl as the club was supposed to be filling out a dive log entry.

Futaba had quick thumbs on her keypad to be texting so fast with her Tokyo friend.

Suddenly, a wild Katori-sensei appeared! I liked this interruption...

She was filling out some official paperwork for Futaba. She was dive certified! Complete with mockup ID as she waited for the real one to get mailed to her.

Futaba had developed an embarrassing habit of saying her musings out loud and she let one go about the ocean applauding her for passing her test as they rose to the surface. No, Katori explained, it was probably just the water hitting nearby rocks or snapping shrimps, but why not believe the ocean was clapping its congratulations? This is the spirit of youth!

Futaba and Hikari had the friendship confession scene to close out the season. Hikari had also been having her own character growth arc, trying to put more of feelings into words. In the first episode, she had wanted to meet the girl with the beautiful hair, but she had never told Futaba that until now. She felt kind of guilty for somehow making her half-baked idea of making this mermaid looking girl on a moped go diving with her, but it was just a fun flight of fancy that worked out that way. Well, with some pushing from Hikari, but it was still an embarrassing confession to make.

The two friends found their way to ocean's bottom together, not by Hikari wishing it so, and it was a fulfilling journey for both of their individual needs. They'd become friends who can say they love each other. Aw. This is the spirit of youth too.

Final Thoughts.

Katori-sensei's rousing speech in defense of the sprit of youth is pretty well captured in the end card.

Coming from the same team that produced ARIA, I had high hopes for the visuals, the music, the humor and the small human moments we were sure to see. All those expectations were met and some were just thrown in for spice, like how important the cats became as characters.

The main character of the show was the setting by ocean. Without a big blue sky, those wonderful clouds, that golden time lighting and the grand sights and sounds of the ocean, so much of the sentimental dialogue and monologues would not have had the emotional impact they did. The setting's supporting character was the music. Having set musical themes in the score set the mood and expectations for what the scene was to put forth. These two cast members were important parts of ARIA and they didn't put a wrong foot down in this show either.

The muppet face was another element borrowed from ARIA, and just like in that show, it served as a marker for the essence of each character. It's not an accident that Hikari's muppet face matched Cha Cat (Aria cat) and that Futaba's match Ohime (Choo Cat). These little things add so much to a slice-of-life show where a lot of the "action" is internal growth or noticing how the seasons change.

Finally, a word about the cats. If you're a cat lover, you need to watch this show. They were simply the best thing about it and stole every scene they were in. And that's saying something when you had such strongly developed irrepressible characters like Hikari, Katori-sensei or Ai. I just hope Aria finally does find love with a cat named Hime.

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