The beach episode – It is the ultimate fan service tool even if you aren’t making a fan service anime. You take all your characters out of their typical school uniforms or otherwise modest clothing and put them in swimwear. From busty bikini girls overwhelmed with confidence to forever flat girls too embarrassed to take off their sweatshirts. It is all about getting character to bear skin while also presenting an opportunity for shenanigans that have nothing to do with any plot.
Love beach episodes or hate them, there are a lot of opportunities that present themselves at the beach, and these anime series take advantage of them.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
While Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid advertised it’s beach episode as the obligatory in the previews from the episode before it, it actually turned out rather tame. In fact, the majority of the episode was not showing off shiny dragon bodies, but rather talking about families and growing up. Of course, Lucoa was present in the episode so that it wasn’t a complete wash for fan service.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
How do you have a beach episode when a planet is completely without beaches? That’s the question, but they made it work. This beach episode came at the right time in the series to break up the innate angst emanating from the main character. It had a lot of small funny side quests for him to complete and showed how the people of the water planet relax when they had free time. Interestingly enough, the things you couldn’t take your eyes off of in this episode were not the girls in their bikinis, but it was that absolutely delicious looking grilled meat.
Who says beach episodes have to be all eye candy for the boys? Of course, Free was built on the whole premise of fan service for girls, but when you follow a swim club in Speedos, do you really need a beach episode? Probably not, however, this episode wasn’t just all shiny bodies, it also came with a fair bit of drama and… Lips touching…
Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann
As it does with so many different things in the mecha genre, Gurren Lagann sort of puts the parody on their beach episode. The guys all expect Yoko, who is pretty much always dressed like she is ready for the beach, to show off something even more fantastic only for her beachwear only for her to end up more modest than her usual attire. Nia, though, gets into the spirit. This episode, while starting funny, actually has purpose to the plot later on and is the true beginning of a blossom of trust between Nia and Yoko.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Haruhi does a lot of tropes, but it never does them normally. This is the same for its beach episode. You get a few precious glances of everyone enjoying the beach, but as anyone who has ever been to a beach will know, it gets boring pretty quickly. Bad things happen when Haruhi gets bored, so in an effort to entertain her, the episode quickly turns into a locked room mystery sort of deal.
You would think that if your entire class is cursed to die in horrible ways, you would definitely skip a trip to the beach. However, while the setting is as dreary as it is in the entire series, the kids manage to have fun and you get to see everyone in their swimwear. Of course, it doesn’t stay nice. They almost escape unscathed.
Until they lose their beach ball in the water and someone goes to get it, only to be unceremoniously mauled by a boat propeller.
In harem series, often it is at the beach where real feelings come to light. This is the case with Nisekoi. It is such a romantic setting that Raku is thrilled when he gets to spend time on a moonlit pier with his crush. However, even after that, he still ends up with his fake girlfriend who has began to realize her true feelings. The biggest highlight of the episode, however, is that massive and intricate sandcastles they build.
The beach episode is more of a traditional nature, and just as hilarious. The main character spends almost the entire episode plotting out the perfect beach day to fit all the fantasy girls he is surrounded by. Furthermore, it also offers up a pretty detailed debate on what sort of swimsuit is best.
Who says beach episodes can’t be for plot? In fact, they SHOULD be for plot. This is the case for Assassination Classroom. It has a whole arc that takes place on a private resort island in Okinawa. In it, they not only attempt a detailed assassination attempt, but the entire class must infiltrate and defeat an old enemy, resulting in the first major fight of the series.
The beach episode has a lot of good things going for it, like Koro-Sensei with a sunburn, that awesome stun clap, Nagisa’s scary eyes, and Bitch-Sensei in her super skimpy bikini. You get to see other characters in their swimwear too, but it’s sparse and unrewarding.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club has two beach episodes: one where they go to an actual beach and another where they go to a private indoor beach. Both episodes have a number of shenanigans, but also a lot of men in swimwear. Of course, the outdoor beach is also more of a drama episode that results in a somewhat sexist lesson-speech that people think is super romantic for some reason.
To this day, there has been no finer beach episode than the one in School Rumble. In this episode, Harima decides to practice his martial arts in the nude. Of course Eri walks in on him at just the right time and hilarity ensures because of it. So many awkward and hilarious moments to packed into one episode.
Love, Chunibyou, and Other Delusions
Any KyoAni animated beach episode is a true gift from the gods. This makes watching the beach episode for Chunibyou almost too good to watch. However, it isn’t all bikinis, beach games, and innate chunibyou weirdness, but it also finally reveals why Rikka acts the way she does.
Welcome to the NHK
In this episode, the main character reconnects with a childhood crush and decides to go with her on an outing to an island. He spends the whole time being awkward and barely talking to her like a true NEET. However, he soon discovers that this beach episode is actual an IRL meeting for an internet suicide pact. It gets hilarious right up until it doesn’t, which is pretty much Welcome to the NHK’s entire series.
Many people don’t know that the first Pokemon series actually had a beach episode because it was omitted from translation and airing outside of Japan. It was probably for the best considering it had everyone in their swimwear and James cross-dressing in a bikini with absolutely massive fake breasts. If your parents caught you watching that, you probably would have been taking a break from Pokemon for awhile.
Does a show about a harem of girls that live at an all-girls hot spring dorm need a beach episode? Yes. In fact, it needed two of them. While both episodes are mostly about showing the girls in their beachwear to great effect, they also do use it for character and relationship development, too. They essentially mastered the beach episode. Yes, it should be sexy, but it should also have purpose.
Is your favorite beach episode missing from this list? Tell us why you love it in the comments section below.