Nagi no Asukara – 19

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The big adventures and discoveries in the last episode give way to a quieter, more introspective episode focusing primarily on Chisaki, who was mostly absent from all that. The episode explores her thoughts and her heart as thoroughly as the others explored Shioshishio.This leads to some beautiful, touching, and often hilarious scenes with her alternating between the childhood and adulthood.

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By all appearances, she the nurse and Tsumgu the researcher are a married couple, and Kaname is like their sour-faced kid who bristles when Tsumugu explains the pragmatic approach to everything that’s happened. Chisaki the Adult takes Tsumugu’s side, and Kaname excuses himself, making a snide comment about how much she’s grown up. This leads to her breaking out her old school uniform  (once cute, now sexy) and pouring herself into it, a deeply funny private moment that both guys invade when they hear her slip and fall.

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Chisaki also see that Miuna likes Hikari too, from the look in her eyes as she eavesdrops on Hikari talking to the still-slumbering Manaka, the bomb that will restart time if and when she awakens. Chisaki can’t not see her past self in Miuna, feel the futility and pain of not being the one. Between that and the result of trying on her old uni, she decides to pivot back to adulthood, insisting Tsumugu ply her with plum wine. Things get loose but never amorous, and she dozes off before Tsumugu and state an important truth.

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That truth is that he has filled the space left by Manaka for five years with Chisaki, which is what people do when they lose things in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Because he was able to do it, he’s sure she can too, if she takes the next step. Part of her back-and-forth this week is due to her realizing she’s the age Akari was when she had to decided between the sea and her love, mirroring the continuation of the Ofunehiki she hears from Tsumugu’s gramps.

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The rest of the story is that the sea god and surface girl are happy for a time, but she grows depressed and restless because her true love is still on the surface. The sea god finally allowed her to return, but in exchange for something—likely her ena—and sure enough, Manaka’s shattered. But when Hikari saves Chisaki from getting lost like he did years ago, she also realizes she still likes him. Nothing harder than growing up when the gaps you’re expected to fill with new things are still occupied by the old.

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Nagi no Asukara – 18

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It occurs to us at this venture that if Kaname went out with Sayu, Chisaki went out with Tsumugu, and Hikari went out with Miuna (her step-niece!), everyone would be paired off rather nicely. Manaka is the odd-girl-out; the seventh wheel keeping the 6-wheeled car from moving forward.

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Well, its actually not that simple, even if Manaka were permanently out of the picture. By the end of this episode, she’s back in the center of it, and it’s all thanks to Miuna, who is able to hear the specific sound (a sound that those who get ASMR will enjoy) that leads them into Shioshishio. But it’s not the town Hikari and Kaname remember, nor the one Miuna dreamed of all her life.

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On the one hand, I’m reminded of Tintin’s description of the moonscape at first sight: “a nightmare land, a place of death, horrifying in its desolation.” On the other hand, it’s also otherworldly beautiful, and nobody is actually dead, they’re just hibernating, as the town itself seems to be doing. In any case, it’s a fantastic sight, and watching Hikari, Kaname, and Miuna explore it feels a lot like exploring the moon…or some kind great ancient tomb.

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The look on Miuna’s face as they encounter hibernating townsfolk suggests to Hikari she’s thinking the same thing, and we get our first post-hibernation bout of Hikari Getting Pissed Off Over Nothing…only he’s not really lashing out at Miuna, but the fact Miuna’s reactions mirror his own sense of foreboding…is everything really okay here?

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His anger is the catalyst for Hikari and Kaname to go to their respective homes, essentially ditching Miuna, the person who got them therein the first place. Kinda a dick move, but it does allow Miuna to explore on her own, soaking in the place where Hikari and his friends grew up, and literally making her mark on their height chart. From the look of the place now, it feels like it’s been abandoned for centuries.

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Still, for the entire duration Miuna was alone, I felt tense, an apprehension that was amplified by the sudden appearance of Lord Uroko, awake and well despite the sad state of his shrine. She tries to convince him that she came to find Manaka, but Uroko can see through her lies. When they finally find Manaka in a graveyard of Ojoshi-samas, he also warns that for everything taken, something is given.

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With that in mind, at this point I was sure Miuna would be the price for breaking Manaka out of her slumber and taking her to the surface. But everyone seems to get out safe and sound. But once again the one-sided romances at stake on the surface start to diminish in scale beside the potential implications of what Hikari, Kaname, and Miuna may have done: stolen a sacrifice from the Sea God.

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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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