Episode 11 of The Aquatope on White Sand is perhaps the series’ most climactic and surprising installment yet. The episode, dramatically underscored by a fierce storm, shattered my expectations of the series and left me wondering about where the story will go from here.
Despite the past several episodes seeming to spell impending doom for the humble Gama Gama Aquarium, the story never lost its underlying sense of hope. Our loveable characters remained steadfast in their goal to stop the aquarium from closing, and I always assumed they’d eventually succeed. But episode 11 quickly subverts this expectation, as we find out Gama Gama’s closure has been finalized.
Kukuru has grown increasingly more desperate in her efforts to save her grandpa’s business from closing. In this episode, her desperation reaches new heights, as she barricades herself within Gama Gama to prevent the aquarium’s closure. Further contributing to the dreary and ominous tone is a powerful typhoon heading towards Okinawa Island. As cliché as it sounds, the grey skies and turbulent winds brought about by the typhoon provide the perfect backdrop for this episode’s emotional drama.
Fuuka and Kukuru’s bond
Upon finding out that Kukuru intends to stay at Gama Gama during the typhoon, Fuuka’s concern is palpable. Whether the pair’s relationship is destined to remain platonic or develop into something more romantic (as many viewers are hoping), no one denies that they care deeply for each other. However, based on the way their bond has developed over the past few episodes, I do believe it goes beyond the realm of friendship. Episode 11 further emphasizes their romantic potential. Fuuka worries so much for Kukuru’s safety that she braves the stormy weather to go to her side. But when she arrives, Kukuru is reluctant to let her in and acts surly towards her.
We soon find out the reason for Kukuru’s hostility. She thinks that Fuuka is abandoning her to resume her idol career. Of course, Fuuka reassures her that she intends to see through her promise to help Kukuru achieve her dream. This level of emotional investment feels more akin to lovers than friends.
And even amidst the chaos of the typhoon and all the damage it causes to the aquarium, their romantic tension is ever apparent. Power blackout scenes are a common trope to bring characters closer together. So when Gama Gama’s lights went out and Kukuru collapsed in despair into Fuuka’s arms, I couldn’t help but think “what a perfect setup for a kiss”. But it’s Gama Gama’s closure that takes precedence in this episode.
The end of Gama Gama Aquarium
Seeing the extensive damage from the typhoon really hammered home just how inevitable Gama Gama’s closure was. But that doesn’t make it any less sad. For Kukuru, the aquarium is home. It’s where her only memories with her late parents took place. As such, it’s heart-wrenching seeing her break down in tears as she finally realizes her efforts to save it are futile.
As the episode ends and the Gama Gama staff call it a day, it’s Fuuka who comforts Kukuru. In a bittersweet closing scene, the pair look back at the aquarium poignantly. As reality sinks in and Kukuru yet again bursts into tears, Fuuka embraces her warmly. It’s certainly not the outcome I expected from Aquatope, especially with its generally light-hearted tone. But it does feel sadly realistic.
All of this has left me wondering where the series will go from here. The plot of Aquatope has always centered around the characters’ attempts to keep the aquarium in business. Since that chapter is now over, what themes and storylines will the anime explore? Perhaps we’ll get to learn more about Fuuka’s idol dreams. The series is slated for 24 episodes, with its second cour beginning in October. Episode 11 of Aquatope seemed to signal a major shift in the series’ tone. With the next episode being the finale of the first cour, I’m interested to see if it will go out with a bang or a whimper.
Episode 11 of Aquatope is available to watch on Crunchyroll. The next episode will air on September 23, 2021. You can also vote for it in our Anime of the Week poll.
Official website: https://aquatope-anime.com