Nagi no Asukara – 13

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The day of the Ofunehiki and the hibernation arrives. Manaka tells Hikari she’ll tell him her answer after the ceremony, while Chisaki is still thinking about Kaname’s confession. When the ceremony begins with Akari as the Ojoushi-sama, Uroko uses the sacred fire to light her way, then knocks out Hikari’s dad along with the rest of Shioshishio. Multiple whirlpools open up; Akari and Tsumugu are thrown overboard. Chisaki, Manaka, and Hikari dive in after them. Chisaki rescues Tsumugu, but Kaname is crushed by a fallen concrete bridge pier. Shioshishio is cloaked in some kind of barrier. Manaka offers herself to the sea god so Akari is spared. Hikari tries to reach out to her but the sea pushes him away. Akari surfaces safe and sound.

We’ve reach the midpoint of the series, to where everything has been building up: the Ofunehiki. There’s a little more buildup early in the episode as characters arrive at peaceful places in their lives prior to the big event. In bittersweet scenes we see Manaka tucking her sleeping parents in, Chisaki’s parents letting her go, and even Hikari’s dad and Uroko cordially seeing off the four. Manaka and Chisaki haven’t properly addressed the confessions they’ve received, but both Hikari and Kaname assure them they’ll love them no matter the response. In all of these instances, with the focus on everyone’s lives and the futures they’re stepping towards, their personal affairs and conflicts loom large and prominent. And then nature—courtesy of the sea god, if you will—cruelly proceeds to dwarf and dash all of those hopes and dreams.

The episode gives the start of the Ofunehiki a proper level of pomp and ceremony: the fires, the flags, the fishing fleet. Akari and Hikari are transformed by their new traditional garb. In lighting the way, Uroko seems to be holding out an olive branch to the surface. But things turn sinister and it looks like the sea god really will try to claim Akari. While she survives, the town now seems to be totally asleep (and covered by…something), Kaname is taken out of the picture altogether by a freak accident, and the fate of Hikari and most importantly Manaka is left up in the air. If she became a sacrifice and Hikari surfaces, that’s a hell of a turn. We have no idea where the series will go in the second half, but all the upheaval here left us eager to find out.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Nagi no Asukara – 12

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Akari and Hikari’s dad meets Miuna. Tsumugu, Manaka and Chisaki go into town to buy a kimono. Tsumugu runs into his mother, with whom he’s not close. Akari has a conciliatory talk with her dad. Hikari volunteers to bear one of the huge flags that will guide the Ojoushi-sama during the Ofunehiki. Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki and Kaname return to Shioshishio to find the younger children have already started to hibernate. While reminiscing at their old school, Kaname asks Hikari about Manaka, and he says he loves her. She freaks out and runs away. Hikari runs after her, but stops and turns back when Chisaki falls, and she in turn confesses to him.

As the growing evidence all around them attests, it won’t be long before this quartet of friends starts drifitng off into a hibernation of indeterminate time, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be together if and when it ends. As unpopular as the general opinion is about confronting various matters, Kaname takes it upon himself to be the guy to force a confrontation. It’s something Manaka still isn’t ready for, since she’s not sure who she’s in love with, and so it comes off as cruel, but thanks to Kaname, everyone finally knows who likes whom (again, except Manaka). The parties involved can either pretend these truths never came out and continue maintaining the status quo until the end, or they can act on the information, one way or another.

All we can say is, thank God for Kaname and his forthrightness; if not for him the awkwardness would only continue. As things stand, Hikari is glad he was finally able to express his feelings clearly to Manaka, regardless of how she took the news, while Chisaki is equally glad she was able express hers to him. They were alike in their hesitation out of fear of destroying friendships, and both seem to take solace in knowing they’re not alone in their frustration, and never were. Manaka can’t find such solace, as she’s still too unsure of her feelings. No doubt adding to her anxiety is the fact that her uncertainty won’t change just because time is running out. While Akari had time to grow up and choose her path before calamity came, Manaka isn’t so lucky.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Nagi no Asukara – 11

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Chisaki is caught off guard by Kaname’s confession. Hikari decides he’s not “going to sleep helplessly” and break his fast; Manaka follows. Akari and Itaru prepare to get married, but Miuna tries to hurt Akari so she’ll return to the sea and not die. The surface fishery cooperative apologizes to Hikari and offer to help with the Ofunehiki. Uroko’s assurance it won’t do any good. Akari asks that she be allowed to assume the role of Ojoushi-sama in the ceremony, after which she’ll marry Itaru. Moved by Akari’s determination to do something before it’s too late, Chisaki resolves to confess to Hikari.

When everything around you is changing and time grows short, you do whatever you can. When you witness others working hard to do something, you’re inspired to contribute in some way, any way. Even if the situation is hopeless, or your actions will likely have no effect on what’s to come, you try anyway. There’s always a slimmer of a chance if you try, as opposed to no chance if you don’t. These are the ideals by which Sakishima Akari and her brother Hikari are living their lives. They’re swimming against the tides of fate, and Itaru and Manaka are swimming right beside them.

It’s pretty clear that everyone the lead four are scared of the coming “sleep,” and with good reason: it’s a terrifying proposition, and has been ever since it was first announced. It also seems like something biologically inevitable, as demonstrated when Hikari suddenly gets woozy in class. As the Ofunehiki plans are restarted and Akari volunteers to be the Ojoushi, it occurred to us that perhaps this latest Ofunehiki could end up being as significant as the very first, and powerful in ways even Uroko can’t fathom. Or it could end up being a futile attempt to restore normalcy to an increasingly abnormal world. There’s no harm in trying.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 10

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Uroko and Hikari’s dad inform Hikari and Manaka the saltflake snow will continue to fall above and below the see, causing a cold period during which all those with ena must hibernate to survive. As preparations for a final feast and ena-thickening fasting commence, Hikari convinces Uroko to let him and the others keep going to school until its time to sleep. Hikari vows to have the Ofunehiki no matter what. After avoiding him for some time, Manaka’s feelings for Hikari deepen, while Kaname confesses to Chisaki.

Trials continue continue to mount for our quartet of burdened middle schoolers, who wrestle with their hearts as the gentle but unrelenting snow threatens to snuff out their existence. The apparent solution to hibernate was straight out of left field, and the global implications of the snow were unexpected, but the poor state of the village up to this point justifies such desperate measures. Humans above and below the sea have enjoyed a pleasant world up until this point, but by abandoning the sea god, he has enough power to adversely affect that world, and the surface dwellers are apparently SOL. At this point, Hikari’s wish to proceed with the Ofunehiki seems like too little too late, but there’s no harm in trying.

Meanwhile, all of this is a bit too much for Manaka, who reverts to crybaby mode in the face of all of this drastic change and looming uncertainty. When she’s alone with her thoughts and a red-bellied sea slug, she seems to be somewhat possibly coming around to Hikari…maybe. Chisaki copes by making sushi. Kaname not only takes things in relative stride, but also decides at this point he’s done watching and waiting for his friends to sort how who likes whom; he likes Chisaki and makes sure she knows it. Even if nothing about the world is certain, his feeling for her are. Will his bold action inspire the others to follow suit? The time for sleep draws near.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 09

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Lord Uroko calls all of the adults to a secret meeting, sending the kids to the surface until further notice. Hikari and the others decide to do the Ofunehiki on their own. They set to work repairing the Ojoushi-sama and procure a boat from Tsumugu’s Grandpa. Manaka cooks dinner, but when Chisaki and Kaname return to town early and Hikari ducks out, she returns home too, to find the adults waiting for her. When Hikari comes to class to find the others absent, he races home to find heavy saltflake snow falling. Manaka tells him the adults have banned further visits the surface. When his father comes to get him, he grabs Manaka and runs off to their old school, where they have an awkward, confused exchange.

“Poor Hikari”…early in the season we’d never thought we’d ever be telling ourselves that, but here we are. After some ups and downs he’s become a genuinely likable, sympathetic character, and at the moment nothing seems to be going his way. For one thing, every attempt to resurrect the Ofunehiki is met with unwelcome intervention, either by vandals, then elders, or fate. Shioshihio isn’t doing too hot either;  it occurs to us that the only kids of their age left in the village are our four friends. That’s a pretty dire situation, and Uroko-sama has decided that to have any hope of preserving the village, surface visits must end. It seems like far too little too late; the town bleak, dreary, foreboding ghost of its former lush, inviting self. The visuals of Hikari’s return reminded us of the ruined towns in Nausicaa; hauntingly beautiful stuff.

Also beautifully heartbreaking is every exchange Hikari has with Manaka this week. Like Chisaki, he’s tried to “be an adult” and put Manaka’s wants before his own, but this week it seems like he just can’t do it anymore. He loves Manaka too much to just be a friend, but just can’t say that to her. Tsumugu sees Chisaki’s actions as retreat, while Manaka’s reaction to Hikari’s hug is a complicated thing, motivated by her confused feelings for both Tsumugu and Hikari, as well as her knowledge of Chisaki’s feelings for Hikari. The rapid deterioration of their home mirrors that of their relationships. The once-warm, harmonious quartet of friends now find themselves listless and full of doubt, their very worlds upheaved and on the brink of destruction. But it’s always darkest before the dawn…right? Please?!

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Nagi no Asukara – 08

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Hikari stays at Itaru’s house with Miuna and Akari, who is surprised Hikari and Miuna get along so well. The next day Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, Kaname and Tsumugu all accompany Miuna into the city to buy a gift for Akari, as a sign of her approval and love. They can’t find the shell necklace she wants at any of the stores, so they return to the village and find comparable materials on the beach. After Miuna presents the necklace to Akari, saltflake snow starts to fall.

All hands on deck: Miuna has to find a gift for Akari? We agree, that’s a pretty lightweight premise for an episode, but a lot is achieved along the way. Chief among them, Hikari isn’t looking back or regretting his decision, something even Akari can’t believe. He’s also not letting the unplesantness with the sea and surface elders get him down. Life goes on, only on the surface. Helping Miuna is just as much about him taking his mind off those troubles, while bonding with who could end up being his step-niece.

But we’re not done with the sea, as Itaru and Akari both want to do their marriage “properly” if they can (which means dealing with people who haven’t been reliable in the approval department.) We also enjoyed Chisaki and Hikari’s discussion when they were alone together thanks to her setting off the elevator’s weight limit buzzer (another unfortunate dig on her alleged “largeness” that has no basis in physical fact). Their talk is brief and incomplete, but we hope it’s the first step in more forthright dialogue between them.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 07

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The students complete the Ojoshi-sama, and Hikari takes it upon himself to make sure they hold a real Ofunehiki. Everyone hands out flyers and collects signatures, but when Hikari asks his dad, he refuses. Hikari and Tsumugu are able to gather representatives from both sea and land, but the meeting ends in a fight, and the ojoshi is destroyed. Akari and Hikari both decide to leave Shioshishio, but when Uroko-sama tries to punish them, their father begs him to show mercy, and they escape to the surface.

At the start of the series, Hikari felt very much as his father did, that the surface people could not be trusted or reasoned with. But that prejudice was handed down, not the product of a lifetime of dealing with them, as his father has. Once Hikari was forced to the surface for school, actually got to know surface people,  befriended some, and worked with them to build the Ojoshi-sama, he started to change. When he saw how much Akari had invested in Itaru and Miuna, he changed more. And when his father coldly rejected his plans for rapprochement with the surface, it was the last straw.

It was a poignant moment when Akari told her father what her mother said, about loving him even if he was form the surface. You can tell he knows that was true. His children may be fed up with his stubbornness, but we cannot fault him for, as Tsumugu says to Chisaki, being only what he can be. He has to balance love for his family and his desire for their happiness with the responsibilities of a high priest of a village that doesn’t have much time left. If his own children succumb to the lure of the surface (albeit for different reasons), what hope does the village have? Certainly not much, but a village preserved by isolation, suppression of free will, and force may not be worth saving.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Hikari’s initial motivation for holding the Ofunehiki seems clear: he wants Manaka to be happy no matter what, even if he thinks she continues to drift away from him. Later, he’s fueled by his father’s bull-headed obstinancy.
  • Manaka notices Hikari’s different attitude, and worries about things changing, but Chisaki is there to tell her that sometimes change can’t be stopped. Chisaki remains mopey, meanwhile; we hope she speaks up to Hikari soon.
  • The petty bickering of the men at the meeting contrasted sharply with the cooperation and comraderie of the students—more proof that amity often skips a generation.

Nagi no Asukara – 06

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In his first swimming class on the surface, Hikari challenges Tsumugu to a race, but loses and splits his toenail on the pool wall. Manaka tries hard to bring Chisaki and Hikari, but only ends up making things worse. While biking her to the pier, Tsumugu asks her about the phenomenon known as “Tomoebi”, when there appear to be three suns underwater; Manaka remembers angering Chisaki when she missed it last time. When it happens again, she finds Chisaki and they watch it together; Hikari and Kaname also watch just below them.

After focusing on Akari we return to the core group and its bright, buoyant core, Mukaido Manaka. As Kaname points out, is always the first to jump way ahead in things before the other three realize it, contrasting with her classic scaredy-cat nature. When Hikari gets hurt she springs into action before Chisaki can budge. She tries desperately to keep everyone together, and happy, but no matter what she does or says, the unhappy reality remains: it might not be possible for everyone to be happy. Too much may have changed, or is changing, between them all.

All she and everyone else in the group can do is be clear in their feelings for one another, face the trials that come with those various revelations, and see how the saltflake snow shakes out. Even Kaname, a relative island of tranquility (and gaining a surface-girl admirer), hasn’t come clean about liking Chisaki as Hikari remains paralyzed vis-a-vis Manaka. The final scene of the Tomoebi in all its grandeur is remarkably beautiful in its execution, but also profoundly sad; an echo of simpler times. Manka brought everyone back together for that moment, but the peace may be fleeting.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • A lesser show might’ve had Hikari’s pool duel with Tsumugu be the entire plot of the episode; here the point is made and it wraps it up quickly
  • Speaking of wrapping-up, what was with the surface girls wearing modesty towels even in their own locker room?
  • At this point, Hikari gets so mad seeing Manaka alone with Tsumugu that it makes his own encounters with Manaka needlessly tense and strained.
  • We like how the show portrayed the sea people being accepted more and more by the growing number of people helping out with the Ojoshi-sama
  • We hope to more of Kaname’s growing friendship with the nice surface girl who likes him.
  • Manaka’s multiple attempts to include Chi-chan were appropriately hard to watch, but that’s kinda Chisaki’s fault for not being upfront with the necessary party; not that anyone else has been, mind you.
  • Tsumugu’s suggests that Manaka finish her sentences to avoid ambiguity, which is safe but ultimately self-defeating in the present situation. That sound advice could apply to everyone in the group.

Nagi no Asukara – 05

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Chisaki uses Tsumugu as her “sea slug”, confessing that she likes Hikari; Manaka overhears, but Chisaki tells her to forget about it. Akari breaks up with Itaru and tells Miuna she’ll “go away somewhere”; that night Akari calls Hikari in a panic saying Miuna has run away. Hikari and his friends search for and eventually find her, and after a cookout, he stays with Miuna through the night. When Akari finds them sleeping outside the store where she works, she tearfully embraces Miuna, ensuring her she’s not going anywhere.

Ahh, little kids…hardly ever properly expressing how they really feel. How can they? They’re kids…they’re still trying to figure out what feelings even are. Fixing the Miuna issue is a matter of Hikari telling his big sister to leave things to him, and creating the right conditions to get her to open up about what’s truly bothering her. It’s pretty obvious she doesn’t really hate “Aka-chan”; her problem is she loves her, but when terms like “new mom” come up, she can’t help but think about how she lost her old mom, and how much it hurt. An increasingly layered Hikari admits that he’s often thought as Miuna has, but choosing to never love anyone ever is simply replacing one kind of pain with another. It’s running away.

This was a very moving episode with lot of tears involved, especially any scene involving Akari. This was fine with us, as we thought Nazuka Kaori delivered a passionate, compelling performance (we can’t remember hearing Eureka’s seiyu getting so worked up – she was so reserved in Amnesia – but it was nice). She admits to Itaru she loves him and Miuna too, but calls herself a “greedy child” who wants wants everyone to be happy and to have everything work out. But  giving up on them wouldn’t be any more ‘adult’; it’d just be more running away. Both she and Miuna, the actual child in this, want the same thing: to be together and happy – not as mother and daughter, but as Akari and Muino. Thanks to Hikari, of all people, they’re on their way. Nice job, Hikari! Inspired by the reunion, maybe now he’ll see to his own troubles…


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Oh yeah, Manaka now totally knows Chisaki likes Hikari more than just a childhood friend! Chisaki tells her to forget, but she can’t, and now every time she sees Chisaki around Hikari, it’s in that new light. It troubles her and will continue to trouble her, but wasn’t the primary focus of this episode.
  • Chisaki used Tsumugu as her sea slug, Miura used Hikari as hers, and Manaka wonders what she’d ask a real red one next time she comes across one. Mana, just use Kaname or something!
  • Hikari and Akari have an awesome dad. Obviously he’d probably hoped she’d marry a sea-dweller, but he tells Lord Uroko his daughter’s life is hers to do with what she pleases. Besides, her marrying a sea dude she doesn’t love isn’t going to solve all the problems Shioshishio is going through.
  • Miuna has to kill the mood by brining up “dolicons.” She just had to get that barb in, didn’t she! Still, it’s a nice detail that she notices Hikari smells like her mother and Aka-chan, which comforts her.
  • No Sayu? No problem.

Nagi no Asukara – 04

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Hikari refuses Miuna’s request to help break up his sister and her dad; prejudiced surface dwellers refuse the sea dwellers’ food; Hikari gets in a fight when he suspects they vandalized the Ojoshi-sama. He’s sent home, and Manaka follows; they rescue Miuna’s dad Itaru from drowning and take him home, where Hikari learns he’s a widower; Miuna confesses to ruining Ojoshi-sama. While visitng Uroko, Akari goes over how she met Itaru’s family and wanted to fill the void his late wife Miori left behind. Manaka tells Hikari she wants to start protecting him, and convinces him to apologize to the kids he wrongly accused; the next day he and Manaka get on their knees, and are both forgiven. Kaname catches Miuna’s friend Sayu – the real Ojoshi vandal – and makes her apologize to Hikari.

The focus returns to Hikari this week, as he’s called an octopus on not one but two occasions. The landlubber Sayu means it as a derogatory term, but Manaka uses it more thoughtfully: like Octopi, Hikari tends to “spit out ink” at “unfamiliar fish”. Rather than try to settle problems with the landies, he lashes out at them and jumps to conclusions. It’s a pattern of behavior that was likely to further isolate him at school had someone not stepped in to steer him right, and to his surprise, it’s Manaka. She used to hide behind everyone else, but she’s becoming stronger and more assertive week by week, even if she still cries a lot. Hikari can’t help but attribute at least part of that growth to Tsumugu’s influence, as he certainly didn’t do anything to incite it. Hikari is understandably conflicted about this.

Still, hotheaded chural that he can be, he does ultimately arrive at a detente with the surface-dwellers, and even if they’re not BFFs, they at least understand each other a little more. The balance of this episode filled in the blanks of the Itaru/Miuna/Akari picture. Miuna’s bluish eyes were an early sign that her late mother was indeed a sea-dweller, meaning Miuna faced the same kind of bullying as Hikari and the others, only at a younger age. But Sayu, a surface-dweller, eventually befriended her, admiring her ability – no doubt developed by necessity in a harsh social environment – to not let the abuse of her peers get to her. Miuna only cares about the opinions of people who care about her. At the same time, Akari cares about Miuna and loves her father, but can’t so easily fill the void left by her mother.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We thought Sayu and Miuna sounded familiar, because they are: we know Sayu’s seiyu as Madoka from Lagrange, and Miuna’s as Captain Marilka from Mouretsu Pirates.
  • Sayu really did a number on that Ojoshi-sama. Ya went too far, kid.
  • Had Itaru succeeded in using his borrowed diving equipment properly, would it have been fair to call his actions “SCUBA-stalking?”
  • What was that about Chisaki saying she’s “big?” ‘Cause she really isn’t. Either a case of skewed body image on her part, or a disconnect between writers and character designers who can only draw ridiculously pretty characters.

Nagi no Asukara – 03

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Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki and Kaname visit their old abandoned school. Hikari vows to punch the guy who kissed Akari. When he returns home, Akari acts normally, but he hears her crying in bed. The next day Hikari chases Akari’s boyfriend to Tsumugu’s house. Tsumugu tells them both that the offspring of a sea and earth dweller won’t be able to live in the sea. Back at home, Akari tells him she’s decided to end it. Tsumugu builds a watering hole for his new friends. Afterwards, Hikari follows Akari’s boyfriend to his workplace and is ambushed by two girls, one of whom asks Hikari to help her break up her dad his sister.

This was an episode full of characters faced with complications on the paths they’d hoped to take through life, and must choose to either stay on the path or change course in order to avoid further trouble and anguish. One such character is Akari, who is portrayed in both flashback and the present as a selfless, loving older sister who decided she had to mature quickly and be strong for Hikari after their mother died. Hikari has always admired that strength, but also felt bad that she never thought of herself, to the point where he’s a little relieved when he learns of her boyfriend. He may be form the surface, but at least she’s thinking about herself for once.

By the end of the episode, she seems to be back to sacrificing her happiness for others; it would be unthinkable for the daughter of the high priest to be with a surface dweller and be banished, after all. Hikari doesn’t like how quickly she gives in. In fact, this whole episode redeems Hikari to an extent and develops his character, as he accepts not only that Tsumugu is a nice guy and Manaka may like him, but also sees a selflessness similar to his sister’s in Chisaki. His scenes with his sister are very affecting, too – especially when he notices how she trembles when she tries to keep things in. Still, while everyone is well aware of who likes whom, no one has verbalized anything to their respective subjects of affection, and so a tense impasse continues that could grow wearisome if it drags on.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Nagi no Asukara – 02

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The fish in Hanaka’s knee swims away, and she tries to get Uroko to curse her again. When Tsumugu volunteers to build the Ojoushi-sama, a wooden doll used as a sacrifice in the Ofunehiki (boatdrift) ceremony, Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname join him. At the end of the day, they spot Akari kissing a surface guy; a banishable offense. Hikari snaps at Manaka and then Chisaki. Manaka asks Uroko to curse her again, but is interrupted by townsfolk who have arrested Akari. Hikari and Akari’s dad arrives and takes over, ordering everyone else to leave.

Tempests are raging within the hearts of Hikari, Manaka, and Chisaki, belying the cool tranquility of the sea in which they dwell. Chisaki’s situation in particular calls to mind a similar situation with Nadeko in Monogatari: she is in love with someone who doesn’t notice her, but isn’t doing anything to get noticed, because that’s the easiest course. Chisaki understands Hikari’s love for Manaka all too well, as it mirrors her love for him. But confessing her love would make things difficult for everyone, so she abstains. Well, whether she likes it or not, the status quo is already shattered thanks to Manaka’s fated encounter with Tsumugu. he doesn’t really do anything to cause all this havoc with his new sea-dwelling classmates, besides exist and be kind to Manaka.

Hikari even admits he’s a good guy, but that’s irrelevant to him: Manaka is his – not just his charge, but his love. But as he struggles with those feelings, she seems to be slipping away. The tension between everyone is palpably expressed in the awkward way they’re often arranged within the camera frame (see above). Chisaki selflessly warns Tsumugu (under her breath) to stop being so kind to Manaka. Akari provides a solemn warning about what happens when sea-dweller falls for a dry-lander. All of this underlines the theme of the world beneath the sea being so fragile and vulnerable to contamination, versus the unyielding, almost inevitable force of the surface. One by one, people are leaving the sea for good. You have to think at one point in the future there will be no one left down there.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 01

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Sakishima Hikari and his friends Mikaido Manaka, Isaki Kaname, and Hiradaira Chisaki are “sea-dwellers” who have always lived underwater. When their school closes, they must transfer to one on the surface. On their first day Manaka is pulled out of the sea by the fishing net of Kihara Tsumugu, who turns out to be their classmate. Manaka is also cursed with a fish head on her knee when she insults their local shrine’s Lord Uroko. That day, Manaka runs away to escape the surface girls’ teasing and gets lost. Tsumugu rescues her and submerges her in salt water to heal her cracking skin. Later that night she reunites with Hikari, who is increasingly threatened by Tsumugu.

There are a lot of reasons to have reservations about transferring to a new school. Maybe you’re from the country and moving to the big city; that’ll probably get you teased. Or maybe you’re among the few humans who never left the sea and so have a natural “raiment” that allows you to breathe and live down there without any difficulty. Kids are awful anyway; they’re more awful if you’re different from them, and Hikari, Manaka, Kaname and Chisaki are definitely that. It’s a clever, literal take on the “fish out of water” theme. Of course, not all landlubbers are assholes; and Tsumugu is efficiently introduced as Hikari’s rival for Manaka’s heart. There’s nothing too fancy about the Manaka/Hikari relationship – they’re like a sister and her doting big brother. Only Hikari likes Manaka.

Meanwhile, Chisaki likes Hikari, while Manaka taks an instant liking to Tsumugu, which Hikari notices and isn’t happy about. We see that anger causing him more troubles down the road. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Kaname likes Chisaki, thus completing the love wheel. Romance (and science) aside, the sea-dweller town has an otherworldly beauty to it. Nice details abounded, from showing how one can simply swim up to a balcony, the use of special blue fire, and tv weather forecasts talking about salt content. There was also an underlying melancholy to the sea world: the encroaching fishing boats, closed school, and cancelled ceremony all indicate life there becoming increasingly fragile. Decisive action may be needed to prevent its destruction, just as Hikari will have to act if he doesn’t want to lose his beloved Manaka to Tsumugu and the surface.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • We liked the concept of the half-godlike Lord Uroko (one “scale” of the sea god) portioning out fire to the townspeople. It’s too bad he’s a bit of a pervert.
  • The fish head curse he places on Manaka’s knee is deliciously random, if unfair. Being a fisherman, Tsumugu knows just what to say about it to soothe Manaka’s anxiety.
  • We’re wondering if a sea-dweller’s skin cracks and falls away completely, will that mean they’ll die, or simply be unable to return to the sea…we’ll see. 
  • This and Kyoukai no Kanata are both supernatural slice-of-life high school shows. They both look great, but we think Nagi had the stronger first episode overall, if only because it felt less derivative.