The day has finally come; the diving club heads to a nearby cove for Futaba’s Open Water Certification test. With her friends’ encouragement, Futaba begins the test, but the vast darkness of the depths below start to terrify her. With the support of her buddies and the lessons she has learned so far, she takes the next step on her personal journey.
This final* episode of Amanchu! is everything I’d ever hoped for from this series. A nervous Futaba finally takes her certification test, putting into practice all of the technical lessons she has absorbed and the personal growth she’s experienced. It’s an episode that showcases her strengthening character and relationship with Hikari, and gives us our most beautiful underwater vistas yet.
And what upsets me is that it’s just too little, too late.
After a shaky first quarter that focuses a bit too much on the horrible cats that the club has essentially adopted, Futaba and the others get geared up and swim out to a dive marker to prepare her for the test. She and Hikari check over each other’s kit, give the all clear, and it’s into the water we go. Futaba sees the ocean bottom with beautiful clarity, until it vanishes into the murky blackness and she’s left terrified of the unknown world below. Gathering her courage, she follows the others down to the sea floor and completes her test safely. With their remaining time, she and the others bask in the beauty of the underwater world, and we get to see a glimpse of nature at its most unspoiled.
I like that Futaba has finally overcome her fear of the unknown and wants to do something for herself. It’s a satisfying payoff to the earlier moments where she only powered through thanks to Hikari’s friendship, and the fact that Hikari takes a relatively hands-off approach during the test makes it feel more like Futaba’s own accomplishment. The two of them even have a conversation that could easily be seen as the start of a romantic relationship, though this show took so long getting over this hurdle that it’s unsurprising that plot thread gets left vaguely unresolved. Even so, the ending felt like a fair conclusion to the story I wanted, even if the preceding half-dozen episodes failed to deliver.
It kills me how much I liked this finale, because it’s everything I was expecting from the series after the first few episodes and shows just how little was accomplished between then and now. Since episode 6, diving has been such a tertiary part of the show that you’d be forgiven for coming in halfway through and not knowing it was part of the core premise. This becomes abundantly clear when the show has to introduce several key concepts during Futaba’s test, which might have been avoided if we hadn’t avoided them for so long.
Despite all that, we finally get to see Futaba’s personal growth mirrored by her overcoming her timidity and setting out to actually become a certified diver. The creators even managed to reduce the muppet faces and eliminate the sibling abuse! It’s a perfect microcosm of everything I wanted and pretty much failed to get out of the last half of the season, but better late than never, I guess.
*There is a bonus episode scheduled to be released the week following this review, though episode 12 definitely marks the completion of the main story so far.
The finale of Amanchu! generally delivers on the promise the show demonstrated early on and lost along the way. Futaba has come out of her shell and become a better person for it, and taken up an exciting new hobby in the process, with her progress as a diver symbolizing her growth as an individual. It’s just a shame that it took so long and so many throwaway episodes of her learning redundant life lessons to reach this point.
The rest of the Con Artists and I will be compiling our final thoughts once the bonus episode is finished, so look forward to another mini-podcast discussion in the near future!