「水族館の未来」 (Suizokukan no Mirai)
“The Future of the Aquarium”
As anticipated, these final episodes focused on bringing closure to everybody’s individual stories. Unless you were given the complete short end of the stick like Kai was.
Aquatope of the White Sands turns out to be the name of the new exhibition at Tingarlaa, which serves as the focal point of Kukuru’s wedding project idea. Fortunately, her pitch turns out to be a massive success and her efforts are recognised. And that’s actually a type of wedding I would consider, which speaks volumes of how amazing an idea that actually was.
Despite nudging her to the end point, has Suwa been redeemed? For me, not a chance in hell. I’m pretty disappointed that was the best PA Works could do to try and justify his attitude – turn him into a hardass because he had already lost a previous aquarium and animals that he cared for.
That said, I wonder if he’s meant to actually serve as a foil to Kukuru considering the devastating experiences she went through in quick succession. If she had never found herself back on her feet, if all the sealife at Gama Gama had died during the typhoon, I have a strong feeling she might also have turned out to be a cynical hardass as well. She was something of a raging asshole herself to Fuuka and Chiyu for no good reason. The key difference is that Kukuru has all her Gama Gama friends behind her who helped mellow her out – Fuuka, Udon, Karin, Kai, Kuuya, Umiyan, etc. And the animals from Gama Gama are alive and well.
We can subconsciously recognise that Suwa is an asshole who is in the wrong, and appreciate that Kukuru could have turned out this way too if not for all the special people around her that kept her grounded.
I think most of us could see where Fuuka would be going when she gained a passion towards sealife.
My only gripe is that she beat out Eiji to the punch – who shared equal amounts of raw passion, combined with thesis experience which made him significantly more qualified for the opportunity. The decision doesn’t feel meritorious.
However, I suppose Fuuka isn’t a poor candidate herself, since I could see her idol talents making her well-suited to bringing awareness to environmental issues. If I was the director, I would have had the gals to go back and requested three spots owing to three outstanding candidates, and only decide on two if there was absolutely no chance for a third person to land a spot.
「白い砂のアクアトープ」 (Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)
“The Aquatope on White Sand”
Two years later, Udon becomes the head chef at Tingarla. Kuuya becomes chief attendant with Kaoru being chosen alongside Fuuka to attend the environment protection scholarship programme. Karin joins the attendant team and works under Kuuya’s wing. Akari is hired to join the Marketing PR team as Kukuru’s junior, while Dr Takeshita is permitted to go on maternal leave so that she can welcome her second child into the world. Marina is now the Chief Attendant of the Otters.
Kukuru herself has been upgraded from Plankton to Nekton, and works as both an attendant and a senior staff on the marketing team, already working on her next project. Eiji is pegged as her rival for the next higher up position, as someone else who is also working in both an attendant and office role. Then Kai just kind of shows up with his sister to deliver the good news that his father is in better health after two years. If you didn’t think it would get worse for Kai, yeah…
I’m not even sure why Kai even exists. His ten second cameo in the final episode was stupidly pitiful. Not that Kukuru owed him anything on the romantic side of things. That would have been quite an unnatural progression. But some kind of closure would have been really nice for his efforts, especially since he’d been a steadfast rock throughout her moments of turmoil.
Maybe he will have more luck off-screen? Who are we kidding, we all know that the childhood friend never wins. Plus we all saw how Kukuru and Fuuka intimately embraced at the end. If there was ever going to be a PA Works coming of age, slice of life show with a yuri ending, this would be my pick.
What was my takeaway from the show? I will say it did a very good job of promoting education about sealife, the plight they face concerning environmental issues, and the conservation efforts required to protect them. And even though Gama Gama is gone, its spirit lives on – with Kukuru witnessing the same old magic once again before her eyes, the dead visages of her parents and sister. They will continue to watch over her, wherever she goes in life. And that was a really nice way to conclude the show.
For these reasons, I would definitely recommend the show. In some aspects, it was unbelievably rough around the edges. But Aquatope remained true to life in many ways, unafraid of showing less than perfect people mixed with corporate realities, and remained committed to spreading an important message that we must all take to heart about what we can all do for our oceans. Courage is required for this sort of leap, as opposed to sticking with tried and tested milk-toast niceties.
Most importantly, Shiroi Suna no Aquatope conveyed that new dreams and aspirations can be reforged from the sunken fragments of ruined ones, the emphatic message delivered by the culmination of everybody’s character arcs – especially Kukuru and Fuuka.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading my posts every week – sorry I got sloppy towards the end, but thanks for bearing with me till the very end. I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did, if not more. Sea you all around some other time!