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.
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Nagi no Asukara – 02

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The fish in Hanaka’s knee swims away, and she tries to get Uroko to curse her again. When Tsumugu volunteers to build the Ojoushi-sama, a wooden doll used as a sacrifice in the Ofunehiki (boatdrift) ceremony, Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname join him. At the end of the day, they spot Akari kissing a surface guy; a banishable offense. Hikari snaps at Manaka and then Chisaki. Manaka asks Uroko to curse her again, but is interrupted by townsfolk who have arrested Akari. Hikari and Akari’s dad arrives and takes over, ordering everyone else to leave.

Tempests are raging within the hearts of Hikari, Manaka, and Chisaki, belying the cool tranquility of the sea in which they dwell. Chisaki’s situation in particular calls to mind a similar situation with Nadeko in Monogatari: she is in love with someone who doesn’t notice her, but isn’t doing anything to get noticed, because that’s the easiest course. Chisaki understands Hikari’s love for Manaka all too well, as it mirrors her love for him. But confessing her love would make things difficult for everyone, so she abstains. Well, whether she likes it or not, the status quo is already shattered thanks to Manaka’s fated encounter with Tsumugu. he doesn’t really do anything to cause all this havoc with his new sea-dwelling classmates, besides exist and be kind to Manaka.

Hikari even admits he’s a good guy, but that’s irrelevant to him: Manaka is his – not just his charge, but his love. But as he struggles with those feelings, she seems to be slipping away. The tension between everyone is palpably expressed in the awkward way they’re often arranged within the camera frame (see above). Chisaki selflessly warns Tsumugu (under her breath) to stop being so kind to Manaka. Akari provides a solemn warning about what happens when sea-dweller falls for a dry-lander. All of this underlines the theme of the world beneath the sea being so fragile and vulnerable to contamination, versus the unyielding, almost inevitable force of the surface. One by one, people are leaving the sea for good. You have to think at one point in the future there will be no one left down there.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)