What’s it about? Teen idol Fuka has quit the music industry and is all set to travel back to her hometown, but at the last minute changes her ticket and flees to Okinawa instead. There, she finds unexpected solace in the Gama Gama Aquarium: an almost otherworldly underwater place that charms her so thoroughly she asks the young director, Kukuru, if she can stay and help the struggling business.
Disclaimer: I am writing this review in a landlocked city in the middle of winter, so if I start waxing poetic about the ocean, it’s beach-nostalgia peeking through. Bear with me.
The Aquatope on White Sand was my most-anticipated premiere this season, and it did not disappoint. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous and the character work is satisfyingly slow and steady, providing a couple of flashbacks and moments of narration but otherwise doing a lot of showing-not-telling. Fuka is deftly characterized within the first few minutes: poised and graceful yet one emotional injury away from completely curling into herself, graciously and smilingly bidding farewell to her idol kouhai and former managers but ending up in the airport looking drained.