Despite Gama Gama’s sad fate, this episode doesn’t forget to sprinkle in a bit of comedy. There’s a really good scene where Kukuru consults fortune-telling in order to divine Gama Gama’s future. There’s also an entirely unfunny scene of Kai’s sister saying that he should get with Fuuka (because she’s a classic beauty), but then again, comedy is always subjective.
Chiyu represents everything that Gama Gama is not: she’s from a stylish, slick new aquarium that sits in the city center, and turns her nose up at the thought of going to a “failing” aquarium. Chiyu and Kukuru’s tenuous work relationship is a showcase of this episode, but what I really want to focus on with this review is Chiyu herself, because so far, our viewpoint characters have mostly been kids—okay, teenagers, but kids nonetheless.
What’s The Story?
When Razzmatazz, a snazzy fairy godfather, and Bon, a burly beast-man, find a human child in the woods, they decide to co-parent the mortal babe… at least for now. What they don’t expect is love: love for their brand-new human charge, love for caretaking, and a blooming love between them both. Will this fantastical found family become a true family, or will love fail to come full circle?
Reviewer’s Note: I received a review copy of Life of Melody as part of my work for ANN. However, as Life of Melody is an OEL/American graphic novel, I was unable to publish the review there. However, I was given permission to publish my review elsewhere, so it’s found a home on my blog. All reviews are spoiler-free and image-free. Opinions are my own.
Life of Melody is a full-color, LGBTQ+/queer graphic novel published, initially, as a webcomic via Hiveworks and now, as part of the Seven Seas + Hiveworks lineup.
The story centers around odd couple Razzmatazz (i.e. Raj) and Bon (i.e. Lancelot) as they raise a little human foundling in a town full of magic, trees, and a very pretty lake. We follow their adventures with their found daughter Melody across the years, witnessing the growth of their partnership from barely cohabitating to something more.
It feels like there’s a different momentum in episode 8, which is nice: there’s still no sign of magical realism, but I’m starting to be okay with putting that aside until it kicks in hard. I know I’ve continually asked for more of it in past reviews, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with just letting aquatope do its thing. If that means the Kijimuna (the little fish-eating god, for reference) factors in more later down the line, then so be it. If not, it wouldn’t change the fact that The aquatope on white sand is still a really good show to me. So much of this show’s heart is in Fuuka and Kukuru and Kai and Kuuya and their entire community: that’s what’s keeping me coming back week to week, in the end.
I’ve come to realize that aquatope is at its strongest when it’s cozy and soothing, and when the sound design digs into As a devout yurijin, I can’t help but sigh (sapphicly, of course, because I must be extra) at the notion of seeing Fuuka and Kukuru get a “sisters for life” ending. Of course, this is preempting an entire cour and a half of material: I’m still sticking to my Twitter prediction that this cour will end in September (in show and I guess, IRL until like… Autumn 2021) and then pick up years later in the second cour when Kukuru and Fuuka and are older, wiser, and gayer than ever. But… that’s just a theory: an anime theory, and one that I’m definitely sticking to even with.
I’ve come to realize that aquatope is at its strongest when it’s cozy and soothing, and when the sound design digs into those strings and lilting piano sounds to evoke the feeling of water. Even though I really, really want a stronger taste of the magical realism that’s slowly being shaped in the background, I can’t help but look forward to more episodes like this: go nowhere-esque, relaxing twenty-four-minute delights where things slow down and we get to really sit with the characters and stew in their personalities and interactions. That’s what’s going to keep me coming back to The aquatope on white sand from week to week.
Ultimately, this week’s episode of The aquatope on white sand feels like a follow up to a follow-up episode, as well as a character study into Fuuka’s tendency to evade her problems. It’s the best way she knows to avoid conflict and more pain, and I can’t fault her for that. Plus, this episode is well-written enough that Fuuka’s actions and general train of thought feel authentic. I’ve got my gripes with it, but… what can I say? I still really like Fuuka and every character in aquatope, even if the show is taking its time meandering in the story it wants to tell.
As the fourth episode out one of two cours, it’s… still somewhat sluggish, though it does a lot more in terms of setting up future plot elements, especially around Fuuka. It’s tempering my expectations and turning this into the slow burn I crave as the summer heat turns extra balmy ahead of August and even more episodes of aquatope. And as an avid fanfic reader, let me tell you: I love slow burns, and this series has the makings of a slow burn so leisurely that I’ll be on tenterhooks until the end of this year since thankfully, aquatope’s cours are consecutive. (And it’s great!)
The stunning thing about The aquatope on white sand isn’t the story—honestly, the story is pretty straightforward—but how well it’s executing the plot and the tropes it’s playing with. Sometimes, simple is best, and aquatope is proving that having solid characterization, beautiful animation, excellent music and sound design, and solid pacing (for now) can make even the simplest story feel out of this world. I’d much rather have a simplistic narrative over a complex story that ultimately can’t deliver.
I’m not I have high hopes for Kageki Shoujo!!, and feel confident that my gut feeling that this will be Summer 2021’s IIt’s still too early on to make any predictions about aquatope’s the larger story. What we get in episodes 1 and 2 is compelling, though I’m not sure if the magical realism elements will dominate the show, or if the production will find a happy balance as aquatope finds its sea legs. What’s ultimately clear from certain events so far is that there will definitely be a magical, otherworldly element to this series: I just hope that it won’t come at the sacrifice of Fuka and Kukuru’s tender, tentative friendship and potential relationship.