It is no surprise that anime features an exorbitant amount of beaches and ocean shots considering Japan resides on a cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of beach episodes nestled in nearly every slice-of-life anime, and sometimes the ocean can be a setting unto itself.
The ocean is an ever-present space in many great anime shows and movies. Sometimes the sea can be a simple set dressing and other times the sea can be used to drive the plot forward. No matter what it is used for, anime’s relationship with the sea will continue to produce wonderful stories with a beautiful setting.
10/10 The Aquatope On White Sand Shows The Beauty Of Okinawa
The Aquatope on White Sand is a story about two girls trying to keep an old and run-down aquarium from going under. Fuuka Miyazawa, a former idol, stumbles into the aquarium after leaving and taking a spontaneous trip. The aquarium director’s granddaughter, Kukuru Misakino, is trying her best to run the place in her grandfather’s absence when the two girls meet.
Set in Okinawa, The Aquatope on White Sand provides beautiful seaside views. With the job taking place in an aquarium, viewers get to learn more about aquatic life along with Fuuka, making for an engaging and fun slice-of-life story.
9/10 Free! Connects The Sea With Its Characters
Set in the seaside town of Iwatobi, Free! is a sports anime about Haruka Nanase and his friends and their journey to swimming in a relay together. The series spends much of its time not only on swimming but also on the bonds made with Haru and his friends
The sea in Free! doesn’t just function as a beautiful backdrop in this series. Haru seems to have a deep connection with water and enjoys being able to swim in the sea. His best friend, Makoto Tachibana, also has a relationship with the sea, though far less amicable than Haru’s.
8/10 Nagi No Asukara Tells A Story Above & Below The Sea’s Surface
Nagi no Asukara takes place in a fictional world similar to our own. The only difference is in this world, there are humans that live both above the sea and below. In this series, four sea-dwelling teenagers are forced to go to school on land after their underwater school is destroyed.
The show has beautiful visuals both above water and below. Its premise allows for unique landscapes and plenty of stunning aquatic shots. Beyond its visuals, Nagi no Asukara starts as a classic fish-out-of-water story and then becomes a tale with a surprising amount of depth and complexity.
7/10 Aria The Animation Feels Like A Peaceful Ride At Sea
Aria the Animation is set in the future on the planet Mars, now turned into a habitable aquatic paradise. The story follows Akari as she trains to become a gondola tour guide on the canals of Neo-Venezia.
The town of Neo-Venezia is directly inspired by Venice, Italy with its beautiful architecture, wide canals, and stunning open waters. This show’s sound design is particularly endearing. Audiences can hear the ambient back-and-forth of the sea along with its calming score. Aria the Animation is designed to set the viewer’s mind at ease and enjoy the calming waters of Neo-Venezia.
6/10 Ponyo Is Ghibli At Its Best
There is nothing quite like a Studio Ghibli film. Every story from Hayao Miyazaki’s library is given a great amount of detail, beauty, and care. Ponyo is no exception to this rule. The story is reminiscent of The Little Mermaid with a whimsical twist.
The animation is unsurprisingly breathtaking like all of Studio Ghibli’s works. The animation makes the sea feel fluid and alive. The color palette is vibrant, as if the story was taken directly from a children’s book and set in motion. The sounds, sights, and story serve to bring viewers closer to the whimsical sea.
5/10 Squid Girl Is A Comedic Pearl Among Oysters
Squid Girl is a slice-of-life comedy about Ika Musume, a squid girl, who has decided to come to the surface to punish humans for polluting her waters. Unfortunately for her, she is forced to become a waitress to pay for the repair costs after she destroys the wall of a restaurant.
Squid Girl is as charming as it is hilarious. Many of the episodes border on parody, making for comical set-ups and punchlines. This episodic story set by the sea continues to bring audiences back for its comical characters and fun setting.
4/10 Tsuritama’s Characters Save The World With Fishing
Tsuritama is a whimsical show about fishing, friendship, and aliens, all in that order. Yuki Sanada, a new student must save the world with his friends, Haru and Natsuki, with the ultimate power of fishing.
Set in the seaside town of Enoshima, Tsuritama uses its animation to show off the beauty of the sea. The color palette of the show is bright and poppy, and the motions of the sea are fluid and alive. Tsuritama‘s art style really heightens the whimsical premise of the show and keeps viewers enraptured by its beauty.
3/10 The Stranger By The Shore Connects Love To The Sea
The Stranger by the Shore is a boys’ love anime movie about Shun Hashimoto and Mio Chibana as they grow closer to each other. Shun first meets Mio at a bench as Mio is somberly staring off into the sea.
The sea in The Stranger by the Shore takes on a metaphorical role. Mio’s mother always warned him not to go in the sea alone, and many of the characters in the story make important choices near the sea. Near the end of the movie, the two affirm their love for one another when Mio drags Shun to the sea.
2/10 Pokémon: Sun & Moon Feels Like A Seaside Vacation
Based on the popular game, Pokémon: Sun & Moon is just one of a long series of stories involving Ash, Pikachu, and the Pokémon they meet along the way. The series takes place in the Alola region, a tropical island that hosts plenty of island-themed Pokémon for Ash and his friends to discover.
The sea in Sun & Moon is not just set dressing. It also serves as a habitat for water-type Pokémon for Ash to catch and learn about. The tropical environment gives the impression of a nice and relaxing summer vacation and the story mirrors this attitude.
1/10 Children Of The Sea Is A Surrealist Masterpiece
Children of the Sea is a surreal, metaphysical, and emotional movie about friendship, love, and the universe. The story follows Ruka Azumi and two boys who have a mysterious connection to the ocean.
Children of the Sea is beyond beautiful. Every cell of every animation was crafted with care. The sea in this story feels like a living organism with its own life and vibrancy and shape. The animation is as fluid as the water itself and the story is complex and fantastical. This movie truly feels like an epic in every way.
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