The Symbolism of Overt Regulation
In The Aquatope on White Sand, Fuuka Miyazawa, the protagonist, often enters an empty room with many cardboard boxes. It emphasizes a vicarious view of failure, as Fuuka laments that she has many dreams. After closing her lonely apartment door, she inevitably moved on from the dream she once had. In storytelling, the room’s minimalism thematically connects a physical and eternal aspiration.
It becomes a metaphorical figure of speech and refers to the symbolism of overt regulation. Even if it doesn’t stop there, the local becomes a direct extension of the abstraction of every character other than personality. The dialogues in the series repeatedly show how each character has a far-reaching place in their dreams. It’s about allowing ourselves to pursue new dreams and making peace with the past without thinking about old regrets.
Fuuka faces an internal conflict and tries to achieve her goal of becoming an idol. At the peak of her selection as a middle star, compassion leads her to get rid of the young idol member, Ruka Shiroi. She heard Ruka’s grandmother was sick and might never see her perform. Quickly, Fuuka’s empathy becomes her resistance within the management company, branded as naive if she thinks she can get away with leaving her chance to someone else.
Her virtue is that being frustrated hurts. She canceled the idol system, effectively denying her pursuit of dreams due to her altruism. Therefore, she leaves Tokyo altogether and doesn’t know her goal. On the other hand, her mother demands rob Fuuka of the opportunity to mourn her dream privately. From Fuuka’s point of view, her mother was the one who decided to go on vacation while her daughter’s world came crashing down.
Now, she is at the final breaking point. When she found out that family and friends were ready to throw her a party to make her feel better, she couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. At the constant moment, Ruka apologizes and feels guilty because she “stole” Fuuka’s chance. She realized that she would never have time to grieve, and, imagining enduring her lost idol career for about a year, she fled to Okinawa.
The sea and the beach become a beautiful escape from the characters’ troubled realities frequently. As Fuuka sees an attractive poster for Okinawa, each character becomes a vacation advertisement in a typical travel agency. While lamenting her failure, the reality of life in a coastal town is quite different.
The easy rhythm of life can either entice or suffocate the slow rhythm. It doesn’t change, but the monotonous chirping of crickets always intersperses it. The series envelops the audience in an atmosphere; it is about more than a walk back from the beach. Slowly, it always goes along the sand when the audience leaves. In the echo we need, the audience sees iron leeches coming from everywhere.
Fading paint on both buildings and dehydrated people is almost constantly in a state of a slight flare. All its own, the familiar depravity of the coastal town brings a serenity. The Aquatope on White Sand tries to evoke the sensation and lure us into the fun of winning logs against the backdrop of the soft sea. Indeed, P.A. Works luxuriously and always finds scenery or beauty in every detail.
Worldly imperfection has always been a theme in every studio series. Apart from having a sea theme, Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea is an example when it discusses the melting pot of characters in an emotional relationship. Atmospheres and locations serve as consoles in The Aquatope on White Sand. Each character feels confused but lost about where they live.
When Fuuka was in Nanjo, she felt the place was ideal for a visit. The city gives her a refuge from her failures and becomes a place for her restoration. Apart from the beach, the surrounding but unique landscape of ruins with cracked or worn coral shells creates natural rubble. The series emphasizes how fulfilling a dream with personal endeavor requires a metamorphosis depending on luck.
The tying’s idea of fantasy to good fortune was inspired by a seer while spending time on the beach. Fuuka finds herself in magical realism, underscoring the importance of the scene. Unlike magic or fate in changing trajectories, Fuuka initiates the most dominant changes alone. After ignoring her mother’s calls, she took desperate measures to avoid whichever nagging voices that would dig into the embarrassment or pain she had just processed.
At such a point, the series deliberately separates Fuuka and Kukuru Misakino, another series protagonist. It inserts a hard cut between plot threads before the two meet. In the following episode, they weave their lives as two girls who support each other narratively. However, The Aquatope on White Sand juxtaposes it with their journeys.
As a subtext, Kukuru and Fuuka are always in the same shot. Single shots often frame their reactions and actions. When they occupy the same vicinity, it shows an emotional distance by reflecting the two people who coincidentally intersect. Besides not blocking the thematic parallels, the audience witnessed how Kukuru prayed that she could finish everything before she beseeches her friends.
In essence, she becomes a character whose moral urges limit her. Fuuka and Kukuru each echo each other when uncertainty confronts them in the future. Their intervention also found refuge in how the shabby Gama Gama Aquarium became her dream. However, like Fuuka, her dreams would not last long. The reduced aquarium’s staff, the number of visitors is getting smaller, and the aquarium’s equipment is getting out of reach, so it doesn’t take long.
Also, Kukuru’s grandfather (director and owner of the aquarium) plans to close down the unsustainable aquarium after remaining afloat for many years. Kukuru is determined to find the funds to return the Gama Gama Aquarium to its former glory. Therefore, it becomes the fundamental driving conflict for the plot in the first phase.
Kukuru’s externalization acts as a coping mechanism in deep trauma. In her childhood, Kukuru lost her parents and a sibling she never knew. It makes her personality more static despite fewer opportunities to investigate her psychological interiority. Outwardly, all her thoughts concern Gama Gama Aquarium. She even ignored schoolwork requirements in writing an expose on the squid life cycle.
Her teacher said Kukuru’s brain was always about the aquarium, her place in the elements, and revealing the reflective part of her character, just like Fuuka’s. While talking about community worthiness, Kukuru has always relied on investing in the welfare of the aquarium. Kindly, Kukuru lets strangers join the aquarium as workers for the summer and even live with their families. Therefore, Fuuka treats her position in the aquarium as determining how Kukuru builds their relationship.
For Fuuka to be emotionally anchored, Kukuru doesn’t like apathy. However, Kukuru’s myopia limits her awareness of other people’s priorities and needs regarding the aquarium. In essence, she was in a hurry to insist on contacting the vet, who was on leave and pregnant. Luckily, Kukuru reprimands her rash actions.
Despite both seeming denunciations in the episode, it’s no surprise that the climactic conversation always takes place in key locations. In particular, critical self-realization occurs in points that the series has strengthened as relevant to the theme. It depends on the motive to make character moments resonate. The series isn’t going to choose a strong chronicle direction when the stakes remain all over the place.
However, the uncomplicated episodic structure accentuates the casual atmosphere of the setting. For example, Kukuru’s relationships and friendships are the distant effects; it makes the setting central to the characters. Powerfully, The Aquatope on White Sand entwines both characters in an almost double declaration of affection. The queer subtext emerges, and the concept broadens in other ways.
P.A. Works, in the past, always introduced subplots like such and became an evolution of similar series. It became the hallmark of the studio. However, a large part of the series became a confident refinement of the formula and each character. Shirobako, Tari Tari, and Sakura Quest are just a few examples of introducing the theme of reaching the pinnacle of an iterative process.
However, The Aquatope on White Sand is an artificial match in a series about two girls who combine their efforts to achieve a single goal.
- Lamarre, T. (2002). From animation to anime: drawing movements and moving drawings. In Japan Forum (Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 329-367). Taylor & Francis.
- Salvador, R. B., & Kuroki, K. (2022). The sea slugs of Shiroi Suna no Aquatope.
- Siddhant. (2021). The Aquatope on White Sand Review: A Beautiful Tale Of Running Away And Finding Yourself. Leisurebyte.