Nagi no Asukara – 20

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Well, that’s 22 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

What do you say about an episode where 21:47 minutes is wholly purposeless and often drudgery, all to get to the 13 seconds that actually matter?  All I can do is ask more questions – like, why is it that Okada Mari series seem serially plagued by this syndrome of great episodes alternating with lousy ones?  It’s one of the many things that make her the most frustrating writer in anime – if she simply sucked it would be simple, just don’t watch.  But Okada Mari’s potential – and occasional realization of it – is the perfect shot on the 18th hole that keeps us coming back despite shanking it all over the course for the rest of the day.

It’s going to be impossible to write a long post here without repeating a bunch of stuff you’ve already heard, so this isn’t going to be a long post.  I liked an entire episode dedicated to Miuna’s truly endless self-involved whining exactly as much as you’d expect I would.  It doesn’t help that the one character from the original core that got second billing is the least-interesting, Tsumugu – whose character arc has left him alternating between moody staring and giving what sound like prepared speeches.  What I wouldn’t give to see he and Kaname just go at each other bar-brawl style, no holds barred, anything goes – and finish with a tearful screaming of their real feelings (and no, not for each other).

The real problem is that I still see no real reason why Miuna exists as a main character in this story at all, apart from the most crass and cynical one.  She’s been foisted upon the series as the lead through a series of contrived developments that offer nothing to the larger plot, and to the other characters’ development.  What’s worse is that the whole issue of the global crisis seems to have been forgotten – tossed aside to make room for Miuna posing with pocky and crying watermelon-sized tears.  Even if that storyline is picked up again now – which it almost has to be, surely – that doesn’t excuse abandoning it for half the final cour of the series.

Anyway, those final 13 seconds (if only they’d been the first 13 seconds) of the episode did happen, so I’ll hope against hope that Manaka’s return finally relegates Miuna to the realm of secondary characters where she belongs (about what Sayu is now would be just fine).  It says something about just how bad Miuna is that she makes Manaka look like something from a Fitzgerald novel by comparison, but Manaka’s place in the story was earned through hard-fought development over the first cour.  And Manaka did develop – she changed markedly for the better over the course of those 13 episodes.  She’s indispensable to the resolution of Hikari’s arc and the global crisis storyline – and while I do care what happens with the KanaChiTsumugu triangle, those are the two threads that really matter in Nagiasu.  All I can say is Manaka, good morning, good morning – good morning, good morning to you!  Your eyes didn’t open a nanosecond too soon.

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  1. r

    Now that every main characters are awake, the story can move on immensely.

    I just hope the POV will be back to Hikari and everything will be perfect. I love the VA's emotion when he narrates.

    Miuna and Sayu are probably the least characters I like. So when they are shown, I feel like fast forwarding the scenes. I can't relate to their angst and their voices are grating to the ears especially Sayu.

    So far Manaka coming back brims positivity but I can't help and think that what Hikari had dreamed will be relevant in the coming episodes… I hope not.

    You're wondering about Miuna suddenly becoming an important character… maybe she'll be the real sacrifice at the end? ;P

    Thanks for the review!!!

  2. You're wondering about Miuna suddenly becoming an important character… maybe she'll be the real sacrifice at the end? ;P


  3. K

    Brawl style huh? I would pay to see just that- a no holds beat won between Kaname and Tsumugu!

  4. R

    here we have the characters and the audience wondering for two weeks how manaka will return and she wakes up just like that. nice trolling, okada san. nice trolling.

    i probably am on the minority here, but i actually like miuna's development here. sure we have been treated to her seemingly never-ending navel-gazing but this is definitely the first time she admits to herself that she is being all too self-important and trying to make it as if she is the center of the world.

    in fact, that amusing scene of akari letting miuna believe that she bought the "i have a fever" excuse while well aware that it was an obvious ruse really felt like the series winking to the audience "we know, she is acting like Miss All-Too-Important again." on a side note, that actually says a lot about her parenting style. she is very insightful of the adolescent issues that miuna is dealing with, yet she doesn't force her, simply guiding her from the sidelines to discover the answers for herself (it was made clear a few episodes back that akari is aware that miuna has feelings for hikari).

    back to miuna, her admission to herself that she has nasty thoughts of wishing that manaka never wakes up is certainly a good sign of her maturing, finally seeing that the world doesn't revolve around her. and i am guessing that there is something underneath as to why miuna's development is given a full spotlight.

    as for the whole global crisis, again i say that i prefer it never gets resolved or at least not that the main characters magically find a way to stop it. it just takes away from the small scale drama that is at the heart of the series (as some say, Hikari becoming Jesus here here feels really off).

  5. s

    I agree; i actually dont find this ep to be a waste of time as it tackled the theme of having nasty thoughts and learning that having nasty thoughts is a part of being human. Then again i found this ep to be a fairly average ep in a series i find to be just good so im not bummed by it. As long as the series tackles the remaining themes it has presented to us so far ill be fine. This ep is no where close to what id consider Bad Okada and if it was, this was a veryX8 restrained version it.

  6. C

    I don't understand why there is so much hate for Miuna. Her love for Hikari is no more superficial than Chisaki's and the only real difference between the two is that Chisaki's comes with a "childhood friend" tag. Also, her feelings of selfishness are nothing to be ashamed of because that is a part of being human. It's how we deal with them that defines our character and with how Miuna was remorseful and contemplative rather than trying to rationalize or deny it, I'd say this was a good development for her character.

    However, I do agree that the episodes are less compelling when Miuna takes the lead, but I don't feel like its a problem with the character, but more of a problem with the writing. Miuna and Sayu are the outsiders and more than that, don't have a solid group of friends to talk with. They are trying to get inside a group that basically doesn't even acknowledge them and all of their conversations are between the two of them which leaves little room for interesting character interactions… because they are the outsiders. Everything about them will feel one dimensional and linear because everything they do is trying to get into the group, the majority of their lines are talking with each other about how to get into the group, they aren't involved in interesting love dynamics because they aren't part of the group, and they can't understand other's feelings because they aren't part of the group. It makes you wonder why they even exist in the first place. They might be the ones to start untangling the web, but really don't know.

    Fortunately, things seem to be changing for the better with this episode, although I would've preferred that this development and Manaka's awakening occurred earlier.

  7. I think separating "a problem with the writing" and "a problem with the character" out as different things is a false dichotomy. My problem is with the character as written. If there were no problems with the writing, there's be no problems with the character.

    As for the rest of your comment, it's a case of different strokes for different folks. I just have a hard time equating Miuna's feelings with Manaka's when one of them is grounded on a thorough and encyclopaedic knowledge of the recipient, and one is a grade-school crush on an older boy known for a few days.

  8. R


    for my part, that is actually one interesting contrast i like seeing here. we are all aware that Miuna's feelings are indeed just a 9-year old girl's crush on an older guy. but what i love seeing here is how miuna is slowly coming into terms with the fact that it is just that, maturing along the way. and what she see in hikari's relationship with manaka, as contrst with her own feelings for the guy is somewhat a catalyst for her to see the world in a different light from her self-absorbed teenage angst.

  9. t

    I like how this episode focus on both Hikari and Miuna.
    they are both teenagers who are growing up and keep learning new things about themselves and the others around them. this is the part of the process of their development as they keep growing up and change.

    there were other interesting moments here and there this episode. like Kaname and Sayo talking while Hikari and Miunda stayed home. it felt nice and all when Sayo talked normally as possible and Kaname was being himself.
    there was also the moment when Hikari and Kaname saw Chisaki in a different light. it was a funny scene.

    the ending was a bit..odd. in the end it wasn't the cliche kiss but just Hikari being himself that make Manaka wake up…weird. maybe the kiss will come later…?why I think so?because although Manaka has returned, it doesn't mean all is well. that nightmare Hikari was having..what if it's true?in fact, it reasonable to think part of it are true. not to mention it's unclear whether Manaka lost all her Ena for good or there is something left? and if Miuna's Ena come on account on Manaka?those two have kinda unclear connection between them, although we haven't seen them really interact with each other.
    so things are far from over in the big level.
    and of course, I believe Manaka's return will turn the tables (again ha?) of that polygon love complex.

    "The real problem is that I still see no real reason why Miuna exists as a main character in this story at all"
    I feel like that about Tsumugu alot more than Miuna. I still don't understand what's he doing in our story…sure, he was the "sun" for Manaka on 1st half and developed feelings to Chisaki later on, but in the end of the day.. I don't feel anything from him as character. just..emptiness. unlike Miuna which bring herself to the audience with everything she does and think even if it's bad things sometimes.

  10. R

    amusing how the series actually acknowledges that, with tsumugu admitting that he is very hard to read. it's also interesting where they would lead with him saying that he is envious of his friends being able to freely express their emotions. so, what's kieeping him from being able to laugh his heart out like the way he did in episode 2. i hope they explore that part even a bit.

  11. m

    Tsumugu started out as the foil for Hikari, and interest of Manaka. Now he's that for Kaname even though neither have a chance with Chisaki? It definitely makes no sense.
    Tsumugu is cursed by the choice to make him speak so monotone. it makes it hard to care when he does show emotion (well, not shows but talks about his feelings). And how boring do you have to be for Chisaki to have no feelings for you at all after living together for years, and considering your Grandpa do be her Grandpa? They have the routine of roommates, but she treats him she doesn't care at all about him. Not hate, not love, not like, not dislike just nothing. He's like a someone she talks to in college bc they sit next to you in class. What does that say about him, and how does it make any sense at all?

  12. m

    As much as I want to keep saying that I don't hate Miuna or think of her as completely unnecessary to the story, it is undeniable that there is a direct correlation between her screen time and the quality of the episodes. I know she hasn't grown, but neither has Kaname/Tsumugu(tho he didn't really need to)/Chisaki. The only 2 characters who actually grew as people were Manaka(and man was she super annoying in the beginning) and Hikari. I'd say that, early on, Manaka was far more annoying the Miuna ever has been. She was essentially either the biggest baby ever, or autistic and such an annoyance to listen too. In fairness she developed into one of the deeper characters in the show since then, but Miuna's issues are entirely far more realistic. Of course she's self involved she's 15….have you met a 15 year old girl before? At least she is attempting to be better and isn't just oblivious about it all (which is what I found annoying about Manaka). Yeah she's definitely used for some dumb stuff like the pocky, the oversized tears, and other things you've mentioned in your posts but that stuff doesn't even register with me when I'm watching. Maybe bc I didn't realize the pocky pose was a thing ppl like (or care about at all, or even notice that shes eating), maybe bc all tears in this show are oversized (she just cries more often), maybe bc Sayu is the one of that duo who seems to be getting on my nerves for her personality (and her interctions with Miuna are 100% wastes of episode time), but for whatever reason she doesn't bother me that much. She certainly isn't my favorite character, and gets too much airtime with her own feelings (which are undeniably less interesting then the main storylines of Hikari/Shioshishio), but she at least is realistic and shows more attempts at growth than Chisaki or Kaname. And how is her attitude now any different than 15yr old Chisaki? Okada has done a good job portraying her as Chisaki was portrayed, and even Chisaki has noticed it. Secret crush on Hikari, feels like a bad person bc of those feelings, self absorbed, wants to be a better person and change, talks to Tsumugu about her problems, and whines a lot? Who does that sound like?

    I'm glad I was wrong and Manaka came back, but part of me liked the story better with Manaka staying asleep. Not in a happy ending sense, but in a story that would focus more on Hikari as a character I think her staying asleep makes for a more powerfull storyline/driving force behind Hikari's development. Like how Dusk Maiden of Amnesia would have been good if she didn't return to being a ghost but had actually passed on. It's not that sad endings are better per se, but just that they seem to strike an emotional chord more often than happy endings do. Why have Hikari have that dream of Manaka if it wasn't her reaching out to him? Why have those ominous lines about how after a week manaka showed no signs of waking up? It seems like it was just to trick us into thinking she might never wake up which is a waste of episode time. Being predictable is bad writing, but so is putting things in that add nothing to the story so people don't guess what happens next. She didn't wake up immediately so Hikari pushed himself to ridiculous anime exhaustion fever, she came to him in a dream saying she should've been left where she was, they all discussed why this was happening and how to solve it, and in the end it all ends with her waking up at lightning speed bc of Hikari pseudo yelling at Miuna? What about every story building from her not waking up? Were those just wastes of time to fill out 24 eps? It just feels like it was done sloppily. Either leave her asleep or wake her up over an episode ago.

  13. 1

    >> why is it that Okada Mari series seem serially plagued by this syndrome of great episodes alternating with lousy ones?

    Says you 😉

  14. 1

    I guess in the end the reason Miuna is such a polarizing character is that they neatly cluster the two groups of people that are enjoying the show for completely different reasons.


  15. There may be an element of truth to that here (though I think it's an oversimplification) but it doesn't explain the same effect happening on so many other Okada series as well.

  16. s

    I would argue that Okada Mari is just a polarizing writer period; people enjoy her content for different reasons (an effect to which i see more prominent with her) which is why i think she's such a powerful figure in the recent anime industry. Viewers always find something to latch on and love about Okada's series' so a lot of the time, its a win-win situation in terms of grabbing an audience (and a lose for those who enjoy Okada for a different reason). She's quite the anomaly in the anime business; a strong anomaly with the image as a powerful female writer (though if we were to compare the pedigree of female writers/directors in the anime business, id say someone like Sayo Yamamoto is on a higher pedigree than she is)

  17. J

    I've got a lot of issues with how you're writing about this show, but they aren't worth having a war over opinions.

    I will say this, saying this was a waste of 22 minutes was not only unprofessional, but it is downright disrespectful to Okada Mari and the whole production staff. This isn't some unambitious, poor of quality romance light novel rehash we're dealing with. You don't like Miuna? That's fine. It's your opinion. She's key to the plot now. This show is too good to be a waste of anyone's time.

  18. In your opinion, obviously.

  19. R

    In defense of Enzo, he is actually being fair with the series. in fact he has tons of high praises for it, which is why it is understandable that he would be a bit negative when he feels like it is going totally astray of its intended direction.

  20. m

    I fail to see how a blog about ones opinions of anime can be unprofessional…That argument aside I don't think it's disrespectful, it's his opinion and that's what ppl come here to read. He's said many positive things about this show, at least as many as are negative. I def disagree with him on the value of Miuna in the show. Yes he's correct in how self centered her problems are, but she's exactly like Chisaki in cour 1, (which is why there was that scene where Chisaki realized it herself) and is a very realistic portrayal of a 15 year old girl. They are self centered and every seemingly unimportant issue in their life is made out to be the end of the world. As much as I disagree with his opinions on many shows (and apparently many things outside of anime as well) it's undeniable that his blog is both well written and thoughtful. There's a difference between being disrespectful and critiquing a show. And the whole "waste of 22 mins" is clearly a headline meant to give a baic summation of what the article will be and draw readers in. It's pretty standard stuff in any article be it newspaper, magazine, blog, or whatever. If you disagree do what the rest of us do and use the comments as a forum to state your reasons why you think he's wrong. Don't get defensive bc he doesn't like what you like.

  21. J

    We all have opinions, Enzo. It's one way to state them. It's another way to obsess over and be utterly disrespectful in stating our opinions.

  22. k

    I actually like Sayu now, at least she's better than Miuna with her whining, even if her voice is still grating. And welcome back, Manaka, you really didn't wake up a nanosecond too soon.

  23. F

    This wasn't a waste of 22 minutes, for me the entire second half has been a waste. I can only endure so much navel-gazing by the characters before I have to call it quits, and though it's late in the series I can find nothing left in it to interest me. I expected more plot elements dealing with the global issues and both towns. Romance is not my thing; it puts me to sleep . . . I just hope I don't lose my ena before I wake up.

    In my opinion.

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