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.

10_magRABUJOI World Heritage List

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

Total Cumulative Average: 8.46
MyAnimeList Score: 8.52 

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)