Amanchu! Is quickly becoming one of my favourite anime series. With its quirky characters, beautiful soundtrack and relaxing aesthetic I’ve gotten so much more than I bargained for when I first heard about the prospect of an anime about scuba diving.
I’m going to admit that I will readily watch any series that is based around water. Hell, I accidentally started watching Haifuri last season because I thought it was actually Amanchu!, and that didn’t turn out too bad…
I’m not too sure what draws me to water in particular, as I haven’t been into swimming for more than a few years, yet Finding Nemo has been one of my favourite films for as long as I can remember.
However, perhaps the thing I love most about Amanchu! is the absent-mindedness of one of the main characters, Hikari Kohinata.
Despite being completely different on the surface, she’s a character who I really relate to because of her perspective of happiness and the way it manifests in her behaviour.
From the moment we’re introduced to Hikari, who is nicknamed ‘Pikari’ due to her hyperactivity, we realise that she’s quite a bit more colourful than all of the other students at her school. She’s very routine-oriented and pretty eccentric, a novel combination in itself.
Although she clearly doesn’t have the same level of anxiety as her soon-to-be friend Futuba Ooki, nicknamed ‘Teko’ because of her thin, dotty eyebrows, the whistle is a clear giveaway that Pikari is doing what she can to alleviate the nervousness of being at her first day of school.
The whistle is a staple of her scuba diving routine and a way for her to keep hold of something she’s comfortable with in an unfamiliar place. You’ll notice that, as she becomes more familiar with school and with Teko, the whistle disappears along with her feelings of unfamiliarity.
It’s very entertaining to see this kind of thorough, systematic behaviour that accompanies her bubbly personality.
However, this doesn’t seem to carry any social anxiety for Pikari. Unlike Teko, she just isn’t 100% comfortable with her surroundings at the beginning of the series and leans on her routine-oriented behaviour.
She lives in her own blissful bubble, unaware of any sort of judgement from others. She’s a free spirit in the purest way, hovering from happy moment to happy moment.
She doesn’t care if she looks silly, because she’s happy. It’s just something that’s so rare to see in a teenager that it makes her an instantly likeable character.
She’s completely disconnected and yet perfectly in tune with the world around her, as she absent-mindedly plays with a cat on the way to school, completely ignoring everything else around her. As someone who can be walking down the road and mentally be in a completely different place, I can’t help but relate to Pikari’s happy bubble.
Pikari is a character that lives for the little things that make her happy, as well as the big things. Every small victory is greeted by a ‘whoop!’ which is honestly the most endearing thing in the whole series.
Just like the habitual nature of scuba diving, every success, whether big or small, is something to be celebrated and checked off the list of things that make Pikari happy.
It doesn’t matter whether she’s had a good day, or a bad one, Pikari seeks out the small things in life that she knows will bring her joy. Even better, she’s just so overjoyed to be able to share them with others, whether it’s with Teko or Katori-sensei.
I just can’t help but feel that it’s such an admirable, albeit pretty unrealistic, way to live.
I consider myself a person that doesn’t worry very much and often lives in a bit of a bubble, especially when I’m walking around. I’ve walked into a lamp post before, but that’s neither here nor there.
It’s not strange to walk a different way home to see that view you like in the Winter, or to enjoy that part in a song that gives you frisson without fail.
These are the small, seemingly insignificant, things that you can do to make your day just a little bit brighter and why shouldn’t you? Life should be something we enjoy, something we can look forward to each and every day.
Pikari’s character is a beautiful clash of serenity and energy; someone who can enjoy both a high-speed race on the way to school and the peaceful isolation of diving underwater. It’s a beautiful combination that shows that people can rarely be boiled down to one single personality trait or ‘type’.
Of course it’s unreasonable to expect people to stumble through their lives with the same blissful absent-mindedness, but I’m with Pikari in chasing the little things that make you happy, because they all add up to a healthy state of mind.
That’s what I love the most about Pikari’s unabashed absent-mindedness, I see in her what I could never see in myself as a teenager. It’s not with envy that I look at her character, but with joy and appreciation for how my perspective and personality has changed as I’ve gotten slightly older.
It genuinely makes me happy that I see more of Pikari’s personality in myself now.
In a way, Pikari represents an ideal of happiness, whereas Teko represents a more grounded reality for many teenagers.
The interpretation could be made that, not only is she a much quieter and more reserved co-protagonist, Teko represents many of these holes in Pikari’s personality; fear, lack of direction, anxiety.
And so, Teko provides the perfect counter-balance for Pikari. Teko is a girl so devoid of direction at the beginning of the series, so pressured by the people around her that she provides the perfect highlight for Pikari’s immediate passion for scuba diving.
Teko is just in absolute awe of the world that Pikari inhabits, as someone from Tokyo she has never seen the ocean before. What’s beautiful is that Pikari doesn’t take it for granted, she’s so happy that Teko loves the ocean and can’t wait to introduce her to the world of scuba diving.
This dynamic between the two characters actually showed me that I, unlike Pikari, do take something for granted.
I live by the sea. The North Sea, to be exact. It’s not the nicest sea, or the nicest beach, to be frank. In fact, you can see for yourself:
But, it’s home. I’ve lived by the sea for my entire life and have never really stopped to think how rare that is, in the grand scheme of the world. Yeah, it’s unlikely I’ll swim in the sea because I don’t want to catch hep B, but it does have some good points.
The hills down to the beach, the cool sea air. If nothing else, It’s nice to just be able to look out into a vast body of water, it brings a sense of perspective to my wider insignificance and my personal significance at the same time.
It’s something you can truly appreciate absent-mindedly, losing yourself as the sea stretches over the horizon. Then you remember that you’re looking at a murky sea on a shoddy beach and you wonder whether you should get a couple of doughnuts just to make the walk down worth it…
Where were we?
Pikari sometimes does things just because, making the most of the moments that present themselves to her. As she recounts her Grandmother’s words, someone who is happy in the moment will be able to find happiness anywhere.
Teko is pulled into this world, along with Katori-sensei and the two scuba diving club upperclassmen Ai and Makoto Ninomiya, as she learns that you don’t have to be the most outgoing person in the world to find your happiness.
Although I’m a little gutted that Amanchu! is only going to be a twelve-episode series, I’m definitely going to be reading through the manga after it ends. It’s just too calming, too endearing to leave it behind.
I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for something relaxing and heart-warming to watch.
Happiness doesn’t have to be a lofty dream or an over-arching goal that you’re constantly working towards. Amanchu! and Pikari teaches us that it’s OK to take things one step at a time, enjoying the smaller things, no matter know insignificant they may seem to others.