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Anime’s 5 Best Beach Episodes (And Why They Work)

Beach episodes are as loved as they are loathed. But which anime series do the beach setting best, and why do they work so well?

The beach episode is an anime institution that’s as hated as it is loved. It’s easy to see why — while many are simple fanservice filler, a well-done beach episode can be enjoyable and memorable. Many series actually use the beach episode to develop characters, seed future plot points and even use the environment to tell unique stories that can’t be told in the show’s usual setting.

So for all the fans out there looking to prepare for summer vacation, here are anime’s five best beach episodes and what makes them all so memorable.

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The original Sailor Moon anime was never afraid to get a bit weird with its filler episodes, and this is perhaps best exemplified in “The Summer, the Beach, Youth, and Ghosts.” Usagi, Ami and Rei head to a beach to train, but quickly find themselves in the middle of a supernatural mystery featuring a young girl called Sakiko. This episode helps develop the girls’ personalities and relationships while giving Rei a chance to show off some skills that are usually overlooked.

Despite being filler, this beach episode touches on many of the show’s core themes, including the nature of having a double identity and how the girls’ desire to help people can often put them at risk — especially as they’ll sometimes bite off more than they can chew.

Sailor Moon is available to stream on Tubi and Hulu.

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Due to the vacation’s relaxing nature — and the fact people consider them separate from regular life — romance can effortlessly bloom in such a setting. My Love Story!! plays into this in the episode “My Ocean.” When Rinko takes Takeo and his friends to the beach, things quickly become chaotic as Rinko’s desire to seduce Takeo clashes with his desire to keep the trip innocent and light-hearted.

The episode uses the naturally romantic nature of a picturesque beach holiday to enhance the plot’s tone and plays into many love story tropes, helping build the tension of the will they/won’t they relationship at the story’s core. It’s also used to progress the plot in a way that makes fans desperate to watch the next episode to see the fallout.

My Love Story!! is now streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Another is a horror anime that delights in subverting audience expectations, and nowhere is this better seen than in this show’s beach episode, “Hair Stand.” It finds Kōichi, Izumi, Naoya, Yūya and their classmates heading to a small beach resort to meet Katsumi, a former student who may hold the key to solving the show’s supernatural mystery.

At first this beach episode seems like average anime filler, as the students believe that the curse hunting them only works while they’re in their hometown. However, just as the audience relaxes, things take a turn for the dark and quickly build to one of the most brutal kills in the entire series. This particular death feels more intense because the viewer has let their guard down, presuming it to be a run-of-the-mill beach episode with low stakes.

Another is available to stream via Crunchyroll.

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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is full of unique takes on standard anime setups, and that most certainly includes the series’ beach episode. “Remote Island Syndrome” sees the SOS Brigade invited to stay at an island villa owned by one of Itsuki’s distant relatives. Haruhi notes that such a location would be perfect for an Agatha Christie-style closed circle murder mystery.

This wish comes true when a body is found in the villa, forcing the SOS Brigade to get to the bottom of it. “Remote Island Syndrome” is a fantastic beach episode as it tells a story that could only work with the group in an unfamiliar location outside their comfort zones — and it uses the familiar setup of a beach episode to get them into this new location.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is now streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions subverts many expected anime tropes. The story follows Yūta Togashi, a formerly delusional high school student. When he tries to start fresh at his new high school, he meets a delusional girl called Rikka Takanashi and the pair begin an awkward relationship. In the series’ beach episode, “Reminiscences… of Paradise Lost,” Yūta and his friends visit Rikka and Tōka’s grandparents in a seaside town. However, as they do, secrets come out that significantly change the show’s tone.

This emotional beach episode presents a vision of what regular life could be like for these characters if they were not in their current situation. It spotlights what they’ve lost due to their plight, making future episodes all the more heartbreaking.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions is available to stream via Crunchyroll.

Jonathon Greenall has been writing for many years and has written for several websites, poetry collections, and short fiction collections. They’re also an analog game designer who has written and published several popular roleplaying games.

A lifelong anime fan ever since their first exposures to Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, Jonathon loves talking about anime, from big hits to the weird and wonderful corners that are often overlooked.

Sailor Moon – “The Summer, the Beach, Youth, and Ghosts”

My Love Story!! – “My Ocean”

Another – “Hair Stand”

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – “Remote Island Syndrome”

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions – “Reminiscences… of Paradise Lost”

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