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

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

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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



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


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)

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!

After EP21 “Dreams of Blue Turtles”

Several beautiful scenes of Kukuru walking to Kamehausu, the little aquarium on Yameru na Island,

The final episodes:

EP 20 “Lost Plankton”

EP 21 “Dreams of Blue Turtles”

EP 22 “Ready to Return”

EP 23 “The Future of the Aquarium”

EP 24 last episode, no title yet

In an Anime which has produced some stunning episodes, EP 21 is brilliantly beautiful, and full of heart-felt magic feels! When the little guys popped out of the sand, I just about lost it in the fields of feels! For my tastes, EP 21 is the best single episode this year in any anime. All this time I had been hoping for magic realism to take place because the grim reality of the story so much reminded me of my own backstory. But instead of Magic Realism in EP 21 we see the real magic of life birthing new life and that is a magic we humans could all learn to love. Mother Nature is a real mother!

In EP 21 we have metaphors aplenty. The lost Dolphin in the Lagoon is the lost direction of Kukuru, as in “EP 20 Lost Plankton”. The Penguin bloodied in the attack is Kukuru under attack for trespassing on someone’s territory. The baby Turtles are Kukuru reborn, and with direction to their new home. Kukuru traveled to Yameru na Island, and I tried to find it, but discovered this is another reference to Kukuru. There is no such island off the coast of Okinawa, but rather “yameru na” translates into English as “Don’t quit! K is literally on an Island telling her not to quit!!!

EP 22 is titled “Ready to Return” and EP 23 is “The Future of the Aquarium” so this is our ending with EP 24 batting clean-up and tying up loose ends. Almost certainly, what the ending will resolve is the conflict between Kukuru and Tetsuji Suwa. No individual in my experience was ever let go because of an unexcused absence. Only if that became a pattern would any action be taken. If Suwa moves to fire Kukuru we will know what cards he is playing. EP 22 “Ready to Return” sounds like Kukuru roaring back to the fight. Because it was the Director who hired her, and placed her in Marketing, Suwa would not be able to take action without approval. Some wags on another blog, suggested that this will be a three way meeting, and Suwa lets loose a “plankton”, and the Director accuses him of sexual harassment. But others with far more compassion than I, truly care for Suwa, so following that idea, Suwa sees the errors of his ways, and he and Kukuru have a meeting of the minds resolving their conflict. I have been outfoxed by Aquatope so many times, I am just in it for the ride now, and would not predict anything. I trust that the story tellers will stick the landing to most everyone’s satisfaction.

One interesting note is that the Turtles hatched on the night of Oct 5, 2022, a Wednesday, and that on Oct 8, 2022, a Saturday, Kukuru has a birthday, and she turns 20. Might this play a part in the story?

Also the entire month of October has mystical significance in Japanese mythology. “In Japan, the traditional name for the 10th month of the lunar calendar is Kannazuki (神無月) which literally means “the month without gods.” “ During October, all the gods of Japan leave their shrines and meet together in Izumo Taisha to discuss how to better serve the Japanese people. But the god of fisherman, Hiruko/Ebisu, does not join the other gods because he does not hear the summons.

Ebisu is then available to support Kukuru in the next episode, EP 22 “Ready to Return”, assuming that is Kukuru’s resolution returning! Of course, Fūka is there at the birth, to support Kukuru, and she steps into the role of Ebisu.

After EP22 “Ready to Return” (覚悟の帰還, Kakugo no Kikan)

The aquatope on white sand – Opening 2

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The aquatope on white sand – Ending 2

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The final episodes:

EP 20 “Lost Plankton”

EP 21 “Dreams of Blue Turtles”

EP 22 “Ready to Return”

EP 23 “The Future of the Aquarium”

EP 24 last episode, no title yet

The previous episode, EP 21 “Dreams of Blue Turtles”, ended on the night of October 5, 2022, a Wednesday.

This episode, EP 22 “Ready to Return”, opens on that same beach on that same night after the Turtles have hatched, with only Kukuru and Fūka together.

Fūka spends the night with Kukuru at the motel, and they wake the next day which is October 6, 2022, a Thursday. Kukuru shows Fūka the Kamehausu aquarium and they meet with Umi’s wife, Misaki, who explains the human caused problems which are endangering the sea turtles. This seems to very much engage Fūka.

Kukuru and Fūka take the afternoon ferry back to Okinawa.

The next scene which has to be Friday, October 7, 2022, Kukuru returns to work and apologizes to Suwa who doesn’t seem all that upset, but he insists that Kukuru redo the Version 1 Wedding plan, and that she will present the new version of the plan to Miura, the Wedding Planner, next Friday which is October 14, 2022.

Kukuru works all weekend on the new plan, even on her birthday, Saturday, October 8, 2022, but is not satisfied with any of her new ideas. But on Monday, October she goes about interviewing all of her associates at Tingarla, and they generate many ideas in her head. Especially funny and warm hearted is the fish-guy, Eiji Higa (比嘉瑛士, Higa Eiji), who comes up with all kinds of crazy ideas, but Kukuru is now inspired.

She wraps up her Version 2 Proposal, and presents it to Suwa at 5:00 PM. He approves the new plan for this coming Friday, October 14, 2022. Kukuru has Miura come over to Tingarla so that she can show her how the plan will work.

Miura arrives on Friday, and this time Kukuru is ready and primed for her. Kukuru handles all Miura’s questions, and shows her the new room they are building which will have an above the heads, Aquarium tank fully visible to those below, and that they will put White sand on the floor just like a beach. We now here find out what an Aquatope is: a biotope, a habitat for living things who live in aqua, water. The new room itself is called “The White Sand Dome”. So we have the Aquatope above and the White Sand below, and there is our name, The Aquatope on White Sand (白い砂のアクアトープ)! Who knew?

This at first seems strange to Miura, but under Kukuru’s wonderful and inspirational presentation, she warms to the idea, and, in fact, becomes energized by Kukuru, and like a little kid, she asks for a tour of the Aquarium! So cool! She only leaves in the evening, with a Tingarla Jelly-fish plushie under her arms. Double cool!

And Suwa gives her the only compliment we have ever heard from him, “Well done” just like the River Spirit says to Sen in “Spirited Away”. Kukuru has hit the ball out of the park.

That night while celebrating with her friends, she learns that Kai’s Father has had a serious health issue, and that Kai will be leaving Tingarla to care for him. After running back to Tingarla to see Kai, she learns that this is only temporary and Kai says that he will return, but he is sure with Kukuru taking care of his job, the fish will do fine. We also know that Karin Kudaka has made application for the attendant position.

Kukuru is now conflicted. Should she transfer to the Attendant job, or stay in Marketing? And we end the episode as it began, with Kukuru on the beach at night thinking.

With two episodes to go, there are still a number of issues in the air.

Will Kukuru stay in Marketing, or transfer to become an Attendant?

Will Suwa ever change, or will there be an attempt to explain his behavior?

Will Fūka stay at Tingarla, or perhaps go back to public life as an idol to advocate for the Turtles?

Will there be any romance?

Will we see the wedding that Kukuru proposed?

Our predictions!

Kukuru stays in Marketing and on a career path for Management. Suwa will remain exactly like he is with no change or explanation. The last filming of Fūka with the Penguins is so successful, that the production company wants to do a series with Fūka and the Turtles. There will be no romance, but many heart felt relationships. We will see Kukuru’s wedding performed in “The White Sand Dome” and it will be called “The Aquatope on White Sand” Tingarla wedding.


© 2021 Folwine P. Pywackett (mox017)

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