Kukuru ditches work due to her post-proposal failure depression. While meandering around she runs into Umi-yan’s wife Misaki and is taken to a hotel close to a small aquarium. Misaki is a research professor studying turtles, and she invites Kukuru to spend some time with her and observe a batch of baby turtles hatching and making their way into the sea. Meanwhile, Fuuka frets over Kukuru’s absence and contemplates how to help her overcome her mental block.
The older I get, the more I think too much about careers and what is means to feel satisfied with one. As Dan stated last time, Aquatope has been using Kukuru as a vehicle to take us through the trials of being in a work environment that spins one close to what matters, yet keeps it just out of reach. How do you grapple with knowing that the work you do only tangentially relates to what you deeply desire to do/care about?! How do you stay motivated to do a demanding job that offers so little payoff?
The latter statement above is something I ponder from time to time when watching nature documentaries. These photographers/videographers go to remote/dangerous places or spend extended time underwater for thousands of hours worth of footage that gets condensed into a one hour program that most people turn on as background noise (to be fair, David Attenborough’s voice is sooo soothing). Where does that THAT DRIVE come from?! If only I could be as motivated as a nature documentarian.
I bring this up because there’s an important statement from Misaki here which I think a lot of nature photographers/videographers resonate with. It’s the joy of getting that one big moment in an animal’s life. It’s being present to witness an event in nature that makes you feel connected to the little blue/green marble we sit on. Those singular moments make the slog worth every step. This episode starts the ball rolling on reconnecting Kukuru with why she fell in love with marine life in the first place. It also establishes Misaki as one of my new favorite people. There hasn’t been nearly enough Udon-chan’s mom recently. Misaki offers sage advice to Kukuru that basically amounts to “Listen kiddo. You’ve already bailed on work so at least relax a little and reflect on what’s got you all tangled up!”. I love this lady.
Kukuru visits the Kamehausu (Turtle House), a tiny, raggedy little aquarium that reminds her of Gama Game. Its simple existence and simple message (to get kids to come in and appreciate sea creatures) is at the heart of what we as viewers know Kukuru wants to achieve. The massive scale of Tingaara and the divorced-from-marine-life work Kuruku does has just occluded her view.
The non-soul searching side of the episode is given to Fuuka and her concern over Kukuru’s wellbeing. I’ll wait until our podcast to give my two-cents on her presence during this second half of the show, but spoilers…I find her a touch superfluous. Her worry over Kukuru is touching and she cares so much that her own work gets affected. Initially I appreciated the metaphor of her being forced to observe (but not interfere with) the baby dolphin equating to her having to observe Kukuru’s suffering from afar.
Later in the episode though she makes an appearance for the turtle hatching and I just felt like…why are you here?! This is Kukuru’s big moment to regain that little spark in her life. You are supposed to be observing from afar. Did you not read the Wreck-It Ralph notes about how water (and a cute dolphin) is the metaphor?! This is important water Fuuka. Get lost or Kukuru is not gonna be able to break out into personal growth worthy song!
At least the sequence with the turtles hatching is beautifully done. It has soft music overlaying the turtles popping out of the sand and working their way to the sea without exposition overtop. You, like Kukuru, just get to revel in the moment.
Kukuru’s soul searching is in play now. Observing the sea turtles hatch was likely the catalyst for her regaining her spark for aquarium work. Hopefully the remainder of the episodes allow her to see how her work in the Marketing department can directly impacts the marine life she loves so much on the back end. On the flip side, the Aquatope writing staff has not done nearly enough with Fuuka to warrant her showing up at the very end. This should have been a quiet moment for Kukuru only, in my opinion. As a last note, sea turtles are little cuties. Don’t throw plastic into the ocean kids!