A couple of days before the diving club’s first official outing (at least the first one that includes Futaba), Futaba and Hikari happen upon a stray kitten while exploring in town, and try to figure out what to do with it.
Those of you who’ve been following my reviews know that I haven’t been very accommodating of Amanchu!’s attempts at, well, pretty much anything except for its core premise – and, half the time, not even that. Now that the penultimate episode has failed to reverse the show’s gradual trend of abandoning any kind of underwater diving in favor of diving ever deeper into Futaba’s tortured psyche (not in the Ar Tonelico sense, thank goodness), I am left (again) without hope that the show will be able to redeem itself to the point of even a qualified recommendation.
In fairness, this episode isn’t so much about the actual climbing than it is an affirmation of her progress thus far. In a vacuum (and maybe with a bit more breathing room from the several solid episodes of said progress), I would appreciate that. The eye-opening analogy isn’t even a bad one, it’s just… did we have to sit through an entire story about stupid-looking cats for, like, a minute of metaphor? Did Cha have to also be named Aria? (We are very well aware that you also wrote Aria, Mz. Amano – I guarantee that we would not be blogging this show if it weren’t for that pedigree.) Does the principal’s search for a mate for Charia imply that his outdoor cat isn’t neutered? (Does Japan not have [or need?] an equivalent of Bob Barker?) What, really, are the odds against Charia having gotten together with another neighborhood cat and in fact being Hime’s father?
For real, though: that kitten is, like, a week old.
My point, ultimately, is that I would have enjoyed our “Let’s see how far she’s come” moment if it had had something—anything!—to do with diving. I really have enjoyed a lot of Futaba’s realization and development, but twelve episodes clearly isn’t enough to deal with every social neurosis in the book and remain an engaging story. It doesn’t help that what breathers we are getting from Futaba tend to be spent on a demented psychopath or some warped pseudo-feline.
I’m tired, folks. I’m tired of everyone’s all-purpose, mono-expressive muppet faces. I’m tired of casual violence masquerading as humor in what is supposed to be a heart-felt drama.
As an aside, keep in mind that I do allow for the possibility that, in another, hypothetical setting that would allow for different cartoon rules to be in effect, drop kicks might be the height of hilarity – but this is neither the time nor place.
Back to my griping – I was tired of looking at that stupid cat since day one, and I’m starting to get tired of Futaba’s super-high voice, tinged with awkward nervousness, which, you know, I acknowledge as befitting her character. The worst part about that last one is how hard it is to be mad about, since we find fault in an awful lot of characters in all kinds of other stories for not vocalizing their feelings (be careful what you wish for?).
Where I guess I’m going with all of this is that this episode, while not being, strictly speaking, more of the same, was still not what it needed to be to pull the show together. The cats are a tedious and wholly unnecessary distraction in a show which is already terminally low on one of its core plot elements, and no amount of undersea majesty in the finale can balance it out now.
This episode does not justify its own existence.