After a relaxing Christmas break, we’re back to wrap up 2021 and the finale of The Aquatope on White Sand. Thank you all for your patience, and we wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season!
With the aquarium’s White Sand Dome all complete, it’s time to bring in the creatures that will live in its depths. The entire staff works quickly to stock the massive tank and prepare for Tingarla’s first wedding. Once the ceremony is complete, Kukuru and Fuuka must say goodbye as they pursue their own futures.
This is it, folks – the culmination of the threads that were set in motion when Fuuka made the fateful decision to move away from home and quickly fell in with Kukuru. The two have been through many moments of self-doubt, reflection, and confrontation that have shaped their growth up to this point. From Fuuka’s crisis of identity at changing her career, the loss of Gama Gama, and Kukuru’s struggle to balance her passion with the realities of being part of a team, the two have been through a lot. At long last, it feels like their doubts and fears have been overcome, and they’re ready to set out on their path as adults.
Considering the steady buildup to this moment over the entirety of the series, it’s appropriate that the finale opens with some extremely impressive scenes. After a lovely moment of reflection on Kukuru’s childhood, we join the Tingarla team as they begin the complex process of stocking the White Sand Dome with countless sea critters. The team moves in concert to carefully relocate the delicate animals, while using massive cranes to move larger schools of fish. It’s all wonderfully animated, with great care taken to highlight the weight and motion of each action. Considering how nice most of the show has been to look at so far, it’s impressive how much this extra polish stands out.
The wedding ceremony Kukuru worked so hard to prepare for is also handled beautifully. It’s great that something she’s struggled with has finally come to fruition, and to see the respect her hard work has earned. As a side note, I was pleased to see the first folks to be married at the venue were a young couple who already have a (ridiculously adorable) child. The show has gone out of its way to show folks with different family situations, and it’s just nice to see the cast reflect a wider variety than you often see in anime.
The rest of the episode plays out gradually as Kukuru fully accepts her role and the part that marketing has to play in supporting her beloved animals. She even gets an affirmation from her grandfather that even he struggled and got frustrated during his career. Frankly I think it was long-overdue and she could’ve been saved a lot of pain if her grandpa has been less smilingly aloof, but better late than never.
The final part of the show is, unsurprisingly, the most important for our characters – Kukuru and Fuuka saying goodbye as Fuuka returns to the mainland. The two became very codependent over the course of the show, even after Fuuka’s extended absence, and this shows just how far they come. Both have passed up opportunities for each other, but now they can each pursue their own life goals, knowing that their friend is supporting them from afar. It makes their warm reunion in the denouement all the more special, seeing how they’ve continued to grow even apart. It’s a fitting, emotionally-fulfilling conclusion to a gently passionate show about life, struggle, and the joy we find in ourselves and others.
We’ve come to the end of a charming, thoughtful series. While not without its flaws, Aquatope has been a consistently enjoyable and relaxing show for me throughout this season. Despite the wintery weather outside, I still believe that it’s a solid summer show – relaxing, engaging, and ardent in its message. I hope you all got to enjoy it along with us, and we look forward to sharing our final thoughts in the near future!