Out in Okinawa, Kukuru runs the Gama Gama Aquarium. The aquarium has been losing money for a while and she’s desperate to keep the place running. Fuuka is an idol who discovers that despite giving her best effort, she simply isn’t good enough to stay in the industry. A snap decision to run off to Okinawa after she quits her idol job brings her in contact with Kukuru, and their adventure begins.
In the Fall of 2018 we chose Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, and despite some minor shortcomings, I really loved that show. It looked beautiful and it had a meaningful theme/likeable characters. Aquatope is in that same vein, so if you are in for some Iyashikei, grab your favorite tea, take a seat, and get ready to relax.
For starters, this show is gorgeous to look at. I think P.A. Works knew they knocked it out of the park, so they just start episode 1 with a bunch of beautiful scenery.
In general, I find that I need at least two, sometimes three episodes before I get invested in a show. That wasn’t the case with Aquatope. I watched Episode 1 and was immediately in for wanting these girls to succeed and feeling like they are likeable individuals. Kukuru is terrible at school work, but she works her ass off to keep the Gama Gama Aquarium running so you know she’s a capable individual. She also doesn’t sit in the back corner of the classroom next to the window? What madness is this?! I thought that was a protagonist pre-requisite!
Fuuka is given context immediately so that you don’t think she’s just some pretty, rich ojou-sama who has decided to run away from her problems. I’m not thrilled that she doesn’t tell her mom about her side trip to Okinawa (girlfriend…this is anime…be happy you HAVE parents, much less ones that check in on you), but I was a teenage girl once so I get it. Being given a background on who these girls are and the struggles in their lives helped to sell me on the two leads.
There’s some strong composition and cinematics in this opener episode. I loved the juxtaposition of the bucolic Okinawa, followed by the gray and loud hustle-bustle of Tokyo. It gives you an instant understanding of the pressure cooker that people are in when they live in a big city.
Equally fantastic are the sequences where Fuuka gets caught up in the water magic (metaphor?!) of the aquarium. The aquarium itself does have some CG which occasionally looks bland, but the execution of the water surrounding Fuuka is lovely to look at. If only all shows had a production value this high.
This show possesses two traits which will be familiar to anyone who watched Irozuku.
1.) There’s a very gentle vibe: We’re a far cry from Fruits Basket. The pretty music in the show is designed to lull you into a state of nappy naptime. People just help other people out and everyone seems to possess a chill attitude. Fuuka lands in Okinawa and immediately gets scammed by a fortune teller. Because Fuuka is so kind, the fortune teller ends up dumping all her problems on her and then just directs her on her way with a smile. The whole sequence was adorable. Fuuka also almost dehydrates to the point of passing out (darling…you are kinda bad at this…) and then a random Tourist Rep saves her and offers her a ride to anywhere she wants.
2.) There’s a soft kind of magic that exists in this world. It likely won’t be explained. Just go with it.
I think this was a fantastic first episode. It immediately draws you in, makes you understand these girls, and gets straight to the point (the show wastes no time getting our leading ladies together and showcasing that there’s cool aquarium magic!). Also, this little guy is adorable.
I am so in for this and I’m looking forward to watching these two girls work through their difficulties, do cool stuff in an aquarium, and not get horribly abused by their terrible family members who don’t care about the emotional and physical abuse they’ve been enacting (seriously…I need some gentleness all up in my life after 63 episodes of that emotional bulldozer).
What’s that you say?! The adventures of spunky girl and ojou-sama as they save the magic aquarium?! Yes please!