Nagi no Asukara – 23

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Nagi no Asukara has done an exemplary job—far better than most—at keeping so many potential relationships in a state of limbo. Sure, it’s easy to critique the characters’ actions and words and determine a course of action that would have resulted in far less stress and strain, but just as not having the ability to love would be a temporary relief, so too would a scenario in which everyone finds someone too easily.

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In the last review we may have jumped to conclusions in assuming Manaka would never have the capacity to love someone again. Even Uroko-sama doesn’t know for sure if that’s the case; she could return to normal in time, or given the proper stimulation. But if ours was a jump, Hikari’s is a towering leap to “definite” conclusions, letting fear and jealousy fuel the notion that Manaka was in love with Tsumugu.

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Even so, Hikari is determined to get her ability to love back, even if the one she loves isn’t him. Ironically, it was Miuna’s ability to love Akari, leading to such a happy, loving family, gave Hikari the hope and strength to do whatever he can to help Manaka. When Miuna senses Manaka’s loss and the pain it’s causing within her, she commits to doing whatever she can. In both cases, they’re putting their own feelings aside for the sake of Manaka not just being happy, but being whole.

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Getting back to Nagi’s penchant for keeping things up in the air, we’re in the home stretch now, meaning truths are starting to out between the right pairs of people, whether accidentally or not. After the debate about Manaka’s condition, Sayu damns the torpedoes and decides she’s going to ask Kaname out. And when Hikari picks a fight with a much larger Tsumugu, Chisaki happens to spot them arrives to break it up just in time to hear Tsumugu say he’s in love with her.

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That could have been a decent bombshell to end the episode, but in typical Nagi fashion, it had another surprise up its sleeve: Tsumugu growing an ena when he dives in to follow a fleeing Chisaki. Because he dove in, the fish swims out of his arm, and he gains the ability to follow Chisaki back to Shishio. There he delivers one hell of a line to elaborate his feelings:

You’re always so quiet and calm, and yet sometimes you become so fierce that I can’t handle you. At that time, I thought you were like the sea.

Chisaki can’t very well turn that down, now can she!

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Nagi no Asukara – 22

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When Hikari held Manaka and confessed to her, she was confused and frightened: it was too much to take in at the time; she didn’t understand. Once she returned, I thought she was remaining quiet and evasive on the subject because by her reckoning it only happened a few days ago, and she’d gotten no closer to processing it. But when Uroko is finally found loitering around the surface, he tells Hikari the truth: Manaka lost far more than her ena; she lost the ability to love anyone.

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This is clearly the worst case scenario for Hikari, arguably worse than if she’d never woken up. Manaka had, during the Ofunehiki, either by accident or destiny, become the latest sacrifice to the sea god. Not only was the ritual real, but it worked: calm returned to the seas and the destruction of the surface world under a carpet of saltflake snow was arrested. But a part of Manaka didn’t want to be the Ojoshi-sama. Like the woman in the legend, she could never forget what she left on the surface.

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That caused her ena to crackle and create a current: a current Miuna found when she heard the crackling. With me so far? Good. When Hikari and the others pulled her out of the Ojoshi graveyard, she lost the rest of her ena, along with whatever part of one’s heart falls in love. Hikari himself thought she was acting the way she was because she loved Tsumugu, but in truth she simply doesn’t remember anything about loving Tsumugu, nor anything related to Hikari loving her.

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So…Score one for Team Miuna, right? Well…while this techincally puts her in a stronger position, Manaka’s condition could well spread to Hikari—his heart closing in response to the closing of hers. Meanwhile, Tsumugu stays behind, not for the research, but for Chisaki. The fish curse on his arm could just as well been a punishment for trying to run away. I like how honest he is with Kaname, and tossing him a “Zero Sweetness, Bitter and Black” can of coffee to wash down the bitter pill is a nice touch. Tsumugu and Kaname both want a straight answer from Chisaki, even if it isn’t yes.

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The many connections the show has made betweeen Manaka and Miuna are not lost on us, and for anyone still not sure about them, the newly-amended OP not only features Manaka catching the umbrella Miuna loses to a gust of wind, but the two of them in the ocean, dressed like priestesses and carrying eternal flames. Hard as he may try, Hikari probably won’t be able to fix Manaka any more than he can fix the deteriorating global climate. But these two girls may be the key to fixing both. I smell more sacrifice ahead…It’s a womanly scent.

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