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.
Jahy remains an incredibly loveable character who has upended all my assumptions from the premiere. Whether she’s rescuing children at the beach or sitting next to her green-haired underling, Jahy really has stolen my heart this year. I truly lament the fact that our time with her will eventually end. If only I could make The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! go on forever and ever…
If you’ve been on the fence about diving in as a new viewer, come on in: the water’s fine, and better, the food is excellent, often paired with sincere, charming vignettes and making it one of the best ways to spend thirty minutes each week. Come for the food, stay for the food, as well as a peek into a fantastical world of delectable dining and delightful characters.
Restaurant to Another World truly exemplifies what reverse isekai slice-of-life can be, creating an experience that’s the digital, visual version of a mug of hot chocolate. There’s this amazing warmth underlying each of the vignettes that rivals the warmth of the food the Master cooks. Coupled with the charming animation, the atmospheric music, and the solid sound design, you get a show laser-focused at depicting the pleasures that good food can bring, and in that regard, it’s as layered as a crepe cake with all the panache and grandeur of a ten-course feast.
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.
The laughs keep coming and they don’t stop coming when it comes to The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!. Just like a seven-layer dip, there’s so much to this show to enjoy. Whether you’re enjoying the simmering plot of “Jahy getting mana crystals” or, like me, are fully here for the real plot of “Jahy tries to survive being in her late twenties on Earth”, there really is something here. And while the show is quite simple, it excels in its execution, squeezing laughs out of me like the last bit of ketchup in the bottle.
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.
One of the things I love about the slice of life genre is that it does take its time: there’s plot, but sometimes, that gets placed as foundation for moments and episodes like this, little character studies that break down certain aspects of Jahy and Jingu’s fraught relationship as villainous hero and heroic villain, at least from Jahy’s perspective. That’s certainly what I found as I was retooling this review.
Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting Fuuka to be reunited with Kukuru this soon – I had envisioned spending an episode or two with her back in Tokyo before her return. Still, having her back this soon, but with her and Kukuru’s workplace roles flipped, is interesting. Fuuka and Kukuru are now competent young women, but as this episode shows, they clearly need each other’s support to grow in their careers.
There’s a sense of renewed momentum that begins with the OP and carries through the episode, signaling the start of a new phase in Kukuru’s life. She’s not yet who she needs to be, but she feels a lot more fully-formed than the young woman we encountered initially in the first cour.