Nagi no Asukara – 21

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I really liked how Manaka’s awakening was handled so casually; both the randomness of the moment it happened, and her adorable, almost ridiculously chipper attitude right afterwards. They even teased the fact that she might have Amnesia, but it’s just because she doesn’t recognize a five-years-older Miuna at first glance. All, it would seem, is well.

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With the group of sea kids finally united, Miuna retreats. Her rivalry with Manaka had been an abstract thing in her head for so long, now that Manaka is up and about, she’s unsure of how to interact with Manaka; saying she “has no right” to hang out with that circle. Sayu snaps her out of her funk with some strategic water-splashing.

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In their latest effort to enter the circle, Miuna and Sayu quickly find they have nothing to worry about, just as Hikari, Kaname, and Chisaki find Manaka to be almost unnervingly happy, despite the fact she’s lost five years and her ena is gone. Manaka is seemingly able to do effortlessly what Miuna and the others struggle to do: be present and happy in the moment.

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It’s great to see the gang back together, but Chisaki now finds herself singularly isolated by the age gap. In a lovely, heartbreaking little moment after excusing herself from the school, she turns back briefly, perhaps resigned to the new reality: by not hibernating, she passed her friends by. The only one who grew with her was Tsumugu, but while they come so close time and again they just…can’t…quite…come together. ARRGH…they’re both doomed, aren’t they?

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Then, finally, there is something weighing on Hikari’s mind throughout his time with the reawakened Manaka: he really would like to know what she was going to tell him after the Ofunehiki, but either he’s throwing her off by not asking the right questions, ir her memory is genuinely foggy. Like Hikari, I really want to know. With Tsumugu apparently cursed by Uroko, they may get some answers soon, but they may not be the ones they—or I—necessarily want.

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Stray Observation: The OP has been tweaked somewhat; rather than depicting Manaka sleeping at the bottom of the sea, she and Miuna are both down there dressed somewhat Ojoshi-sama-y, which seems to confirm the fact both of them will play a part in appeasing the sea god. Meanwhile, in the episode, Manaka seems to be sporting boots very similar to Uggs.

 

 

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Nagi no Asukara – 20

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As the days went on and Manaka simply wouldn’t wake up, it was interesting how remarkably calm and upbeat Hikari remained. Perhaps it was because he really was optimistic Manaka would wake up any minute, and if she didn’t, that catching Lord Uroko and making him wake her up would be a piece of cake.

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But it doesn’t take long for Hikari to become a man obsessed, repeating patterns from early last season when he was a fiery ball of bad-tempered energy fueled by many factors, including his feelings for Manaka and the future of their village. Even as the sea grows colder and he grows more exhausted, he can’t just sit still; he suddenly can’t soldier on with normal life until she’s awake.

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In other words, things pretty much the same as they was when Miuna and Tsumugu first found the awakened Hikari, only amplified: before, he thought of little else but finding Manaka, and now that they’ve found her, now he thinks of little else than waking her up. In the midst of this wild intensity, Miuna no doubt feels more left out than ever. Manaka is the Sleeping Beauty that has invaded her home and monopolizes the thoughts and time of the boy she loves.

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It’s a very cruel situation for Miuna, in my opinion, and I can’t hold it against her if she happens to voice her frustration in a moment of weakness. She starts to wonder if a part of her doesn’t want Manaka to wake up. But her desperation for Hikari’s attention is butting up against his desperation to wake Manaka, and something has to give. It does, when after mistaking Miuna for Manaka (with her hair down, a rare sight), Hikari collapses into a feverish heap.

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Miuna learns again that she’s not alone; Tsumugu is having similar complications in his relationship with Chisaki, and the two have a very interesting little chat on a pier. Tsumugu admits he too pondered a simpler world without anyone ever waking up, but he can’t deny he was and continues to be happy they’re back too. Miunta wants to be happy too; Tsumugu says it will happen, but it’ll take time.

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He’s not suggesting she surrender, but it is important not to get sucked into a vortex of despair from persistent lack of success. Life is too precious to waste inordinate amounts of time on self-pity and navel-gazing. In life, circumstances and fortunes can change in an instant. To whit: Manaka quite suddenly waking up, not because Hikari kissed her, but to scold him for yelling at Miuna for suggesting he kiss her.

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Weekly OP: Mekakucity Actors

The Tokyo Subway route map looks like a mass of impossibly tangled christmas lights at first glance, but there’s a simple system of unique colors and letters to represent lines along with unique numbers for each station, so finding your way around it is far easier than it initially seemed.

It’s the same with Mekakucity Actors; there’s a dizzying array of characters, but the fact most of them have a unique color and number of their own makes it easier (for me at least) to familiarize ourselves with them. I may still not know exactly what’s going on (the blindfold has not been fully removed from our eyes), but I can say with certainty I’m engaged nonetheless.

A big part of getting into an episode is the fast-paced, jaunty J-rock opening theme, entitled “Daze” by MARiA from GARNiDELiA, the same group that did the more florid Kill la Kill OP. “Daze” also reminds us of a slightly less dramatic version of “Matryoshka” by Nico Touches the Walls (the OP to [C]); not a bad theme to be reminded of.