The aquatope on white sand
Episode 22

by Mercedez Clewis,

How would you rate episode 22 of
The aquatope on white sand ?
Community score: 4.5

Episode 22, “Ready to Return”, continues the focus on Kukuru's grief, on the shape it's taken, and how she moves through it. It's an episode about returning to a baseline while grieving, about rediscovering hope and motivation once again. Of course, it makes plenty of sense: Gama Gama was Kukuru's home, the place where she found her heart and where she grew into herself. Loss hurts, and moving on from it is never easy; thankfully, The aquatope on white sand doesn't shy away from that. And post-OP, we witness Kukuru doing just that: leaving the rustic countryside and returning to Tingaara with Fuuka to complete her wedding proposal project from episode 20.

Of course, that's rendered a bit moot when we find out that Kukuru's being transferred to work as an attendant; the wedding proposal will be her final project at the PR department. The transfer honestly came as a surprise to me – I kind of thought we'd be ending aquatope with Kukuru as a member of the PR team – but putting Kukuru in a position where she can actually flourish is nevertheless a good move, and the story is better for it.

What ensues is Kukuru plotting and planning and trying to see things with mutualism in mind: in episode 20, she was too focused on the animals, and not on the wedding which needed to take a bit of precedence. Here, Kukuru takes both into consideration and is able to create a project that, in the end, is just what she needed to rebound and truly come into her own ahead of the penultimate episode.

Episode 22 is filled with lots of little bonding moments between Kukuru and Fuuka, as well as other little scenes that fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. The scene that stood out to me was Kukuru pushing for the protection of the animals while showing the wedding representative around Tingaara. It's interesting because this is the first time aquatope has been so upfront in its messaging about environmental conservation. While conservation has always been an underlying theme of aquatope, and here it's more used as a vehicle for Kukuru to find her stride again and mesh her desire to caretake with her actual job, it's still a heartfelt and effective reminder that aquariums have a duty to the environment.

All of this is to say that episode 22 was really, really good: it's not necessarily perfect, and is more of a transitional episode, but… there's something really nice about Kukuru being back in her element, doing good work that advocates for herself, Tingaara, and the sake of the animals inside the aquarium's walls.

Now, more than ever, I feel like I can see the trajectory of things, especially since episode 22 leaves us on something of a cliffhanger. I'm truly looking forward to next week's episode, hard as it is to say goodbye to Kukuru, Fuuka, Gama Gama, and Tingaara. There's something bittersweet about knowing we've got so little time to enjoy the series. Still, isn't that the joy of anime? There's nothing quite as satisfying as anticipation, and episode 22 filled me with enough anticipation that I can hardly wait until next week!

Rating:

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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