I’ve never really hidden the fact that I’m not a big fan of the beach. Whether it is the gritty sand, the salty/fishy smell, or just the sun and heat, there’s not a lot of appeal for me.
Likewise, I find beach episodes in anime largely pretty pointless so it is always pleasant to come across an episode set on the beach that doesn’t feel like complete filler. Here are my top 5 anime beach episodes that don’t feel like a colossal waste of time.
Anime Beach Episode No. 5 – Ouran High School Host Club
When the members of the Ouran High School Host Club goes to the beach, Haruhi mistakenly thinks she’s going to get a bit of a break. Sadly, it ends up being a working holiday with the hosts entertaining their guests on the beach.
However, when some petty thugs start harassing a couple of the female students, rather than seeking help, Haruhi steps in and ends up getting tossed from a rock before being rescued by Tamaki.
This is one of the few times Tamaki actually gets made at Haruhi for real and the episode ends up being a pretty solid episode in terms of character growth as well as in establishing various boundaries and relationships between cast members.
Sure there’s some questionable messaging about gender roles and victim blaming in this episode if you are really wanting to dissect it, but at its core Haruhi got in over her head, scared Tamaki half-to-death, and then gave them both a chance to air their grievances before finding a mutual understanding. The method, like most things in Ouran, probably shouldn’t be tried in real life.
From what could have been just a filler episode of pretty boys doing standard beach things to impress the mass of girls that hang around the host club we actually ended up getting an anime beach episode that felt essential for the ongoing plot.
Anime Beach Episode No. 4 – Kamisama Kiss
In Kamisama Kiss, Nanami decides she wants to go to the beach with friends but Tomoe pretty much tells her she can’t go. Being a stubborn and young goddess, Nanami decides she’s going anyway.
Turns out, Tomoe had a fairly good reason to say no. Given his job is to protect Nanami and for reasons that become fairly clear as the episode progresses, he shouldn’t go in the water, Nanami in the ocean is pretty much his worst nightmare.
However, like most episodes of Kamisama Kiss, while this anime beach episode did have some usual filler moments we associate with anime characters at the beach, we actually got some pretty important backstory on one of the main characters who was usually pretty closed off to the audience. it also leads to a pretty dramatic follow-up episode where Nanami and the others try to save Tomoe.
All things considered, this one ends up being a solid character moment and sets up an interesting plot while still being a pretty laid back anime beach episode including high schoolers wearing swim suits on the beach.
Anime Beach Episode No. 3 – My Love Story
I’d be lying if I said that My Love Story did anything particularly revolutionary with the beach episode. In fact, ‘My Ocean’, episode 11 of My Love Story, seems to double down on most of the going to the bleach cliches with a beach volleyball game that goes for a monumentally exhausting length of time, playing in the water, swim suits, cold drinks, sand castles, and a sun-set that lasts an eternity.
However, as far as anime beach episodes go, My Love Story managed to keep theirs firmly integrated with the plot of the story (such as it was). Yamato wants Takeo to move faster with her and is trying her hardest to look adorable in her swim suit while Takeo is trying hard not to ogle the girl he likes in order to not make her feel uncomfortable.
It should also be noted we get some incredibly funny moments in this episode as Takeo, our tower of insecurities, wins the attention and interest of most of women at the beach, entertains various children in the water, and generally has a great time with his friends, and yet still freezes at the mere sight of his girlfriend in a swimsuit.
If an anime is going to do a beach episode, then they should at the very least be as entertaining as this one was.
Anime Beach Episode No. 2 – Another
For me, horror and the beach are actually kind of a perfect mix. Movies like Jaws have already proven that the vast ocean and the dangers that lurk as soon as you step off the beach can be wonderfully put together. When I throw in my own issues with the ocean and drowning, as soon as the characters from Another went to the beach I had fairly solid expectations that we’d get more than just another anime beach episode.
What followed in episode 8 was a strange kind of viewing experience as the characters did go through most of the usual filler beach tropes and yet the whole episode had a strained and subdued feeling. The whole way through you were waiting for something to happen and when it finally did it was almost a relief even though it was kind of horrific.
Now you might ask why school kids being picked off by a curse would even think to go and play at the beach, except that the story had already established that the curse didn’t work outside of the region. Once they got far enough away from the town they all breathed a sigh of relief (though it seems a bit prematurely).
When the curse does catch up with them, they do provide some solid reasoning as to why and how that happened and it also reinforces the sense that these characters are indeed trapped and are not going to get a happily ever after.
Anime Beach Episode No. 1 – Assassination Classroom
Assassination Classroom certainly knew how to have fun even with its somewhat morbid premise of a group of students having to ultimately assassinate their super-powered teacher. However after studying ridiculously hard and beating the top class at their own game in test scores, the class get to travel to Okinawa for some much deserved down time. Only they don’t.
They’ve also made a deal with their teacher and due to their top scores, he’s going to give them a one off chance to damage him which may just make an assassination possible. Include the fact that they are at a beach and they already know that water is a weakness for him and what we have is a festive holiday for a class that is all merely cover for a masterfully put together assassination attempt.
What makes this anime beach episode work is we get to see all the characters playing at various leisure activities as well as seeing the cooperation, teamwork and determination they’ve gained in the classroom all coming together.
The actual assassination attempt is a truly brilliant and well choreographed attempt that in a fair world would have succeeded and ended the series, but instead at the very least show-cases how far these kids have come.
It is a fantastic episode and really does show us how an anime beach episode can have its fun and still drive forward a compelling plot and character arc.
And there you have my Top 5 anime beach episodes that don’t feel like a colossal waste of time. As always, I’d love to hear from my readers. What are some of your favourite anime beach episodes?
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