“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.
- The Aquatope on White Sand inherits the visual style seen in 2018’s The World in Colours, and here, Tingarla can be seen adjacent to a cliff. The warm weather in Okinawa is a far cry from the weather today: the high was -18°C (-25°C with windchill), and yesterday, blowing snow dropped visibility to zero. The skies today were gorgeous, and it was underneath sunshine that we’d stepped out for lunch at OEB Breakfast Co. to celebrate the end of a work year. Today was my first day off of a two week long vacation, and I ended up ordering the A-Lott A-Laks smoked salmon breakfast poutine, a delicious combination of Dill salmon laks, poached eggs, Saint Cyrille curds, fresh dill, fried capers, brown butter hollandaise on a bed of duck-fat fried herbed potatoes rounded out with a tall glass of raspberry ginger beer. My enjoyment of smoked salmon is a recently-acquired taste, and OEB’s signature cold-smoked salmon is very tender and flavourful: I ended up going with a seafood poutine in part to commemorate The Aquatope on White Sand‘s finale.
- 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.