Tensions are high in episode 9 of The Aquatope on White Sand, as Kukuru makes a new enemy. Over the past few episodes, the stakes have felt higher than ever for the small, family-ran Gama Gama Aquarium. Its impending closure seems irreversible at this point and Kukuru is understandably on edge as a result. Like a final nail in the coffin, an intern from the big, new aquarium opening in the city center arrives to receive training from the Gama Gama staff.
Kukuru vs Chiyu
From Aquatope‘s very first episode, two things have been abundantly clear about Kukuru’s character: her love for sea life, and her dedication to Gama Gama. As such, having to train an intern from the very aquarium that is causing Gama Gama to go out of business puts Kukuru in a less than pleasant mood. As if to test her, Kukuru’s grandpa tasks her with showing intern Chiyu the ropes.
Kukuru’s immaturity really shines through in this episode. She tests Chiyu on basic feeding procedures, sets her up to get bitten by the penguins, and acts generally cold and unwelcoming. Is this petty of her? Yes. But this behavior is nothing new for Kukuru. Her emotional investment in Gama Gama always tends to cloud her judgement, and she often loses any sense of composure and business etiquette as a result. While others might find this quality frustrating, I find it rather endearing. It shows the depth of Kukuru’s devotion to her grandpa’s business, and also serves to make her character feel more grounded. After all, despite the responsibility she shoulders as an acting aquarium director, Kukuru is still a high schooler. And this is something that Chiyu is quick to point out when things turn sour.
The special nature of Gama Gama
It’s worth noting that Chiyu herself doesn’t exactly adopt the best mindset during her training at Gama Gama. She underestimates Kukuru’s ability due to her age, and assumes that there couldn’t possibly be anything for her to learn from an aquarium on the verge of closing. For both Kukuru and viewers alike, this is kind of attitude is irksome. We’ve spent the past few episodes of Aquatope learning about just how special Gama Gama is, not just to Kukuru and her friends, but to everyone in the community.
Whether it’s the old man who visits once a year, or the hospitalized girl who strives to get better so she can visit the aquarium again; Gama Gama holds an important place in their hearts. Its a place where family and friends gather – an important part of the local community. What makes it even more special is that it seems to possess some kind of magic that allows people to connect with their desires or lost loved ones.
Of course, it’s only natural for an outsider to be unaware of all the little quirks that make Gama Gama unique. And as it turns out, Chiyu has her reasons for acting how she does. From her perspective, Kukuru is a naive kid helping out her family business, while she’s had to study and work hard for her position. As with most of the conflicts in this anime, their disagreements seem to come from a lack of understanding.
Just friends, or something more?
I’d be doing this review a disservice if I didn’t talk about the relationship between Fuuka and Kukuru. Over the past few episodes Fuuka and Kukuru have continued to grow closer. Whether it be showering each other with compliments, or sharing a physical embrace, I’m sure every viewer’s yuri senses are tingling from their interactions. Alas, the pair are still yet to do anything that crosses the boundary of “just friends”. Episode 9 in particular gave very mixed signals in regards to the status of their relationship. While discussing her Chiyu predicament on the porch, Kukuru tells Fuuka she wishes she had an older sister like her. Not exactly something you’d say to a potential love interest.
It’s here that Kukuru tells Fuuka about her family’s alter drawer, which contains two maternity handbooks belonging to her late mom. From this, Kukuru surmises that she may have a sibling she’s never met. The fact that this has been teased previously, suggests this plot point may become more significant later on.
But, just when I was thinking that Fuuka was in the friendzone, she offers to hold Kukuru’s hand in bed. Kukuru (although flustered) accepts, and we get yet another sweet scene between the pair. However the last few episodes of Aquatope seem to hint at a potential romance between Kukuru and Kai. So whether the series will turn out to be pure yuri-bait remains to be seen. Regardless, watching Fuuka and Kukuru’s friendship grow has been one of the series’ highlights thus far.
A cryptic phone call
Episode 9 of Aquatope ends with Fuuka receiving a call from the girl who replaced her in her idol group. Ruka sounds relieved to have finally reached her, and it’s clear that the call is about something important. Ruka states that she has something to tell Fuuka. After she ran away to Okinawa to avoid her problems, I had a feeling that Fuuka’s past career would come back to haunt her in some way. Given that she voluntarily gave up her spot in the group at the request of Ruka, we might be seeing some revelations come to light in the following episodes.
Episode 9 of Aquatope is available to watch on Crunchyroll. The next episode will air on September 9, 2021. You can also vote for it in our Anime of the Week poll.
Official website: https://aquatope-anime.com/