Nagi no Asukara – 06

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A mixed bag as always from Okada-san, but a very different mix than last week’s.

I confess to not being absolutely riveted through most of this episode, but in looking back on it I have a certain admiration for it.  Frankly, you just don’t see too many anime episodes that focus for their entirety on emotions but do so without the crutch of emotional crises (of the sort we saw in episode 5, in fact).  This was neither slice-of-life nor romance drama, but something in-between – 22 minutes of pubescent kids wrestling with the sort of emotional pyrotechnics that the little hormone bombs actually do.  It wasn’t exactly exciting, but it was pretty genuine.

I’ll definitely take this kind of approach over the manufactured drama of the last two episodes, even if there were a few moments when that crept into the mix.  And we saw something of a reversion from Hikari and Manaka, I’d argue – not coincidentally in fact.  It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that these two bring out the worst in each other.  It’s most obvious in Hikari’s sake, where see him backsliding into petulance and pettiness, but no less so with Manaka, who tries too hard to please everyone and turns on the wateroworks again.

This is a real problem for the both of them, given how close they are and the fact that Hikari is in love with Manaka (and I’m not sold that the reverse isn’t also true).  Chisaki’s speech at the end of the episode about wishing summer would last forever takes Nagi no Asukara into very, very well-worn territory – some would say cliched – but it’s well-worn because it reflects a sort of universal truth.  Things that are possible when we’re children are no longer possible when we become adolescents, and one of those is for boys and girls to have friendships where hormones don’t get in the way.  Hikari loves Manaka, Chisaki loves Hikari, and Kaname… well, what exactly?  In any event, the genie is out of the bottle and can’t be put back, and what the heart has split asunder can never be wholly repaired.

I like seeing Okada take on these issues through the eyes of middle-schoolers, as I think it really suits her current perspective as a writer.  Maybe it’s because the guys are too young to have become objects of her scorn, but her usual misandry is largely missing (so far).  She’s taking on the trials and embarrassments of pubescence like group dancing and swimming class and doing it with a sensitivity towards both sides of the gender split that we really haven’t seen from her since (I’d argue) AnoHana.  Yet another reason to hope the timeskip some are clamoring for doesn’t happen – that, and the less we see of the annoying moeblobs in future episodes the happier I’ll be.  Things are already messy enough without Miuna becoming a serious factor in the romantic side of the story.

I also have to say, once again, that P.A. Works is doing a fantastic job with the visuals in this series.  The animation itself is very good (an area where the studio is often underrated) but it’s in art that P.A. Works has always excelled.  No one can deliver beautiful landscapes – and now seascapes – the way this studio can.  From the sheer opulence of HanaIro to the glorious natural beauty of RDG to the fanciful surrealism of Uchouten Kazoku’s Kyoto, PAW consistently delivers real vision and a unique aesthetic quality no TV anime studio can match.  And NnA is firmly establishing an exalted place in their portfolio – this is a gorgeous series, full of imagination and mono no aware.  The Tomoebi – the fall of salt snow and it’s illusory effects – was telegraphed through the entire episode yet still exceeded expectations.

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8 comments

  1. F

    That's a good perception regarding how Hikari and Manaka have a tendency to bring out the worst in each other. But one interesting factor in the story is that Hikari is catching Manaka in moments where she is beginning to mature while Manaka is not doing the same anywhere near as much of Hikari. The viewer sees it, Manaka does not, but Hikari does – and it unnerves him.

    All this really strikes me as real; it is convincingly presented to me, but whereas GT is summarized by Banri's angry, panicked dash, NnA is different somehow, not quite the opposite but different – perhaps a little more patterned and… guided, maybe? Synchronicitized? (Is that even a word? lol )

    But the interesting thing is that both convey lots of depth and lots of things going on and engage the viewers in the characters. One in a raw, intense way, the other in giving off a more (sumimasen for using the word) fluid over-arching undercurrent. Of sorts. Geh. I fail at articulation tnis evening….

  2. K

    I watch this episode. And I like it. That's good enough for me.

    TQ

  3. R

    and this is what you get when have a capable director like shinohara looking after okada. this episode is undoubtedly a lot more restrained than the last two. but it was by no means less powerful i am still expecting to see more waterworks, but if they are handled in the same manner as in this one, then it would really be great for the series.

  4. t

    great episode.
    exactly what NnA needed at a time like this.

    that Tomoebi was gorgeous! P.A at their best.

    well, as expected things aren't at ease in NnA.
    Manaka is forcing things in a way she shouldn't. that brings Chisaki to be mad and reluctant. and I understand her. while I do feel sorry for chisaki, she is right being struggling with the feeling of fault. she know she must be more active when approaching Hikari, but you know what – it's great 'cause it demonstrates the true nature of her. she simply can't do it. her character is to stand aside and not being the dominant one.

    you're still looking at Kaname, don't you Enzo?I wonder why…it's quite clear that for know he is irrelevant. I wouldn't say he is fifth wheel stuck in the middle…but it's complicated enough without him. let's separate him for know. Kihara is also being "untouched" in that matter. it quite fits.
    I believe he'll come to the spotlight later on. the way Nako came in HanaIro much later.

    a word about the ending…bitter might fit here. but I guess it's better than having simple-minded happy ending.
    although Manaka and Chisaki seemed to make peace..it's still painful for chisaki.
    and there is Kaname and Hikari that stayed behind even when chisaki and manaka wanted them to see it.. that came in contrast to chisaki's desire.
    we can feel the winds of change….I am afraid that the forced melodrama might return. and that's one of the signs for it.
    the preview also demonstrates the winds of change, when Akari return to the screen.

    side note:
    it became quite a mess. Hikari might have harem (chisaki and miuna are safe bet..wonder about manaka)?
    Miuna and Chisaki love Hikari, who loves Manaka. Manaka is probably in the middle in that matter between Hikari and Kihara.
    Kaname and Kihara are still unknown. I guess Kaname loves Chisaki..and maybe Kihara too (though it can go in Manaka direction as well)…damn complicated. but lovely.
    oh and if it's not enough..for a moment I was like "a new girl now?loving Kaname" that really made my head spinning around. but for know it's not gonna happen.

    about Manaka…well, actually I don't think she really love someone. even after Chisaki's 'confession'…she didn't show any signs in that matter. neither toward Hikari, nor toward Kihara.
    I think she is still childish enough to develop in that matter. she actually reminds Rin (LB) in that matter, but less developed, for now.

  5. s

    kaname…hmmmm…seriously, they need to not have him involved in this love triangle or quandrangle or whatever…with the way this series is going, this might end up being a googleplexangle before its over.

    But in all seriousness, i think Kaname not being involved with the main romantic quadrangle would be a breath of fresh air (please dont let it turn out that he has feelings for chisaki or manaka) and an anchor to the series because he'd be the one guy not riddled by all the angst going on within the group. He'd be the one with the fresh perspective, the guy looking in and would serve as the audience's eyes; id very much like that. What i say is, stick Kaname with that school girl who obviously has a crush on him..id like to see that develop.

    Its funny that with every passing ep enzo, you're conviction of not wanting a time skip to happen gets that much stronger, when in my opinion, this series keeps making a stronger case of why a time skip would arguably work for it. Again, I dont think this series needs a time skip because it is definitely fine where it is (at least whatever is considered "fine" for a series such as this) but a time skip would elevate this series into some deeper and poignant character-focused area. With Chisaki's comment about the flow of time and wanting to stay friends forever, a timeskip can illustrate the difficulties that comes with staying together when time changes us. There is a lot to explore in that realm and it would make for an emotionally gripping tale. My only fear of a timeskip is that if it did happen, Okada might not handle it with the authenticity it needs to have in order to be gripping (in that case i would agree that a timeskip should not happen). 13 year old adolescents seems to fit her bill in terms of her type of drama and writing so it might be safer to not have a timeskip. Still, i cant help but see what could be possible with one; even so, this show is not in need of one.

    That Tomoebi man; this is why i love love love anime. That beauty that cant be captured in any other form of media…..man…I think i might use the last few mins of this ep as one of the many visual examples i have when trying to convince people as to why anime is great and why they should get into it.

  6. M

    You know,I'm starting to appreciate Tsumugu more & more with every passing episode.By looking at his grandfather's attitude(I'm not saying he's a bad guy,just seems a bit grumpy),it's no wonder he's the way he is.I don't think it's that uncommon for kids his age to show so much self-restraint & maturity if their parental figure has taught them to be like that early on.True enough,as a main character he'd be pretty bland but as I think he's alright as a side character.Of course,I wouldn't say no to a few Tsumugu focused episodes.

  7. h

    According to the end-credits, this episode was written by Yokote Michiko and storyboarded by Okamura Tensai. Which might explain some things. Directed by Anzai Takefumi (eps. of Ouran, Darker than Black, Canaan, Angel Beats, Tari Tari, Hanasaku Iroha, etc.). Of course Okada-sensei is still in overall charge of the script. Anyway, I myself loved last episode's wailing and waterworks. It all seemed both natural and effective to me.

    Manaka did say in an early episode that the way she liked Tsumugu somehow felt different to her than the way she liked her friends, including Hikari. That's as far as any romance has gone there, but it's a hint.

    So far, Hikari does seem to bring out the weakest and most confused sides of Manaka, whereas Tsumugu helps her forward. We'll see how the remaining 3/4 of the show goes. if anyone has brought out the best in Hikari so far, it's Miuna. But I'm really not expecting any romance between them. I thought we were given very broad hints early on that Kaname loved Chisaki, and was only helping her with Hikari to be nice. I'm happy to see him getting his own fan club of land girls. Anything to raise him above "third wheel" status.

  8. M

    The sense I am getting here with Chisaki is that she desperately wants to hang on to the status quo, because if she doesn't she feels she's gonna do something she's gonna regret. Which unfortunately for her, life simply doesn't work that way and I am sort of morbidly interested (Considering who's writing this) in seeing what happens when her fantasy comes crashing down. But for now looks like we're back with Akari. Here's hoping we don't get a redux of episode 5.

    And ouch, Hikari. I remember when that happened to me once. Not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. :(

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