「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!
When I was choosing what to watch at the beginning of this season, I chose to give Aquatope a try, though I didn’t have very high expectations. Then, after watching the first cour, it immediately became one of my most anticipated series to watch each week. I loved the characters, seeing the beginning of their growth, and the plot of whether Gama Gama would continue had me hooked.
I had high hopes that the second cour would continue this trend, although at Tingarla. The end result is mixed for me. The main girls did get satisfying growth and development and some of the individual episodes/stories very emotional (like the ep about Fuuka’s kouhai/the baby penguin swimming for the first time).
However, the pacing in the second half seemed inconsistent to me and there were some loose ends that I wished were explained more. Like Kai, as mentioned by Zaiden, or what happened to the baby dolphin. The addition of so many new characters also didn’t help, though a few did get some progression.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Aquatope went from a highly anticipated watch each week to almost something of a chore towards the end for me.
Overall, I’m glad I watched Aquatope and experiencing the hardships and victories that Kukuru and Fuuka went through. I always loved marine life growing up and now I have a new appreciation for it. I don’t remember the last I went to an aquarium, but I need to visit one soon.
Some of the thoughts you had might be answered by another set of discussions, which offer an incredibly mature and detailed view of what Aquatope was looking to say to us viewers (those posts actually kept me interested in Aquatope when Zaiden wasn’t writing for it). I personally found the second half all the stronger after giving the characters a fair chance at things.
@RenaSayers You should read the linked post, as well.
Ban-chan the dolphin swam off to rejoin their family at the end of episode 23. And we know they are fine because they appeared in the kijimuna-magic bit towards the end.
While 86 is a constant reminder that some people are terrible and the thought suffocates me, while Shiroi Suna no Aquatope is like the paramedics. Seeing the youthful characters giving it their all resuscitate me. It’s pretty cool seeing every character moved on with their personal goals working at Tingarla. The ending has a real Fruits Basket Remake vibe to it. If this ending is a troupe it’s a good trope.
As for Kai, I don’t think he ever had a chance with Kukuru. If I remember correctly in the first cour for Shiroi Suna no Aquatope featured a young Kai offering a young (crying) Kukuru a fish as a sign of “I like you”. WHAT BOY GIVES A GIRL A FISH AND EXPECT HER TO RECIPROCATE!
My problem with the Kai subplot isn’t that he didn’t get the girl. My problem is that they didn’t resolve his story at all. If he had a scene where he accepted Kukuru didn’t love him and moved on, that would be one thing, but the writers just decided to not resolve his story. The bit about his father being sick just seemed like a way to move him away from the main story.
So? Aquatope was never a love story to begin with, and more often than not, life’s like that. In fact, Aquatope would degrade if they focused on romance.
Oh boy. What a great end to a great series. Sure, no series is without complaints, but I really liked the show overall. This is definitely one show that I’ll put on my list to get…eventually. It’s great to see everyone find their place (though you would think that we would see another glimpse of Udon-chan’s mom), and the reunion between the two was really nice.
The theory of Suwa being a foil to Kukuru is an interesting one. I can kind of see it. I’d say without Fuuka, Kukuru seems like she would be lost, even if she went to Tingaara. Sure, her friends are there with her, but Fuuka was the catalyst to keep her going.
I mentioned this elsewhere, but I felt it interesting to say this here as well. While I understand that we didn’t know the full story about Tetsuji and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge his behavior and attitude, I think the anime could have done a bit more with his background here instead of the two sentence blurb that we got. With Chiyu, her actions show that she has a reason for her motivations and goals, and it was shown in the episode focused on her. I think that made the experience more empathetic when we think about her now that we know her back story. In the case with Tetsuji, while we get his backstory (in only a few lines of dialogue), I don’t really feel it was totally effective. Nothing against his background, but we didn’t see him struggle or act out emotionally in a way that led to an understanding of how he is now compared to how he was in the past (like in a flashback). There’s no catharsis in that moment that led to anything meaningful changing. Perhaps if the moment were handled differently, Suwa would have been a better character to the audience. As is, he just kind of stayed the same.
I wonder if that paper airplane will become a motif in future series. It would be cool if it appeared in future shows made by PA Works.
That second half was so boring honestly. I didn’t know it was going to be mainly about work. While interesting at times I usually watch anime to forget about work not be reminded of it.
I kept watching the second just because I started the series. For me, the first half was great. I looked forward every week to see what happens next. The turning point was Kukuru getting a marketing job at Tingaara right after graduating from high school. Normally, people go to college to learn about marketing. Yes, some strings were pulled for her to get the job, but is skipping four years ahead to get a business degree too much to ask? I wonder how the Akari (the intern) felt. How did (essentially) a high schooler get a permanent job? The setup was too weird for me to recommend this series to others.
I have to rate this a solid meh. Very pretty, but my SO and I finished watching it more out of a need f0r completion than out of enthusiasm. The first half was definitely better. A few observations.
1. So sweet and wholesome it will rot your teeth. Not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact is desirable in a children’s show, which this is.
2. Contrivance. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, especially in comedies, which this is not. Almost the entire cast from the first half ends up working at Tingaarla? OK, but for what story purpose?
3. Loose ends. So many hooks went unused or underused. The miraculous visions only reappear in the last episode to cap things off with a warm fuzzy? Son, I am disappoint.
4. (Non-) character development. Not necessary for every character, or even any character in a slice-of-life show, but this is not slice of life. Fuuka experiences very little struggle and character development in the second half. Even single mom has her challenge introduced and mostly resolved in a single episode. The large supporting cast is mainly here to provide friendly faces.
5. Focus on Kukuru. Not really so much two girls amid the ruins of shattered dreams as OL mopes about in marketing while her friend looks on in concern.
6. Travails of an OL. Have to agree with sealouse. Watch Mad Men or Aggretsuko for an entertaining office environment.
Still better than 90% of shows this year.
“Meh” is a meme and therefore not worth consideration. Did you seriously think your opinion matters? Given your remarks below, it is clear that you don’t have any understanding of what a workplace is like, and my response is more for anyone who is thinking of agreeing with your paltry opinion.
1) Anyone who thinks this is a “children”‘s show has never worked a day of their lives before.
2) The number of aquariums in Okinawa are finite. It makes sense to bring on board staff with experience, and since Gama Gama has a large number of staff, it makes sense to bring them in.
3) The story was written from Kukuru’s perspective. She doesn’t need to know every last detail about the people around here, and correspondingly, neither do the viewers
4) The characters gained the appropriate amount of character development. If you don’t think Fuuka matured in the second half, you were watching this show with blinders on. Or does Fuuka deciding whether or not to accept the research program not count?
5) The first half was about Fuuka, the second half is about Kukuru. Two halves of a whole.
6) “sealouse” says nothing valuable, and if you agree with that low-effort nonsense, you could do better than that.
So then you go from “this show is terrible” to “this show is still good”, to imply what, exactly?