The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

The Aquatope on White Sand: Whole-Series Review and Recommendation After The Finale


Makutusoke, nankuru nai sa

Do what’s right, and everything will work out.

The day before Tingarla’s new exhibit is to open, a wedding will be held here. Fūka and Kukuru head off to work in order to prepare for this unveiling, helping to bring in the new marine life, and Kukuru subsequently heads off to manage the wedding preparations. On the day of the wedding, guests are awe-struck at the venue’s scale, and Miura is pleased that everything’s gone without a hitch. The new wing subsequently opens to the public, and visitors are similarly awe-struck. Kai’s brought Tsukimi and Maho to check things out, while the boys who’d been fond of chilling at Gama Gama also show up. Even Kukuru’s grandparents swing by to visit, and Kukuru seeks out some advice from her grandfather; she admits that a part of what made Gama Gama so appealing was the fact it was fun the whole way, but with her current work, things are different. To this, Kukuru’s grandfather replies that living life means to make the most of the hand one is dealt and doing one’s best to turn the results of one’s decision into a path that works. Kukuru and Fūka share a conversation, confiding in one another that when they’d met, it did seem like the world had ended, but meeting one another allowed both Fūka and Kukuru to find their footing anew. Under the magical setting in Tingarla’s new area, Kukuru enters a vision: her parents and unborn sister are both present, both immeasurably proud of everything Kukuru’s become. Later, Fūka prepares to leave Okinawa for Hawaii with Kaoru, and Kukuru bids her farewell. While Fūka studies alongside some of the world’s best, Kukuru continues with her work, earning Tetsuji’s respect. Two years later, Fūka returns to Okinawa, and the first person she wishes to see is Kukuru; at a quiet spot, the pair greet one another warmly. Kukuru comments that Fūka’s name is perfectly suited for Okinawa and prepare to reunite with the others, while the kijimuna chills in a tree nearby, content to enjoy yet another beautiful summer’s day. So ends The Aquatope on White Sand, P.A. Works’ latest title dealing with coming-of-age amidst the workplace setting. Over this anime’s twenty-four episode run, the focus shifted from how fateful meetings can pick one another up, to how growing up means being able to change one’s perspectives and appreciate that the way to one’s future is oftentimes mutable, ever-changing and uncertain. However, a combination of support from those important to one, and an internal willingness to overcome whatever challenge lies ahead allows individuals to right their course and make the transition from being a starry-eyed idealist, to a professional with a proven record for getting things done while remaining true to one’s principals.

Altogether, The Aquatope on White Sand strives to, and succeeds in conveying the idea that there isn’t any one way towards finding fulfilment in one’s life through their careers. This journey entails hard work, perseverance, setbacks, and even pivots. The path is a crooked, winding one filled with unknowns; one’s career can begin in any number of ways, and it can progress in any way, dependent on what one chooses to make of things. Fūka started her journey as a former idol who felt that particular industry was no longer one she was suited with, but after meeting Kukuru and becoming inspired by the passion Kukuru had brought forth, she became completely committed to becoming an aquarist. Kukuru starts out The Aquatope on White Sand devoted to Gama Gama and marine life, but she wavers when she finds that her work in marketting conflicts with her own goals. However, thanks to a combination of support from her family, Fūka and the others, as well as her own innate desire to succeed and resourcefulness, Kukuru determines that the path she’s chosen to follow is one she can make work, as well. In this way, The Aquatope on White Sand presents one possible portrayal of how careers begin and progress: things began, as the series’ tagline states, in the ruins of a dream, but like a phoenix, something new and marvelous rises from the ashes of these ruins. Fūka and Kukuru both come out of The Aquatope on White Sand more experienced, knowledgeable and resilient. The Aquatope on White Sand does not hesitate to indicate that the real world is unforgiving, and unyielding. No amount of idealism can change this, but instead, one can nonetheless learn how to adapt to this system and impart on the world one’s own unique flaire and style. Both Fūka and Kukuru end up doing precisely this. When being an idol overwhelms Fūka, she finds a new career and passion to pursue. Kukuru is initially demoralised to be assigned to marketting, but as a result of her work, she becomes more personable and begins relating to people with the same respect and enthusiasm that she does for marine life; the Kukuru at the beginning of The Aquatope on White Sand had virtually no people skills to speak of, but by the series’ end, she’s become an integral member of the marketting team and does enough, well enough for even someone like Tetsuji to acknowledge her improvement. None of this, however, would’ve been possible without that fateful day when a wandering Fūka found herself at Gama Gama. The message in The Aquatope on White Sand is strikingly consistent with stories I’ve heard from graduates of my old Bachelor of Health Sciences programme. Similarly, one of the associate professors who taught my medical inquiry courses was once a high school instructor turned molecular virologist, and last month, I gave a panel alongside two graduates who once held medical aspirations. One of these individuals went on become a molecular biologist and works in culturing lung cells, while the other is a community health specialist. I myself began on a similar path, and after a decade, ended up back in the realm of software development. Careers are multi-faceted, complex and ever-changing: no one can know for sure what their future entails, and The Aquatope on White Sand captures these nuances in full, far exceeding my expectations.

Beyond themes of careers and growing up, one aspect in The Aquatope on White Sand that deserves additional mention is the presence of the supernatural. The first half had Fūka and Kukuru experiencing visions whilst at Gama Gama, and Fūka herself was pranked by a kijimuna. The kijimuna periodically shows up, as do the visions, but over time, these aspects of The Aquatope on White Sand fall away as Kukuru and Fūka both concentrate wholly on their work. While the choice to include such elements in The Aquatope on White Sand sounds dubious at first glance, their presence actually does much to present the idea that as one grows up, where the magic in one’s world comes from changes. At Gama Gama, the visions occur to Kukuru and Fūka because they are still young and naive: the world gives both a bit of magic to nudge them forward. Conversely, at Tingarla, as adults with responsibilities, Fūka and Kukuru deliver magic to others. This is why throughout The Aquatope on White Sand‘s second half, the kijimuna and visions take a back seat: when one is entirely focused on their work, the rest of the world becomes muted. However, in those rare, but rewarding moments where one has hit their objectives, the magic comes back into the world. This time, the feelings of joy stem from reveling in the fact one has given their best effort. At the end of The Aquatope on White Sand, Kukuru and Fūka both experience such a vision because both have worked very hard to reach where they stood: Fūka had earned her place on a research programme in Hawaii, and Kukuru had just contributed to Tingarla’s first-ever wedding. Seeing the vision of Kukuru’s sister and parents, proud of who Kukuru and Fūka have become, accentuates to viewers that when doing their best to make magic for others, one might also receive a little magic on their own in return. In this way, The Aquatope on White Sand utilises the supernatural not as a catalyst to accelerate the plot, nor is it an element intended to impact the characters in any way. Instead, it is a vivid bit of imagery meant to augment what The Aquatope on White Sand aims to convey to viewers. Reaching such a conclusion solidifies the idea that in life, no higher power will step in and grant one’s wishes, but instead, when people put in their best effort to do right by others, reward is met. The phrase that Fūka and Kukuru repeat prior to stepping into work each day is a constant reminder of this: that one must work for their own futures is an encouraging thought, and in retrospect, it makes sense that the magic here in The Aquatope on White Sand is a secondary element, meant to serve as a metaphor rather than as an actor within the story.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before I delve into the finale for The Aquatope on White Sand, I would first like to thank readers here – it’s been a twenty four week-long journey from start to finish, and a quick look finds that a handful of people have been consistently present for excellent discussions over this half-year period. That’s no mean feat, and through these conversations, I learnt quite a bit, too. This is what makes blogging so meaningful: being able to talk to others and learn of their story allows me to understand them, and their perspectives, better. The comments here are high among some of the best I’ve had in a while, and folks raised the bar very high for what anime conversations can be.

  • For as long as The Aquatope on White Sand has been running, Kukuru and Fūka have been leaving out offerings for the local deities and making a simple prayer: “do what’s right, and everything will work out”. While Kukuru may not have fully appreciated what this meant at the journey’s beginning, it is clear that both she and Fūka do know what this entails at present. Having been absent since the second half started, the kijimuna returns during this finale, and with this, it became clear that the magic in The Aquatope on White Sand is merely a metaphor rather than an active force in the story.

  • Looking back, this approach makes sense: The World in Colours featured magic, but it was a force that Kohaku and Hitomi could control and master. Magic in The World in Colours was presented as a skill, and no supernatural external force was employed push Hitomi to find herself. Instead, Hitomi comes to appreciate magic and its applications as a result of her own experiences. Similarly, in The Aquatope on White Sand, the kijimuna and visions that intermittently show up are imagery. They are not used to alter Kukuru or Fūka’s path in any way, but instead, parallel the girls’ mindset. When they are particularly in need of some magic, the aquarium will offer it to them, but ultimately, they must also learn to make their own magic, in a manner of speaking.

  • Elusive visions and fleeting appearances from a local spirit therefore become less of a magic than being part of a team effort to keep Tingarla running. Ahead of the new area’s opening, the entire attendant staff, along with Kukuru, stop to help out: Tingarla’s taken delivery of a very large collection of marine wildlife to populate the new display, and transferring all of them safely to their new home is a bit of a process. No amount of færie dust will allow this job to do itself, and instead, it is teamwork that carries the day.

  • Once the transfer is complete, smiles dominate the scene. Tingarla’s staff initially were a little cool to one another, both within and between departments, but having worked together for over a year now, it’s clear that everyone’s become closer to one another as a result. A handful of readers will likely have been wondering, “why am I always focused on the good in a given work?”. My answer to this question is simple enough: I tend to pick shows I’m confident I’ll enjoy, and positivity requires a much lower expenditure of effort compared to negativity. This is because I hold the belief that, if I am going to critique something, then I must always be prepared to offer a potential solution. If I am to be crticial, then I also aim to find something that I can be positive about.

  • The reason for this particular mindset is because on a day-to-day basis, people will approach me with problems, and I earn my keep by solving problems. Making new problems or making problems worse is not in my job description, and as such, this mindset carries through into how I approach entertainment. If something is lacking, I find that it is not sufficient to say that and expect people to freely agree with me. Instead, I must also explain what I was looking for, what might’ve worked better for me and finally, acknowledge that different people will approach something differently than I did. This is what proper criticism looks like, and it should be evident that more effort is indeed required to cover all of one’s bases; anything short of this counts as a poor effort not meritorious of consideration.

  • Some readers may wonder about my adverse negative reaction to Glasslip, which similarly had a supernatural piece that is said to have been a metaphor rather than an active actor in the anime. On this reasoning, they would suggest that if I enjoyed The Aquatope on White Sand, I should have no grounds for disliking Glasslip. However, one of the problems with this assertion was that Glasslip ended up venturing into the realm of the abstract: the symbolism of multiple Kakerus and the fragments of the future are disconnected from the idea that relationships can complicate or even strain long-standing friendships. Despite my great dissatisfaction with Glasslip, I can still say that the series could’ve been helped by omitting the magic and any reference to Albert Camus, and that the visuals were gorgeous (thus satisfying the criteria I require for offering a meaningful critical perspective). Conversely, here in The Aquatope on White Sand, the magic piece is plainly used as imagery and never interferes with the story directly, and what’s more, strengthens the themes, so I have no problems with its presence at all.

  • Once the fish are moved into the main tank, Kukuru helps out with preparations for Tingarla’s first-ever wedding. I had wondered if a wedding would make its way into The Aquatope on White Sand; as it turns out, we do get to see one as the show’s way of emphasising how much joy there is when one is able to tangibly see the results of their efforts coming together. Kukuru had sunk in an incredible amount of effort into making things work for the proposal, and now that Miura is satisfied Tingarla is a suitable venue, the true battle begins. Kukuru rises to the occasion magnificently and uses all of her knowhow to craft a one-of-a-kind experience.

  • The guests are surprised at how unusual the wedding’s format is – normally, people attend ceremonies wearing high heels or dress shoes, and all-formal wear. The unique flooring at Tingarla’s new exhibit requires that visitors enter barefoot. Moreover, some guests wonder about what all the different animals are. Kukuru is right in her element when she explains that the bride and groom had given them a list of traits and stories about their guests, and then she’d customised elements of the wedding experience for them, such as picking the animals she thought most resembled the individual. This is a nice touch that shows Kukuru’s attention to detail, and once the surprise wears off, the guests become very impressed.

  • As Kukuru envisioned, an underwater wedding proves to be quite magical, and certainly acts as a memorable venue; while The Aquatope on White Sand had given us an idea of what this would look like, there is no substitute for seeing the place fully prepared and ready to go. Tingarla had some pretty impressive exhibits right from day one, but this expansion really takes the cake by completely immersing visitors underneath the waters. Visuals have always been strong in The Aquatope on White Sand, but the finale manages to take things one step further to show how the aquarium is a place of magic.

  • An aquarium wedding would truly be a one-of-a-kind experience, and curiosity led me to see what such an event would cost. The closest aquarium to me is a province over, about six hundred and fifty kilometres away: this is the Vancouver Aquarium, and a quick glance at their events page shows that at the low end, booking an event for around thirty guests would cost 7500 CAD. The venue does accommodate up to 2000 guests, and at that scale, one could book out the entire aquarium for 54500 CAD. Booking out an area the size of the space seen in The Aquatope on White Sand would probably cost 10000 CAD or so, but since this is the inaugural event, I could see Tingarla offering a discount of sorts for the bride and groom.

  • It turns out the bride and groom already have a child of their own, and it was her interest in the aquarium that prompted the two to have a wedding in such a venue. Ahead of time, Tingarla had a specially-made penguin costume prepared for her, and the end result of this is nothing short of adorable: she ends up being the flower girl and ring bearer for the ceremony, carrying the rings up to the bride and groom in a small basket because the penguin costume’s got no fingers. This penguin costume again speaks volumes to Tingarla’s attention to detail: Cape Penguins are a known attraction here, and the penguins are similarly adorable (even if they do get into bloody fights from time to time).

  • Because The Aquatope on White Sand animates schools of fish in such detail, I cannot help but wonder what tools were used in the process. In the realm of computer graphics, Blender or After Effects’ Swarms plugin would be utilised: these tools are immensely powerful and quite suited for animation. Tools for animation have previously been used for anime, and in recent years, CG effects have improved dramatically. However, I do remember a time when anime would do things the old-fashioned way, and such scenes were always impressive because of how detailed they’d been despite being hand-drawn.

  • Thanks to Tingarla’s staff putting forth their best, the wedding is an absolute success, and here, the photographer makes to capture an image of this momentous occasion, of a new happy family ready to make their start. At this point in time, it’s clear that Kukuru and the wedding planner have made the proper arrangements for photography to be done here; recalling that flash photography can indeed be harmful to the fish when employed at higher intensities, photographers typically use a combination of reduced flash intensity and shot placement to ensure that they can take stunning photos where both the human subjects and marine life are visible.

  • Even more so than Tetsuji praising Kukuru for a job well done, the magic moment for Kukuru is seeing what her work has the potential to do. We recall that Kai and Tsukimi and both remarked that Kukuru seemed more at home with fish than she did people at the series’ beginning, and while this was forgotten after Fūka arrived, it is plain enough that over time, Kukuru has come to care about people, as well. The wedding planner is seen shedding a few tears here, overjoyed at the union of man and woman. In every P.A. Works anime that I’ve seen, one of the recurring motifs is the fact that unlikeable characters become more sympathetic over time: Miura had seemed quite unreasonable earlier, but once there was a chance to sit down with her properly and give her a better proposal, compromises were reached, and she began seeing eye-to-eye with Kukuru.

  • This particular detail is meant to remind viewers that until one fully understands another person, they are in no position to judge them. I’ve heard that people judge others (more formally, make assumptions about their personalities or other traits) as a mechanism to fill in the void where a perceived slight occurs in the absence of additional context. For instance, if one were expecting a call from a friend at a time and said friend did not fulfil that commitment, their mind might be inclined to assume the friend was busy or unavailable. Conversely, if the call was expected from someone one was not close to, they might assume that individual had no respect for obligations and the like. Such behaviours in real life can be problematic, but to do this to anime characters is to be outright imprudent and unnecessary.

  • This is because characters are written in a way as to advance the story. In Tetsuji’s case, I have seen nothing but negativity surrounding him despite The Aquatope on White Sand making a good case for why he is as serious and no-nonsense as he is. However, even Tetsuji appreciates hard work and results: seeing the happiness in the bride and groom brings a smile to his face, as well. Not knowing anything about Tetsuji is, if anything, more realistic – it takes time to get to know people really well, and there are cases where even though one might know someone for years, one still could be surprised by their actions (in both good and bad ways). This speaks to the complexity in people, and The Aquatope on White Sand‘s decision not to show everything is a deliberate, astute decision meant to highlight the series’ most pivotal moments.

  • I have heard (unsubstantiated) claims that Japanese anime fans have taken to voicing their disapproval on social media and refusing to buy BDs solely because of Tetsuji’s portrayal, leading to weak sales for The Aquatope on White Sand. However, I’ve read some studies that have found that there is a correlation between anime fans in Japan (i.e. otaku) and the freeters: the latter is a portmanteau of free and arbeiter, being a word that refers to people who lack full-time employment or are underemployed. Assuming these studies and the aforementioned claims about the reception holding true, it would mean that those criticising The Aquatope on White Sand are also likely those who have not worked in a full-time position previously and therefore, have not dealt with things like professional development, conflict resolution, task management and other things associated with being a white-collar worker. A lack of familiarity with such an environment means that they would likely see Tingarla as a workplace unsuited for them.

  • I am making several massive subjective leaps in judgement when I say this, but the basis for my statement comes from the fact that The Aquatope on White Sand‘s presentation of Kukuru and Fūka transitioning to a full-on career in an aquarium, from a more start-up like environment at Gama Gama, is a very specific experience (certainly not like the anime-focused Shirobako or the more open-ended Sakura Quest). Those whose experiences do not have parallels with what’s shown in The Aquatope on White Sand are less likely to be able to empathise with the characters, hence their reaction. While I understand where the series’ detractors are coming from, I’m not going to say they have a point, either: at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual to make their own call on what shows work for them, but on that token, just because one didn’t enjoy a show does not give them free license to insult those who do enjoy something.

  • Once the wedding’s done, and the venue is returned to its normal state, Tingarla prepares to open the new area to the public. Among the visitors are Tsukimi, whose training at Ohana is drawing to a close, and Kai, whose father is doing better than expected, allowing him to return to work early. Vociferous complaints have been levelled against The Aquatope on White Sand for not pursuing a possible relationship between Kukuru and Kai, or Kukuru and Fūka, more openly, but I counter-argue that as an anime about finding one’s place in the sun, any time spent on romance would be utterly wasted and detract from the series’ ability to tell a compelling story about workplaces. The claims that The Aquatope on White Sand would benefit from yuri are especially egregious – such a relationship adds precisely nothing to the story’s themes, and as it was, The Aquatope on White Sand delivered precisely what it had set out to do.

  • While Kukuru outwardly chooses her path with confidence, a part of her wonders if she’ll have any lingering regrets. During a conversation with her grandfather, Kukuru relays these doubts to him, and he reassures Kukuru that no matter what Kukuru chooses to do, she’ll be fine so long as she does her job with an honest effort, and so long as she does right by those around her. This conversation confirms what I’d been thinking to be The Aquatope on White Sand‘s main theme: during the course of one’s career, dreams and goals change, but those who can reconcile the differences will find themselves successful.

  • This is the nature of reality, and as much as I don’t usually like to say it, those who disagree with this message are unlikely to see any meaningful professional or personal growth: successful individuals are those who know how to embrace change, exude positivity and compliment, while unsuccessful people criticise, want others to fail and focus on negativity. In The Aquatope on White Sand, it is clear that while there are demoralising moments, these moments act as stepping stones to something larger. Kukuru’s grandfather has experience in this arena, and his reputation as a legendary aquarium keeper is meant to remind viewers that any advice he offers Kukuru is grounded in decades of having worked in the field: Kukuru can be successful so long as she adapts, opens up to people around her and focuses on the positive.

  • After their conversation, Kukuru makes peace with the fact that no matter what she chooses to do, her future remains firmly in her hands. It is in her power (and her responsibility) to make of her life what she chooses, and this is an encouraging thought. Underneath the newly-opened dome, Fūka and Kukuru take in the sights here, made possible by the fact that Tingarla’s been doing well enough to accommodate an expansion to its facilities. It really does feel as though one were submerged in the oceans here, and what happened next brings The Aquatope on White Sand back to its roots.

  • As Fūka and Kukuru look on, the world suddenly becomes muted, and this time, three apparitions appear: Kukuru’s twin sister, their mother and father. The return of these visions here in the finale clarified what their purpose was in The Aquatope on White Sand for me. While I had entertained the idea that supernatural forces might gently guide Kukuru and Fūka as they work hard to pick up the pieces of their old dreams and pursue something new, the reality was that the phenomenon we observe are simply metaphors: the visions don’t impact the characters in any way beyond acting as a manifestation of how they are feeling. When the visions appear, we can be reasonably confident that this is a moment where emotions are particularly strong.

  • As such, rather than being a reflection of the characters innermost desires, the phenomenon is simply a visual means of expressing what the aquarium means to an individual: while at an aquarium, the unique atmosphere and lighting would evoke memories for an individual. In this way, the visions simply speak to viewers what an aquarium means to each of the characters. For Kukuru, her attachment to Gama Gama and aquarium work comes from the fact that her parents had frequented Gama Gama when she was younger. Being in an aquarium brings back such memories, so for Kukuru, an aquarium is akin to a family, a home. For Fūka, it represents an unknown world that is terrifying but also full of possibility. Similarly, the elderly man is reminded of his brother from the World War Two days, veterinarian Takeshita sees an Aquarium as a place of new life, and Kai is reminded of how he did his best to cheer Kukuru up after her parents passed away.

  • As such, when Kukuru’s vision appears here at Tingarla, the implications are that the phenomenon was not external, and instead, are the memories and thoughts Kukuru carries within her heart. Seeing her sister, mother and father with proud smiles on their faces shows that for whatever challenges Kukuru have previously faced, she’s overcome them by now. The Aquatope on White Sand makes it clear that the phenomenon is indeed real, and while Kukuru is content to enjoy the moment with Fūka, who also appears to be able to see the vision, the kijimuna gleefully does cartwheels in the background.

  • Watching The Aquatope on White Sand helped me to appreciate The World in Colours even more than I had previously: since The Aquatope on White Sand showed how magic is a matter of perspective and mindset, the actual magic in The World in Colours that mages like Kohaku and Hitomi control are no different than skills. There, the true magic was how being able to be given a different perspective helps one to discover themselves, and it suddenly hits me that both The Aquatope on White Sand and The World in Colour do share commonalities in their themes. It would appear that P.A. Works actually got more from Glasslip than I had anticipated: rather than attempting to use magic to drive situations that otherwise simply won’t happen, magic simply becomes imagery to enhance the storytelling, and assuming this holds true, it is unlikely that P.A. Works will produce anything like Glasslip anytime soon.

  • As it was, I was extremely pleased to see the kijimuna and phenomenon return in the finale; that it’d been lying in reserve until the right moment affirms the idea that while children have more magical worlds because they receive magic, adults are often so focused on delivering magic that they forget about the magic in their own world. However, where the opportunity presents itself, one can also find that the magic they’d become too busy to be mindful of has never left their world. This moment, of Kukuru and Fūka enjoying the moment in a place that means the world to them, was a well-deserved one.

  • In the end, Fūka accepts the offer to study in Hawaii; her apartment is cleared out, and she prepares to set off on another journey in life, one that she certainly could not have foreseen on that fateful day she impulsively decided to fly to Okinawa. Readers favoured with a keen memory will notice that Fūka is wearing the same outfit that she did on that day, as well. While she’d lost her original hat, she’s since picked up a new one: this new hat has a blue ribbon rather than a white ribbon. This minor difference is meant to show how this time around, Fūka’s in a completely difference place; she’s still Fūka, but this time, she’s travelling with confidence to a destination of her choosing to seize her future.

  • While both Fūka and Kukuru had been quite tearful the last time they parted ways, their friendship has strengthened to the point where both are able to see one another off with a smile on their faces. This sort of character growth is something that P.A. Works nails in The Aquatope on White Sand, and while some viewers elsewhere are crying foul about the lack of romance, I contend that these individuals completely miss the point of The Aquatope on White Sand. The aim was never to suggest how adversity creates romantic relationships between people, and in fact, having romance here would detract significantly from time spent on the learnings both Fūka and Kukuru go through in their time together.

  • Even though people insist on claims that yuri would’ve helped the story in The Aquatope on White Sand along, when queried, no satisfactory answers are given. The closest was the supposition that “it makes a tremendous amount of sense. They were pretty much living together before Fuuka left, and Fuuka supported Kukuru every step of the way”. I counter that people can, and do live in a shared space without thoughts of romance crossing their mind: Fūka and Kaoru would likely be roommates in Hawaii and spend plenty of time studying together, but this wouldn’t necessarily mean things will venture into the realm of romance. Folks looking for yuri would do better to watch another series, and I further remark that “it makes a tremendous amount of sense” isn’t a satisfactory argument.

  • Over in Hawaii, glimpses of Fūka and Kaoru’s experiences are shown: Fūka dives with sea turtles in the warm Hawaiian waters, and studies alongside Kaoru. This practical field experience will benefit both immensely, and leave the pair more prepared than before to excel in their chosen roles. I was happy to see that Kaoru was also selected for the research programme: like Fūka, she’s determined and motivated, but she also has a far deeper technical background. Akira’s decision to go with both means that when the programme is finished, Tingarla will have gained two capable new staff: Kaoru will have gained deeper research and inquiry skills to communicate with academics and other experts, while Fūka will excel further in scientific communication to a general audience.

  • However, despite the programme putting an ocean between Kukuru and Fūka, it is clear that the two are never separated. Besides the eventual promise to reunite once the program is over, both have matured enough so that they can pursue their futures without needing the other present as a crutch. Both Fūka and Kukuru had come to depend on one another for emotional support throughout The Aquatope on White Sand, but had the two allowed their feelings to get the better of them, it would’ve precluded the possibility of exploring new horizons. As Fūka adjusts to life in Hawaii, Kukuru returns to her work. At this point in time, she’s now fully invested, and her enthusiasm is impacting the remainder of the marketting team.

  • Akari joins full time after graduating from post-secondary, and veterinarian Takeshita prepares to go on a maternity leave, with her second child on the way. The biggest moment of all was Tetsuji, who now refers to Kukuru as Nekton. Eiji explains this for the benefit of those who aren’t in marine biology; Nekton is derived from the Greek νηκτόν (“to swim”) and refers to any actively swimming aquatic organism. The term was originally suggested by German biologist Ernst Haeckel as a means of separating organisms that swam actively and those who were carried around by currents (“plankton”). Today, it’s largely fallen out of use, but its symbolism is clear enough: Kukuru began her journey as someone who allowed circumstances to get the better of her, so by referring to Kukuru as Nekton, Tetsuji is saying that Kukuru is now someone who can swim, who can go where she sets her heart to be.

  • Karin does make the transition over into being an attendant, and is surprised that Kūya is now a chief attendant, whose old fears have evaporated as a result of his work. Meanwhile, Kai is shocked to learn that Choko is now quite friendly with Shiratama. Chiyu’s explanation of African Penguins being polygamous actually somewhat true: while penguins tend to be monogamous, research suggests that circumstances can lead penguins to break this (e.g. if one partner is bringing back less food than desired), and in extreme cases, penguins of the same sex do hang out for extended periods of time. Unlike humans, penguins don’t have the same social systems or labels as we might, so what might be surprising to us is quite natural for other species. This remark has led some to claim that The Aquatope on White Sand does indeed have a romance piece, but this is, again, a misinterpretation of things: Chiyu’s comments simply mean that penguins are a social species and desire companionship, much as how people do their best when they’re together.

  • Tsukimi ends up joining Tingarla as a fully-realised chef and joyfully shares a conversation with Umi-yan: she’s excited by Fūka and Kaoru’s return and promises to whip up a menu to remember. Since two years have passed since Fūka and Kaoru left, Tsukimi enrolled in a culinary arts programme. A look around my local technical institute finds that the culinary arts diploma programme, counted as one of the best in Canada, is a two-year program that exposes students to foundational cooking techniques, garde manger, introduction to global cuisines, patisserie and culinary management. Since then, Tsukimi’s technique has probably improved dramatically, much as how Kukuru is now fully at home in marketting, and how Fūka has the fundamentals to really be an effective attendant. Overall, the epilogue was just right: I’ve never been one to believe that every character must always get full closure, and like real life, one won’t always know how everyone is doing at every moment.

  • A fantastic poutine and watching Kukuru reunite with Fūka proved to be the perfect countermeasure against the frigid air; this past December had been positively mild, but now that the Arctic air is here, meteorologists are suggesting that the remainder of December will be below seasonal (i.e. quite cold). My area is forecast to be a very likely candidate for a white Christmas, which is exciting, and now that I’m on (paid) vacation, I get to sleep in and relish in the fact that I don’t have too many places to be. I look forwards to wrapping up the remainder of the posts for this year and making some headway into Halo: Infinite in the downtime I’ve got from overseeing furniture delivery. Back in The Aquatope on White Sand, Fūka and Kukuru joyously embrace upon seeing one another for the first time in two years near the spot where they make offerings to the local deities.

  • Fūka and Kukuru share a conversation in the post-credits scene (since I missed something critical back during the three-quarters mark, I’ve been making sure to watch episodes of The Aquatope on White Sand to the end to ensure nothing of that sort occurred again), and because this conversation speaks to how Fūka’s become a part of Okinawa and its spirit, it does speak to the idea that for the present, The Aquatope on White Sand is drawing to a close. As the two head back to Tingarla, where a reunion party is planned, the scene cuts over to an older-looking kijimuna, who is enjoying the macadamia nuts Fūka had brought and nonchalantly throws a paper airplane into the skies, bringing back yet another memory of The World in Colour, where Hitomi practising her magic on a paper airplane leads her to Yuito. I imagine this symbolises that the kijimuna is pleased with where things end up with Fūka and Kukuru and is now setting sights on another adventure.

  • With the whole of The Aquatope on White Sand in the books, I have no qualms issuing this series a strong recommendation and a perfect score of ten out of ten (A+, or 4.0 on a four-point scale). While I didn’t cry during the finale, or at any point in The Aquatope on White Sand, the lessons portrayed here parallels the stories and experiences that my colleagues and peers described as alumni of the Bachelor of Health Sciences programme. We encourage people to try things out, keep an open mind and be aware that while the journey may be crooked, perseverance and effort yields meaningful results. For capturing what I learnt in the health sciences programme in an engaging and highly visual manner, The Aquatope on White Sand is a masterpiece that embodies the path that my peers and I have taken. Watching this anime would be equivalent to watching how some of our careers unfolded, and for me, this anime holds a special place in my heart for one more reason – it accompanied me as I navigated the path to become a homeowner. Now that The Aquatope on White Sand has reached its conclusion, I am going to be sad to see this one go.

Because The Aquatope on White Sand speaks so vividly about the values I hold, and parallel some of my own experiences, there should be no surprises that I enjoyed P.A. Works’ latest title immensely. However, outside of a compelling story that portrays the importance of hard work, determination, open-mindedness and having the right support as one begins their career, The Aquatope on White Sand also provides viewers with a treat from an aural and visual perspective. The artwork is especially solid: contemporary animation techniques and tools allow for entire aquarium tanks to be rendered in unmatched fidelity, bringing the interiors of both Gama Gama and Tingarla to life and give viewers a taste of the natural splendor that Fūka and Kukuru experience at their work. Every animal’s movement, from the floating jellyfish and waddling penguins, to the streamlined fish and plucky sea turtles, is similarly faithful to their real-world equivalents. The attention paid to detail extends to virtually every part of the anime, from the cityscapes to quiet bays located far from urban centres: such a vibrant setting enhances the feeling that the events that happened in The Aquatope on White Sand could plausibly happen in reality. In conjunction with the sound engineering to make everything from city streets and coastal beaches, the the heart of every aquarium, The Aquatope on White Sand masterfully blends sight and sound together in order to create a world that is as every bit as magical and alive as our own. It is therefore unsurprising that The Aquatope on White Sand scores perfectly in the technical department, as well. With everything said, I count The Aquatope on White Sand a masterpiece for its optimistic and thoughtful presentation about the realities of following one’s dream and pursuing one’s career path: it’s not an easy road, and failure is a natural part of this process, something to prepare for and learn from, rather than avoid. Those who have the resilience and determination to make things work out will also experience the results of this effort, and The Aquatope on White Sand posits that knowing one’s done their job well is its own reward. With The Aquatope on White Sand‘s finale, the question of whether or not a continuation will occur is likely the first thought on reader’s minds. P.A. Works does not have a history of making continuations, with movies for Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako being the exception rather than the rule; it is therefore unlikely that we will see more of The Aquatope on White Sand as an anime. Having said this, stories from P.A. Works’ anime have previously received novel adaptations, or even a manga, so it is possible that folks looking to learn more might have the opportunity to do so in the future. I will be sad to see this series go: for the past twenty-four weeks, it’s been a comfort to know that each and every Thursday evening, Kukuru and Fūka’s story would advance a little bit towards something bigger and inspiring me to put my best foot forwards when I get up in the mornings.

16 responses to “The Aquatope on White Sand: Whole-Series Review and Recommendation After The Finale

  1. David Birr December 18, 2021 at 08:12

    A couple of “Tropes” sites feature the concept that “Everything’s Better with Penguins.” Aquatope shows us that everything’s especially better with cute, happy children in penguin costumes … although Chiyo-chan in Azumanga Daioh had already demonstrated this.


  2. folcwinepywackett9604 December 18, 2021 at 09:47

    Wonderful love poem to a wonderful story! There is a lot going on there in the forest between Kukuru and Fūka where Fūka makes some very heartfelt puns based in the Japanese. Kukuruくくる is a verb which means to tie or bind together, hence to tie-dye silk Batik style. The girls get into a discussion of Fūka’s name 風花 which are nouns literally meaning wind flower and then by poetic extension a snow flurry and then even further in Aquatope, like white bleached coral on the beach as if it were snow! (They even draw a picture!) So Kukuru says wind, flower, coral, perfect fit for Okinawa, but Fūka then adds こころ kokoro which means heart, mind, soul. This is a pun on Kukuru’s name! こころ kokoro is Okinawa dialect for Kukuruくくる, and then both girls see the double pun in that Fūka has kukuru’ed (tied or bind together) both their names together in wind, flower, coral, soul! There are even more puns but they are obscure and abstract based in Japanese poetry.

    Still trying to figure out the Kijimuna’s Blue paper airplane??? Seems to have something to do with Kukuru and Fūka because it was flying around them, and then into the sky “The End” or is it? And he never returned Fūka’s straw hat! I still want to see Kukuru Director of Tingarla which was referenced in this EP 24.

    “The Aquatope on White Sand” my number 1 for the year 2021. And then 10 for 10, they stuck that landing, Big Time. One of the most enjoyable stories I have been told in many years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith December 22, 2021 at 10:03

      Thank you for sharing the background surrounding Fūka and Kukuru’s names! Such naming reiterates that the pair’s meeting and changing one another’s lives were indeed fate, and it also shows how P.A. Works took the effort of hinting at this for us viewers. Unfortunately, since English-speakers like myself are not always fully aware of names (in fact, I didn’t even know what my own Chinese name meant until I asked), this is one detail that most will miss, so again, thank you for this!

      Regarding the paper airplane, since it only shows up here, I can’t imagine it as having a larger symbolic significance beyond being a bit of imagery for how the kijimuna had been watching and guiding things. Now that Fūka and Kukuru are both are able to stand of their own accord, its job was done. Otherwise, it would’ve been given a bit more of a presence.

      Finally, The Aquatope on White Sand is indeed a solid anime, worthy of being counted as one of 2021’s best 🙂 P.A. Works has always delivered, and aside from a vocal coterie of people who believe that being critical of P.A. Works is in vogue, I’ve always found that people enjoy their works because they’re able to bring out emotions particularly well. I’m glad we were able to get an anime like this, and I’m similarly glad you’ve stuck by with my posts to offer your insights and feedbacks! Learnings new things, like with respect to Fūka and Kukuru’s names, enhances my experience further and strengthens my enjoyment of this series!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael Kerpan December 18, 2021 at 22:23

    I have now seen all of PA Works shows and love or like (a lot) most (even Glasslip). Aquatope, on first watching, strikes me as the studio’s best work so far — combining the sense of workplace reality (including camaraderie AND stress) of Shirobako and the exquisite visual beauty of Lull in the Sea.

    One thing that I think many commenters on the show have missed is that the majority of the story is (essentially) seen from the viewpoint of Kukuru. This is especially true once we move from Gama Gama to Tingarla. If we see little of her boss (and what he does), it is because Kukuru (wrapped up in herself) does not see what he does — and does not seem to care much about finding out. It is NOT that he does no work himself. While Kukuru is not a “narrator”, a lot of what we see is equivalent to experiencing the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator. Of course, some parts of the story reflect Fuuka’s perspective — and others may be neutral — but it is a mistake to think that what we see of Kukuru’s work experience is anything like an objective representation of what is actually going on.

    I never understood why some people were so dead-set on pushing a romance between Kukuru and Kai (and were disappointed not to see this develop. Similarly, I never understood why some folks were so intent on treating this as essentially a yuri-esque story. What we see portrayed throughout the entirety of the show is an intense sister-like relationship. However, I must say I found it interesting that, in the end, the creators left totally open the possibility that Kukuru’s and Fuuka’s relationship might turn into a romantic one. The fact that the creators chose not to show ANY interaction between Kukuru and Kai after the timeskip (something that would have cost only a few seconds — had they wished to show some lingering possibility of any romance between the two), firmly suggests that we are supposed to think there is no relationship between them — other than childhood friends and colleagues. And Fuuka’s words to Kukuru show at least a tinge of bordering-on-romantic. We will never know the future of these two, as I am sure this will not get a sequel, as the story is complete (our curiosity as to the fictional future of these fictional characters does not mean our curiosity NEEDS to be indulged). But I really like the fact that the future relationship of these characters is left open (other than the hint it will be intense and long lasting).

    As to the vision in this episode, I strongly felt that Fuuka was not simply observing Kukuru and her deceased family members — but that she was expressly included as a member of this group — because she was now (in one way or another) a member of Kukuru’s family, who needed to be introduced to the others.

    I found the density of the story in this series very powerful — despite its typically slow pace. A lot was going on, on multiple levels. Almost every episode was packed with things to think about. Consequently, I routinely watched episodes at least twice. If I were forced to rank shows, I might place Heike Monogatari before Aquatope purely “artistically”, based on its incredible visual beauty and masterful direction. Still, in term of sheer “love”, Aquatope is surely my favorite. I watched over 50 current shows this year — and despite many people complaining how lousy today’s anime (and how slim the pickings were), I have to totally disagree. There were dozens of wonderful shows (even if few were as near-perfect as Aquatope and Heike Monogatari). I feel very fortunate that I had the time and opportunity to follow this year’s shows.

    Liked by 2 people

    • infinitezenith December 22, 2021 at 10:19

      I am inclined to believe that people complain because social media has made it “in” to appear critical of everything (“if I’m critical of everything and picking out flaws, I’m using my brain”); the anime of late has been no better or worse than the anime of say, a decade earlier. While not every show is going to be a powerhouse performance of animation and story, this isn’t to say that there aren’t potential masterpieces hidden around the corner with every passing season. I’ve not seen quite the same number of anime as you have this year (50 is an impressive number!), but as you’ve shown, there are great shows if one knows where to look and enter them with an open mind.

      Onto The Aquatope on White Sand proper, it is definitely true that the anime is seen from Kukuru’s perspective, and that people are forgetting that we have third person limited omniscience here: we have the most insights to Fūka and Kukuru, but the characters around them are, outside of their dialogue and interactions with the pair, largely black boxes. This is like reality in that we are totally aware of what our own thoughts and feelings are, but unless others around us take the pain of communicating, it’s a bit of guesswork to determine what they’re thinking (save the situation where we know people really well). As it was, what we saw in The Aquatope on White Sand is thought Kukuru’s eyes, and just because she saw things poorly or unfavourably might not have been the case from an external perspective. This brings back memories of when I’d been involved in a project with a difficult backend team. Although it is easy for me to fault them for everything (like changing the keys in a JSON response to cause an app crash during my demo), I haven’t enough to know whether that was a problem on my end (not being in the loop to know something was changing on short notice), their end (a deliberate attempt to make me look bad) or a combination of both. A story told from purely my perspective would paint the backend team as a the “bad guys”, but whether this is the case or not wouldn’t be properly known. Having said this, the framing did work well enough for what the series aimed to do.

      For me, my opposition to the romance in The Aquatope on White Sand stemmed from the fact that this series had made it abundantly clear it would follow Kukuru’s professional development. Romance would feel out of place here, since a good romance story is dependent on giving viewers a reasonable idea of an individual’s traits and then pushing them down a path together to see one set of outcomes. All of this requires time, and because The Aquatope on White Sand didn’t have the time for this, I preferred it that the series didn’t go down a route that could take away from the main story. People are, of course, free to speculate on things to their hearts’ content, and this is again, more easily done when The Aquatope on White Sand chooses to leave things open. Those viewers who want to believe Kai and Kukuru can get together are just as valid as those who want a Fūka and Kukuru ending. Not seeing these vindicated in the anime proper doesn’t render them invalid, after all.

      The warmth in the final vision resulting from the play of sound and lighting, coupled with scene composition, make it evident that Fūka has indeed been welcomed into Kukuru’s family. There was a lot going on this episode, so I didn’t have a chance to mention every last detail through my mind; I concur whole-heartedly with your remarks regarding the final vision 🙂

      Finally, I would also like to thank you for sticking it out after all this time. It’s been a half year since The Aquatope on White Sand aired, and having comments like yours meant it felt like I was watching this anime with a group of viewers, rather than on my own. It felt great to know that after every three episodes (or so), I’d be able to share my thoughts with others and hear back from everyone. The positivity from you and folcwinepywackett9604 have been very uplifting to see, and I’m glad to see this series also hit the right notes for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. folcwinepywackett9604 January 10, 2022 at 11:56

    Well now that the holidays are behind, I would like to enter my final 2 cents here before leaving.

    I want to thank “The Infinite Zenith” for tolerating my insane ramblings.

    This “Infinite Zenith” blog has been a second enjoyment to the actual “The Aquatope on White Sand” anime itself. I very much enjoy discussing art and learning about other’s perspectives on a work.

    Individuals such as “The Infinite Zenith” and many others like Michael Kerpan, have made this blog an oasis of sanity as an abject lesson in how to have a “grown-up discussion” and how to do so with full respect for others even when there is disagreement. Everyone will have a different emo response to a work of art because everyone is different especially in their feels. There is no right or wrong here or there, it’s Green Eggs and Ham everywhere. Even the same individual will have different responses to the same work at different times.

    So much bitterness and contempt take place in many of these discussions in other places on the net, and it’s so totally foolish and ridiculous.

    Many critics and fans have called for a Romance in Aquatope, but I am in full agreement with The Infinite Zenith and Michael Kerpan. A Romance in Aquatope could have destroyed the story because Aquatope is not about Romance but rather something much more important.

    I too would put “The Aquatope on White Sand” at 10 for 10, and I consider this work an immediate masterpiece. But especially the final episode 24, which was the best ending to a story in recent memory. How much story they told and resolved in just 23 minutes and 40 seconds! Some anime cannot even tell that much story in a whole season!

    MS Yūko Kakihara is the author of Aquatope, and many may remember her as also the author of “Iroduku: The world in Colors (2018)” for P.A. Works in which color was the central plot point.

    It is then no stretch to think that color in Aquatope is not without meaning or sense.

    MS Kakihara opens her story in a most unexpected fashion, with a history of Kukuru’s hair styles. First a baby with no hair ornament, a little girl with a green bulb ornament on a single left braid, a young teen with a fish ornament on that single braid, and then her shell ornament on the braid as we have seen her for the most part. There is one more change of great significance at the very end. Hair styles for women are sometimes a personality marker for maturation or growth as they are here presented, and of course, Kukuru’s hair is blue as are her Mother and Father.

    Blue would then be a trope for Kukuru. During the very ending from run time 21:24 through 23:08, Kukuru does the first word play (1) on Fūka’s name using the poetic allusion of “snow fluttering on a sunny day”. As snow is white, Kukuru transitions the allusion to “bleached, white coral on a white sand Okinawan beach”, perfect for Okinawa. White would then be a trope for Fūka.

    Blue as in Aqua and White as in Sand are literally in the Title, “The Aquatope on White Sand: *The Two Girls Met in the Ruins of Damaged Dream* “!

    Once the hair styles are quoted in detail, we begin the process of stocking The White Sand Dome by the entire staff which ends on run time 4:59, story dated as March 2, 2023.

    This is simply one of the wonders of Aquatope which fascinates on many levels. I readily reacted to the technical aspects of actually doing an Aquarium stocking which is so well done here. Some might criticize the story, that we are now 5 minutes in, and all we have done is mark hair styles, and fish stocking. Where is the story? But this is short sighted, because one of the central points of MS Kakihara’s story is that people working together create value as the young people in this segment indeed do.

    Then on March 19, 2023, we open The White Sand Dome to host one of the most beautiful weddings either fictional or real which I have ever witnessed. This beauty even reduces Miura, the wedding planner, to tears! She then congratulates Kukuru (B: 2002-10-8) who at 20 years of age has produced a stunning success. (Fūka was born B:2003-5-17, she is actually the little sister.)

    The following day, March 20, 2023, The White Sand Dome is opened to the public, and is a major popular success, but Kukuru is still unsure! Gama-Gama was fun, but Tingarla not so much, and she asks for advice from her Grandfather. In one of the most trenchant short stories, Ojii confesses to Kukuru that Gama-Gama was not always fun, but his advice is to work hard at all times, moving forward, and then sometimes you will be rewarded. Real life isn’t all fun and games, and defeats and reversals are difficult to avoid, but “Do what’s right, and everything will work out.”! That is real truth!

    When Kukuru asks what should she do, Grandpa says look within yourself and you will see your Destiny.

    Visions are not Magic Realism. People do have real visions, and the Vision Quest is a staple in many cultures. Abandon Fatalism, one’s fixed Fate in life, and embrace your vision for your Destiny ahead, because one sets their own Destination in life.

    And then we finish with a vision of Kukuru’s lost family and Fūka is clearly included as a member of Kukuru’s family.

    Also at run time 23:19, Fūka counters back to Kukuru with the second word play (2)

    ( Fūka = {wind, flowers, coral} UNION (Kukuru = {soul = (kokoro =
    {heart, mind, spirit, soul}) } ) produces the Result Set of FAMILY =
    {Fūka, Kukuru} = {wind, flowers, coral, soul}.

    We are now 16 minutes into the ending, and yet nothing has been resolved.

    We now see Fūka fly off to Hawaii for a two year work-study with Kaoru, and we enter a 2 year time skip.

    After I read Michael Kerpan’s comments, I realized I had forgotten all about how or who is narrating the story, what my ancient Comp Lit Professor always called the Eye of the Story. Once I rewatched with that in mind, the mystery of the Blue Paper Airplane disappeared. Paper airplanes are usually white because paper is usually white, so a Blue
    one means…..

    Ahh, yes, back to EP 21 “Dreams of Blue Turtles” and the very denouement of Aquatope where instead of Magic Realism, we are told a story of hard core realism in which the very real magic of Mother Nature’s birthing of life into new life hits square in the face under a full moon. I literally lost it when the little guys popped out of the sand.

    It is here, on Yameru na Island after witnessing the miracle of life where new dreams begin to crystallize for both Kukuru and Fūka. (“yameru na” translates into English as “Don’t quit! Kukuru and Fūka are literally on an Island telling them not to quit!!!)

    After the two year time skip, it is now April 1, 2025. The story opens with a clear, intentional focus shot of Kukuru’s new hair style, double braids, tied in the back with a 5 point starfish.

    Fūka and Kaoru fly back to Okinawa. Kukuru messages Fūka to meet her at their shrine. A Blue paper airplane appears out of the woods, and wraps around a running Kukuru, and then they embrace. Fūka says, “I’m home, Kukuru.”

    They both engage in word play (1) and (2), and then in the very last scene, with the girls walking away we see that the Starfish ornament in Kukuru’s new hair style, is now an actual star.

    Then the Kijimuna launches his second Blue Paper airplane which fly’s up into a deep Blue Sky (Kukuru) filled with billowy Cumulus White Clouds (Fūka), heading towards the Infinite Zenith of the stars.

    MS Yūko Kakihara has the last word play (3) in that using the Tokyo or Standard Japanese sense of kukuru (a verb, meaning to tie or bind together), she has tied and bound the two girls together like fine silk cloth being tie-dyed in the brilliant colors of Blue and White. That very last sky scene could easily be a piece of very fine Silk tie dyed fabric!

    In the beginning, Aquatope throws a curve ball, and seems to hint that Magic Realism will be used, and yet, no magic ever changes anything, it’s hard core realism all the way down, and of course, that is the most wondrous abstraction of all. The only thing the Kijimuna ever does is eat the offerings, and steal Fūka’s Straw hat!

    The Real Magic of “The Aquatope on White Sand” is the vision thing, that all human beings are fully capable of doing what Kukuru and Fūka have done.

    This is beginning of the end of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith January 10, 2022 at 22:25

      “Tolerate”? Try “embrace” and “welcome” 🙂

      I’ve looked forwards to hearing your insights into The Aquatope on White Sand, which are very comprehensive and added greatly to my experience of this series. Everything is written to contribute to the story, and fits in with the story very well: symbols and smaller details are well-chosen and do as much of a job of speaking to how characters are feeling, and where they’re going, as much as the dialogue and events that are portrayed. Seeing what you’ve got on the paper airplane and the characters’ names similarly makes it abundantly clear: this fateful meeting was a life-changing one that improved both Fūka and Kukuru’s lives in a meaningful way.

      Regarding the negativity out there surrounding this series, my main hope is that people will stop to consider why someone did or did not enjoy The Aquatope on White Sand before agreeing with another opinion that isn’t their own. As a blogger, the thing that irks me most is when someone agrees with another opinion without fully making an effort to understand why the opinion-holding reached that conclusion. I always want readers to think for themselves: whether it’s agreeing or disagreeing with me (or any other opinion, for that matter), there has to be a well-formed reason unique to the individual. That’s what makes a well-argued position valuable – it offers me insight into someone’s own experiences. That’s why I see the short (and often demanding or sarcastic) dismissals of The Aquatope on White Sand out there as lacking value; it speaks nothing of the individual and shows they’re not the least bit interested in sitting down for a conversation beyond being “right”. I’m most grateful that conversations here were nothing of that sort!

      I’ll say this again: it was great to have you and the other readers for the journey throughout The Aquatope on White Sand. Although this might not be a live stream where I get to watch the series alongside others, the path throughout The Aquatope on White Sand was never a lonely one thanks to the conversations we’ve been able to have together 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • folcwinepywackett9604 January 11, 2022 at 05:35

        Exceptionally well said! (in fewer words than I could have ever done). Watched EP 24 again last night, and I noticed something. The Blue paper airplane is not all Blue! It appears to be folded from one sheet of paper, Blue on one side, and White on the other.
        I am following The Infinite Zenith blog in the reader system so I get notified on new posts. I will be back. Have a great and successful New Year!


  5. AK January 30, 2022 at 05:44

    I pretty much agree with your take on Aquatope. As for the other P.A. Works anime, it didn’t quite hit the high I found in Shirobako but it was close. Not having seen The World in Colors, I feel like I’ve missed out on some possible thematic connections there, and I’d be interested to go back and watch that as well. I’ve also heard bad things about Glasslip, that it was too bizarre for its own good, but not having seen that either I can’t say for myself.

    It makes sense to think of the magic in Aquatope as a metaphor, though the visions seemed real enough — but if the magic was real, it wasn’t exactly intervening in human events but just having an effect on people’s minds and attitudes. I went into Aquatope with no knowledge about the kijimuna or other Okinawan traditions, so I might have missed some meaning there as well.

    If that many anime fans in Japan (and certainly some anime fans in my own country as well, can’t doubt that) are NEETs or at best part-timers living on the margins, I can understand why they’d find Tingarla a horrible place to work. I went through a career path myself that resembles Kukuru’s a bit, not in terms of what I was doing but rather in my going from informal/contracting work to a full-time job in a corporate setting, so I can appreciate the points Aquatope is making. As for Tetsuji, there’s a perfect quote from Moby Dick for him: “It’s better to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad one.” Of course you have some moody bad ones as well, and those are the worst, but Tetsuji has the qualities of a good supervisor. Maybe some viewers were just pissed at him because he was giving Kukuru a hard time and we were seeing it all from her perspective — it’s not that easy to watch the protagonist get her ass kicked around like that.

    And of course, agreed on the point about yuri as well as we’ve talked about. Personally I have no problem with yuri — I’ve even reviewed a couple of yuri VNs on my site, one favorably and the other not quite as much. But the romance in those works were open and unambiguous. You can have an ambiguous romance as well, but the relationship between Fuuka and Kukuru didn’t even approach that area. I think some people just really believe any time you have two close, very intimate friends no matter their sex, they must be romantically interested. This is a weird assumption. People can write fanfiction having them fall in love and be romantically involved if they want; I’m sure someone already has. But as far as I could tell, the only instance of romantic expression in Aquatope was Kai’s pretty clear attraction to Kukuru, but which he never clearly expresses to her, even if it’s extremely obvious to Karin. The fact that Kukuru doesn’t respond might say more about her still being kind of dense about this stuff than about her sexuality, but again, the series doesn’t get into it.

    Sorry for the extra-long comment — I’ve had this series on the mind for a while since finishing it. Great analysis here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith February 4, 2022 at 16:30

      Shirobako was unique in that its characters have at least formal training in their discipline and where beginners had mentors in their corner, which allowed the anime to purely focus on the team dynamics of getting an anime produced. If an individual struggled, teamwork carried the day there and brought those who were struggling to their feet, which is why it worked better for most. On the other hand, The Aquatope on White Sand did seem to make Kukuru fight her own battles without any mentorship, even from Karin. However, this also feels deliberate, done to emphasise the connection between Kukuru and Fūka.

      Regarding the similarities between The Aquatope on White Sand and The World in Colours, the commonalities are quite superficial now that we’ve seen the whole of The Aquatope on White Sand: Kukuru somewhat resembles Kohaku in that both are spirited people, while Fūka is a more outgoing Hitomi. Beyond this, the characters each have their own unique traits and development paths, so I’m not too sure as to whether or not the comparison still stands. Finally, Glasslip was known for using visions in a curious manner, as well. I’ve expressed my dislike for the series, but conversations with other readers have led me to wonder if I am being unfair towards the series. The only way to find out is to give the entire series another go in the future.

      Okinawans have their own distinct beliefs and customs – these were tightly coupled with The Aquatope on White Sand, and it took a bit of looking up to see how everything tied together. I had a number of viewers who provided their insights into some of these aspects, which was superbly helpful. However, even without these extra bits of information, The Aquatope on White Sand still stands of its own accord, and I’d suggest that the magic in The Aquatope on White Sand was just right.

      I share your background: until recently, I was working in a start-up environment where I was responsible for every part of the app development and was given complete creative freedom, and so, when I transitioned into a more established company, initially, it did take some getting used to. However, my personality is such that I have no qualms with things like authority or protocol, so I acclimatised and rolled with things: the plus side about corporate settings are that there’s more eyes on my work. Unlike a startup, where it’s sometimes the customers who find my bugs, a larger company means that my fellow developers and QA can catch these things before they ever reach an end-user. I have a feeling that Tetsuji’s hostility was a consequence of Kukuru being so accustomed to having free reign at Gama Gama that protocol is foreign to her, and we do see her grow: when she applies her creativity without breaking procedure (e.g. running something by Tetsuji first), the results are positive, and Tetsuji acknowledges that. More time could’ve been spent on building his character out, since it does look like viewers do expect to be walked through everything rather than reading between the lines on their own.

      Finally, regarding romance, P.A. Works has previously integrated it successfully before (Hanasaku Iroha comes to mind), but here in The Aquatope on White Sand, it’s clear that aside from it being mentioned naturally as a part of every day conversation, it’s simply not the focus. I certainly won’t object to people making their own fanfiction for the series, but saying the series failed because of a lack of Yuri is like wondering why a steakhouse doesn’t do the best ramen in the world!

      I appreciate hearing your feedback and similarly enjoyed reading your post: owing to how busy it’s been, I haven’t even had time to reply to your comment here and at your blog. I’ll get to that in a bit, and in the meantime, I’m really glad that you got a pleasant experience out of The Aquatope on White Sand, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • AK February 6, 2022 at 18:04

        That’s a good point about the differences with Shirobako. In that series it was always a team effort, even though most of the events centered around Aoi. I agree that a lot of Kukuru’s problems initially at Tingarla had to do with her having to deal with the corporate environment as well — not having free reign would certainly be uncomfortable for her, since she was so used to having a hand in every task at Gama Gama.

        Hanasaku Iroha is another series I need to see. I vaguely remember it airing back in the late 00s sometime I think, and one of my favorite character designers was involved with it.

        I also like the steakhouse analogy. I do like some good ramen (and good yuri for sure) but I don’t need it at every meal.

        And thanks for the comments there as well! I’ve been flooded with work and haven’t been nearly as engaged around here as I’d like, so I get what you’re saying.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Listening/reading log #27 (January 2022) | Everything is bad for you

  7. Pingback: Onward! To a New Summit – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Finale Impressions, Whole-Series Review and Recommendation of a Masterpiece | The Infinite Zenith

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