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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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 – 08

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Hikari stays at Itaru’s house with Miuna and Akari, who is surprised Hikari and Miuna get along so well. The next day Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, Kaname and Tsumugu all accompany Miuna into the city to buy a gift for Akari, as a sign of her approval and love. They can’t find the shell necklace she wants at any of the stores, so they return to the village and find comparable materials on the beach. After Miuna presents the necklace to Akari, saltflake snow starts to fall.

All hands on deck: Miuna has to find a gift for Akari? We agree, that’s a pretty lightweight premise for an episode, but a lot is achieved along the way. Chief among them, Hikari isn’t looking back or regretting his decision, something even Akari can’t believe. He’s also not letting the unplesantness with the sea and surface elders get him down. Life goes on, only on the surface. Helping Miuna is just as much about him taking his mind off those troubles, while bonding with who could end up being his step-niece.

But we’re not done with the sea, as Itaru and Akari both want to do their marriage “properly” if they can (which means dealing with people who haven’t been reliable in the approval department.) We also enjoyed Chisaki and Hikari’s discussion when they were alone together thanks to her setting off the elevator’s weight limit buzzer (another unfortunate dig on her alleged “largeness” that has no basis in physical fact). Their talk is brief and incomplete, but we hope it’s the first step in more forthright dialogue between them.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 07

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The students complete the Ojoshi-sama, and Hikari takes it upon himself to make sure they hold a real Ofunehiki. Everyone hands out flyers and collects signatures, but when Hikari asks his dad, he refuses. Hikari and Tsumugu are able to gather representatives from both sea and land, but the meeting ends in a fight, and the ojoshi is destroyed. Akari and Hikari both decide to leave Shioshishio, but when Uroko-sama tries to punish them, their father begs him to show mercy, and they escape to the surface.

At the start of the series, Hikari felt very much as his father did, that the surface people could not be trusted or reasoned with. But that prejudice was handed down, not the product of a lifetime of dealing with them, as his father has. Once Hikari was forced to the surface for school, actually got to know surface people,  befriended some, and worked with them to build the Ojoshi-sama, he started to change. When he saw how much Akari had invested in Itaru and Miuna, he changed more. And when his father coldly rejected his plans for rapprochement with the surface, it was the last straw.

It was a poignant moment when Akari told her father what her mother said, about loving him even if he was form the surface. You can tell he knows that was true. His children may be fed up with his stubbornness, but we cannot fault him for, as Tsumugu says to Chisaki, being only what he can be. He has to balance love for his family and his desire for their happiness with the responsibilities of a high priest of a village that doesn’t have much time left. If his own children succumb to the lure of the surface (albeit for different reasons), what hope does the village have? Certainly not much, but a village preserved by isolation, suppression of free will, and force may not be worth saving.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Hikari’s initial motivation for holding the Ofunehiki seems clear: he wants Manaka to be happy no matter what, even if he thinks she continues to drift away from him. Later, he’s fueled by his father’s bull-headed obstinancy.
  • Manaka notices Hikari’s different attitude, and worries about things changing, but Chisaki is there to tell her that sometimes change can’t be stopped. Chisaki remains mopey, meanwhile; we hope she speaks up to Hikari soon.
  • The petty bickering of the men at the meeting contrasted sharply with the cooperation and comraderie of the students—more proof that amity often skips a generation.

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.

Nagi no Asukara – 04

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Hikari refuses Miuna’s request to help break up his sister and her dad; prejudiced surface dwellers refuse the sea dwellers’ food; Hikari gets in a fight when he suspects they vandalized the Ojoshi-sama. He’s sent home, and Manaka follows; they rescue Miuna’s dad Itaru from drowning and take him home, where Hikari learns he’s a widower; Miuna confesses to ruining Ojoshi-sama. While visitng Uroko, Akari goes over how she met Itaru’s family and wanted to fill the void his late wife Miori left behind. Manaka tells Hikari she wants to start protecting him, and convinces him to apologize to the kids he wrongly accused; the next day he and Manaka get on their knees, and are both forgiven. Kaname catches Miuna’s friend Sayu – the real Ojoshi vandal – and makes her apologize to Hikari.

The focus returns to Hikari this week, as he’s called an octopus on not one but two occasions. The landlubber Sayu means it as a derogatory term, but Manaka uses it more thoughtfully: like Octopi, Hikari tends to “spit out ink” at “unfamiliar fish”. Rather than try to settle problems with the landies, he lashes out at them and jumps to conclusions. It’s a pattern of behavior that was likely to further isolate him at school had someone not stepped in to steer him right, and to his surprise, it’s Manaka. She used to hide behind everyone else, but she’s becoming stronger and more assertive week by week, even if she still cries a lot. Hikari can’t help but attribute at least part of that growth to Tsumugu’s influence, as he certainly didn’t do anything to incite it. Hikari is understandably conflicted about this.

Still, hotheaded chural that he can be, he does ultimately arrive at a detente with the surface-dwellers, and even if they’re not BFFs, they at least understand each other a little more. The balance of this episode filled in the blanks of the Itaru/Miuna/Akari picture. Miuna’s bluish eyes were an early sign that her late mother was indeed a sea-dweller, meaning Miuna faced the same kind of bullying as Hikari and the others, only at a younger age. But Sayu, a surface-dweller, eventually befriended her, admiring her ability – no doubt developed by necessity in a harsh social environment – to not let the abuse of her peers get to her. Miuna only cares about the opinions of people who care about her. At the same time, Akari cares about Miuna and loves her father, but can’t so easily fill the void left by her mother.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We thought Sayu and Miuna sounded familiar, because they are: we know Sayu’s seiyu as Madoka from Lagrange, and Miuna’s as Captain Marilka from Mouretsu Pirates.
  • Sayu really did a number on that Ojoshi-sama. Ya went too far, kid.
  • Had Itaru succeeded in using his borrowed diving equipment properly, would it have been fair to call his actions “SCUBA-stalking?”
  • What was that about Chisaki saying she’s “big?” ‘Cause she really isn’t. Either a case of skewed body image on her part, or a disconnect between writers and character designers who can only draw ridiculously pretty characters.