The aquatope on white sand
by Mercedez Clewis,
How would you rate episode 16 of
The aquatope on white sand ?
Community score: 4.6
Did you know that anime can go really, really hard sometimes? Like, "sprawled out on the floor weeping while trying to clickety-clack on your mechanical keyboard" levels of hard? Well, if you didn't, then you might not have watched episode 16 of The aquatope on white sand, “Shout-out to The Tattered”.
We start off with some of that good, good upbeat soundtrack and the return of Takeshita, who Chiyu immediately recognizes and clearly has some personal beef with. Post-OP, we really get into the weeds when Chiyu and Takeshita have to stay overnight to look out for an egg that's ready to hatch. Of course, they're not alone: Fuuka and Marina will also be present to watch over the soon-to-be hatchling, but still, Chiyu is less than thrilled to be there and isn't stoked to have her shift altered so suddenly. Doesn't help that Kukuru gets on her case when like… they definitely still have beef as well.
And then, in a genuinely shocking twist that is delivered with perfect staging and sound design, the episode reveals that Haebara Chiyu is, in fact, a single mother. It immediately provides much-needed context as to why Chiyu was so pissed at Kukuru, and explains why Chiyu is so serious, why she works so hard, why she's… well, herself. It's a brilliantly executed reveal, and honestly will be all I think about for the next week and even the rest of the season.
The reveal also adds another layer of depth to Chiyu's initial introduction way back in episode 9, and paints Kukuru as the ignorant party this time, still stuck on her initial impressions of Chiyu. Even back then, I liked Chiyu a lot, and now that we're looking at her life from a different POV, I'm wholly on her side. Sure, she can come off as stuck-up and elitist at times, not to mention how she looks down on Kukuru, but these are all understandable reactions by someone who is desperate to keep her job as a single mother. We also learn that her position at Tingaara isn't just another job: it's her dream job and that holds a very different meaning when she's raising her child all on her own and trying to keep it all together.
There's so much I want to say about this episode: so much I wish I had words to say. But I'm not a mother or a caretaker. I'm someone who's definitively, explicitly chosen not to have children despite having a uterus, simply because I don't want to raise a human being. And yet, I felt so deeply connected to Chiyu, a character who I thought was much younger, but actually is very much so my age. I deeply sympathized with her and feel really, really grateful that we got this character study, which puts a rare spotlight on the struggles that come with balancing parenthood and ambition.
Episode 16 is the best The aquatope on white sand has ever been since it started. It's powerful, it's not the story I expected to see, but it sure is the story I secretly needed to see. It humanizes Chiyu, and also reveals that Kukuru still has a very long way to go as a young woman. And while the episode does dip into a bit of baby goofiness in the back half, it doesn't minimize the role of mothers and caretaking: if anything, it's Kukuru who has to learn yet another important lesson by experiencing firsthand how hard it is for Chiyu – and Takeshita-sensei – to balance their roles as working women and mothers.
In the end, episode 16 is about the importance of putting in the effort to understand people beyond first impressions, the struggles of balancing parental and work responsibilities, and the strength required to maintain your ambition in spite of that. And even that doesn't feel like I'm giving enough credit to how impactful and solid this episode was.
The aquatope on white sand has been gathering steam since it did its time skip. Episode 16 feels like the culmination of the past few weeks: it's dynamic, thoughtful, reflective, and emotional and really feels like this series is on track for some Big Emotions from this point onward. If this is aquatope at its genuine best, then I can't wait to see what it still has in store.
Also, shoutout to the localizer for the line, “Let's both work our asses off for the creatures we love!” Love the use of “ass” and honestly, I feel like that line is so in keeping with Kukuru that I smiled and haven't stopped since I closed the tab on VRV.
The aquatope on white sand is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization Editor & Proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where she's a staff editor, and for But Why Tho?. She's also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, she's devouring Restaurant to Another World bite by delicious bite. When she's not writing and reviewing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she's always up to something.
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