With Gama Gama’s closing mere days away and a typhoon barreling towards the island, Kukuru becomes even more desperate to save the aquarium. When she barricades herself inside to protest the closure, Fuuka joins her and promises to help. The storm batters the aging building and the girls are overwhelmed, but help arrives with Kukuru’s grandfather and the other aquarium workers. Even so, Gama Gama’s closing remains inevitable.
This episode represents the pinnacle of Kukuru’s increasingly childish attempts to save the aquarium, and the painful realization that her efforts are in vain. Confronted by the news that Fuuka may leave to work on a movie and the looming closing date, she refuses to accept the oncoming change and locks herself inside the aquarium, vowing to keep it running herself if need be.
Luckily for Kukuru, Fuuka isn’t about to abandon her, and rushes back to the aquarium to help. The two do their best to ride out the typhoon bearing down on them and demonstrate a lot of grit and smart planning, but the storm brings down the power, shatters windows, and generally devastates the building. It’s an unsubtle but effective metaphor for how time wears down everything, and even the things we hold most precious may be lost or broken.
While change and loss are inevitable, those we surround ourselves with can keep us going even in our darkest hours. Kukuru’s grandfather leads the rest of the aquarium staff in an effort to save the sea life in their care and keep the building going, at least for a little longer. Even though they survived the storm and did their best, Kukuru finally understands that the aquarium will soon be gone. It’s a painful, but beautifully animated moment when she tearfully accepts that reality.
It’s easy to find Kukuru’s brashness and desperation off-putting at times, and I’ll admit that I grew tired of it as the series went on. However, this is a girl who has suffered immense grief at a young age, and never quite come to terms with it. That’s a lot to put on a teenager, on top of caring for the place that holds her most important memories. I can’t blame her for being driven beyond the point of reason out of love and grief, but it’s good to see her finally accepting that you can do everything in your power, yet sometimes things cannot be changed that way. Perhaps it’s time to look for a new way to carry on her parents’ memories and put her love of sea creatures to use.
Episode 11 appears to be the emotional climax of Kukuru’s story, and it’s definitely moving and emotionally charged. This is not a show with grand stakes – there are no cities about to be destroyed or ancient evils darkening the land. It’s just two young women sifting through the pieces of broken dreams, trying to find meaning and new hope amongst the rubble. This episode highlights the meaning of the show’s subtitle better than any so far. I’m very much excited to see how the rest of our plot threads tie together.
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