Nagi no Asukara – 17

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It’s funny how a show like Nagi no Asukara can scare me more than any horror anime can.

Yes, I’m thoroughly on-edge about where Nagi no Asukara is going, and where it’s going to end up.  I have been all along but I don’t see how anyone familiar with Okada Mari’s work could not be nervous.  No writer in anime trips over their own feet so often, but what I see developing now is perhaps the most superficially obvious example yet of the good Okada vs. bad Okada split playing out in front of our very eyes.

I’ll make no bones about it – I don’t really care about either Miuna or Sayu’s character arcs (and with Sayu it goes past that).  I was prepared to change my tune after the timeskip, but for me it’s been more of the same.  There’s a certain risk of soap opera melodrama in any series centered around a five-way romantic dysfunction to begin with, but these two are allowing Okada to exercise her less fortunate impulses on a weekly basis.  The good Okada is present in the loose threads left dangling by the first cour – the bad Okada is the relentless mooning, pouting, moe pandering and self-pity of Sayu and Miuna in the second.  If indeed Miuna is to be the main point-of-view character in this cour, I despair for the future of Nagiasu.

I’m sure I’ll be charged with having made my mind up in advance, but this is really the sort of thing that had me against a timeskip in the first place.  So far the second-cour episodes have mostly managed to remain at a high level in spite of the danger obviously visible just below the surface, but this week I really felt the overall quality of the ep was significantly hamstrung by the maudlin tone the focus on Miuna and Sayu layers on top of everything.  It’s pervasive, and it’s starting to effect even the moments that focus on the other characters.  If we’re in for a gigantic circle of unrequited love for the rest of the series, it’s going to be hard to keep the show as a whole from descending into the swamp of melancholy and self-pity.

Yeah, that comes off pretty pessimistic I know – but I don’t feel a whole lot of optimism about the rest of the series.  I’m glad it’s experienced an almost unprecedented miracle comeback on Oricon (V.1 continues to chart and is now up to almost 3000 Blu-rays sold) and stalker, and I hope it continues to do so.  But will the content follow suit?  I’d really hoped Kaname’s return might keep the series dancing on quicksand rather than starting to sink, and I was very glad to see he didn’t come back as a bitter, angry psychopath like so many viewers seem to expect.  But perhaps because Kaname’s story itself is so centered on one-way romantic affection, it seemed to resonate more on Sayu and Miuna’s wavelength than Hikari’s.  In other words, much of his screen time felt like it was part of that world, and not that of Hikari and Chisaki and Tsugumu.

Undeniably, Kaname has it bad.  I suppose it only makes sense logistically that he’d move in with Tsugumu and Chisaki, but existentially he could hardly have ended up in a worse place.  He’s forced to stare at the two of them act like a comfortable married couple around him – though crucially, one with no signs of mutual attraction.  Kaname to his credit makes it very clear his feelings about Chisaki haven’t changed – he says “I like older women now” – but we haven’t been getting much from Chisaki since the reboot.  We know she’s a mess, but what are her lingering feelings towards Hikari?  Does she feel anything at all romantically towards Tsugumu?  It seems the deck is hopelessly stacked against Kaname either way, but it would be nice to get a little clearer picture of just where Chisaki’s head is at right now.

Ultimately, there seems to be a pretty direct relationship between how much focus Hikari gets and how strong an episode is.  Because Miuna has now been confirmed to haver Ena it seems she’s attached to the Shioshishio storyline for good – let’s hope it’s strong enough to survive it.  The “discovery” of a way to find Shioshishio – like the discovery of Miuna’s Ena – feels a little too convenient (and  insufficiently explained) to be plausible.  But it’s undeniably going to push the story forward, for better or for worse.  I think we can assume that when Hikari and the others get to Shioshishio he’s either going to find no sign of Manaka at all, or a sign that she’s met a fate that will shock and dismay him.  If in fact that happens, how Okada handles Hikari’s reaction to that will play a major role in determining how strong the final eight nine episodes of Nagiasu are going to be.

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  1. s

    Final 8? i thought NagiAsu was a 24 ep series…but anyway i see what you mean about the sense of danger you feel about the way things are playing out in this second cour …Well, i think the second cour is still strong but with this ep, i kinda got nervous twitches…it's times like this i wish we had a Paul Revere who could shout "The melodramatic okada is coming, the melodramatic Okada is coming" so i can at least prepare myself mentally for disappointment.

    I personally want to see the last 7 or 8 eps tackle of the thematic elements of change and growth in individuals and how it affects relationships both mentally and socially. i want to see the mystical threads that have been brought up be expanded on and some of the main ones resolved. Most of all, i want the characters to resolve the internal issues going on within them.

    The ONE THING I DONT WANT is for okada to continue to exacerbate this love whatevergram anymore than she already has (which oddly enough, i think that's what has increased the popularity of this series). In regards to miuna, i dont really have a problem with her because i get what her character is meant to be and she's sincere enough that i can be forgiving when the writing tries to ham up her character. Regardless of the fear i have, i think it adds to my overall enjoyment of this series (kinda like how fear adds to to the enjoyment of a horror film; the comparison comes full circle)

  2. Actually, I was wrong – but it's nine more eps. not 8.

  3. m

    From the preview it seems like the show will start to focus a lot more on what's gone on with the Sea God and Shio in general. Miuna's Ena seems less like a reason to pair her with Hikari, and more like the start of the explanations of what has been going on with the sea. In general I don't think I would care if Okada did end up pairing Hikari with Miuna as long as that wasn't what the rest of the show was about. Manaka always annoyed the hell out of me (until the last few eps of the first cour) with her overly cute/overly infantile disposition. Not that Miuna has been much better, but at least acts her age more than Manaka did for the most of cour 1. If the remaining eps focus on Shio, the sea god, manakas sacrifice (and repercussions of that), and less on the "who dates who" I think it'll be a great show. And TBH I don't care about who specifically ends up together as long as it's done right. Its prob the first time I can say that about a show, but I find myself not really feeling to invested emotionally in any of their relationship. Maybe due to the fact that it has all been so all over the place and had too much unrequited self pity and pining from so many of the characters.

  4. K

    Let’s see,

    Chisaki x Tsumugu

    Kaname x Sayu

    Hikari x Miuna

    Manaka x Fish


    ? x ?

    Let the games begin! May the odds be ever in your favor…

  5. S

    I think Manaka x Fish is the only viable option. They seem like they were made for each other

  6. R

    i suppose this was a breather episode for the transition to shioshishio as focus again. but i certainly didn't breathe easy with bad Okada showing her head up here. but i do like how sayu is self-aware that her feelings might be nothing more than a teen crush.

    on the love-whattheheck-gon, i think chisaki feelings has mostly been sorted out. she acknowledged in ep 15 that she has indeed changed a lot, and that is probably not only physically but emotionally as well. and as i have said back then, that reunion with hikari made her realize that she had already gotten over her feelings for him in the five years he was gone. poor kaname though. seeing tsumugu and chisaki act like husband and wife is certainly a slap on the guy's face.

    i guess whatever they find in shioshisio will surely change the course of the series drastically yet again. if they do find manaka alive and she comes back, this will surely kick the miuna–>hikari–>manaka triangle into high gear. if she isn't there, then hikari will forever be chasing her memory and their unresolved feelings for each other (i smell a jintan-menma resolution here). miuna will probably inevitably be on the losing end. i read one comment somewhere that her letting her hair grow might be an unconscious attempt to emulate manaka.

  7. K

    Okay I agree with you that Hikari is a stronger narrator than Miuna but as I think Hikari is the best character in the series it is pretty hard to beat him. That being said while I don't think Hikari's story is entirely finished just yet, the bulk of his story and growth already happened in the first arc, so it makes sense for the story to shift gears a bit.

    I also guess I don't see what is so bad about Miuna or Sayu for that matter. If anything in some ways I think they are better written female characters than Manaka was. Don't get me wrong I liked the growth that Manaka displayed but she had a few stereotypical characteristics that are largely absent from Miuna and Sayu's characters.

    Sayu is actually way more toned down than I expected her to be, which is a pleasant surprise for me.

    I do admit what makes Miuna (and Sayu I guess) weaker than Hikari is their stories so far are only tied to their feelings for Hikari and Kaname. Whereas Hikari's story was about his love for Manaka, but also getting over his prejudice of the land people and his general growth. This is what I think is lacking so far in the 2nd half of the story. That being said all the talk about "not wanting to change" makes me think Okada has a deeper plan than just romance triangles, but I could be wrong.

    Also I don't really see all this "melodrama" that people speak of. I guess to me characters not getting with who they love is not melodrama. Personally how the characters end up accepting unrequited love or "change" can lead to interesting character development. Of course Okada might handle it poorly but I am interested in seeing where it leads.

  8. k

    Re: the melodrama, no, it's not that. It's that everything in the show is engineered to create the most drama possible, and relationship drama at that: everything comes back to romance. Global ice age? Random hibernation? Weird white stuff falling from the sky? whatever, look at all the ROMANCE! Characters suffering because of LOVE! Characters having conflicts over LOVE! Kaname has just awakened, but he already angsts over Chisaki! (Seriously, Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname have barely even expressed any worry over their parents trapped in hibernation, apparently all they care about is their romantic relationships.) And of course he goes to live with them so he'll have to watch them(!) together(!!) knowing he has no chance anymore(!!!) because she's out of his reach(!!!!)… ^^;;

    Hell, Miuna seems to have developed ena only so she can go with Hikari (and Kaname) so she can watch Hikari being concerned over Manaka, and angst about how she has no chance with him and so on and so forth. And even the "not wanting to change" thing comes back to romance, really.

    And then there's all the wailing and shouting and screaming…

  9. k

    Also, just to be clear, I don't think melodrama in itself is a bad thing. I cut my teeth on classic shoujo manga/anime, after all. But there's a point where it's so overdone/over the top/all-eclipsing that it tips over into ridiculous, and this is exactly what happens in this show (same in AnoHana). It doesn't help that unlike in classic shoujo, where you have the elegance of the artwork and the usually a real depth to the actual drama, with Okada it just comes across as pandering for audience reactions, really blatant and crass.

  10. K

    "wailing and shouting and screaming.."

    And I am not noticing all that much of this at all. Like I said I am not saying there is no melodrama whatsoever but not to the extremes you are referring too. This is way toned down compared to Ano Hana and especially not anywhere near Key levels. And as for the depth well I think how the drama develops the characters (especially Hikari) has been done very well. So to me there is a point to the drama not just to make viewers feel sad for the characters. Instead I think the point is to watch the characters grow and accept the changes that are occurring.

    Now I am not saying the series is perfect, and yes I do agree there is a bit too much focus on romance at the detriment of other things but overall I disagree with your criticism. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

  11. S

    Nicely said, Kuromitsu! I have the exact same problems with NnA. Why does a show with interesting elements like an underwater world, ice age and early conflict between two groups focus on shallow teenager romances driven by angst?
    These kids are solely defined by who they have a crush on and it forms the reason behind all their actions. I wished most of them were portrayed as stronger individualists (perhaps like Tsumugu?) for whom romance isn’t the main priority in their lives.

  12. k


    As I said at AS, I guess this is subjective to a great degree (I've met people who think Key shows are sophisticated drama). Still, though, frankly, "it's not as bad as [show x]" doesn't really make it any better as far as I'm concerned. ^^;; AnoHana was the first and, until recently, only anime I actually watched only because I wanted to know how worse it can get, and as for Key, let's just say they're not exactly to my taste.

    Regarding the characters, Hikari (and perhaps Akari) is pretty much the only one who has any actual depth, and it's no coincidence that he's also the only main character who is most closely involved with non-romance storylines. The rest of them, as Sylpher said, are defined by their romantic feelings, and their growth and changes are all directly related to their love life. Tsumugu had zero personality in the first half aside of "I like sea people" and "I am Hikari's foil and as such, perfect", and in the second half he can be summed up with "I still like sea people" and "I like Chisaki but I won't approach her directly." Chisaki has an interesting story potential in her, an (essentially) orphaned sea girl who has lost her home and her friends, and now has to learn to live in a place so different from what she's used to; except we have barely seen anything of that, it's all "oohhh Hikari" "ooohh Tsumugu" "oohhh WILL I HAVE TO CHANGE my love interest and my approach to him." To say nothing of Kaname, Miuna and Sayu (brr). There was a potentially interesting "end of childhood" theme lurking deep down in the first half, but then we have a time jump of only 5 years and lo and behold, everyone is still a kid, with the exception of Tsumugu and Chisaki, and we're still talking about who loves whom and who has or has not a chance with whom.

    I mean, remember when xenophobia was a theme in this show? Clearly it was only so they could establish Tsumugu and Hikari as being special, because apparently it's all okay by now, at least on the surface…

  13. K

    I compared Nagi no Asukara to the Key shows and to Ano Hana (another Okada show) because I felt they were examples of melodrama, especially the Key shows.

    I think the term melodrama thrown around too lightly here. You say there is crying wailing and screaming but I don't see any of that. In fact I see the opposite, when're there is a set back the characters find a way to grow and move forward.

    And while romance is a central point the friendship & family relationships between the characters has also not been forgotten.

    As for the Xenophobia it was not forgotten that story reached its climax in the first half. Now we will most likely deal with the aftermath of what happened with the sea village.

  14. I think the issue for a lot of us, Kim, is that Miuna and Sayu bring exactly those elements (honestly, I don't know how anyone couldn't see them, because they happen consistently with them). This is why they really represent the bad vs. good Okada so conspicuously for me. In addition to the histrionics and the moe pandering, their arcs are also completely devoid of any depth.

    It's as if their are two series going on here side by side, one written by Mari Jekyll and one by Mari Hyde, and the latter has been threatening to take over since the timeskip. And this is the first post-skip week where I felt the show radically suffered as a result. The surface of the quicksand is finally starting to give.

  15. s

    As kuromitsu highlighted, melodrama is not inherently bad; there is such a thing as good melodrama. I know it has a negative connotation and most of the time it is used insultingly, but melodrama can be good. Good melodrama invokes the audience to feel a moment where they were in the same position. The exaggerated and heightened emotions are meant to relate to the audience; its sort of like a way of asking "have you ever been a position where you have felt this emotionally charged?" (at least that's how it is with good modern melodrama).

    Bad melodrama is more manipulative and forced , to the point where you can feel the writer jerking off to their own ego; and that's just an unpleasant feeling. Okada can do good drama (for the most part in my opinion) and good melodrama, but she's also capable of bad melodrama and that's what im hoping is not the case. Im only a teensy bit concerned but im positive she'll bring out the best in NagiAsu tho

  16. R

    from what i can see, Okada's melodrama here is a lot more controlled than in season 1 (and definitely way more toned down than what she didn in Black Rock Shooter, where the melodrama is totally unneeded(. while sayu still tends to wallow in self pity too much, she isn't as much of a crybaby as she used to be. and on miuna, actually don't see much of it.

    of course, i do expect the melodrama to go high quick when those pent up emotions are finally released (i am looking at both of you Kaname and Tsumugu)

  17. K

    Enzo Miuna and Sayu are not my favorite characters in the show but I guess I don't see how they are any more "moe" than Chisaki or Manaka?

    In fact a lot of the things Miuna and Sayu worried about so did Chisaki in the first half. Or heck Hikari's love for Manska. It doesn't come off as melodrama to me personally. My emotions don't feel manipulated.

    I think Miuna and Sayu liking Hikari and Kaname is not a problem. I agree that it will be a problem if that is all to their characters, but its still early yet. And technically I could argue that the 1st half set up Miuna's love for her family and Miuna & Sayu's friendship.

    If anything I don't think the issue is Miuna and Sayu but too much focus on romance in the 2nd half overall. We still have about 9 episodes left though so I am going to give the show the benefit of the doubt.

  18. R

    I can understand how the situations themselves could be considered melodramatic, but the presentation and tone are not. aside from Sayu, there's not much "wailing and shouting and screaming" in this series. I'm inclined to believe that anyone who claims otherwise is full of shit and using hyperbole just because they don't like the series.

  19. R

    It's getting boring and so much more boring with each passing week after the time-skip. I have no interest in Miuna or Sayu — if not getting annoyed by them. The story about these two is like the writers are trying to pump out stupid drama for the sick of having drama. NnA doesn't look good to me if the focus doesn't shift back to the main five.

    Talking about characters that annoy me, I don't find Kouko of GT annoying at all — I know she is to some. I would rather watch a character that has annoying traits but still is written as believable and interesting than any of those pretentious ones. Well, the missing of Linda in GT doesn't please some of those who follow GT because of her, I guess, and the writing of the show isn't superb to begin with.

    Seems like the Fall carry-overs are not as strong as last year's, and Winter is pretty quiet… Hmmm…

  20. T

    Well Kaname handled the time skip better than I thought but I think he will have his moment where he will "explode" and that will be healthy for him. I agree with you enzo in terms of how the narration switched to minua. I don't dislike her character but I feel she is not a very interesting character and focusing on her perspective does not really add anything to me in the sense I'm don't feel very invested in her character. Also I will admit I love sayu admitting that the feeling of wanting to stay the same forever is NOT HEALTHY period. Granted in Hikari case I can see why it will be difficult considering everything that happened in episode 13 was like a week ago for him. But we also got invested in how his character developed in terms of his feelings, the differences between the sea world and land world, and here we are now with a character who has definitely changed for the better.

    As for why they aren't worried about their parents I think its safe to say at least they all think they are safe in the shioshishio asleep but meanwhile hikari has no one idea what became of manaka fate.

    For me I think the best female characters in this show are Akari and Chisaki in sense of how complex they are and how they try their best to keep moving forward. The next episode makes me nervous but here is hoping it will turn out great in the end >_<

  21. K

    Akari is definitely my favorite girl but I find positives about all the characters.

  22. B

    In my case, I don't really like all the focus they are putting on Miuna and Sayu, since I found them to be marginally interesting characters, and I don't really buy all the convenient "discoveries" (the Ena, the sea current) that seem to put Miuna in a more central stage. It feels a little bit like a Mary Sue character, and I can't help feeling that any time devoted to Miuna and Sayu antics is time wasted that could be used instead to focus more in the four main characters. I would like to know more about what is going through Chisaki's mind, for example, or how she is really facing all the big events happening around her. I hope we get to see something on that side. Or at least, I hope Okada Mari manages to jumble all the characters' stories without making a whole mess, because so far the series has been pretty strong.

  23. H

    "The "discovery" of a way to find Shioshishio feels a little too convenient (and insufficiently explained) to be plausible." It didn't feel like that to me actually, we can already guess (I'm surprised the characters in-series haven't) that the currents surrounded Shioshishio are connected with the hibernation, mostly likely Uroko's powers going by that display from him back when Akari wanted to leave. There would be no reason to keep those up once people started waking up and since Hikari and Kaname have woken up (who were the farthest away from the village and the farthest from it's influence) it makes sense that the defenses would slowly start dropping as well. It was awfully convenient that Miuna was around to hear the sound clearly but even if she hadn't I'm sure they would have tried to explore with just Hikari and Kaname anyway.

  24. 1

    I marathoned the entired thing yesterday and I must say I'm very pleased by what I've seen so far. Personally the only side of Okada Mari that I absolutely despite is her comedy (it killed Hanasaku Iroha for me), so Nagi no Asakura has been a very pleasant ride for me, but when it's insightful and when it goes for the melodrama it strokes the right chords for me. Props to everyone involved, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming episodes.


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