The aquatope on white sand – 11 – The storm

All the color and light of previous episodes is sapped from this one, both fitting Kukuru’s mood and due to a nasty typhoon rolling into Okinawa. It’s in this dim, gray, gloomy soup that we watch Kukuru go through the Five Stages of Grief. First up is Denial and Isolation. The handmade sign says it all—NO CLOSING!as Kukuru shuts herself in Gama Gama.

Ironically, this means closing the aquarium, but due to the typhoon there won’t be any visitors anyway. Gramps decides to let Kukuru be and give everyone the day off. Fuuka goes home with him, but during lunch, decides she’s not going to leave Kukuru to endure the coming storm alone—either the literal one or the emotional one. Just as she gets up to leave, Grams has bento ready for Fuuka to take to Kukuru.

From there, Kukuru goes into the Anger stage, though to her credit she puts the energy that comes with the anger to good use, going about the daily business of feeding, maintaining, and checklisting. She enters a kind of utilitarian trance, losing herself in the work, until suddenly snapped out of it by Fuuka rapping on the door.

Not long after Fuuka arrives at Gama Gama, the typhoon arrives in force, totally blocking out the sun, and bringing sheets of diagonal rain and vicious winds to the battened-down island. These establishing shots—and the white noise of the storm—really capture how dark and spooky a really bad storm gets. Day becomes night, and the outdoors themselves become a threat to life and limb.

Kukuru’s anger re-surfaces at the arrival of Fuuka, as she’d prefer to do all of this herself. But Fuuka is as obstinate as she is, and wants to stay by Kukuru’s side to help her with her dream like she promised. Her movie role doesn’t matter right now. Before they can get deeper into their discussion, the power goes out, leaving the aquarium with only seven hours of generator power before the more sensitive sea life starts to die en masse.

Just as Kukuru can’t turn Fuuka away when the storm is at its worst, she can’t turn down her help when there’s so much to do to save the fish and creatures they can. With two pairs of hands, they can do double the work. When the wind breaks a window, Kukuru’s Bargaining stage officially begins. If she can just bar the window, just Do What’s Right, everything will work out, as her daily prayer to Kijimunaa goes.

But it’s not enough. She can’t hold back the storm from causing the power to go out, the roof to leak, the windows and pipes to break, and the sea life to gradually die in the suddenly unfavorable water conditions. Her only memory of her mom and dad was here at Gama Gama, but now, just as they were taken from her, so too is the aquarium, in slow and deliberate fashion, piece by piece.

When Fuuka sees Kukuru giving up on bargaining and entering the Depression stage, she runs over and holds her tight, telling her that even if it’s the end of Gama Gama, and of her dream, it’s not the end of the future. And if they get back to work, there’s still a future for the marine life. Only they can protect them and save them from oblivion.

Kukuru snaps out of it just as Gramps, Kai, Kuuya, and Umi-yan arrive onces the winds die down. Gramps goes into Legendary Aquarium Keeper Mode (if only whatsername was here to see it!), as he knows exactly what to do in what is clearly not his first (or fiftieth!) typhoon. Now six strong, there’s enough manpower to do what needs to be done to buy time until the power comes back on. As far as we know, they don’t lose a single fish.

That said, Gama Gama took a beating, and really showed its age. Gramps promised the man who build the aquarium that he’d close it if it ever got too old, and that time has surely arrived. Having gone through the emotional and meteorological wringer, even Kukuru realizes that it’s probably beyond token repairs or improvements, and can’t keep the precious marine life safe anymore. It’s time has simply come, as it does for all things. Thus she arrives at the final stage: acceptance.

There are few skies more beautiful than those you see after a bad storm. For one thing, you’re relieved the sun is back, while the swirling remnants of clouds and other various optical effects  give the sky a more dramatic look. The color and light slowly returns by the end of the episode. In this light, Fuuka comes to realize she wasn’t just helping Kukuru achieve her dream. By letting Fuuka help her, Kukuru was giving Fuuka strength.

Fuuka doesn’t hate working hard for someone else…especially Kukuru. So when Kukuru turns to Gama Gama’s façade, again admits it is closing, and then bursts into tears, Fuuka is all too happy to be her shoulder to cry on. What comes after acceptance? Catharsis, adaptation, struggle…and maybe—Kijimunaa willing—new dreams, and happiness.


Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

One thought on “The aquatope on white sand – 11 – The storm”

  1. Wonderful and brilliant review especially the observation of the 5 stages of grief which flew completely over my head when I watched it! This EP 11 was truly magnificent! EP 10 had ended on the night of August 28, and of course, EP 11 opens August 29th with Kukuru in full out rejection and failure to accept the inevitable! Meanwhile for the first time, the Kijimuna is trying to get Fuuka’s attention, and she decides to go help Kukuru, but in a very funny scene, before she can even say what she is about to do, the grandmother already knows, and hands her Kukuru’s lunch. The weather report on the TV at noon says that the Typhoon will hit Okinawa at midnight of the 29th, and so Fuuka goes to her following the Kijimuna. The animation of the storm was some of the best that I have seen, just stunning, and felt like one was actually there. On the next day, August 30, the storm clears but Kukuru does not. It does not appear that she has fully accepted the closing of Gama-Gama, and she cries on Fuuka’s sholder. Tomorrow, August 31, the Aquarium closes its doors to visitors at the end of the day. The big fat open question is “What happens next?”
    There is a reason why the entire month of September is tacked on the office wall. After closing, there is a great deal of work necessary to decommission the place. All the animals must be given new homes. The equipment some of which is very valuable will need to be given to other Aquariums. Fuuka has committed to her mother to return to Tokyo for the new school year. The movie thing is just hearsay and a plot backstop. I guess the first question is “Does Fuuka return to Tokyo?” All of the wonderful characters which we have come to know are in Okinawa, all the story and emotional drama is in Okinawa. Kukuru has not reached full acceptance and the lovely bond between the two girls means that Kukuru needs Fuuka more than ever. We have switched from saving Gama-Gama to saving Kukuru! And Chiyu will return to the story in Okinawa. There is no story in Tokyo so what would we return to? And Tokyo has no aquatope on white sand but Okinawa does! I have been very wrong on this anime before, but I just cannot see how the story would advance sending Fuuka back to Tokyo. We will see what happens tomorrow, August 31, EP 12!

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