Shiroi Suna no Aquatope – 01

「熱帯魚、逃げた」 (Nettaigyo, Nigeta)
“The Tropical Fish Ran Away”

This is those types of show’s that only come once, are gorgeous to look at, and have an interesting and dynamic story.

Shiroi Suna no Aquatope is…. How do I even begging to describe this show? Absolutely gorgeous, check! I got my feelings mixed from the very first episode, check!

This show is methodical and has that leisurely feel, it has gorgeous backgrounds and a dramatic story about the predestined meeting of two girls 

The story starts with landscape shots of a small town in Okinawa, a beach city. Surrounded by happy people, going about their lives, there’s an old culture in this sleepy town, where yokai still roam the streets like normal people.

Characters live in peace with nature.

I knew this show was going to be something else, but I didn’t prepare for exactly how diverse it was going to be. When the camera zooms in there’s so much detail it’s hard to look away. 

Misakino Kukuru (Itou Miku) is your typical Genki girl, she’s full of energy, and lives her life to the fullest. She offers the head of a fish to the spirit shrine near her house, but takes it back and returns an even bigger fish head. ‘I can’t keep going on like these’ she prays to the spirits. The show is telling, Kukuru is fed up with her life, she probably feels stuck, like there’s nothing else she can do. A normal feeling for a teenage girl stuck in a town where the main source of work is fishing. This town is too small for her and she wishes she could live it up in the big city. 

The show doesn’t let us wander or stay with Kukuru for long, but we’ll come back to her in the second half of the episode. 

Miyazawa Fuuka (Aida Rikako) looks ahead as a moving truck takes her stuff. She goes inside of her apartment one last time to say goodbye to the place before she buys a ticket to leave, then she goes to her agency to say goodbye to her co-workers, you see, she was aspiring to be an idol, it was her dream since she was little, video’s of other’s inspired her own path. But her co-workers bad mouth her, she takes it in stride and puts her best face against them. They awkwardly say goodbye to her. Before she leaves, one of her teammates chases her down, she tries her best to make cheer her up, but her soft and quiet demeanor just makes her teammate cry even more.

Fuuka is a nice girl, so nice in fact she’s almost defenseless, but is the type of person who decides to push people up, instead of pushing them down. When it’s all said and done, they see her as someone that tried her hardest. She felt so unqualified to be an idol, she asked her management to let her produce the team from the sidelines, she hadn’t given up yet, but the pressure and her teammates made her feel unqualified. We learn this later through a flashback.

So she goes to the train station, and buys a ticket, not before calling her mom, everyone is waiting for Fuuka back home, they want to throw her a welcoming cheer up party. But Fuuka sort of dreads it, and on a whim, she buys a plane ticket to Okinawa, not believing she actually came.

Fuuka walks down the street enjoying a pastry, when a medium asks her to come into her shop, she tells Fuuka to follow Sagittarius, and so she does. Taking her to a predetermined meeting by the divine. 

The episode manages to pack so much into one episode, yet the pacing is slow and methodical, there’s a sort of slow-burn feel to this show. Like something could absolutely destroy our feelings in a second or two if we look away. It’s the same director behind 2013 Nagi no Asukara so of course, our feelings could get hurt. 

Fuuka sleeps on the beach, and when she wakes up she’s surrounded by a circle of bones, something fishy is going on here. Not only is she an absolute airhead, she just sort of takes a nap for the night on the beach. Thank god this is Japan.

Kukuru has to take remedial classes during the summer, because she misses so much school, during her daydream she recalls a memory, of finding two baby diaries, one unwritten. This show already has tragedy written all over its face. 

Then back to Fuuka, she walks almost the point of dehydration, a good person stops her car, and gives her a sports drink, she then points her in the direction of Gumma Gumma Aquarium, where she could stay like a hotel? Seems a little weird, but okay. She goes anyway, and then weird things start to happen. The walls start to melt and the fishes carry her like a stampede, all until she’s totally underwater. When she wakes up from her poetic coma she sees Kukuru the director of the aquarium, ‘You saw it too, right?’

Not before Fuuka can get a little tour, at the end, she fervently asks Kukuru to stay at the aquarium! I’m so invested in this show!  

And that’s it. that’s the episode, a little bit of a recap, but this show was so powerful I couldn’t help myself, it seems it’s all Cute Girls Doing Cute Things, but there are also two males in this show, one which was introduced this episode. Yakamashi Kuuya (Azakami Youhei) is a laid-back senpai who also works at the aquarium when we first get introduced to him. 

He’s on his phone disregarding the job. There is another guy but maybe we’ll get to see more of him next episode. Overall I got very laid back wholesome dramatic vibes from this first episode, I wonder if we’re just settling in for a long ride, as the show is marked for 24 episodes. Will this show befall tragedies, or will it be a wholesome time in the aquarium. 

The presence of yokai is pretty much confirmed, so maybe spiritual hi-jinx are also going to ensue. I loved this first episode, I have nothing but praise for it, my favorite part was when Fuuka projected herself unto a fish! The Ecsenius yaeyamaensis yes that’s its real name. (Scientific name) It goes by its common name Yaeyana Blenny in Guam and Micronesia, or the Pale-Spotted comb tooth-blenny in Indonesia. It’s usually found in coral reefs and has a shy demeanor. It’s relatable because it’s a hard worker, and keeps the tank clean for everyone, but works in the background and doesn’t really like attention. Kind of like Fuuka! The metaphor was perfect! 

The contrast between the two girls is exemplary, one wants to live it large, while the other needs a more down-to-earth town that doesn’t stray too far from home. 

Non the less, this has gotten a bit long, but don’t worry, next episode I won’t recap the whole program, I just did it to try and sell you on it. This is the first episode after all. And this is a drama as well, so it might not be everyones cup of tea, but if this coverage did anything to persuade, I would instill you give Shiroi Suna no Aquatope a try!

Author: FJ

A young fantasy writer during the night, motion graphics and illustration during the day. Currently living in Mexico. Aspiring to make a feature film.

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