Only three episodes in, Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (The Aquatope on White Sand) seems both easily predictable and mysterious. Miyazawa Fuuka is a failed idol who finds herself in Okinawa after being unsure of what to do with her future. Fate leads her to a girl her age named Kukuru who knows exactly what she wants in life, even if she doesn’t know how to go about getting it. This appears to be the tale of two very different girls bound by the fate of an aquarium in Okinawa… and possibly by the kijimunaa.
Something New, Something Old
It plays like such a slice of life with its cute character interactions, focus on everyday activities, and relatively peaceful days. A few flashbacks and choice moments of dialogue help us understand characters’ motivations and passions while most of the story is told by just watching the characters go about their lives. Kukuru’s extreme devotion to the aquarium and the animals that inhabit it is ever-present while we can see the cracks in Fuuka’s collected yet kind demeanor from the start. The more the girls interact, the more they help define and explain each other. Each seemingly mundane task helps us paint a better picture of their abilities and temperaments.
While it seems the perfect slice of life for fans of female main characters and those with a fascination with the ocean, there’s a surprise element that’s immediately introduced yet scarcely elaborated on. We see a strange little creature that walks around Okinawa, unseen by most yet clearly revered by some, known as the kijimunaa. His role is mostly shown by Kukuru praying over fish heads that the kijimunaa later eats. He also creates visions for a couple of characters by episode 3 and while he’s described as a trickster, his visions seem to give his ‘victims’ a sense of peace and certainty in the midst of fear and doubt. We still don’t know just how much he’ll interfere with the characters or perhaps we just don’t yet know how much of the plot advancing is the kijimunaa’s doing.
Incredible Visuals Make Us Feel Transported
While cute girl characters are always nice to see, it’s the incredible backgrounds and animal animation that makes this anime stand out above the rest. The penguins appear so real and the beautiful beaches are given such careful detail from the gradient of the sky to the waves in the sand. Most notably, the incredible visions caused by our friend the kijimunaa are trippy and otherworldly until they capture the beauty of the ocean as if we were the ones trapped in the vision. The shimmering scales on the swirling fish and the kind eyes of the whale look so clear and beautiful you’ll find yourself holding your breath as if you were really underwater.
The Aquatope on White Sand looks promising not only for the plot slowly unfolding to be more supernatural while still mainly about protecting a business but for the exquisite art and animation. Animals don’t always get the same attention to detail that humans do in anime but it really seems that a team passionate and knowledgeable about animals is behind them. Kukuru’s devotion to these creatures might seem funny if they looked blocky or clumsy but their detailed appearance and movements let us pretend we are careful observers at the Gama Gama Aquarium. Who knows what other wonders await us at The Aquatope on the Sand? Let us know what you think in the comments!