If there’s one thing Amanchu does remarkably well, it’s realistically portray the pure bliss of adolescent friendship. Teko and Pikari are oblivious to any Real World Issues, and spend their days having spontaneous barbeques and diving, all while subtly teaching each other to be better versions of themselves. Pikari helps ease Teko’s anxiety, while Teko teaches Pikari to dial it back a bit. All is well in their idyllic, teenage world.
Though still full of wholesome heart-warming content, this time around Amanchu! Advance is mixing something a little more bittersweet into the anime’s mix – the reality that high school friendships don’t last forever, and that these friendships are cursed to shift over time. In episode one, Teko brings up to Pikari that they may grow apart one day, resulting in a beautiful scene of the two of them running out into the ocean and vowing to cherish the remaining time they have together.
This scene sparked something in me. Admittedly, even before this stroke of self-awareness from Teko was introduced, each episode of Amanchu left me feeling vaguely melancholic because it reminded me of my first Best Friend Love. I think that, ultimately, your high school best friend is a far more significant first love than that of your high school boyfriend/girlfriend. The mindless lazing about, the effortless conversation, the way you could hang out for hours doing nothing at all…and of course, the way you assumed you would be best friends forever, frozen in an unchanging endless summer. Seeing Pikari and Teko interact reminded me of those high school days, but remembering such things always comes with a small pang of sadness. Or a big pang of sadness, depending on the day.
I remember what it was like to think that this was my person; that this was my platonic soulmate, so to speak. And when I went to college, I thought nothing would get in the way of that. Even if we were apart, we could still talk all the time, right? We would still have the same interests and be the same people, wouldn’t we?
The thing I didn’t factor in was that, if we’re lucky, we do not stay the same people. In fact, the people we are in high school tend to be kind of awful, actually, and if you’re me, you want to be as far from that person as you can be. But not everyone grows in the same way, or at the same pace. Some of us don’t grow at all. So to say that my First Best Friend and I “grew apart” might be a disservice to the phrase…one of us grew, the other did not, and we both sensed the one-sided shift.
There was less to talk about – no longer were conversations effortless. New friends were being made, and we didn’t take kindly to any of them. Suddenly, there were real things to worry about, and we didn’t agree on what real things were worth the worry and which things were not. The saccharine days of car rides to nowhere and conversations about happy nothings were over, and what we had was slowly starting to decay.
Still, even though things turned nasty and rancid, it doesn’t change the fact that we were best friends and we were spending the best times of our lives together. So the parallels between Teko and Pikari’s friendship and my own best friendship are still there, and they still bring a smile because the series hits those notes so well. The very fact that their relationship is so realistic, though, is why this leering question of, “what if we grow apart” has always hung over the series – at least for me.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the issue is approached from here on out – we’ve already seen Teko start to become flustered as Pikari begins to make a new friend in Kokoro. Though I highly doubt that Teko and Pikari’s friendship will crumble completely in some tragic way, I’m sure that whatever happens between them will feel all too relatable to all of us who learned Best Friends Forever mostly just means, Best Friends ‘Till Real Responsibilities Come Along. Likely, they’ll remain amicable, but if one moves away it won’t be the same. Look at Teko’s old friends, even – of course they stay in touch, but they’re off making new friends and so is she. It’s only natural.
For Teko, it’s slowly starting to sink in that things may one day be different between her and Pikari, but she’s also learned not to let that taint her remaining time with Pikari. Sure, things might already be changing, but does that make what they have (or, perhaps one day, had) any less real? Does that mean she has to stress it at every turn and let it interfere with her current relationship with Pikari? Of course not. She learns that her anxiety needs to be in check and that she has to focus on the present – and she learns how to do this because of her closeness with the extroverted Pikari. And Pikari only serves to reinforce that yes, maybe they will grow apart, but that won’t change how they felt with one another.
Even if they grow apart, Teko and Pikari will still have left a very lasting, very poignant imprint on each other’s lives. Should things fade, that will never change. Seeing how these girls have interacted with one another and how they’ve profoundly affected each other’s lives in the short period of time they’ve known one another has put things into perspective for me – even the friends I made in high school who have forgotten or forsaken me still made me who I am today, and there’s no reason to do anything but look back on the good times and appreciate them for what they were. Teko and Pikari are facing this head-on and pushing forward, and I have a feeling they’ll never take the beautiful thing they have for granted. We, too, should appreciate our past relationships/friendships and treasure the best things about them, because no matter what happened in the end, the good times were still good times, and shaped us into the people we are today. Cherish what you have and what you had alike, and don’t get too bogged down by sad realities. After all…