Nagi no Asukara – 26 (Fin)

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Nagi no Asukara’s finale deals with a lot of big concepts and ideas—that love with all its good and bad facets is preferable to no love; that the belief in fate can mislead; that things can change, though they don’t necessarily have to—culminating in the show’s final line delivered by Hikari: “The world is filled with so many shining feelings.”

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Yet in the midst all this large-scale, lofty philosophizing, the characters remain sturdy, and aren’t lost in the rush. On the contrary, each and every character we’ve come to know and love shines as brightly here as those feelings Hikari described. This was a finale that efficiently tackles and largely resolves many of the conflicts that had built up, plucking an overall victory from the depths of despair, and richly rewarding us, the audience, for sticking around.

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At the end of my last review I made a partial list of questions I hoped the episode would answer…and it did! As I’m still a little overcome by the bittersweet emotions that always come when a great show comes to an end, I feel like the best way to organize this review is to answer those questions:

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Will Manaka’s feelings return? They do, thanks to Miuna and the Sea God himself, righting an ancient wrong. Not wanting the original Ojoshi-sama to follow her love from the surface into the depths of despair and death, the Sea God took away her feelings, not even knowing who they were directed at. In an impressive display of his and nature’s force, those feelings are released from the graveyard, and the sea starts to move again and eventually warms.

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Will Miuna really stay down there? Thankfully, no; Hikari can’t help himself and busts her out of her cocoon, just as he did Manaka. As he says, even if he wanted Manaka’s love more than anything, and finally has it, he didn’t want it that way. Miuna is also released, safe and sound, and while the reality that Hikari loves Manaka remains, her love for both of them and relief they’re okay is just as strong.

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Will the rest of Shioshishio wake up? With all that racket from the Sea God carrying on, you’d better believe it! Suitably, Hikari’s dad is the first to appear, and Hikari is shocked by the knowledge he possesses until Dad tells him he heard what Hikari told him when they first broke through to Shioshishio. Seeing him hold his grandson (and Akira tugging on his beard) was one of many tear-inducing high points of the episode.

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Will the global cooling cease? It sure looks that way, as Shioshishio is back to its bright, beautiful self (it was always beautiful, but it’s no longer a haunting, melancholy beauty). The saltflake snow has ceased, and the surface apocalypse, while not cancelled outright, has certainly been delayed for a good long while. Life returns to normal for the gang, only now they’ve sorted out their feelings.

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From Sayu trying to look pretty for Kaname, to Tsumugu and Chisaki acting like the loving couple are, to Miuna no longer being crushed by her own feelings, everyone seems so much more relaxed and happy; they really are shining. But perhaps none of them more than the original couple, Manaka and Hikari, who share an intimate walk on the beach in the parting shot.

She brings up how she intended to tell him something before she was lost in the last Ofunehiki five years ago, but now there’s no need for her to say it; Hikari knows she loves him. All’s well that ends well.

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Second Cour Cumulative Average: 9.23
First Cour Cumulative Average: 7.69

Total Cumulative Average: 8.46
MyAnimeList Score: 8.52 

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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Nagi no Asukara – 17

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Kaname returns (also naked like the Terminator), and through him we get a fresh look of what has changed and what hasn’t since he went into hibernation. His situation’s a little different from Hikari’s, in that his true love isn’t still somewhere under the sea; instead, his true love is now five years his senior and living with Tsumugu, the two acting like an domestic couple on the same wavelength, what with their well-practiced kitchen maneuvers.

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But like Hikari, he both pines and is pined for: Sayu enters the vortex of one-sided loves. Honestly, I’d forgotten she’d taken a liking to him, and remembered there was a surface girl who also liked him, but there’s no sign of her still being in town. But Kaname made his feelings plain for Chisaki, and lets her know that he—and those feelings—haven’t changed. The ball is in Chisaki’s court, though she has two other balls to juggle.

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Kaname’s return also makes things tricky for Miuna in her quest for Hikari’s heart. That Kaname returned has increased the chances that everyone else will wake up soon; Hikari’s beloved Manaka included. Tsumugu’s research is also adding fuel to that fire. With Manaka increasingly on Hikari’s mind, Miuna’s chances are as slender as ever.

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But when she overhears Hikari and Kaname having a chat by the pool their schoolmates maintained in their absesnse, she’s reminded she’s not alone in liking someone who likes someone else. Just as Kaname’s flame for Chisaki continues, so does Hikari’s for Manakas. Initially this deflates Miuna, but I think it inspires her to stay true to her feelings.

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Sayu is similarly deflated. After Kaname left, she vowed to remain alone forever, but when he returns and doesn’t immediately remember her name, she sinks into despair, saying the proper thing to do is to give up on her childhood crush, and either wait to fall for someone else, or settle for someone just to avoid lonliness. Horrified by Sayu’s words, Miuna shouts it out for anyone to hear:

“I don’t care if I’m sick. I don’t care if it’s a manga. Even if it’s gross or pathetic, I’m not changing!”

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When Sayu crosses paths with Kaname again, and he calls her by name and treats her affectionately, Sayu admits to herself that she’s “sick” too, and doesn’t want to change either. The ones they love may still be far away, but they won’t stop trying to get closer. To that end, Miuna makes use of her newly-formed ena to lead Hikari to Shioshishio, his home she’s never seen, even if they end up finding Manaka.

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Nagi no Asukara – 16

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This episode focuses in on the growing item that is Hikari and Miuna. Hikari may not see her as a love interest, but this episode gives Miuna ample opportunities to, if not overtly express her feelings, to at least spend some time close to him. When he bristles at the prospect of just the two of them going into town to order him a school uniform (he’s also in her class now), Miuna invites Sayu as a sort of chaperone.

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Little does she know by doing so, she turns Sayu, who has probably seen little of her friend Miuna since Hikari arrived, into an unwitting, awkward third wheel, as well as a captive audience for Miuna and Hikari’s near-constant flirtation. I personally reveled in their interactions—even though Hikari and Miuna have very different ideas about what such actions mean—but I can totally understand how it would irritate Sayu, until she can’t hold her tongue anymore.

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Hikari may not know what’s going on yet, but he does know Miuna well enough to be able to locate her at the abandoned shipyard where they bonded five years ago. Little does he know by going after her, he makes it that much worse for Miuna to let go of the possibility of being with him. When a rusty crane collapses and she’s thrown into the icy drink, half of me feared for the very worst and the other half knew Hikari would rescue her, possibly leading to a confession.

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Hikari does dive in after her, but surprisingly (as much to her as us), she doesn’t need rescuing: she grows an Ena, enabling her to breathe and swim like Hikari. Sayu is only half-right when she yells at Miuna (in their fight that ends as quickly as it starts): quite a few good things have happened to Miuna, but they’re tempered by a couple significant things that are, from her perspective, decidedly not good, namely the fact the guy she loves is her step-uncle, and isn’t interested in her in that way.

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The episode ends with a naked Kaname wandering through the town, not dead after all. That will certainly complicate matters for Chisaki (see org chart), but also means that at some point Manaka may return as well. These last three episode have me rooting for Miuna to the point where I’m dreading the date of Manaka’s return almost as much as she must be, for that could be the day all hope of Hikari ever coming around on Miuna dries up.

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