Although anime is a medium with stories and genres ranging from sci-fi and philosophical horror to romantic slice-of-life comedy, it is heavily codified and structured around well-worn tropes rooted in Japanese culture and tradition. One of the staples remains the obligatory beach episodes.
To qualify as a beach episode, it must be near a water body or at the beach. It should also be summertime with the cast dressed in beach-friendly attires.
For those unfamiliar with the buzzword, a beach episode is a crucial part of anime. While many think of it as fan service, its importance is much more.
There are several reasons for many beach shows in anime. They relate to Japanese culture, give a break to both the characters and the viewer, help character development, and much more. Here are all the reasons for them being a staple in manga and anime!
1. Relevance to The Japanese Culture
There is a cultural reason why beach episodes and shows are so prevalent in the Japanese Media. They are popular even in manga and dorama as beach trips are a seasonal activity in Japan. Japanese visit the beaches only during the summertime, falling in the seasonal activity category as most of our beloved anime trp[es like fall Momiji, winter street festivals, and spring cherry blossoms!
2. Allowance for a Horror Plot Development
Beach shows and episodes are also famous for horror twists. Many horror series have a beach setting, as in Japan, the season for scary storytelling happens to be the summer. Many ghost stories revolve around waters and the sea. The closest equivalent in the western series is Halloween specials, which include costumes that expose a lot of skin, stand-alone plotlines, and exploring a different, more relaxing, and unconventional aspect of the story with the characters.
3. Fan Service
Another reason beach episodes and beach shows exist is for fan service. They are so common that they have a name as swimsuit episodes. The beach setting allows the characters to show a lot of skin in an environment. Here it is not considered particularly transgressive, even by Western audience standards. It is profitable because beach specials get announced in advance. After airing, several figurines, posters, and other memorabilia of the characters dressed in beachwear get sold to fans.
Sometimes, beach shows and episodes exist just for the sole element of fan service. While it may appear unnecessary, anime fan service is critical for viewership and franchise purposes.
4. Character Development
The other thing about beach specials is that characters reveal more about themselves by shedding clothes.
Beach episodes in shows like Nisekoi, Another, and Gintama give the cast much-needed extra air time. When an anime has a large cast, it can be hard to know each character and see their personalities. Each of the series mentioned above provides the characters with much-needed plot development. Another, on the other hand, removes a cast member, which overall plot development requires, so it gets a pass.
5. Mini- Break for Viewers and Characters
Beach specials are there to give a mini-break to viewers and characters. They let the main characters relax with the secondary characters spending time in the sun. People get to explore emotional dynamics that might not have been at the forefront before.
Darling in the FranXX may appear strange, with its mix of semi-erotic mech fights and deep psychological concepts, but the beach episode allowed us to relax and enjoy a simple moment. Instead of engaging in jaw-dropping battles, our team of young warriors relaxed on the beach to breathe in the fresh air and explore an environment that was very different from traditional. In this case, the beach episode was intended less for fan service (though it did include some) and more as a break from the chaos we’d become accustomed to at that point.
6. Perfect For Drama and Romance
Shuffle, Fruits Basket are two series full of romance, drama, and the occasional fan service. They also have beach episodes with real meaning behind them. Both shows use their beach episodes to convey character romance with hidden plots brewing in the background!
There are several reasons for so many beach shows in anime and episodes existing in Japanese media. Beach episodes and shows are much more than just fan service. Indeed, sometimes they are there for this sole reason. However, they reflect the Japanese culture, room for character and plot development, and serve as a refreshing break. They also make the perfect scene for a romantic or dramatic situation.
Speaking of beach shows, do not forget to check our guide on the best beach TV shows of all time here!