There’s something immensely charming about titles that are in lowercase letters: can’t tell you why, but it’s just that certain pizzazz, especially when it’s something as hilariously alliterative as this week’s title. All that to say that episode 8, “crab crisis”, was bound to be a good one, and trust me: it is. (Including the scene where a crab crawls onto the Head Nurse’s chest: that scene easily is worth five stars itself.)
The episode starts with Fuuka and Kukuru back at the aquarium after a really pleasant beach episode last week. Better, they’re back at work and getting down to brass tacks with a traveling aquarium, which is… pretty much what it sounds like: an aquarium that can go around to folks who might not be able to access Gama Gama. Think bookmobiles, but with like, Garra rufa and some sand dollars and starfish: touchable things that kids can safely engage with. You get the point.
Oh, and explicitly no c-words are allowed as part of this travelling marine exhibition, or rather… no crabs, no matter what: like… no matter what. And of course, for a while, it seems like there’s no crabs present, until, of course… crab, which of course there are: it’s in the title. What ensues is, of course, a lot of well-timed humor with aquatope’s particular sound design and pacing: crab antics, or… crantics, one might say, which there’s plenty of in this episode.
(It’s me: I’m the one who might say crantics because I like to mashup words. Anyways.)
One of the things I really enjoyed about this episode was seeing the educational part of Gama Gama come back to the surface. I really like it when we get to see Kukuru and crew being proficient at handling the animals. It’s a nice reminder that skill comes at all ages, and Kukuru has skills for days. Foibles of this episode aside, it’s a solid demonstration of just why Gama Gama should continue to exist. That much was proven by the success of the traveling aquarium: it’s instantly engaging, allowing kids who can’t easily come to the aquarium a chance to engage with a unique part of our global ecosystem.
Really, the events of episode 8 cement a simple truth: Gama Gama’s not just a part of the community. It’s a place of learning and healing within the community as well, and a place of immense kindness and inspiration. It’s clear that everyone who comes there loves it, and while I don’t think The aquatope on white sand will shutter Gama Gama as part of the plot, a part of me definitely remains anxious about the aquarium’s future. In many ways, my own anxiety for Kukuru and Gama Gama’s future mirrors Kai, who still remains quite worried about how she’ll handle Gama Gama’s impending closure. It doesn’t come up directly in this episode because of all crantics and other episode plot stuff, but… it’s something that’s stayed with me since last week. I’m sure it’ll boomerang back around in the near future, especially since we’ve only got a few weeks before the end of this cour.
But like I said, I have faith in this series, and think that it’ll tell a really thoughtful story, as it has thus far: we won’t see the end of Gama Gama. Plus, with Kukuru’s resolve stronger than ever by the end of this episode, I firmly believe that Gama Gama will be back in black… eventually. In fact, I think it’d be a disservice if this series ended with no aquatope to speak of. And while, of course, they’re going to avoid that, I’m definitely fully on board to see how the journey to Gama Gama surviving and remaining open will occur. Hopefully it’ll include more crantics!
It feels like there’s different momentum in episode 8, which is nice: there’s no magical realism, but… I’m starting to be okay with putting that aside until either the second cour or just… until it kicks in hard. I know I’ve continually asked for more of it, but I think what I’m finally starting to be okay with is just letting aquatope do its thing. If that means the Kijimuna (the little fish-eating god, for reference) factors in more later down the line, then so be it. If not… Well, The aquatope on white sand is still a really good show to me. So much of this show’s heart is in Fuuka and Kukuru and Kai and Kuuya and their entire community: that’s what’s keeping me coming back week to week, in the end.
Episode 7 gave us a lot of fun with some really valuable backstory from Kuuya, which I didn’t personally dig into for last week’s review, but still found valuable to what the show’s trying to do with its characters overall. In turn, episode 8 refocused on Kukuru by demonstrating how important Gama Gama is because of her hard work and dedication. Unexpected in an episode that I figured would largely be crab-filled comedy, but… well, that’s just one of the many joys of aquatope. I fully expect that all of the foundation laying aquatope is doing is about to pay off big time. It’s just a matter of meandering there, which I’m more than happy to do. In fact, I think that’s kind of the best way to view aquatope: just taking it one episode at a time with this really splendid cast of characters.
(But I’m still gonna talk about Yuri and Fuukuru / Kukuuka almost weekly, so… deal with it. You just got a break from it this week.)
All in all, episode 8 really expanded on all the episodes before it in small, thoughtful ways: I didn’t expect that based on the title, so I’m quite pleasantly surprised. Crabs and crantics aside, episode 8 is definitely a pick me up, hinting at an even better episode 9 next week.
The aquatope on white sand is currently streaming on
Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who also writes for Anime Feminist, where she’s a staff editor, and But Why Tho?. She’s also a frequent guest on the AniFem Podcast, Chatty AF. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she’s always up to something.