The Aquatope on White Sand (白い砂のアクアトープ)

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The Aquatope on White Sand (白い砂のアクアトープ, Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)

SPOILER ALERT: Many spoilers follow, read at your own risk

The Aquatope on White Sand(2021) Series, 1 Season, 24 Episodes, 23 minutes each
Subtitled: The two girls met in the ruins of damaged dream

D: Toshiya Shinohara
W: Yūko Kakihara
M: Yoshiaki Dewa
Studio: P.A. Works

Aquatope at ANN
Aquatope at MAL
Aquatope at IMDB

Characters:

MC

Kukuru Misakino (海咲野くくる, Misakino Kukuru)
Fūka Miyazawa (宮沢風花, Miyazawa Fūka)

SC

Tsukimi Teruya (照屋月美, Teruya Tsukimi)
Karin Kudaka (久高夏凛, Kudaka Karin)
Kai Nakamura (仲村櫂, Nakamura Kai)
Kūya Yakamashi (屋嘉間志空也, Yakamashi Kūya)
Kukuru’s grandfather (おじい, Ojī)

Trailer

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After EP 4, “Tropical Fish In Boots”, our reaction and observation is as follows:

The very definition of a Slice of Life. There is something about The Slice as a genre that is very Yuri. After all love and affection are human movements towards intimacy, and in that respect, EP 4 is a Shohei Ohtani hit out of the park as he steals home. The very artistic symmetry between the children playing at the touch pools steals home later with The Fuuka x Kukuru touch in their personal touch pool. Any louder and you would have to turn the volume down. The director Toshiya Shinohara and the writer Yuko Kakihara have thrown down the gauntlet that Aquatope is not going to end in simple “friendship”. We have names for what is going down here in Bromance/Sormance which in terms of human intensity can easily exceed a Romance. In real terms lovers have given their lives throughout history for their beloved brother or sister and its not trivialized by immediately jumping into bed and making like the three-toed Aardvark. In Aquatope, this Touch Pool is way above subtext now with EP 4! Fuuka and Kukuru are very much falling in love with each other, and if that aint Yuri then go ahead and chum the waters with Yuri bait as you decide whether to actually fish or cut bait!

After EP 5, “Mother Arrives”, our reaction and observation is as follows:

Meandering through a story is what SoL is all about. Enjoy the ride rather than the destination. Thankfully we have an anime mom who is not a She-bat Mom demon from Hell. Fuuka’s mom is kind, considerate, thoughtful, and understanding. She wants to go back and visit with grandma to thank her in person and Kukuru makes sure she has plenty of Grandma’s Plum wine. She likes Fuuka’s Red boots. She is such a loving Mom! I am not that knowledgeable about Japanese home shrines, but I gather that when a picture of someone is placed in the shrine, that means the person is deceased. Two times in EP5, the shrine plays a critical plot role. At 7:30 in you can clearly see the shrine over Fuuka’s mom’s left shoulder, and there is a picture of a girl who looks a lot like Kukuru. Then at 20:39 in, the story reframes the shrine through grandma’s gaze, and to emphasize the frame itself, it refocuses on the shrine while it is in the frame and we clearly see the picture of the girl again. The Aquatope is telling us to pay very close attention to this person, spoiler[Kukuru’s mom? her twin sister?] This is a Chekhov’s gun device! She will come back! Grandma’s Plum Wine is magic, because it causes Fuuka’s mom to change her mind, and leave Fuuka with this wonderful cast of wonderful characters and family.
For this fan, if Fuuka and Kukuru find and increase in love for and with each other, then it matters not whether we are in a Romance, a Sormance, or a very intense friendship. Love after all feels the same no matter the context.

After EP 6, “Sweets Rhapsody”, our reaction and observation is as follows:

“Sweets Rhapsody” is very deceptive, and it’s a magic trick all by itself!

The EP opens early in the morning at Gama-Gama, in Kukuru’s office. Behind Kukuru on the wall you can clearly see the months, June, July, August, and September of 2021. All the days in June and July are marked with a Red X. No days in August and September are marked, except for August 31 which is a Red circle, presumably the closing date of the Aquarium.

So we can surmise that EP 6 opens on the morning of August 1.

Kukuru is struggling because the local newspaper has run an article saying that Gama-Gama will be closing, and she is trying to come up with ideas to save the Aquarium. This entire arc from this point on is a trick. In very typical SoL fashion, the story tellers tell the tale of the girls coming up with ideas, first an Ice Cream stand which is shot down due to health regulations, and finally settling on a Shaved Ice Stand. Most of Ep 6 is this tight little story which has no bearing on saving the Aquarium. This is a trick of misdirection of your attention.

The reality is that to save Gama-Gama, they have to sell more tickets, and to do that, they need more traffic, more people have to come visit the Aquarium! The whole story arc of Shaved Ice is meaningless with regard to the actual objective. But it is a very cute story, and we see our wonderful characters working together on their little project, which is quite precious.

Now that the story tellers have lulled you into that SoL mood, they then shift suddenly into vicious misdirection as they stick the Shiv into you, and turn it slowly for maximum pain.

At the very end of the episode, Kukuru is in the Aquarium, and she sees a mysterious old man staring into the fish tank. She recognizes him as he has been coming to Gama-Gama for many years, and he now tells her, his story. Many years ago he had a vision of his lost brother, and he has been coming back ever since hoping to see him again, but to no effect.

This is the beginning of the Shiv. Kukuru now looks into the fish tank, and she has a vision of a man and a woman, who she runs to and embraces with much passion. We have not seen the man before, but the woman looks like the woman in the shrine picture from EP 5, “Mother Arrives” which now seems to have a double meaning. Superficially thinking, its about Fuka’s mother arriving at Gama-Gama, but the EP ends focusing on the picture in the Shrine. A second mother arrives? The presumption is at this point in the story, that this couple are her mother and father who have been lost? That is not clear, but what is clear, is that Kukuru’s vision sets off another vision in the mysterious old man who now clearly sees his long, lost brother, and this vision suddenly becomes one of the most emotionally powerful moments in Aquatope.

The mysterious old man breaks down into tears, as the story tellers viciously turn the knife in your heart and gut. One incredible, and unexpected moving moment in our story.

We now have the answer to keeping Gama-Gama open. Only Divine Intervention, some sort of miracle or magic, will save the Aquatope in the very short time left in August.

Hold on tight, August is going to be rocky. Good Stuff!

Live well and thrive!

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© 2021 Folwine P. Pywackett (mox017)

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