Nagi no Asukara – 14

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Somewhere deep beneath the sea she sleeps, even now…

OP2: “ebb and flow” by Ray

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Or Nagi no Asukara II – 01, if you prefer.

Well, the timeskip I’ve been dreading has happened, and the game has officially been changed by Okada-sensei.  We’ll see how it goes, but my first reaction is mostly positive.  Okada (who personally wrote this episode) does have a particular genius for screwing up the lives of her characters, and in this setup she’s found a fairly novel way to mess with them even further.  At least in this instance she’s an equal-opportunity sadist – the girls are getting it just as much as the guys.

Today is pretty much survival mode for me, as in addition to many of the premieres I plan to cover most of Fall’s carry-over series resume today as well.  The posts may be shorter than usual as a result, but it says something about my feelings for Nagi no Asukara that this was the first show I chose to watch today, which saw the biggest single-day queue dump in my blogging history.  It’s too early to call this series Fall’s “last man standing” – I certainly haven’t given up on Golden Time, and not quite on Samurai Flamenco (it’s close) – but this is definitely the series that’s standing tallest.  Of all the Thursday shows that crowded the Fall schedule, NnA is the one that had legs.

Ever since the promo images became available the general outline of the scene change was pretty clear, though I was fooled by the shot of Miuna in the last preview into thinking we’d be looking at 2-3 years, not five.  Five is a pretty convenient number, as it makes Miuna now the same age as Hikari (and Sayu the same as Kaname – who’ll presumably show up next week – for that matter).  It also makes Chisaki and Tsugumu 18, and thus Chisaki is left with a hard choice – does she find a new object of affection, or come out as a shotacon?  She’s been taken in by Tsugumu’s grandfather (as we knew, a man of Shioshishio himself) and is going to nursing school while taking care of him after he’s fallen gravely ill.  Sea Slug is off to Tokyo to study oceanography at college with an eye on figuring out what’s happened to the sea villages (we’re told there are actually 14 of them) and its impact on the land.  He returns with one of his professors for Tomoebi, an occasion with understandably triggers painful memories for Chisaki.

As for the moeblobs, they’re now 13, and while Sayu is no less annoying it appears Miuna is now free to be a major player in the story without all the shameless pandering and watermelon-sized tears.  Things have certainly been busy at the Shiodome household – Akari has had a child, a boy named Akira (Ishigami Shizuka).  He’s shy but has already mastered a special move that puts me in mind of Gimmy from TTGL in one of the “Parallel Works” shorts, and makes Chisaki his victim.  For her part Akari hasn’t forgotten about Hikari, but you know, life goes on when you have a family of your own.

That’s enough change for anyone, surely, but with the arrival of a (naked) Hikari during Tomoebi, the deck gets another major reshuffle.  Yes, as expected, he hasn’t aged a day – let’s chalk it up to an extremely slow metabolism during hibernation and not ask too many questions.  Miuna seizes an early lead by administering CPR – having both seen all Hikari’s secret places and taking his first kiss, she surely has a leg up – but I’m betting we haven’t heard the last of Manaka.  I think the most telling part of Hikari’s arrival is that the first word out of his mouth is “Manaka!” even as he’s staring at Miuna’s crying (normal-sized tears) face.

What a colossal mess Okada had created here – a love polygon isn’t enough, she’s added a timeskip and even new players like Minigishi Jun (Murase Ayumu), a boy in Miuna’s class who confesses to her just before Hikari returns (I get the sense this isn’t going to be a throwaway plot element).  If you step back and think about it, Chisaki is probably the one who’s had it hardest here – she was the only sea kiddo left behind, forced to go through adolescence without any of her friends.  Of course it hasn’t been easy for Tsugumu either – he’s been living under the same roof with a girl it’s now clear he loves, but can’t make a move because she loves someone else – someone he can’t compete with because he’s not even present.  This is the reality of what Miuna faces now, of course, competing against a memory.

To summarize: Hikari loves Manaka, Chisaki loves Hikari (who’s now five years younger), Tsugumu loves Chisaki, Miuna loves Hikari, Jun loves Miuna, and Sayu loves Kaname.  Who does Manaka love?  That’s the one thing we don’t know, but assuming she’s not sea-mulch – and I’m willing to bet she isn’t – we’re going to find out (that it’s Hikari) before it’s all said and done.  At least Chisaki and Tsugumu are still the same age, and now so are Hikari and Miuna – but I don’t see Okada falling back on age differences as a deciding factor (and when Manaka returns I suspect she’ll be Hikari’s age).  We’ve certainly got plenty to chew on here – seemingly endless personal drama and the little matter of saving the world from global devastation.  It’s a rather brilliant setup Okada-san has created, one of her best in terms of pure plot, and I eagerly look forward to seeing where it goes in the second cour.  Could she still screw this up royally?  Oh, hell yes – this is Okada we’re talking about – but I don’t sense that coming with Nagi no Asukara.  Only time will tell.

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ED2: “Mitsuba no Musubime (三つ葉の結びめ)” by Nagi Yanagi

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23 comments

  1. S

    OH my… The WTF/crazy fridays are about to get worse, rather than follow 5 shows – it may turn into 7. But who would have thought that 3 episodes into the fall season at the time, Nagi no Asukara would have been my favorite, and probably the best of all the series sharing the same day.
    NagiAsu has been the picture of consistency, and also the epitome of drama. It certainly is my go-to series on a friday.

  2. f

    Seven? pray tell, which ones are they? I can barely find a single show to get behind this season…….. i'd love some suggestions

  3. s

    Alas the timeskip is here, and as i predicted its longer than 2 years. What i see her is the potential to depict the cruelty of the passage of time and what its affects can be. Hikari and kaname have lost 5 years of their time, and the world is going to come crashing on them as well as their loved ones as they have to deal with the psychological impact of it all, and as a whole, deal with essence of growing up. Now that we've some of our cast members are older, the "politics" of the land and sea will have more weight on them as well

    All in all, some nice set up seems to be happening. I can see in regards to your tastes why you would be dreading a timeskip, but when it so clear what the themes of this series would be and the extra dimension the timeskip would add to the series, I can only see this being a good thing and i have always thought so due to the story that been woven so far. The only thing left is for everything to fall in place and be told with enough grace and fidelity to enthrall its audience. Indeed, time will tell, but so far this has been a solid series..quite good actually.

  4. K

    Just want to add something. There are 14 sea villages in Japan, worldwide there could be more.

    I also had a theory, that Hikari actually time travel to the future instead of hibernating.

    Someone also mention the possibility of Manaka being a god now…

    By the way Enzo, I read your post and it's actually pretty deep. Thank you.

  5. R

    ahhh, finally, we are back to those friday mornings when i eagerly download this while working (thank you for the perks of being a home-based freelancer 🙂 )

    okay, so this does give me an anohana vibe to it, what with the OP and ED showing manaka as nothing but a memory now. how she reenters the game is something i really want to watch. and while the first season was told mainly from hikari's perspective, this time, it looks like it would be told from tsumugu's (yay! the guy has more personality now), chisaki's, and miuna's. though let's face it, miuna's love for hikari is now pretty much a fallen cause.

    ahhh, mistress okada, i will gladly follow wherever you lead me on this one 🙂

  6. f

    I feel you, Enzo. The show I was ripping on early on for its forced melodramatics is now (one of) my most anticipated shows this season, and certainly the most intriguing left of the Fall cour carryovers. I was a little disappointed hikari came back exactly the same as he left, because I think that effectively sinks the chisaki boat whereas if he came back roughly the same age as Chisaki, at least an older Hikari x Miuna boat can wouldn't be completely out of the question. And now presumably Kaname comes back the same as before (which also sinks the chisaki boat). As much as chisaki would love pretend like everything is the same, she'll eventually come to grips that she's now a different person, who's accumulated an extra 5 years of experiences (which is why i think those potential shotacon ships are inevitably no-go.)

    I also don't think Manaka is coming back, at least not in a way where she could realistically alter the "neat" pairings Okada has set up. IIRC, she was clearly setup as the sacrifice for the Ohfunehki ceremony. To inexplicably bring her back would sort of reek of a 'deus ex machina' device. Also, to bring her back would just be playing the same romantic musical chairs game they were playing in NnA S1. Having Manaka stay gone and have her memory serve as an overarching entity that affects Hikari (who let's face it, effects everyone else) is more the direction I see this going towards, a la. Ano Hana.

  7. K

    In this show, shotacon is actually a relative concept. If we submit to the hibernation theory then they are both of the same age.

  8. f

    I don't buy it. Even if we operate under the assumption that their physical bodies are the same age, chisaki has mentally undergone a lot of changes in those five years, while hikari and presumably kaname were basically static vegetables.

  9. t

    this is manipulative and forced. and not only in context of timeskip. I can live with that. but the whole thing of the romance-complex is manipulative too much. it's not genuine as before. and again, not only due to timeskip, but more like because someone is moving everything like marionette and the strings are too visible.
    so there 2 things here: too manipulative and visibility.
    (2) too manipulative – as I said above, the whole complex isn't feel genuine anymore. when Chisaki cried when Tsumugu's grandfather had an emergency – also forced…simply put, it lost some of NnA grace.
    (2)why visibility?well because ever since they told us it was 5 years, all was too predictable, for example – I knew that Hikari will show up at the end of the ep. in fact, the whole course of the ep was predictable.

    I think Okada likes to present complicated romance that contains as much characters as possible and different types of connections between each one. while in the end, only of these connection is healthy enough for a relationship. so the whole who likes who in your last paragraph is lacking some stuff.
    look at it that way with Chisaki who had 3 reasonable possibilities: Hikari, Kaname and Tsumugu.
    with the Hikari she was in love with him before the incident, but we all knew it wouldn't happen back then (and the fact that it's not so much healthy). with Kaname it was a bit mess near the end but he is a precious friend for her (not in romantic stuff) and with Tsumugu it's the most healthy one since the beginning, and fits due to their current age.
    and to be frank, I don't think she loves Hikari anymore. no doubt she thinks of Tsumugu in romantic way but still something stops her. sure, she has changed a lot, and I like that change, but still something of her nature (of repressing herself) is there. it's not something necessarily bad..but that's how it is. for now I found Chisaki much more interesting and appealing than before.

    and of course this applies to all others. like Hikari who is in good terms with Chisaki and Miuna and each of them is important to him in a different but he fits to Manaka and loves her. he said "Manaka" when he wake up after five years so it's something (THO arguable since it's his last thought before sleeping).

    and I think Manaka understood before the incident that it's only Hikari for her.
    whether she is alive?the sea-god knows. but I think she is. sure, it was a big hit back there, so I still doubt that she can retain her previous life as school-girl maybe her sacrifice made her some sort of sea-spirit to protect the village or be sea-god tool or who knows what…but we the OP/ED suggest she is somehow alive and I am sure will see her at least one more time.

    as for Miuna and Sayo it works like that too. but the fact they officially joined the complex only now, it's still blurry.
    look at Miuna, it's a fixation on Hikari. it seems unhealthy but for now I am not ruling out the possibility that this might work out if the right things will happen (namely if the scriptwriter will prefer it that way). and it's affect Sayo. I am not so sure what about her. whether she is jealous of Miuna because Jun(the new boy) wanted her, or she still loves Kaname or more likely she didn't forget Kaname because Miuna is always thinks about Hikari so she's affecting Sayo to think in that direction too.

  10. t

    overallso if I had to draw the reasonable healthier relationship it'll be like that: Chisaki and Tsumugu are sure. Hikari and Manaka are the most reasonable scenario if the latter is alive. and Miuna and Sayo are still uncertain. each one of them can end up with the boy Jun or not. same applies to Kaname which can end up with Sayo or not.

    the village is probably safe and everyone will start to wake up soon (maybe chisaki parents too?)
    but now comes the big question – WTF. now seriously – why what happened has happened?how things will be with Uroko…it's interesting. not to mention that people are investigating the village and incident. will it bring them closer somehow or not?things in the macro level are a big mystery. well let it be.

    I still love NnA and it was the first show I chose to watch out of all the new and leftovers. and I am still looking forward to see what NnA has in its sleeve. for now I think they need to resume pace and grace they had previously. but I think it's possible.

  11. C

    Well based on the ages and subtle hints this ep it's pretty clear what the final ships are BUT STILL it's going to be pretty painful and dramatic getting to that point. If it's all as well done as it has been so far though then I'm looking forward to a good heart shredding.

  12. T

    I disagree on Chisaki crying over the grandpa to be un genuine. She lost everyone she knew from the shishisho her parents, friends, and everything she knew was gone and she had no clue if she would ever see them again. It makes sense she would hold on to the people she lives with on land because they are her family now.

    Seriously I would like Tsumugu to show more than the poker face he has throughout the show thus far. Yes I love it when he does show emotion but damn -_-. (well I guess he is just a quite and serious kid) Well its great to see he has more personality now. But it seems from the opening and the flashback he will probably be a contender for Chisaki plus he has age on his side. I like the way the time skip has been done it could have been so easy to screw it up but I think its just fine.

    Now I'm seriously interested on the next episode. Often I'm not a fan of Okada work but if this goes right she could have a gem on her hands.

  13. K

    I have to agree That Latina Chick, I personally felt this episode to be well done. If there are traces of manipulativeness, I'm not sensing it. The whole thing felt real to me.

  14. m

    This was def a great start to the new cour. I was a little worried that the time skip could mess things up (it seemed like it would be either extreme), but it was done well, and really added a whole lot to the story right off the bat. The end of the first cour seemed to close off some questions and bring up some new ones like any good season finale should, and the start of this one has picked up perfectly where the last ended (albeit 5 ys in the future). I don't remember the last time I was so excited to see the next episode of a show after the first episode of a season. If Okada manages to do this right I can easily see Nag no Asakura being the best show of 2014.

  15. B

    Miuna kiss her uncle!! okay i said it. Well i liked how they did the time skip, but sadly it now pretty easy to tell which couples will end up with: Chisak ix Tsugumu, Kaname X Sayu, Hikari x Manaka and Miuna x Jun.

  16. K

    They aren't exactly related to each other. For the most part, it is not incest. This ship can be ship- not that I'm shipping it.

  17. Exactly – they're not related. It might be awkward around the house, but there's no reason Miuna and Hikari couldn't get together just because their relatives married each other. There are other reasons why it isn't going to happen, but that isn't one of them.

  18. m

    With Okada I dont't think any pairing is guaranteed. Take shows like AnoHana, Tempest, and sakurasou, for example, none of them had really obvious pairings. I know Tempest had sort of a coupling at the end, but it wasn't anything fully stated. And sakurasou is a LN with a couple decided in the later material, but that doesn't mean she couldn't have ended it with a full on pairing. And most notably AnoHana didn't have any couples at all in it. So while you def see that these characters have feelings for each other, I wouldn't necessarily say you can see who will end up together. Though lets be honest Hikari x Miuna isn't happening ever. But the interesting part of this show is watching how it all plays out, and while Okada might not always give the "true happy end" she does a great job of showing how her characters grow and deal with the slew of sad things that happen to them.

  19. s

    surrounding the whole mystery behind Manaka's fate, why do i get the feeling we may get a twist in which she may have lived, but actually aged during the five years she was away. It would be almost cruel to do that but i wouldnt put it past this series (not to mention that in the end, her age probably wouldnt matter to hikari…although the circumstances regarding the age might bring back the idea of Hikari just wanting to always be by Manaka's side no matter what, romance or not). The cards have been laid out in a nice enough way to engage my interest and if it just so happened that manaka's fate has been sealed, whether its through death of some sort of other occurrence, the people behind this series have quite the pair to pull that off.

  20. R

    okay, so i am guessing this particular resolution to the whole love dodecahedron. hikari decides to go and follow wherever manaka is now (he might indeed be gone by the end, sniff T_T). tsumugu and chisaki finally admit their feelings for each other and enter a relationship (heck, they might even be married by the end of the series). and kaname finally notices sayu (now that they are physically the same age). that leaves miuna in the center to see her friends of to their own paths.

  21. m

    I see more of a Jintan and Menma style ending for Hikari and Manaka. Where she's gone on to a different from of existence, but not til they get a chance to get their feelings out there so that he can accept it and move forward with his life, most likely alone at the series end.

  22. j

    Ive read somewhere that manaka wont be in this series anymore..i hope not,..please someone tell me its not true..i dont want hikari and miuna together

  23. L

    I agree with you.. I am totally into Hikari X Manaka pairing..

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