Nagi no Asukara – 25

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When Akira of all people, drops Manaka’s pendant into the sea, Miuna dives in to get it, and she learns the truth: Manaka loves Hikari. It’s a truth Tsumugu already pretty much knew five years ago when Manaka told him, but swore him to secrecy. Learning Hikari’s love isn’t one-sided is a painful blow.

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It’s a blow she insists on bearing, and she wants to add to the pain, in a effort to make her feelings for him so painful, they come to a point where she can “throw them away”, which is a pretty awful thing to do to oneself, but I can’t really see an alternative, unless…

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Oh, right: unless the Ofunehiki follows the same pattern as the last one, the sea god sends storms that throw people from the boat, and one of those people happens to be Miuna. I knew from the updated OP (absent this episode—way too much ground to cover!) that she could end up the next sacrifice.

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That this possibility became a reality—for the moment, at least—it’s a hard pill to swallow, though I won’t argue that it was a pretty inevitable thing to happen. But the look on Hikari’s face as he bangs on the barrier that encases her, we get the feeling he’ll be just as restless with Miuna down there as he was when it was Manaka.

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Her ending up down there just feels…wrong. She deserves the chance to live a normal life and find happiness with someone else, or to even try to win Hikari. Even if she’s in there thinking “this is what’s best for everyone”, I’m sure there’s an equal part of her that doesn’t want to be the sacrifice any more than we do.

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Meanwhile, perhaps bouyed by Sayu’s confession, Kaname is a much less pouty fellow these days, even going so far as to relay to Tsumugu Chisaki’s feelings for him. Tsumugu then tells Chisaki everything he’s learned, and like Sayu, may have finally gotten the in he needs. Chisaki is still averse to being “the only one who’s happy”, but she doesn’t pull away from Tsumugu’s embrace.

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But lets assume she finally stops lying to herself and lets herself love Tsumugu. That means four of our seven main characters are on the right track. All that leaves is Hikari, Manaka, and Miuna to sort out. Will Manaka’s feelings return? Will Miuna really stay down there? Will the global cooling cease? Will the rest of Shioshishio wake up? We’ll find out in the next episode; the final leg of an immensely moving journey I’ll dearly miss.

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Nagi no Asukara – 24

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We won’t know if we don’t try. I don’t think there’s a point unless we struggle. Tsumugu is brimming with words of wisdom that he seems committed to living by, starting with his very upfront discussion with Chisaki in Shioshishio. Maybe too upfront for Chisaki, who is still processing Hikari’s return.

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While Hikari was gone, Chisaki never allowed herself to fall for Tsumugu, so even if she really did develop feelings, she refused to fully acknowledge them; this went on for five years. Even if she’s an adult and Hikari is still a kid, he’s still there, and she still loves him, or at least a part of her does.

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Miuna takes a similar but not identical tack with Hikari. She won’t deny her feelings for him, but she won’t let Hikari know about them; not as long as he’s fighting to get Manaka’s ability to love back, even if she ends up not loving him that way. But for Hikari, better for Manaka to love someone than no one.

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At the end of the episode, at dawn, Hikari tells Manaka when she asks that it’s not easy to say who you love. He should know, he did it, she just doesn’t remember. Akira did it too, in the form of a lovingly-scrawled love letter. It’s the first time Manaka is faced with a confession since waking up, and she’s predictably confused.

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Having been in the sea and grown an ena, Tsumugu is convinced the sea is where Manaka’s feelings remain. The sacrifice left the sea god and returned to the surface, so a price was exacted. So what if they had another Ofunehiki—the first in five years—and send another wooden Ojoshi-sama to the deep, wearing her sea slug pendant?

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“Baseless and insane”, says Hikari. But they won’t know until they try. When Uroko agrees to help and everyone in his old class returns to help out (along with half of the town), Hikari starts to believe it could work; that an end to Manaka’s emotional purgatory could be nigh, and with it, the settling of a great many things.

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Chisaki shows a darker side of her selflessness in an austere scene with Tsumugu in which she contemplates becoming the next sacrifice, replacing Manaka to restore the balance; Tsumugu shuts her down at once. Though she could argue that they won’t know unless she tries, one has to draw the line somewhere, and sacrificing one’s conscious life for the potential happiness of another is well past that line.

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There’s a lot of gloom and angst in this episode, but also plenty of hope and optimism, most notably between Sayu and Kaname. After telling Sayu how lonely he felt after waking up, thinking no one was waiting for him, Sayu confesses to him, telling him she was. And for I think the first time on this show, someone isn’t rejected after confessing!

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Kaname doesn’t agree to go out with her right then and there, but he does promise to start looking at her that way rather than as a kid, which is silly since they’re the same age now. It’s a start—a start that wouldn’t have been granted had Sayu not struggled…and tried.

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