Nagi no Asukara – 19

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Dammit, my world just doesn’t make sense any more.

This is what Nagi no Asukara has reduced me to – I’m happy to see Yoshino Hiroyuki’s name attached to an episode.  That just should never happen, but so it is here – down is up, right is left, and Yoshino is a symbol of quality.  Every episode of Nagiasu he’s written has been excellent, and given that last week’s episode seemed to find the show teetering on the edge of a cliff, I was actually given a spark of hope by seeing him credited as the writer.  And damned if he didn’t deliver.

Happily, there’s still an element of this that very much does make sense, and that’s the formula that the quality of an episode is inversely related to the screen time for Miuna.  She was basically absent from this ep – her only role being to rather grievously violate Hikari’s privacy by eavesdropping on him talking to the still-sleeping Manaka – and it was like the glorious dawn of a new spring.  It’s not her fault, but she just exemplifies everything that doesn’t work in this series, and every unwise creative impulse in Okada Mari.  Is it the whisky’s fault that an alcoholic can’t drink it responsibly?  Of course not – but that doesn’t change the fact that you shouldn’t put the bottle in their hands and leave them to their own devices.

This episode definitely took a slightly different turn than I’d expected.  Hikari remains very much on the periphery, and Manaka slept her way through the entire thing (about a week in real-time).  Instead, Okada/Yoshino chose to focus on Chisaki, Kaname and Tsumugu.  While I still think Hikari has the most compelling story in the cast, this was still a very welcome turn as these characters have been sadly under-utilized of late.  As for Hikari, he’s being used mainly as a plot driver at this point, as he remains central to pretty much everyone else’s story.  And that can work, but only if the camera is turned in the right direction.

Of course, Hikari’s role in Chisaki’s story is pivotal.  And it’s now obvious (she actually admits to it) that Chisaki is still in love with him.  Obviously there are huge issues with this – namely the age difference and the fact that he’s shown no signs whatsoever of romantic inclinations in her direction – but I actually find it kind of moving that in spite of all that, Chisaki’s love for him is so strong that it remains unbroken.  The heart wants what it wants, and he’s still the same person she fell in love with (more literally than would normally be the case, but on a deeper level) – the boy who silently rescued she and Manaka when they were lost as small children.  The guy who always tries to do the right thing even if he doesn’t know what it is.  And the guy who’s in love with her best friend.

The symbolism of Chisaki’s Petra Pan syndrome is hardly subtle here, but that’s fine – the scenario is such that subtlety would really be beside the point.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether she’s changed a lot and wishes she hadn’t or wishes she’d grown up more than she had, but she’s clearly confused and trying to cling to the past (even trying to slip into her middle school uniform – which was tight even then).  Hikari for his part insists on telling her that she’s the same person, and one senses that he’s not completely doing so for her benefit – it seems as if from his perspective where only a few days have passed, Hikari sees all the same quirks and habits in Chisaki that he did when she was his own age.

As for the guys, it was nice to see them get a turn in the spotlight – especially Kaname, who’s been ill-served by the series most of the way through.  His position is an odd one – he was the most mature of the group when they were kids so at least in theory, his transition should have been easier.  But I think it’s actually harder (which is pretty much Kaname’s life story) because he no longer has that maturity feather in his cap.  Chisaki – for whom he feels the same unrequited love that Chisaki does for Hikari – has leapfrogged him into young adulthood.  If she didn’t take him seriously as a partner then she certainly doesn’t now.  Kaname clearly feels things just as deeply as the others, and I like it when that comes out – as it certainly did when he admitted to Tsumugu that he’d considered letting him drown.  But he didn’t, and that’s really the point.  And his reward is to wake up and find out that Chisaki and Tsumugu have been cohabiting, and his love for her developing for all that time.

Tsumugu is emerging from his “sea slug” role a bit here.  He gets Chisaki “drunk” on plum juice she believes to be umeshu (sorry Cruncyroll – it’s a liqueur, not wine), and inadvertently (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) tells Kaname something very cruel – that he and Chisaki have been frozen in time and Kaname’s return has, in Little Busters fashion, allowed their frozen time to start to move.  I’m reminded a bit of Chihayafuru, where one might argue that Taichi’s only real chance with Chihaya would come after Arata was physically back in the picture – it’s hard to fight against a memory, or an ideal.  Tsumugu really hasn’t done anything wrong here – he’s played the responsible, supportive friend – but his very existence is a knife in Kaname’s heart even though Chisaki has shown no more romantic interest in him than Hikari has in her.

One might reasonably ask – why is it that I consider the romantic entanglements of the original group so much more compelling than those of Miuna and Sayu?  And I’d answer, if you still need to ask after 19 episodes I’m not sure I can answer.  To me, we’re talking about something with deep emotional roots versus something entirely superficial and self-involved.  As long as Nagiasu focuses on that original, painful dynamic it seems to work – that, and the very engaging larger story that’s been back-burnered for too long.

On that score, Tsumugu’s grandfather has told Chisaki a story which suggests the Sea God’s involvement in Manaka’s Ena leakage, and that’s prompted Hikari to try and “capture” Uroko-sama and get to the bottom of things.  Hikari makes the most of his time here – the combination of his usual indomitable spirit and his rambunctious, childish eagerness is quite winning, even if its embarrassing for Akari.  There’s also the matter of Tsumugu’s sensei covering up what they’ve uncovered about Shioshio in an attempt to (supposedly) use it to generate more funding to research the impending global crisis.  And Manaka remains stubbornly asleep, which might just have both Chisaki and Miuna feeling a bit conflicted.  This seems like much more solid ground than the quicksand Nagiasu was on last week (or perhaps “thicker ice” would be the better analogy) and, while I still think things could go either way, I can at least see a path from here that leads to a worthwhile destination.

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  1. K

    I admit, I had a lot of fun this episode. Love the Kaname x Chisaki x Tsumugu love problems. And yes, I appreciate the fanservice. I think however that at the end, things got a little cheesy between Chisaki and Hikari.

  2. t

    so Manaka hasn't really returned. physically yes. but nothing more. and it all comes to save Manaka from the sea-god's closing hand. not much surprises here. but now we're looking how this will come to an en?will she wake up and return being a normal girl?and what about her Ena..maybe she won't be able to return to sea anymore? or maybe she will somewhat stay with the sea-god for the sake of the ones she really loves?
    it's all come to this in the big picture. though there are still 2 things:
    1. "the girl that marry the sea-god eventually had children" – is that mean Hikari is one of those descendants?
    2. what will be in the real big picture?the sea-people-humanity has declined after all..but even when everyone will wake up…will there be any change?

    but above there is something interesting here. remember the "continuation" of the story? "the girl left behind someone she loved on the surface…because of the man she loved, she was never able to return to surface"
    it's quite clear that if we're looking at present, Manaka is filling the role of that girl.
    now let me remind you, almost all this time, Hikari was sleeping somewhere in the sea. so thinking about it…"someone she loved on the surface"..could it be Tsumugu and not Hikari? now this really mess things up. but it's kinda reasonable because Manaka always had something to the surface. a lot more than others.
    this story might also fits to Akari..but she wasn't "sacrificed" at the end…

    poor Kaname. I mean..for him staying with Tsumugu and Chisaki. this is the closest he can be to Chisaki, but instead of good moments, it's so painful seeing her grown and like that with Tsumugu. I definitely feel his pain and frustration. I think it would have been better for him going somewhere also. staying there is unhealthy.

    Tsumugu thanked Kaname for saving him. but instead it ended up like shooting another painful arrow on him. now this is accumulating. and no wonder Kaname won't be able to hold it anymore. it was like that when the nights before the Ofunhiki when he started things at the old school.
    and honestly, I don't think he is totally to blame here. he isn't Hikari, and he hasn't Hikari's supportive environment or strength. even in 1st half, when Hikari deal with many problems..Kaname only deal with one – his feeling he kept in the stomach. he was looking more mature, but this was a facade.
    and Chisaki is kinda putting Kaname aside, exactly as it was back then in 1st half. he had (and still has) feeling, but Chisaki is's like inattentional blindness.
    now it's interesting that Tsumugu is thanking Kaname. Chisaki never did it…right? NnA still hasn't scratched the surface of that part of the event in retrospective. there is a lot to serve here with Chisaki's facial expressions and scream when thing happened back there and with the previous stuff of Kaname's confession.
    I believe NnA is waiting to serve it all in the climax. but I hope it's not gonna be too much push the melodramatic button. but in terms of feeling and meaning..there is a lot to do here.

  3. t

    as for Chisaki..well since this episode has started I realized it'll come to this – her love for Hikari. I wasn't totally surprised, but I am in someway (side note: in episode 1 after the timeskip, Tsumugu felt Chisaki is still loving Hikari, even before he returned. and I wasn't completely sure. but he was right at the end ha?moreover, Kaname sees Tsumugu as rival now. instead of the real rival which is Hikari?)..after all the strong interactions with Tsumugu. not to mention she is all grown now. maybe this is just Chisaki's nostalgic feeling and she isn't really love him. although reasonable, I still think she meant it. and I like it. so strong love toward Hikari, that's lovely.
    and there is more. NnA always talking about Chisaki in the notion of change. how she has changed, or hasn't (as they all say). but hey, look at that scene. Chisaki's speaking to Hikari totally normal. back there in 1st half, she was always so embarrsed and shy…but now it's different. even going down to Shioshishio…I think something indeed has changed in her, but Chisaki is still Chisaki.

    all in all, NnA is doing great and stepping forward quite well from episode to episode. there are still questions in the big picture. and we're heading toward emotional climax. it might be walking on tightrope, but for now this is all good stuff.

  4. H

    I think this episode gives HUGE clues as to which direction NnA is going.
    In the continuation of the Sea God story that Tsumugu's grandfather tells Chisaki , the reason why the Sea God's wife wasn't happy was because the man she loved still lived up on the surface. Now if we relate this to Manaka based on the current scenario in Nna , then that "man" on the surface would most likely be Hikari.

    But, Hikari has been in the ocean most of the time Manaka has. So that means the man on the surface that Manaka loves , and his missing , is Tsumugu. Before the Ojoshi-sama accident , in her conversation with Tsumugu , Manaka calls him her Sun. And in that conversation it is strongly implied that , like the Sun , Manaka feels as if she cannot reach him. Now we can pretty much assume that the reason behind that is the fact that she is from the sea and he is from the surface , and that kind of love is strongly forbidden by the people in Shiosishio and leads to banishment from the village. So if she does infact love Tsumugu , then that is certainly going to make the love polygon way more complicated.

    The even more interesting part of that story though is the fact that the Sea God, in the story, only let the girl go back to the surface in return for something…or someone? So going by that , since Hikari and the others took Manaka away, it may that the Sea-God now wants a new girl to replace her.

    Now there are lots of little clues pointing to the that new girl being Miuna. For one, Miuna getting Ena (which is most likely Manaka's ena), maybe because the Sea God has chosen her as a replacement and, since he wants her to stay in the sea with him, gave her Manaka's ena .

    Another clue is the amount of interest Uroko-sama takes in Miuna. I have a feeling that Uroko sama is more than he lets on. It may be that he isnt just the scale of the Sea God but rather the human personification of him. That also could be why he was so interested in knowing if Miuna had a good time at the sea school and if she thinks the sea is beautiful (her having a liking the sea will be pretty important if she is going to live there for the rest of her life) . It also may be the reason behind why Uroko gave Miuna that sad look when she and the other were taking Manaka away. Also, her writing her name in the sea school beside Hikari , Manaka and Kaname's height chart might lead to a very sad scene later on , when she is gone and the sea kids see her name there.

    Finally, I think that the only way to awaken Manaka might be by sacrificing Miuna. That's the only way the Sea God will be appeased and if he is appeased then Manaka might finally get up.

  5. I'm surprised people are still trying to pair off Manaka and Tsumugu at this point, but the show has gone out of its way to make it unmistakeable that their hearts belonged to someone else. But I guess that just won't die until the plot officially drives a stake through it.

  6. t

    "the show has gone out of its way to make it unmistakeable that their hearts belonged to someone else"
    you can say this on Tsumugu, but we can't exactly be sure that the same applies for Manaka.

    plus, I thought the show did the same in Chisaki's case. but she is still in love with Hikari, despite other strong signs she fits to Tsumugu..
    so I wouldn't hurry to rule out the option of Manaka and Tsumugu. if Manaka indeed to wake up and return eventually…this is totally a game change for all parties in this polygon.


  7. H

    I'm not really shipping them. I mean , I don't actually think that they will end up together either.

    Manaka may still have feelings for Tsumugu but I think that when she finally wakes up and sees how much everyone , including Tsumugu, has changed then I think her feelings will definitely change.

    In the end, its probably going to end up being Tsumugu x Chisaki, Manakax Hikari and Kaname x Sayu ( though I doubt if this will happen either. But I don't want Kaname to end up alone , so if it has to be Sayu then so be it). Miuna is probably going to end up alone though…or with the Sea God ( Or with that one guy in her class that actually likes her)

  8. t

    don't know if Miuna will end up alone. she has the classmate guy who confessed to her and really love her. it fits to me.

    as I said, I doubt we get a full resolution of couples. but if we are, it'll be the most healthier. and I am still in doubt if Manaka is included…

    but hey, this is Okada we are talking about…she might pull something out of her hat in the next chapters to work it out the way she wants to…LOL

  9. R

    "there is a continuatio to the story of the Sea God but not many want to tell it because it had a sad ending."

    this line. DAMN YOU MARI OKADA!! you really are bent on breaking my heart 😀

    and tsumugu finally broke out of his shell and admitted his feelings. i tell you, the guy is an emotional time bomb waiting to explode in the next episodes.

    as for chisaki's line of "i still like hikari", I don't think it was of a romantic notion. rather it was an affirmation by her that she needs to finally move on. the girl totally froze everything about her the day she lost everything to the ofuneheiki tragedy. now, as pointed out by tsumugu, with all their friends finally returning, they can both move forward. and what better way for chisaki to move forward and come to terms with her feelings for tsumugu than to start from the point she froze, which is her unresolved feelings for hikari? I am guessing that she will have a moment with the sleeping manaka and say her thoughts and finally admit to herself that she had finally gotten over those emotions and fallen in love with tsumugu.

    which brings us to manaka. interesting that, while she was the one most infatuated with the idea of the sea slug in their younger days, she has now become that proverbial sea slug to the three characters whose lives have now closely revolved around her: hikari, chisaki, and not surprisingly, miuna. yes i am also guessing that miuna will also have a moment with her, where miuna will finally acknowledge that she has long been running after manaka's shadow and longing to become her in hikari's eyes.

  10. t

    to me it's more like Kaname is an emotional time bomb, a lot more than Tsumugu. who might as well burst..but with Kaname it seems stronger. he is saving everything in the stomach, almost since episode 1…

    "as for chisaki's line of "i still like hikari", I don't think it was of a romantic notion" well, as I mentioned above, I had (and still have, though little) a feeling that it's not in a romantic way. but I am not sure..she really said "seki" which means love, especially when one confessing to another(she has "confessed" to herself…but still).

    and I like it that way. because you can really sense Chisaki's love toward Hikari. and I am not a fan of Tsumugu X Chisaki. at first I was. but as I see it, there isn't the true spark (at least from Chisaki's direction) although they are getting along and it does seem like sort of relationship (remember the time when Kaname came to their house after he woke up).

    but good point with what Tsumugu said of them able to move forward. indeed likely that it will come to this. though it'll be complicated if Manaka return normally especially if it's due to her love to the surface/Tsumugu (referred to him as the sun. though maybe she meant it's too bright for her…who knows LOL).

    yeah, Okada is doing manipulations all along with the characters' feeling. with some I am OK, with others I am not because I strongly feel the manipulations and her forcing style sometimes. this is also my fear for the climax and ending to come.
    what will be the end? well, it's hard to say if she really gonna solve the love polygon here. she'll bring the characters to ease, but truly bring the romance complex to resolution?I doubt it'll happen. if it does..then it'll be the most healthier relationship, though it's still pretty ambiguous.

  11. Personally, I think it is romantic – I think Chisaki realized that she loved who she loved, and the age difference was more important in her own mind than in reality.

    But as well, I think she knows Hikari loves Manaka and will likely never love her romantically, so it may be time to try and move on. But, while it seems paradoxical, she can't move on until she admits she hasn't moved on – if she denies a love for Hikari that still exists in her heart, she can never get past it and try to love someone else.

  12. R

    that is exactly my point. like i said she had to start where she froze in time. all those five years, she never once stopped to acknowledge her unresolved feelings for hikari nor her growing affection for tsumugu. with their friends now back, she finally lets it out. her saying that she still likes hikari starts that painful moving on process where she has to weigh whether she is indeed still romantically in love with hikari or has totally moved on to love tsumugu completely (hence that potential "sea slug scene" with manaka).

  13. Except I don't think she has gotten over those emotions. She's admitted to them, which is a good first step. But it's just a first step – she's still in love with (for all practical purposes) the wrong guy.

  14. R

    "she's still in love with (for all practical purposes) the wrong guy."

    that's another sad dilemma chisaki has. does she let go and move on with tsumugu simply because she realizes that hikari won't love her back or does she let go and move on with tsumugu because she realizes that she has truly fallen in love with him? if it's the former then it would really be painfully unfair for tsumugu (and fans still insist that the guy had it easy all those five years).

  15. My answer is she should accept the hurt and move on – which I think she would if and when Manaka wakes up and gives Hikari the "yes" she'd planned to give him after the Ofunehiki. But accepting that doesn't mean she can force herself to love Tsumugu if in fact she doesn't.

  16. 1

    >> ' And I'd answer, if you still need to ask after 19 episodes I'm not sure I can answer. '

    *shakes fist*


  17. m

    I don't think Manaka is going to be waking up anytime soon. If she does it'll probably be the final episode, but the ending lines of this episode def paint a picture of a future where Manaka isn't around. Even Okadas happy endings seem to have a sense of "happy in that you've accepted all the bad stuff and can move forward", but not necessarily happy in that "everything is good and everyone got what they wanted" kind of sense. And with that I could see someone getting sacrificed along the way, and most likely Hikari for Manaka's sake.

  18. T

    Tsumugu really hit the nail on the head about how essentially time froze for everybody when hikari, manaka, etc went to hibernation. I found it romantic and painful in the realization that Chisaki still loves Hikari. Romantic in that no matter how much time has passed her love is still strong and sad because that love will never be returned. Chisaki admitting her love is definitely a good start for her to slowly move on.

    Another scene that I found quite telling is how she feels she will never have that look minua had when she was looking at her loved one. Its sad but i think it goes to show that she definitely needs to look at those she currently has around her. This is where I feel Tsumugu needs to eventually confess how he feels. 5 years is a damn long time to hold in all your feelings. Speaking of Tsumugu I was just happy the guy expressed so many emotions I mean damn he smiled and even looked relaxed for a change. It's great to hear that he will be fighting for Chisaki but at the same time will continue to be a support for her.

    As for Hikari the boy is great!!! that is all I hope we get his perspective again in these last episodes.

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