The Aquatope on White Sand Review: A Beautiful Tale Of Running Away And Finding Yourself

A slightly too long tale of friendship, aquariums, fish and, and finding yourself within your faults has just come to an end, as The Aquatope on White Sand aired its last episode this week. Let’s see what the series was able to accomplish during its 6-month runtime in this review!

The Aquatope on White Sand Overview

The Aquatope on White Sand Title Screen

The Aquatope on White Sand was an anime by the Anime Studio P.A. Works, known for producing critically and commercially acclaimed anime like Angel Beats and Another. Toshiya Shinohara directed the series, a director whose career had already been intrinsically linked with P.A. works, having directed Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara and Nagi no Asu kara for the studio. It was an original series by P.A. works, which means it was not based on a previously existing property, such as a Manga or a Light Novel.

We covered this show extensively here on LeisureByte. You can check out the entire series from the start or check out the review of the final episode here. In original Japanese, this series is also known as Shiroi Suna no Aquatope. I highly recommend you check out the episodic reviews if you feel like watching this underappreciated show after reading this review. The series is sometimes also referred to as The Aquatope of White Sand.

– The Aquatope of White Sand Review does not contain spoilers –

The Aquatope on White Sand Review- The Plot

The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 2

“After leaving her idol career behind, Fuuka Miyazawa finds herself on a spontaneous flight to Okinawa instead of returning home to her pity party in Morioka. Bearing a heavy heart and nowhere to go, she aimlessly wanders around the area until she stumbles upon Gama Gama Aquarium—an ageing aquarium on the verge of closing down.

With a lack of visitors and costly but necessary repairs needed to keep its doors open, the director is faced with shutting down the establishment for good by the end of the summer. The director’s aquatic life-loving granddaughter—Kukuru Misakino—can not stand the thought of the aquarium closing and is determined to make enough money by the end of the season to keep the doors open. Will Kukuru and Fuuka be able to save the one place they hold close to their hearts?” – Courtesy MAL Rewrite.

The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 7 Characters

As you will find out as this review progresses, most elements of Aquatope are tales of two halves. The story isn’t a very complicated one, as you read from the synopsis above, but it is a very effective one. The show is able to very accurately portray the burden of losing something you love, wanting to run away from it, and finding something else that helps you move on from it. The biggest thing going for the show in that regard is the escapism it can provide to the viewer.

The entire atmosphere that the show builds using aquariums, marine life, and Japan’s Okinawa Island is a sight to behold and somewhere that would be the choice to run away for many. It is remote, small-town, beautiful, and homely, precisely what anyone looking to escape the big cities would hope for. With the help of the beautiful Gama Gama aquarium, the show accomplishes what few have done before- it makes the viewer want to be inside its world.

Gama Gama Aquarium

It is perhaps among the most atmospheric and grounded shows you will ever see, and that is a huge part of its appeal. Another factor is the huge role of aquatic life in the show, and it portrays that tremendously. They all look beautiful and realistic, giving credence to making people actually want to be inside the world that it creates. There is a serene ambience all about the show, and it feels magical sometimes.

The plot is also highly unpredictable, which is not always a good thing. It usually focuses on the normal slice of life tropes like every side character gets one episode and the beach episode, but there are some left turns out of the blue that fundamentally change the show and make it different from what it was. That s certainly not bad, but it can make the pacing weird if it happens a lot. A great example is the tale of two halves I talked about earlier.

The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 16 Chiyu Kukuru

The first half focuses on the main characters trying to save their beloved Gama Gama aquarium from being shut down. You’ll notice that the entire synopsis is just this half of the story because that was the surprise of it all. The Gama Gama arc of the show ends at the halfway point with a tremendous series of episodes, and the show embarks upon an entirely different journey altogether, with new goals and motivations for the characters. The show’s first half was by far the better half, with some absolute gems in the form of episodes and a coherent narrative.

The second half of the story switches directions and heads into a massive and beautiful Tingaarla where a new set of characters is introduced alongside our old ones getting new challenges placed in front of them. The narrative was very unfocused and all over the place, with some characters heading into less than savoury directions. You could tell that the show had an endgame in mind but struggled to get there. However, when it did get to the end, it stuck the landing perfectly with a series of episodes as good as the series had ever done, including a tremendous finale.

Grandpa The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 20

Overall, the plot of The Aquatope on White Sand was very good, but it could have been better with tighter storytelling and fewer episodes. The show had a great story that it succeeded in telling, but it almost ran out of steam too quickly for anyone to enjoy its ending. That’s not to say that those episodes in the show’s second half were bad. They just weren’t as good as the rest of the show. There will probably never be a The Aquatope on White Sand Season 2, but that’s because the first season concluded the story beautifully.

The Aquatope on White Sand Review- The Characters

kukuru Fuuka

The Aquatope on White Sand had two main characters and dozens of secondary ones. The show was based upon two girls, as its fantastic tagline “The two girls met in the ruins of a damaged dream” suggests. They are both fascinating characters with their own struggles and distinct personalities, and their dynamic is fantastic to witness. I am, of course, talking about Kukuru and Fuuka.

Kukuru is the brash younger one who will literally put heaven and earth together for what she believes in, whose main areas of conflict arise because of her bashful and carefree nature, alongside her blind love of anything aquatic. She is helped by Fuuka, whose arrival in Okinawa forms the basis of the whole story. She is the perfect girl type who lost her direction in life and sought to find herself and her true calling in life, which Kukuru helps her with. Their relationship is truly a sight to behold.

Tingaarla

They are supported by various fantastic side characters, including Udon, Kai, Kuuya, Umi, Grandpa Director and more. Most of them get their own episodes that put a focus on them and their connections with the main cast. They all have very distinct and pleasant personalities, which makes The Aquatope on White Sand a show without a true antagonist. It never needed one, however, as the characters it had were already good enough to carry the weight of all of them. There could be a The Aquatope of White Sand Season 2 with any one of them as the focus, but I doubt it.

The Aquatope on White Sand Review- Art and Music

The animation department of P.A. works accomplished something monumental with The Aquatope on White Sand– they were able to deliver a show with movie-quality animation for 24 episodes and six whole months. The animation in this show looks as beautiful as anime has ever looked, especially the underwater segments. You can be sure that if you see any form of water on the screen, you are witnessing some of the finest and most beautiful animations on this side of the hemisphere.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Aquatope on White Sand also has a phenomenal soundtrack. The show has two opening songs performed by the girl group Arcana Project. They sound fantastic and fit the tone of the show very well. The same can be said for the endings and the OSTs, which sound positively ethereal at times and greatly help the vibe and ambience of the show’s heavier moments. When the great voice acting is included, it makes a show that doesn’t miss once in those departments even if it did decide to take it easy once in a while.

Verdict

The Aquatope on White Sand is a show full of heart, emotion, beautiful animation, and even prettier music. If you have ever wanted to immerse yourself in the magic of a show, there has never been a better candidate than this. Yes, there are some flaws here and there, but all of them seem minor in the face of what this tiny underappreciated and underrated show was able to accomplish.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Plot
Characters
Animation
Music
Aesthetic

SUMMARY

The Aquatope on White Sand is a show full of heart, emotion, beautiful animation, and even prettier music. If you have ever wanted to immerse yourself in the magic of a show, there has never been a better candidate than this. Yes, there are some flaws here and there, but all of them seem minor in the face of what this tiny underappreciated and underrated show was able to accomplish.

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The Aquatope on White Sand Review: A Beautiful Tale Of Running Away And Finding YourselfThe Aquatope on White Sand is a show full of heart, emotion, beautiful animation, and even prettier music. If you have ever wanted to immerse yourself in the magic of a show, there has never been a better candidate than this. Yes, there are some flaws here and there, but all of them seem minor in the face of what this tiny underappreciated and underrated show was able to accomplish.