Episode 24 comes full circle on The aquatope on white sand’s narrative, depicting a story about community, communal care, and love. The latter is especially true in this series: aquatope is a series about love, whether or not that takes the form of queer platonic romance. Much like Korrasami, a queer romance that was quite formative for me, aquatope’s final moments feels impactful and earned: like the build up of a season’s worth of effort. The romantic plot with Kai gone, and instead… we see two young women who love each other on a multitude of levels continuing to love each other, even if that’s necessarily confirmed. I think that’s the beauty of the story we’ve been presented: at base, it truly is about love in all its forms. Readings can occur around that, but the story is still a passionate one with two girls finding their hearts and dreams through being kind to the other.
A lot of episode 23 is spent on beautiful, interstitial moments centering around Fuuka. We see her growing as an attendant, striving for the chance to study in Hawaii, and coming wholly into her own. And it all feels incredibly authentic, largely because there’s enough hard work done in previous episodes to make you want to root for Fuuka. The plot isn’t just giving her this opportunity: aquatope has demonstrated just how much she deserves to be here, which is what allows the ending of this episode to hit just right.
Now, more than ever, I feel like I can see the trajectory of things, especially since episode 22 leaves us on something of a cliffhanger. I’m truly looking forward to next week’s episode, hard as it is to say goodbye to Kukuru, Fuuka, Gama Gama, and Tingaara. There’s something bittersweet about knowing we’ve got so little time to enjoy the series.
All of that blendsSo much of The aquatope on white sand is about connections: about forging bonds, strengthening friendships, and reaching out to others. Thus, it makes sense that the way for Kukuru to heal is through the bonds of her community, through being reached out to, rather than her having to seek help herself.
All of that blends with Kukuru still trying to find her place in Tingaara as she continues an internal – and often external – tug-o-war between settling into her current responsibilities and her desire to continue taking care of sea creatures. And it’s not that Kukuru isn’t serious about her work, which is an accusation leveraged at her about midway in episode 20: it’s that Kukuru still cares deeply about caretaking, and at her core, loves sea creatures enough to always keep them at the forefront of her mind, even to the detriment of her actual staff position.
There’s a gentleness about episode 19 that I found myself loving this week. As the year winds down and we count our successes, it’s easy to look back and see all the paths you didn’t tread. Yet episode 19 is a reminder that just like a penguin going for their first swim, we too can find success in just trying and believing. As I look towards being closer to thirty than not, it’s a story that resonates: I expected to be in a very different life situation than I am right now. All I can do is strive and try my best.
Episode 18 serves as a pleasant reminder that you can find joy in a job well done, even if it’s something that you’re not necessarily passionate about. It’s a poignant message, especially in a time when many of us are haunted by job insecurity and imposter syndrome. It’s okay to not let what you do for a living define you, and others will still see you as valuable even if you’re taking up a spot in what may be someone else’s dream job.
Episode 17 exemplifies all of what makes aquatope great and left a lasting impression on me. It feels like the culmination of weeks of effort, as the strong character foundation that is built up over the past twenty episodes is starting to pay off. Furthermore, all of these beautiful female friendships are framed positively through their tenderness and comfort and femininity, as opposed to cattiness, which The aquatope on white sand has largely avoided.
There’s so much I want to say about this episode: so much I wish I had words to say. But I’m not a mother or a caretaker. I’m someone who’s definitively, explicitly chosen not to have children despite having a uterus, simply because I don’t want to raise a human being. And yet, I felt so deeply connected to Chiyu, a character who I thought was much younger, but actually is very much so my age. I deeply sympathized with her and feel really, really grateful that we got this character study, which puts a rare spotlight on the struggles that come with balancing parenthood and ambition.
On the other hand, Kai is also growing into a different role: that of being Kukuru’s potential romantic partner. It’s something that was definitely hinted at in the first half of the series, but is much more prominent here, especially towards the end of the episode. The music leans in hard on pitching them as the series’ lead partnership, and it wants you and I as viewers to do the same. Will it “pay off”? I don’t know. I don’t actually know if The aquatope on white sand will have any romance. I’m kind of hoping that it won’t, and will instead just let everyone be friends and lean on that as a catalyst for their own individual development.