Nagi no Asukara – 24

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It’s a truth we see borne out over and over again in anime: endings are hard.

I won’t lie – I’m of the mind that Nagi no Asukara is ending at the right time.  The heart of the matter is this: the only element in the story that really rings true for me at this point is Hikari and Manaka.  It’s really the only part I still care about.  After all the interesting themes and plot twists we saw set up in the first cour, it strikes me as a real shame that Okada has basically chosen to focus on the soap opera aspects in the second.  I don’t see how even the series’ staunchest defenders could deny that – you might think it’s an especially good soap opera and be enjoying it, sure, but the truth that a soap opera is what Nagiasu now is seems undeniable to me.  But I’m sure some will deny it.

I won’t start launching the I-told-you-so’s about the timeksip (gotta save something for the series review post) but boy, I’ve never been more convinced that the show would have been much better served not having one.  It’s not as though the story being told in the first cour was finished – far from it.  The problem is that the timeskip has resulted in that story being largely abandoned by the side of the road.  The sea we’re swimming in now is tears of self-pity and pubescent infatuation, and even if everyone in Shioshio wakes up in the first five minutes of next week’s penultimate episode (they won’t) it’d still be too late to save the day.

It’s no secret that I never much cared about Miuna or Sayu’s arcs, but I’m the point now where even Tsumugu, Kaname and Chisaki are coming up empty.  I don’t see a viable resolution here because if they wind up with the person it would be logistically convenient to wind up with, it will feel like just that – convenience.  The heavy-lifting for Tsumugu and Chisaki, Sayu and Kaname, Hikari and Miuna (Heaven forbid) simply hasn’t been done – and it could quite easily have been done in Tsumugu and Chisaki’s case.  And if these characters don’t end up with the convenient partner, they’re likely not to end up with anyone at all (though there’s still a shot for Hikari and Manaka, I think) which will rather mercilessly raise the question of why we spend the entire second cour obsessively zoomed-in on the soap opera in the first place.

Chisaki’s tears rang pretty hollow for me, because she’s at the point where she’s just using Hikari as an excuse to run away from having to grow up.  That feels like a regression – I was strongly in her camp a few weeks ago when she was taking a lot of flak for not having moved on, but she’s running out of rope at this point.  At least in Kaname’s case I can understand his desolation, because the story really has shat all over him since the beginning – hell, Chisaki still hasn’t even given him the courtesy of an outright rejection.  He’s descending deep into self–pity but if anyone was ever justified in doing so…  But again, any possible relationship with Sayu isn’t grounded in anything except a crush and convenience.  It packs no punch as a story element now.

Thankfully we still have Hikari and Manaka, which was the first thread woven into Nagiasu’s quilt and fittingly seems to be the last one remaining as it unravels.  I really do care how this turns out, and it’s the only relationship in the series that makes sense both emotionally and logically.  I like the notion that Akira’s love note (even preschoolers are victims in this shipping war) should be a sort of trigger to get her thinking about the hole in her emotional consciousness – not so much Tsumugu’s half-assed idea of using the sea slug pendant (though he is the sea slug expert) as a kind of proxy Ofunehiki to save the day (and restore Manaka’s emotions).  This feels like a rehash – we’ve been down this road before.  And it really seems as if Okada knows this and her heart isn’t in it – she blows through the preparations in about four minutes of screen time.  It’s a convenience, like so much else that we’ve seen of late – a device to get the plot where it needs to go.

The big themes that made the first half such an interesting mix – the cause and impact of the looming environmental catastrophe, the strained and xenophobic relationship between the sea people and the landies, the complex dynamic between Hikari and his father – are gone.  It’s too late to believably return to them now, and that’s a real shame – they made the first cour interesting in a way the second simply isn’t.  It’s remarkable how pedestrian Nagiasu has become – it was a really fascinating fantasy, but now the entire fantastical element of the story has been reduced to the point where it only matters as it impacts the pairings.  The best hope for Nagiasu in the final two eps is to focus laser-like on Hikari and Manaka – that’s the one thing that really matters and can still be realistically brought to a conclusion.  It’s not what I would have hoped for several weeks ago, but diminished expectations are a simple reality at this point.

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35 comments

  1. K

    Are we getting another time-skip or is the next episode the part where they save the world?

  2. R

    "The man she loved was already dead. There was no one to return to when the Ojoshi-sama arrived at the surface…"

    Damn it Gramps! could you just tell the story in one go.

    i still very much stand by my reading that the story isn't about hikari and co solving the environmental issues (or them saving shishio), but of them simply trying to continue their lives despite that major event that changed them, and that has always been the case from the start. even hikari's interactions with his father, be it an "abandoned" plot by now, still has lasting effects on his character and how he sees the world now.

    "Chisaki's tears rang pretty hollow for me, because she's at the point where she's just using Hikari as an excuse to run away from having to grow up."

    it should very well be. after all, this is one of chisaki's biggest flaw in that she refuses ta come to terms with sudden changes in her life. and like i said, this is something she really needs to learn in order to move on and continue.

    "This feels like a rehash – we've been down this road before. And it really seems as if Okada knows this and her heart isn't in it – she blows through the preparations in about four minutes of screen time. "

    maybe that's the whole point. As Uroko sama said, this is just a sham (which is probably why he mockingly agreed to help them). the Ofunehiki they are doing now is, in a sense, just something to serve hikari's somewhat self-serving wish.

    "Thankfully we still have Hikari and Manaka, which was the first thread woven into Nagiasu's quilt and fittingly seems to be the last one remaining as it unravels."

    well, they have always been the center, each and every other pairing the show focused on is intricately linked with theirs. so it is only natural for everything to go back to them.

  3. N

    Enzo, maybe you are too obsessed with Hikari and Manaka? So much that you don't care about the rest. Since the beginning this series went full love dodecahedron. Hikari and Manami are the main duo but the love stories or others have their importance as well at this point. The other important plot point of the story was the end of the world, but with Tsumugu's theory they even found a possible solution. The story has not derailed for me.

  4. J

    "The sea we're swimming in now is tears of self-pity and pubescent infatuation"

    That's the exact same formula that you heaped praises upon White Album 2 for using. That was a great show, and yet this show is doing everything wrong. I sense a double standard here.

    "I don't see how even the series' staunchest defenders could deny that"

    This show's been doing this since day one. When hasn't it been about the dodecahedronogon tangled web mess of infatuation? This was the main course, everything else has been side dishes.

    This is one person you can't say you told me so that the time skip was bad. It was appropriately executed and necessary for the story. It threw all the characters a huge sucker punch at a critical period in their lives. You've yet to give us an example of what could have been done better.

    The things you bemoan were forgotten were pretty much given appropriate closure by the end of the first half. The things you wished would get coverage did, and then you took a dump on them anyways.

    Your reviews are great, but this show seems to have been given a failing grade before it even got a chance. I don't think it could do anything to please you.

  5. The double-standard is that White Album 2 is the better show, period, at least for me. Just because two series partly overlap in theme doesn't mean they're equal in every way.

    There are other huge differences, of course – the most obvious being that WA2 is a realistic romance drama and never made any pretense to be anything else. Nagiasu did some amazing world-building and set up a scenario with fascinating sociological issues at play, and then abandoned them in favor of poorly-written romance. For me, that's a flaw.

  6. R

    this is just a thought on my part. from what i can see, Nagi also never made the pretense that it was something else. from the very start, it was all about the romantic entanglements of hikari and his friends. the world building is there to simply provide the backdrop.

    like i said before, this is what i feel some people are completely missing.about the series. in order to really appreciate the second cour's zooming in to the major characters' lives, the audience has to remember to still place it within the world built in the first. a bit more mental legwork on the audience part, but still worth it (for me at least).

    not that the second part isn't flawed. in particular, my major problem with Tsumugu's and Chisaki's relationship is not that they skirted around it for too long, but that they played it too subtly for comfort. you can see explorations of that relationship in throughout the episode, but you really have to squint to notice it.

  7. J

    What Roger said is exactly what you're really swinging and missing at here, Enzo. You're trying to look at the trees and missing the whole forest.

  8. J

    To be honest, I find White Album 2 to be no different than any other Love Triangle romance. The only difference is that the stupid stuff they did to hurt each other was realistic stupid stuff rather than your typical romcom stupid stuff.

    I find NagiAsu superior simply because everyone's actually putting some effort to think of each other ahead of themselves when they are trying to make these tough relationship decisions. I actually find Miuna to be refreshing since she's sucking it up and deciding it's not all bad to play the role of friend even though Hikari won't 'reciprocate her love' for lack of a better phrase. It's a lot more enjoyable than the third cog causing a storm cloud to rain down on everyone because she can't have what she wants.

  9. M

    I find NagiAsu superior simply because everyone's actually putting some effort to think of each other ahead of themselves when they are trying to make these tough relationship decisions.

    And so we end up having these paragons of virtue for characters. The fact that most of them are kids makes it even harder to take seriously. They try to be as selfless as they can and when they fail,melodrama ensues,which was actually present from the very start. I suppose some of us(I know I did) subconsciously directed our attention at the other aspects of the series(which yes,were side dishes,I won't deny that at this point) since we found them to be the better part of it.

    WA2 may not be very different than other love triangle romance anime but does it need to? It's executed really well and although there are plenty of these out there,only a few actually are actually done right. Also,this might just be me but I honestly think it's way better when a romance drama takes it's time in letting the audience get to know it's characters without having to resort to drama but still give hints here & there that it'll eventually come,so it won't seem like it just popped out of nowhere. WA2 did that just that: It had 6-7 lighthearted episodes where the characters got to have fun with each other and the viewers had fun enjoying them have fun,with predictable yet subtle hints of a storm brewing. Of course,none of it was meaningless since it helped the characters get attached to each other and NONE OF IT was done off-screen.

    NagiAsu was quite full of angst from the very start if I recall,although a good portion of it was forgivable since the characters were kids. That had it's good points too: it allowed for plenty of character development(in fact it demanded it) but only Hikari and Manaka(I guess?) really got it. It made the show seem melodramatic if one focused primarily on the romance but luckily it had other things going for it as well. For a while now it's hard not to focus on the romance,since everything else is kind of gone,and so the flaws of the main dish are showing big time.

  10. S

    I think NagiAsu would be a perfect fit for the CW Network (and I don’t mean that as a compliment!). A show about the first-world problems of glamorous, superficial teenagers who are entangled in love polyhedrons accompanied with a lot of insignificant, cringeworthy melodrama and the only question that matters is: Who ends up with who?, would definitely find its place among the likes of the Gossip Girl, Supernatural shipping fanbase.

  11. t

    the tears just keep on falling…

    continuing from Miuna's tears last week, this time we had more tears of more characters. it was expected that it will come to this. of course, it's part of the deal with such a drama-romance complex (aka soap opera). it wasn't as bad as it might sound to you, but it was it was – tears that are trying to induce us some feelings but fail to be touching and moving as they are suppose to be. I am note saying the characters aren't suppose to cry..but it just not working for me as I'd wished (except in Akira's case…seriously?poor kid).

    as for the characters themselves. Chisaki definetely did the wrong thing by forcing herself to love Hikari and the rest, obviously she feels for Tsumugu but fail (or doesn't want to) understand it. it's quite weird after that scene a few eps when she was with Hikari in the water. and her tears…it didn't hit me. sorry.
    however, with Sayo it's all good. I like the way she talks and what she says. it doesn't really hit me, but it's not a total miss. she chose the right words last week and even move forward with talking seriously to Kaname.
    both Kaname and Tsumugu are kinda out of their shell this episode. Kaname actually cried and all, while Tsumugu became active (WTF?)…
    with Hikari, Miuna and Manaka we have an interesting situation. especially when Miuna said "I don't want him to notice my feeling" while in fact it seems he is like…more like see as a girl on his age now. and I like it how Manaka has such influence even when not really there. her confusion is also demonstrated well.

    I totally agree with you with the whole new-Ofunehiki. been there, done that. why again? that is a bad decision. well, it's all of Tsumugu desire to free Manaka (and let's admit – Chisaki), but it seems way too convenient. and just…go wrong.

    not that bad episode, but not that good either. I love some elemnts more, while others I don't. but still, I feel Okada's hand playing with the feelings and characters (not that it wasn't there all along..it was, but again, in some places it works). once again, Ofunehiki again is bad and it makes wonder about what and how things will be next. as you said, looking back for the 1st half ending, we had a good mix, and now we don't even reach half of it, which is kinda sad and makes you wonder about this series….

  12. s

    i dont know man, i see where you're coming from but i dont even think the whole hikari and manaka dynamic holds up. Manaka is just not an intriguing character to me; she doesnt have interesting or palpable character interactions with Hikari or any other character for that matter and she doesnt command the screen when she's on. As ive mentioned before, what made the whole hikariXmanaka dynamic have some intrigue was the way Hikari felt about manaka and how those feelings had opened up his eyes to what it means to grow up. But yea even Hikari and Manaka's relationship doesnt have enough fire to keep this series shining bright for me. I'm now just along for a moderately enjoyable ride.

  13. m

    I agree with you Sonic. Manaka was never really a character I cared all that much for. At best I liked how she was changing a bit when she took akari's place and liked her as an absent presence driving the story like Zetsuen no Tempest did with Aika. But she always was so childish to the degree that she seemed to be at least 5 years younger. But you're 100% correct in saying that the most interesting aspect about her character was how she made Hikari grow by being the one he had feelings for.

    As for ChisakixTsumugu I like the notion in general, and certainly it was done in the "best way possible". I say that in quotes bc there was no good way to have them together after avoiding it the whole series up til then. It would have worked perfectly if you could have seen Chisaki struggle with her desire to stay in the past with those who fell asleep, but since it was never shown or even hinted at it felt really forced. Though credit to Okada for at least managing to find the least ridiculous way of making it happen.
    I hated Sayu as a character. She was annoying and bitchy and really tough to watch at times. But as for her and Kaname together I think that was handled well enough. Without any serious interaction it would be absurd to have them end up in a relationship, but to have him say "i'll start looking at you as a girl. Is that ok as a start" or however he phrased it at least doesn't force it into anything too unrealistic. And him feeling like an outsider and wanting to feel like he was truly missed and thought about while asleep fits with his character IMHO anyway.

    I still do think Okada did a good job of portraying her 15 year old characters as realistic 15 year olds, but I have to agree with you Enzo that in doing so it made it wayyy too much of a soap opera of whiney self involved proportions. Not that that isn't ok if you like that kind of thing, but you really have no rational grounds to make an argument that it's not a soap opera. I can see how people would like that, god knows those types of shows have ALWAYS had tons of viewers in every country, but yeah that really isn't my favorite type of show.

  14. Wouldn't the "best way possible" have been to build up the Tsumugu-Chisaki relationship to the point where you could play it up now without it feeling so forced. Everything that's happening now just screams "convenience".

    As for Manaka, I agree she's not the be-all and end-all of characters, and she's more interesting for how she's impacted Hikari than her character in itself – indeed, I never claimed otherwise. But for me that doesn't change the fact that the relationship is the one plot and character element that still resonates, at least among the ones that haven't been tossed into the ditch.

  15. s

    You know what i think disappoints me the most about the way events have unfolded; is that all the good things i envisioned with the time skip got farted on by the second cour. It's not bad by any means, but Nagiasu was a fairly good series that kinda lost its strength a bit in its second cour run. Chisaki should have been given more time to hang out with the gang; I know she's busy but the writers could have found a way to have her still interact with her old friends, and then use that as an opportunity to illustrate the disconnect she feels with the aspect of change. That would have been a demonstration of some good writing.

    If they wanted to give Tsumugu proper development, have him emote more towards chisaki; not in an overzealous way that goes against what we know about his character of course, but in a way that shows that the romantic tension growing between him and chisaki over the past 5 years was slowly changing him, making him into a more confident and emotionally-open person (the show decides to tell us this instead of showing us). Have the viewer see that chisaki is starting to both physically and emotionally react to tsumugu in a romantic sense so that when it did drop the bomb on us, the viewer would feel satisfied.

    And for the show in general, it should have found a balance between weaving its world-building plot threads with the character drama to make for a more cohesive narrative. Even if the writers wanted the character drama to take precedence over the world-building stuff, dont just forget about it because the way they set up the series, they made it seem that the world-building naturally effected the character drama and pushed it in certain directions so just squandering that element of the series leads to a slight drop in quality. Heck, Noragami at heart is more about its character drama than the supernatural stuff, but it established that the supernatural elements push the character drama and it has not faltered in adhering to that established formula they way nagiasu did.

  16. J

    Frankly, I don't understand how anyone can say ChisakixTsumugu wasn't built up. Or Chisaki's struggles with her being 5 years older than everyone now (I think back to the episode where Chisaki slipped on her old middle school uniform)…

  17. m

    When I say best way possible I mean considering you cant redo all the previous 23 episodes. Obviously the best way would be to have shown Chisaki having feelings for him and struggling with it.

  18. S

    Sorry Enzo, but I completely disagree that the foundation for Chisaki X Tsumugu is not there.
    It seems to me that you refuse to see the signs because you just dislike the couple.
    Even before the timeskip, Chisaki only opened up to Tsumugu ("I can be your red-bellied sea slug"), she was the only one to ask him about his family. There was that awkward moment when they bumped shoulders, and finally there was the Ofunehiki, when she dived after him and then cried embracing him.
    After the timeskip, we saw Chisaki blushing while looking at Tsumugu in a high school uniform. Then there was the moment with the coffee jelly bean, when she scarfed down the whole thing when Tsumugu told her that he was going back to uni. The signs were all over there, even Kaname noticed them. Chisaki was just deluding herself that she still liked Hikari because she didn't want to change.

  19. R

    that's actually where the problem is for me. the growth of tsumugu's and chisaki's relationship was presented too subtly, that the audience might miss it at times. i wish they could have been a little more overt about it.

  20. I would argue so subtly that it doesn't exist.

    I have nothing against the couple at all – I was prepared to give them every chance. But there's just no "there" there, and it's too late to try and put it there now.

  21. R

    right. it's either you really have to either be a lot more observant or wearing shipping goggles all the time to spot it (not that i am agreeing that it isn't there).

    it would have been better if they have spread out chisaki's flashbacks of those five years throughout the earlier episodes to cement the fact that, yes they have been falling in love with each other all those years.

  22. A

    While I did notice the hints that the series has carefully strewn out for us, I agree that the development of their relationship was too low-key compared to the other relationships in the series. Maybe they were aiming for contrast or maybe they were so keen on making everything ambiguous/keeping the audience in the dark about their plans for the characters (does Chisaki still love Hikari? does Chisaki only see Tsumugu as family?) that it backfired.

  23. S

    So, I don't thing those signs were obvious, I only saw it recently when the show shoved it into my face. However, all of them are about Chisak's love! She's on the fence, and Tsumugu is not. What, you ask? Do we need the feelings of two people to have a convincing love pairing?

    Tsumugu is actually just a shell of a person that never portrays any emotion. That doesn't have to be so bad if we got to see Chisaki through his emotionless eyes, but we don't. He just pops up conveniently in love when the show need him to be. Like the most unnecesary plot of the year: Sayu's unrequited love.

  24. m

    If there were any signs of it, which I don't agree with personally, they were far too subtle to really be considered having been written properly. It's not a mystery where you're like "Oh man he Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time! How didn't I see that?!" It's a drama where you need to show valid reasons for following a certain path: I.E. Show Chisaki outwardly expressing her fight with staying stuck in the past and all that. Not just being sad bc she's older than Hikari (who apparently she doesn't love?)

  25. S

    Somebody should really make a compilation of all crying scenes. There's probably enough material for one or two episodes of endless tears. It's unbelievable in the worst meaning of the word. And with all the saltflake snow, it looks like the heaven itself is crying bitter tears over this stupid polyhedron of love.

  26. R

    actually, that's the amusing part. there really aren't that many crying scenes. and half of those few crying scenes weren't even related to the love polyhedron. amazing, huh.

  27. J

    I guess it all comes down to how you appreciate the subtleness of the show. Maybe you don't like it, but to say the show hasn't appropriately covered the relationships would be wrong. I think the subtleness is a beautiful metaphor of the complexity of human relationships considering this show builds its setting on the sea, which can also be described as subtle.

  28. m

    Not to be a jerk, and I'm honestly really not trying to make fun of you, but that statement is like when you're in HS English class and your teacher takes one sentence in a book and then one word in that sentence and says it was deliberate bc it was a metaphor for this or that. That's just way too in depth to really have ever been the intention of the creators here. It was subtle bc it wasn't handled well, not bc they wanted that subtlety to be a metaphor for how complex human relationships can be. It's easy to pick things apart after and say this meant this or that meant that, but while writing it people generally don't consider it in that much detail.

  29. R

    while I do appreciate the subtleties of the show as a whole (in fact, that is what i think one of NagiAsu's strengths), and agree with you that it can ultimately come down as to how one appreciate those, i have to agree with maverickmann84 that this is just stretching it too far. there really isn't anything to cement that notion. besides, some choice overt moments (which i wish they had thrown into the tsumugu-chisaki plot) will always help to make the audience better appreciate those subtleties.

  30. F

    ChisakixTsumugu really is subtle it's meant to be contrast to the younger kids overt feelings. I can't believe nobody notice all those little cues between Tsumugu and Chisaki pre and post timeskip. That scene in episode 9 where Chisaki becomes upset with Tsumugu for figuring her out screamed "chance encounter to me". The way it was show had a romantic air to it. I still can't believe that most subtleties are lost on people. NagiAsu is plenty subtle. I don't agree about the assertion it isn't. Just because the characters are overly emotional does not mean the show is unable to show subtle moments. Tsumugu and Chisaki''s feelings never felt forced to me. For me it was culmination of all the little things that happened between them. No, I don't have shipping goggles, I based it on actually analyzing the character interactions.

  31. R

    that's exactly the problem. tsumugu's and chisaki's relationship was presented too subtly up until this point, such that the sudden overt show of affections can be quite confusing. like i said, it would have been better if they had spread chisaki's flashbacks to earlier episodes to provide this particular part with a solid ground to stand on. that could have built the route from the subtleties to the culmination better.

    not that chisaki's character arc has gone totally bad. outside this particular turn of events, she is still very much an interesting character to follow. also, NagiAsu as a whole is still very solid to me, as the other plot threads are still very engaging.

    the resolution of kaname's and sayu's conflicts is worth mentioning in that it ended not with him saying "yes, you can heal my heart", but by saying "yes, i will see you not as a kid anymore". and sayu was simply happy that she got to say it. they never enter a relationship but simply found a new understanding of each other. it actually provided an interesting contrast as to how the events with chisaki and tsumugu unfolded.

  32. P

    if Kaname doesn't get an answer from Chisaki i'm giving this show first's half a 10/10 and the second half as 2/10. The second half killed the show for me, the main cast were missing and so were the threads that have been woven between them, there was an element missing and it cannot be returned. I need answers from all the charecters to get this sorted really.

  33. P

    I agree with Enzo on the notion that the show seems to drag on..

    Don't get me wrong, I love this show, and each week I feel even weaker as my heart crumbles with how much change has changed everything..

    I think my biggest pain has been the classroom scene before the Ofenihiki:
    1) Kaname still didn't get an answer from Chisaki
    2) Manaka still didn't return Hikari's
    3) Hikari still didn't conclude his love
    4) Chisaki is still in love with Hikari..
    5) till now, nobody realized Kaname's love for Chisaki (maybe Sayu did, but she doesn't count to me much as the shioshishio's 4-some)

    There's also no indication that Chisaki will ever answer Kaname, so this will never be resolved maybe.. they even made this thing where Hikari always seems to find her, but to me in the first half of the series, it seemed to me that Kaname was.. I don't get it!! I'm confused! Her answer to Kaname is actually one of the most important scenes of the series, really important.

    The only thing the show succeeded to make me feel is the silent prayer that Hikari and Manaka do end up together because I gave up on the others.. the other important aspect of the show is Manaka and Hikari's relation..

    Leaving that aside! How long will the Shioshishio people sleep! do these kids miss their families? Is really their relationship for each other the only thing they have going? what about their parents :S….

    I don't know.. I love the show, but like I said, these things need answers. Tsumugu can have Miuna if he wants lol.. x.x'

    PS. what is with Tsumugu becoming? he wasn't going to rescue Manaka, until Chisaki rejected him, and now he wants to save Manaka so Chisaki can move on with her feelings? I don't get it.. it seems rather selfish. I mean he wasn't interested in trying what Hikari asked him at all, 'I wont tell my feelings if I don't feel anything to her', oh come on, the girl is like losing her heart.. I hated him at that scene, really… the fact he's like 'im older now you can't do anything to me', and Hikari just punches him, looked dumb lol x.x'

    I really love this show help me:(……

  34. P

    oh and in the first 12 episodes, Hikari says "back then we didn't know what was up with those 2"..

    He still doesn't know whats up with those 2, so will this be solved? or will this be a 'gap' in the show?

  35. P

    sorry I think I am just getting tense nearing the show's end with not many things concluded..

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