Nagi no Asukara – 10

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While it was another very good effort, this episode of Nagi no Asukara was full of foreboding in more ways than one.

This is an awfully good series, easily strong enough in terms of story and character to withstand the occasional lapse into the manipulative side of Okada Mari’s oeuvre.  But I’ve been worried for a while that a DO NOT WANT timeskip might be coming – it’s been a topic of much discussion (relatively speaking, as the series as a whole hasn’t generated much) among the viewers – and this episode does nothing if not suggest in stronger terms than ever that such a thing might be on the horizon.  But it might be even more of a jolt than anyone realized.

I don’t want to get into a long discourse about why I think the timeskip notion is a bad idea for NnA (you could listen to the relevant portion of the last RC podcast for a taste of that discussion) but in brief, I like the fact that this series is a fairly age-realistic look at a group that’s underrepresented in the avalanche of high-school series that dominate anime, genuine middle-schoolers who act their age.  They’re a fascinating subject for fiction because this is the age when we’re most precariously balanced on the knife-edge between childhood and adulthood, when all the feelings of adolescence start to overwhelm us when we lack the skills and experience to process them and deal with them.  We have 30 high-school series (or more) every season – why do we need this one to morph into yet another with a timeskip?

The developments this week represent a game-changer, though, and certainly seem to imply a timeskip – but not in the way the term was previously being applied.  The calamity that’s been hinted at for nine episodes is finally given form – a global cooling caused by the decline in power of the Sea God (in truth, the globe could probably use a little saltflake snow effect right about now).  This is presented in highly Shinto terms that will be familiar to anyone who’s watched series like Natsume Yuujinchou – the Sea God is only as powerful as the amount of prayer and belief He receives, and with most of humanity leaving the sea for the surface He’s obviously been growing progressively weaker by the millennia.  The kicker here is that Ena – at least if Uroko-sama is to be believed, and Hikari is skeptical in appropriate terms for a 13 year-old – gives the people of Shioshishio the ability to hibernate until the crisis has passed.  How long will that take?  50 years, a hundred – Uroko-sama isn’t entirely clear on that, probably because he doesn’t know himself, but he seems quite certain that the Ena-lacking landies better not buy any green bananas.

The sense is that this explanation is really just scratching the surface, and there’s much we don’t know.  As well there are personal implications in the story, starting with the tale Uroko-sama tells of the girl in ages past who went to the Sea God to plead for the sparing of humanity from the last such calamity – is there a connection to Hikari or Manaka’s families?  Uroko-also mentions that he’s “a scale from the Sea God that fell in love with a human woman” – which is how he understands the agony Hikari is going through over his violent rejection by Manaka.  And of course there’s the fact that the main cast have made connections to those on land, most obviously Hikari, and he’s unwilling to stand by and quietly go to sleep as those on the surface await their demise, albeit a slow one.  Not with a bang, but a whimper.

I can do without the fetsihizing over crying little girls (Manaka has been making progress as a character but I really don’t care for this side of her), but generally speaking this premise sets up a very interesting philosophical quandary and deals with it in an interesting manner.  Tsugumu’s grandfather (a man of Shioshishio himself) reflects that such an environmental change isn’t inherently bad; just bad for humans.  The people of Shioshishio seem to me to be trying very hard to convince themselves that everything will be all right, all the while having serious doubts (especially the older ones) about whether all this will really work.  The party they have to celebrate their last big meal before fasting to help their Ena grow stronger has the feel of a wake, somehow.  Hikari, as is his wont, prefers the contentious path – trying to get the Ofunehiki going by sheer force of will, and thus give the Sea God a spiritual B-12 shot and prevent the catastrophe altogether.  And despite the pain he’s feeling about Manaka and the awkwardness between them, he still comes to her aid when a drunkard at the party starts trying to get her to drink sake and urging her to “pump out babies” as fast as she can as soon as she wakes up.

Last but perhaps most importantly in terms of the story, the notion of a long sleep from which they may never wake spurs a certain reckless abandon in the kids – especially Kaname, who finally steps from his perennial wise observer role and joins the fray.  He confesses to Chisaki in strict “nothing to lose” terms, but does so in his usual low-key, direct fashion.  Meanwhile Manaka has been thinking long and hard about Hikari, no doubt spurred on by her own fear that she may never wake from the long sleep, or may wake up alone.  And perhaps too perfectly this is the moment she finds a red-bellied sea slug, and no matter how uncomfortable all this makes her not even Manaka can miss the obvious hand of fate guiding events to this nexus point.  We never hear the question she asks, but we do know where her mind was when before she asked it, and one way or the other it seems the status quo between she and Hikari has been shattered beyond any hope of repair.  Whatever their new reality and future may be, it’s going to look very different from the one they’ve left behind.

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  1. K

    Kaname – what boldness! So direct!


  2. R

    i find this one an interesting, yet tragic, cycle they are hinting at. think of it. so the earth cools and the mermen hibernate, while the landies die off. then sea god regains his powers and reawakens them and they repopulate the seas. but eventually, some of them will decide to leave for the land and the sea god's powers weaken and then he has to again get his people to hibernate. the next generations gets to witness separation from frineds and death all over again. very sad isn't it?

  3. i

    Everyone likes Everybody should be the name of the show, but you know, in Japanese.
    I will say the Kaname confession felt super forced, which is unfortunate because I was really liking the show.

  4. i

    I think Kaname confessed after they woke up. Which means if they all woke up together they haven't changed in age.

  5. Hello, left field. Any specifics on why you thought that? It never even occurred to me.

  6. i

    Because Kaname came over to her house in the morning and I assumed to wake her up if the night of the banquet was when they fell asleep. No real proof but my interpretation of the scene while also eating and studying at the same time was such. Not going to bother checking if I was wrong, way too much work.

  7. t

    I don't know…I can somehow understand that you may think it's after the feast and they were going to sleep for a long time and all…but he was on his way to school with the bag and everything. so it can't be it's after the long-time sleep.
    besides, it's more likely he would say it before going to a long time sleep, because he also have that fear of not waking up and all….

  8. Yeah, sorry – not buying what you're selling here. I think the whole point was that he wanted to do it now because he might never wake up.

  9. H

    Especially since they were feasting since they now need to be fasting, sounds like the fasting is going to take more than just a night for their Ena's to thicken (or else we would have had a toast-in-mouth-I'm-late-for-school scene in every episode).

  10. t

    ho ho ho. snow is coming, but does that mean Santa is coming to NnA too? I wouldn't count on presents.. 😛 (someone was probably a bad kid in NnA).

    last ep, I supported warning the Landies that something is about to happen.
    now Let's say you are a Lanie and some sea-guy approaching you and say: "we are all going to die because of a disaster". would you believe him? I doubt. but let's say we do trust him and believe it, because after all, we are in the world where people live in the sea.
    but then he would say "oh, and there is nothing you can do about it unless you are from the sea, you don't have Ena". and with that, I can understand a little better, the sea-guys decision. 'causing panic wouldn't help the situation. even forming some council with Landies doesn't seem reasonable, considering their relationship over some boat of Ofunehiki…
    so, I am not so sure Hikari did the right decision.
    I mean…see the reaction of Miuna and her friend (not to mention Manaka, for now).
    it's not wise to cause panic, definitely not among little children.
    I'll admit it is somehow interesting to see the reaction over the "terror of death" (aka terror management theory) among children.

    but that's not something I expected NnA to touch. and I am still mixed if it was the right decision, even though it partly fits to the "childhood to adulthood" process which NnA is so focused on.

    speaking of this process, once again Hikari is the center of this.
    although I criticized his decision above, I still think it somehow the right decision, but not in the right way of doing it. he should have think about it a little more, he is still missing that "fine tuning" but he has grown.
    and that's not all. Hikari gathered himself after the news of the world's end and the "rejection", and is willing to continue with operation Ofunehiki in order to save the world. I don't know if it will solve the problems..but hell why not?I am already on-board with that a long time ago. I hope NnA won't disappoint me because I really want to see the Ofunehiki's scene.
    but the fact Hikari is once again standing, despite being so torn apart of everything that's going on..he became stronger.

    what about Manaka?well, her doubts are definitely valid. waking up, Hikari, the Landies..everything.
    you can't deny that it's highly implied she is like the "chosen" girl to reach the sea-god. more than that, it's ironic that Hikari, who loves her, leading that way with his desire to complete the Ofunehiki.

    there is still a chance that it's all just a mere fairy (tail) tale. maybe it's just a change. a climatic phenomenon. yet I believe it won't be momentary phenomenon.
    how it's gonna wrap up the whole story?it is still a mystery. the prime suspect is a timeskip. bad idea.
    I don't know how much time it will be, but if it is to be a short time (let's say a year?) it can still be reasonable. and even intriguing. considering our beloved character will survive (that applies to Miuna, her friend, Akari, her husband and the kids at school).

  11. E

    I'm now worried about the ED. It shows Manaka sitting alone with an hourglass and saltflake snow falling on her, and the lyrics talk about weaving a cocoon to protect someone "as you sleep peacefully"… is Manaka going to stay awake and end up watching over everyone as they sleep?

  12. Somehow all of this is reminding me of a certain development from Avatar: TLA (the good Avatar), involving Sokka's true love…

  13. T

    Speaking of avatar did you ever finish legend of korra season 2? I have to say episode 7 and 8 was the best in the entire series. I also liked the last 4 episodes. The characters are in a good place now. (I was so annoyed with them in the first half) are you looking forward to season 3 which is called Change?

  14. I did. The second half was better than the first (origin story was excellent) but I thought they blew the ending again, and I still feeling nothing whatsoever for any of the main characters apart from Bolin and Varrick, who at least make me laugh.

  15. T

    I felt Korra and Tenzin (and his siblings) developed (in korra case especially after the "Beginnings") By the end of the finale I felt yes finally I feel you are the avatar!!! Seriously mako is such a boring character that I'm happy they ended the you know what. I like that korra has to deal with losing what she lost this time around as oppose to it being given back to her like the last season.

    this season had its problems and I hope they KEEP the development of her character in the next season. If she returns being what she was in season 2 episode 1 sigh i will be done. Plus I love tenzin development!!! lol I hope you will do a season review at least I love your opinion even though we tend to disagree at times (actually that rarely happens but its nice when it does!!)

  16. J

    I'm not going to worry about the time shift until if/when it occurs. I understand your sentiments about how unique this show is, but if the time shift, if there is one, is executed to perfection such as it was in Shin Sekai Yori, I think it will definitely take this show to a whole 'nother level. It doesn't necessarily have to turn them into highschoolers either. If the time skip places them in the age range of Akari, then Okada Mari could pull off a very successful foreshadowing, considering how much Akari's relationship is tied in with the issues between land in this time frame.

  17. A

    I'm gonna throw something a little left field here but i don't think they're going to do a time skip. I think Manaka is going to follow in the footsteps of the past and beg the sea god to spare the landies lives.
    not sure how its going to all go down but its what i think the most likely scenario is.

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