The Aquatope on White Sand

The Aquatope on White Sand

The Aquatope on White Sand anime series cover art
The Aquatope on White Sand

Series Overview

The Aquatope on White Sand (Shiroi Suna no Aquatope / 白い砂のアクアトープ) is an original slice of life drama anime by the animation studio P.A. Works. P.A. Works is known for its slice of life drama series, so you’d think it’d be a safe pick if you’re looking for a good anime.

However, whether or not a P.A. Works anime will stick the landing or not is more like a 50/50 chance. And that’s the reason I chose to watch The Aquatope on White Sand. I wanted to see if it would nail the ending or if it would crash and burn like the last P.A. Works original, The Day I Became a God.

Spoiler: It didn’t crash and burn. But, as I’ll get into later, that doesn’t mean that it was a particularly great anime.

Alright, so this series is all about aquariums, as you may have suspected from the title and cover art. However, I have no idea what an aquatope is. When I tried to look up the definition, all the results were just about this anime.

Based on context from the series itself, my best guess is that an aquatope is a made-up word for an aquarium tank that completely surrounds a room. With that guessed definition in mind, the title of the series makes sense. But, what exactly an aquatope is doesn’t actually matter at all. I just thought it was interesting that they seem to have made up a word.

Oh, and beyond just being about aquariums, the series is about two girls who work at a small aquarium and how that experience shapes their lives. It’s not a yuri or shoujo ai anime, though. So don’t go into it expecting that to be the case.

Main Characters

Kukuru Misakino is one of the two protagonists of the series. Her grandfather runs the small aquarium previously mentioned, called Gama Gama Aquarium. Because of this, she’s grown up around the aquarium all her life and can’t imagine doing anything not related to the aquarium with her life.

Fuuka Miyazawa is the other protagonist. She’s a former idol who ran away after determining that her career wasn’t going anywhere. She ends up at Gama Gama and begins working there while staying with Kukuru and her grandparents. Fuuka doesn’t initially care much about aquariums, but she develops an appreciation for them and the animals over time.

There’s a fairly large cast of supporting characters who are worth mentioning. But since I don’t want to go on for too long about the characters, I’m going to group them based on where they work.

Fuuka looking at an aquarium tank from the anime series The Aquatope on White Sand
Fuuka looking at an aquarium tank

First up we have those who work outside aquariums. These are Tsukimi “Udon-chan” Teruya and Karin Kudaka. Tsukimi is one of Kukuru’s friends and works at a restaurant owned by her mother. Karin works for the local tourism board but hopes to one day work as an attendant at an aquarium.

Next are the other Gama Gama employees aside from Kukuru and Fuuka. These are Kai Nakamura, Kuuya Yakamashi, and Guden “Umi-yan” Gousuke. Kai is one of Kukuru’s friends. Kuuya has a fear of women. And Umi-yan is an older employee with a bad back.

Lastly, there are the employees of the new Tingarla Aquarium. These are Kaoru Shimabukuru, Chiyu Haebaru, Maria Yonekura, Eiji Higa, and the intern Akari Maeda. Akari works in sales while the others are all attendants who work with the animals.

After the first cour of the series, Gama Gama shuts down and its employees are hired to work at Tingarla (along with Karin).

P.A. Works Twist

A lot of P.A. Works anime, most notably those written by Jun Maeda, have some sort of supernatural twist at the end. That’s usually what makes or breaks the series. Up until that point, a lot of the P.A. Works anime I’ve watched are fairly mundane and my score all comes down to the end.

Of course, there are notable series for which this doesn’t apply, like Shirobako, which is very good, and Sakura Quest, which I think is very boring. But Angel Beats!, Another, and the aforementioned The Day I Became a God all feature defining, supernatural twists toward the end.

The first cour of The Aquatope on White Sand has some supernatural stuff in it. Gama Gama Aquarium has a mystical power that sometimes shows people their deceased loved ones. And there’s a young boy who runs around the town who appears to be a deity of some sort.

Kukuru and Fuuka from the anime series The Aquatope on White Sand
Kukuru and Fuuka

Because of those supernatural phenomena, I was anticipating a classic P.A. Works twist to come at the end of the series. However, it never happened. The big twist this time around was that there was no twist despite it appearing that there would be one.

There’s never really an explanation for the deity boy who makes a few appearances throughout the series. I guess he’s just supposed to be a representation that something is watching over Kukuru. But maybe that’s completely wrong. I don’t know.

As for the mystical power of Gama Gama, I think that’s just a way to represent the “magic” of aquariums in general. Originally, it’s implied this phenomenon is unique to Gama Gama. But once Tingarla develops a character of its own, the same thing happens there too.

Now, I don’t think it’s inherently good or bad that The Aquatope on White Sand didn’t have a supernatural twist at the end. But, those twists are often what make the series emotional. And The Aquatope on White Sand was missing that emotional element.


Overall, I think The Aquatope on White Sand is a 6/10. It looks really pretty. And I think the characters and plot are pretty decent. But it’s also very bland in a lot of ways. It didn’t have the emotional appeal of something like Angel Beats! and it wasn’t a lot of fun to watch like Shirobako.

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