For a brief few weeks, it seemed like a future full of glamorous travels was in reach, but… I think I’m going to curl up and stay inside for a bit longer. If like me, you’re still dreaming of that perfect beach vacation, watching The Aquatope on White Sand might be the next best thing.
This cute escapist anime is about a young woman who has just quit pursuing her dream of being an idol. At the airport, she calls her mom who, in a tactless attempt at being supportive, helps our protagonist Fuuka realize she isn’t ready to go home. She kind of buys a ticket to anywhere and ends up in a beautiful beachside town in Okinawa. She finds a place to stay, picks up a job at an aquarium, and makes friends with the welcoming locals. I think this is also a romance, but as in most portrayals of women and their girlfriends, it’s communicated in a very ‘Sappho and her friend’ manner. Meditative and cute, Fuuka has experienced a ton of character growth just six episodes in while exploring how to rebuild her identity after giving up on her dream.
These touching moments are set in front of the most beautiful backdrop of beaches and the aquarium at the center of this story. The cute animals are at times metaphors for the problems our protagonist faces, in the form of penguins and tropical fish like the coral blenny. There is also peripheral magic to the town–there’s a tiny deity hanging around, unseen by the characters, a sense of fate that Fuuka was somehow meant to be here, and the characters experience occasional fish-induced visions.
Overall, Aquatope is a beautiful, calming escape of a beach vacation in a small town with a strong character-driven storyline and cute penguins. You can find it on VRV/Crunchyroll.