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 – 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 – 05

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Chisaki uses Tsumugu as her “sea slug”, confessing that she likes Hikari; Manaka overhears, but Chisaki tells her to forget about it. Akari breaks up with Itaru and tells Miuna she’ll “go away somewhere”; that night Akari calls Hikari in a panic saying Miuna has run away. Hikari and his friends search for and eventually find her, and after a cookout, he stays with Miuna through the night. When Akari finds them sleeping outside the store where she works, she tearfully embraces Miuna, ensuring her she’s not going anywhere.

Ahh, little kids…hardly ever properly expressing how they really feel. How can they? They’re kids…they’re still trying to figure out what feelings even are. Fixing the Miuna issue is a matter of Hikari telling his big sister to leave things to him, and creating the right conditions to get her to open up about what’s truly bothering her. It’s pretty obvious she doesn’t really hate “Aka-chan”; her problem is she loves her, but when terms like “new mom” come up, she can’t help but think about how she lost her old mom, and how much it hurt. An increasingly layered Hikari admits that he’s often thought as Miuna has, but choosing to never love anyone ever is simply replacing one kind of pain with another. It’s running away.

This was a very moving episode with lot of tears involved, especially any scene involving Akari. This was fine with us, as we thought Nazuka Kaori delivered a passionate, compelling performance (we can’t remember hearing Eureka’s seiyu getting so worked up – she was so reserved in Amnesia – but it was nice). She admits to Itaru she loves him and Miuna too, but calls herself a “greedy child” who wants wants everyone to be happy and to have everything work out. But  giving up on them wouldn’t be any more ‘adult’; it’d just be more running away. Both she and Miuna, the actual child in this, want the same thing: to be together and happy – not as mother and daughter, but as Akari and Muino. Thanks to Hikari, of all people, they’re on their way. Nice job, Hikari! Inspired by the reunion, maybe now he’ll see to his own troubles…


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Oh yeah, Manaka now totally knows Chisaki likes Hikari more than just a childhood friend! Chisaki tells her to forget, but she can’t, and now every time she sees Chisaki around Hikari, it’s in that new light. It troubles her and will continue to trouble her, but wasn’t the primary focus of this episode.
  • Chisaki used Tsumugu as her sea slug, Miura used Hikari as hers, and Manaka wonders what she’d ask a real red one next time she comes across one. Mana, just use Kaname or something!
  • Hikari and Akari have an awesome dad. Obviously he’d probably hoped she’d marry a sea-dweller, but he tells Lord Uroko his daughter’s life is hers to do with what she pleases. Besides, her marrying a sea dude she doesn’t love isn’t going to solve all the problems Shioshishio is going through.
  • Miuna has to kill the mood by brining up “dolicons.” She just had to get that barb in, didn’t she! Still, it’s a nice detail that she notices Hikari smells like her mother and Aka-chan, which comforts her.
  • No Sayu? No problem.