OP Sequence

OP: 「新月のダ・カーポ」 (Shingektsu no da Carpo) by Risa Aizawa

「海の遥かなティンガーラ」 (Umi no Haruka na Tingaara)
“Tingaara in the Far Away Ocean”

Aquatope’s second cour set off to a brilliant start. Perhaps not for Kukuru. Nevertheless it makes for very real story-telling that will surely resonate with many adult watchers.

The Corporate World is Harsh

As expected, the leftover staff from Gama Gama are absorbed by Tingaraa. But they soon discover corporate world is nothing like the familiar haven they once had. For starters, Kukuru is thrown into uncharted territories working for the PR team. It makes sense. To become a more senior member of this aquarium team, Kukuru has to develop skill-sets that go beyond managing the aquatic life. Clearly, the director has seen her potential and has a professional trajectory in mind – one that probably stretches very far. To fulfil what he has envisioned for her, she must now go far beyond her comfort zone.

Yet she got zero training for a job she has zero experience with, no explanation on what should be prioritised, a pile of books that even a dedicated Law student wouldn’t be able to demolish in a day. To me it seemed like insanity that all the blame was laid squarely on her shoulders, with her boss topping it off with an extremely rude nickname. I wouldn’t be able to describe this situation as anything other than bullying.

Moreover, when an employee has no advice or training to work on, it only makes sense they will defer to personal experience, in terms of what has previously worked for them. I felt Kukuru did an incredible job marshalling an alternative action plan.

Where Kukuru Fell Short

While I felt her efforts deserved praise, since she demonstrated initiative and what I would describe as the right attitude and idea, I can understand what he means. Things will be run differently, and in some aspects an individual can’t just default to the same modes of operation. When so many teams might be involved or affected, everyone has to be kept up to date. Not just some special operations team in isolation that can execute the task at a moment’s notice.

I can understand wanting to avoid interactions with unpleasant individuals. But if everyone at workplaces avoided colleagues they disliked, there could very well be few functional teams out there. It’s inevitable and it isn’t easy, however Kukuru has to learn how to deal with it.

To be honest, as much as I dislike Haebaru as a character, Kukuru partially brought this onto herself. In a specialised industry, where people in an area are going to generally know each other, it never pays to act petty and unprofessionally like she did when Haebaru was visiting Gama Gama to learn some lessons. Even going as far as trying to sabotage Haebaru. Sure, Haebaru came in with a conceited attitude. But there were definitely more diplomatic ways to approach the situation. And Kukuru is paying the price – it’s sad, but welcome to the professional world.

Had she never behaved antagonistically towards Haebaru, and sought to build a warm and friendly connection with her from the outset, this induction probably would have been a breeze. Personally I hope to see a point of growth and reconciliation from both characters in question. I reckon it would make for a compelling sub-narrative arc within the story.

Concluding Thoughts

Tingaara doesn’t seem to be run in a sustainable way, if these problems are allowed to persist on a long-term scal. Staff are petty enough to wilfully put up layers of bureaucracy to impede events. Bosses are out there destroying morale of passionate and dedicated workers in record time. I also have no clue what the CEO is doing letting this whole situation slide out of control. But he seems to have faith in the process, so I’ll be curious to see if he has an ace up his sleeve.

At the very least, the new guy with glasses wasn’t a snobby asshole. Turns out he’s a really chill guy who doesn’t look down on Kai for coming from a working class, fisherman background – and even respects him for it. Despite being acquainted for 1-2 days, their dynamic has already become my favourite in the series. That’s the stuff brotherhoods are made of.

Not to mention the sisterhood has returned. Despite her exclusion from promotional material for the second cour, Fuuka making a surprise appearance at the end way earlier than expected. While I’m brimming with questions regarding her showbiz dreams, it looks like a timeskip has occurred and she seems in good spirits, so I look forwards to seeing how her personal experience and differing perspective can assist Kukuru in navigating the treacherous dynamics that are present in corporate working environments.

Anyway, that’s about everyhting I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week!

ED Sequence

ED: 「とめどない潮騒に僕たちは何を歌うだろうか」 (Tomedonai Shiosai ni Bokutachi wa Nani wo Utaudarou ka) by ARCANA PROJECT

22 Comments

  1. Is that CEO supposed to be American? He’s got that foreigner vibe. Anyways I really felt for Kukuru. Being thrown into a new role like that and no one seems to be helping her much. I do think she’s the right person for the job though. Just think of all those things she was coming up with for Gama Gama to try to save it.

    sealouse
    1. In a quick blurb, someone asked the CEO how was his experience in Hawaii was. Or something like that was said. I interpreted that exchange as if he worked in Hawaii for a while. I thought the CEO was also mixing in English words a lot (as if he forgot how to speak Japanese).

      Bakapooru
    2. Likewise, I agree that Kukuru is the right person for the job. This is clearly the thought Mr CEO shares as well.

      But at this current point in time he’s not doing much to set her up for success. We’ll have to see if it’s all part of his ‘plan’, whether he has something else in mind.

  2. Regarding Kukuru’s interactions with Haebaru, Kukuru’s actions years earlier as a teen-ager definitely was not professional. However, assuming a two-year time skip, Haebaru (as the professional) should have recognized the situation back then and just brushed it aside (as a professional should).

    Regarding Kai and the guy with glasses, their conversation made me think that the guy was college-educated. As a book-educated person, he acknowledged and respected Kai’s hands-on experience.

    Bakapooru
    1. Definitely gonna agree Haebaru should be more professional as the adult here.

      But I guess try and see it from this perspective. Years ago, you intern at a company and the managing director – who is a schoolkid 5-6 years younger than you – actively tries to sabotage you and treats you with nothing but disdain and disrespect. Turning the learning experience you were really looking forwards to into a massive pain.

      Skip 1-2 years you are now a senior member of staff at another company. And now this managing director has arrived at your current company at an entry level role. Would you feel like you owe anything to this same person? Or go out of your way to make their life easier?

      1. It depends…

        If the subordinate is reporting to me, it would be in my best interest to help that person as much as possible because their work reflects on my personal performance.

        If the person isn’t reporting to me, I would ignore them unless they make a request. At that point, I would help because I value my reputation as a helpful person.

        This kind of reminds of the latest episode of 86 where Lena had a conversation with her commanding officer.

        Bakapooru
  3. Yeah, no, even if Kukuru didn’t exactly handle things well on her end, nobody should ever just throw a new employee with zero training, zero experience, and zero idea on what to do about anything, into the shark tank and then blame THEM for everything that goes wrong because of it! My own workplace is nothing like this. What employer refuses to put new recruits through basic training or even tell them what to prioritize???

    Firechick
    1. Definitely gonna agree Haebaru should be more professional as the adult here.

      But I guess try and see it from this perspective. Years ago, you intern at a company and the managing director – who is a schoolkid 5-6 years younger than you – actively tries to sabotage you and treats you with nothing but disdain and disrespect. You’re a working professional who is serious about their career. But the learning experience you were really looking forwards turns into a massive pain and waste of time. As far as you’re concerned, this unprofessional managing director clearly got into their position through connections/nepotism and didn’t earn the position while you had to slave your way up through the corporate world one step at a time.

      Skip 1-2 years you are now a senior member of staff at another company. And now this managing director has arrived at your current company at an entry level role. Would you feel like you owe anything to this same person? Or go out of your way to make their life easier?

      I’m a petty human being, because while I would keep things civil and not go as far as Haebaru is going here, it would definitely be a massive ask to call for a clean slate and start relations afresh. We sympathise with Kukuru, myself included, because the series is from her perspective. But my point is had the series been from Haebaru’s perspective, I reckon viewers would be against Kukuru for good reason too.

      As far as I’m concerned, both parties are in the wrong – Haebaru moreso because she’s the adult here. That said it doesn’t detract from Kukuru facing the consequences of her unprofessional fuck-ups from before. However I’m pretty confident Kukuru is the type of character who will develop and go from strength to strength to overcome this.

    2. Maybe someone who only sees her background as a failure and want to keep her out of the way so that Tingaara won’t fail. People seem to be shortsighted that way. They don’t care about circumstances, only results. If the resume says she managed a failing aquarium, then you make sure you keep that failure away. Maybe I’m just cynical thanks to social media and the like.

      Anonymous
      1. Based on watching Japanese TV dramas, yes, that’s how they do it in Japan. You can request certain departments, but the company has the final say of where you go. In the Spring, big companies does a mass hiring and then distribute the new employees around.

        Bakapooru
  4. It seems like it hasn’t been that long since Tingaara has opened (maybe a month or something since we know that roughly a year has passed if the first cour had anything to go by when mentioning the aquarium’s grand opening), so it’s expected that a lot of the staff is trying to get into a good rhythm to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. But, whatever the reason was, it sure wasn’t fair for Kukuru’s superior (who I think is also the vice director if the CEO/director mentioned that correctly) to solely pin the blame on her when he gave her a bunch of manuals and called it a day for her “training”.

    Of course, that is to say that both Haebaru and Kukuru’s relationship with each other since the internship did not favor either of them well as we move forward in the second cour. I can only anticipate that their relationship will remain rough for a few more episodes; maybe the last scene of Haebaru holding an animal encyclopedia book will somehow make the two go on better terms?

    I didn’t expect Fuuka to make her return to the series that fast, even when she appeared in the new OP, but I think her return is something that Kukuru needs to be able to get through the hurdles at Tingaara. I’m very excited to see how the Gama Gama staff will adapt to their new environment at Tingaara and that maybe both sides can learn from each other.

    Maru
    1. Perhaps I’m just cynical thanks to TV and social media, but for all its wonders, Tingaara is a business. People like Kukuru’s manager seems to only see results and not the circumstances. All he sees is that she managed a failed aquarium, not taking account the circumstances. So, if Gama Gama can be thought of as the kiddie pool, Tingarra is the deep end, with the manager kicking her in without any training.

      Anonymous
      1. I guess that is fair and maybe aquariums in Japan operate more as a for-profit business or something; I have no idea. But there are probably other factors as to why Kukuru’s task failed, mainly the lack of mention of the tour during the meeting and no one supposedly saw said email, and it just seemed like the manager doesn’t have any hope for her even if the director saw potential in her and put her under the manager’s wing; just expecting her to quit before her first paycheck at best.

        Maru
  5. I was like Kukuru is living on her own?! The time skip was a bit jarring it reminded me of the time skip for Gundam 00 from season 1 to season 2.

    Ether ways it’s great to see Kukuru get a glimpse of what managing a bigger company is really like. I hope Kukuru will master her position and move up in her career. That said, this supervisor of Kukuru fails to see the merit of small, independently owned, businesses and the knowledge it can provide for employees. I work both a corporate job plus have my own business, often times I am relying on what I learned as a business owner and apply it to my position as a cog in a BIG engine.

    Also why is Fuka back all of the sudden, I thought Season 1 would be the last time Kukuru will see her.

    RenaSayers
  6. This probably isn’t a healthy way to look at it, but maybe I’m just cynical thanks to social media and the like. While the CEOs may be optimistic and want what’s best, they’re not the ones on the front lines. Lower managers don’t care about circumstances or personal feelings; they just want results/profit at the expense of everything else. Cogs in a machine and all. Weed out the bad factors.

    In a way, Kukuru’s really fortunate that everyone from Gama Gama came along with her for the ride. Even Udon-chan and Karin-chan came along too.

    I’m curious as to why Fuuka came back. Haven’t seen the episode yet, but the time skip seems to vary amongst reviews (I honestly thought Kukuru would go to college during the time skip, to learn more about marine life). I don’t think she would have come back without any reason, so I’m looking forward to discovering why.

    Anonymous
    1. In Japan, there’s less of an emphasis on going to college/university like there is in the West. Which is why most anime take place in high school – that’s the last hurrah people get before adulting. Which is to say diving into the world of work.

      Tbh, I do think a lot of what universities offer is hocus pocus. Universities these days are attended for the primary purpose of acquiring the degree certification, so that you can apply to jobs which require XYZ degree. If Kukuru already has the experience of being a managing director, who can easily get into any aquarium work-wise, she can reach university knowledge levels regarding marine life in her own time and not waste huge amounts of time or money on a paper sheet.

  7. All speculation here…

    I think the time skip is at least 1.5 years. Maybe I’m reading too much into the subtitles or parsing it too much.

    Fuuka is Kukuru’s “older sister”, but I don’t recall any conversations about how much older; I don’t think people use that term if it’s not more than one year difference.

    I remember Fuuka was originally going home (Morioka?) to finish high school. If she wasn’t a third-year, I think it’s better to say, “continue”.

    Kukuru seems much more immature than Fuuka to me too. Mainly because of the desperate, idealistic ideas she had to keep Gama Gama open and the last scene when they meet again. Is it really enough to cry over a bad day at work? Fuuka’s clothing in this scene also looked more mature.

    Bakapooru
    1. Fuuka got an offer to star in a movie, which she left to do.

      We have no idea if she did end up starring in the movie. Or whether she finished high school. Both even.

      Fuuka also came from a functional family that cares for her, if her mother is anything to go by, and was forced to grow up fast having been involved in the cut throat world of showbiz.

      And yes, it is enough to cry over a bad day at work, especially when you’re getting bullied like that.

      1. Wasn’t it established in the last episode that she turned down the role and returned to Iwate? Thats what I got watching the Crunchyroll subs. Plus, she did declined the role on the plane trip home.

        Anonymous

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