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)

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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)