Nagi no Asukara Tsumugu Kihara Miuna Shiodome Dock Pier Sunset Water Ocean Clouds

Nagi no Asukara, Collected Commentary Notebook (14 – 26)

My episodic notes, reactions, and commentary from the second half of Nagi no Asukara, which aired during the Winter 2014 anime season.

Looking for episodes 1 – 13 from the first half of Nagi no Asukara? Click here!

Everything is by and large as it was when I originally wrote them in the Hangers category when the show was airing. They have been sewn together and provided for the convenience of readers to look back on my feelings on this series specifically, without needing to click through numerous pages.

Check the Notebooks category or the appropriate Index page for additional posts like this one for other series.

 

 

 

 

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (Episode 14)

 

Looks like the production break did a number to the folks here; we’re five years into the future!

I would also like it if the new intro did not immediately ruin who lives from previous events, but this is a larger problem a lot of productions tend to have. It does not excuse them for following along, but it is an industry frustration of mine at times. At least hold off on the intro for another week, or design it in such a way where the folks are on a different animation layer and can be seamlessly flipped back on and worked in as they reappear in the production.

Nagi no Asukara Chisaki Hiradaira Time Skip Five Years Saltflake Snow Town Winter Landscape Street

I both loved and hated this episode in so many ways.

I enjoyed the slower pace of it, the quietness that permeated through so much of it as everyone has grown up more and everything continues its wintry march toward a doomsday ice age. I liked having the characters placed in new life situations as a result, such as Chisaki and then seeing over time why it was that she had come to be visting and bathing Isamu Kihara in the hospital. I enjoy the prospect of the teacher having a new crop of students, and seeing what comes from that as he recollects various things to folks like Miuna. I like the idea of scientists coming in to do studies on the sea villages.

That’s all great, I like that bunches.

The dialogue could have used another run through an editing team in places, as sentences like “everyone changed so much, and it’s only been five years” get into that goopy expository canyon where one is telling rather than showing things. But, you know, on the whole I can generally be pretty forgiving when one is dealing in massive time skips such as this, as one does want to get everyone up to speed quickly so they can move on to whatever the Cool Stuff they wanted to do in the new setting happens to be.

That said though:

Quoting from my Google document I jot notes into as I watch things, my literal excerpt from the end of the episode was “Hikari moon race what the bullshit.” Which is factually untrue, at least for now, in that they did not actually come from the moon. But I really would have liked that arrival sequence to, at minimum, be put off an episode so the future without him as we see it could gel a bit more. Not only that though, it raises an alarming number of sirens for how this series may want to handle drama in the future.

A lot of folks have said to just trust Mari Okada to handle things, and I… well, don’t.

Admittedly, the only series of hers I have seen to completion is Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, so I don’t have much of a personal track record with her work. But, in that one, she had been handed the keys to a long running franchise, took it for a fantastically fun joyride, and then crashed into a smoldering pile of narrative wreckage at the end. And that’s a case where there theoretically would have been more editorial oversight than Nagi no Asukara likely has. So, I’m at least kind of concerned.

But I hope I’m wrong.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode 15)

 

“I want to protect his smile.”

Lying is bad for you Miuna. Well, perhaps it is not fundamentally a lie so much as it is merely not the full truth. Either way, your mom should have taught you that! Especially since you are trying to get with her brother.

Nagi no Asukara Chisaki Hiradaira Bus Stop Breakdown Crying Open Door

As it goes then, be it due to the shock of how the Sea God made their mark five years ago, the encroaching ice age in the time since, and so on, things seem to have mellowed out a bit on the surface in terms of how they have been viewing their sleeping sea village neighbors. We have the formerly more antagonistic fishery collective speaking of being able to have some great sake with them, and the surface has been playing the same song over the seaward speaker system at five o’ clock every day for all these years. Only missing or appreciating what you have when it is gone and all that.

Thankfully, Hikari is not actually taking his awakening in full stride or with any kind of “I now have all the answers” heaven sent shenanigans. The kid is confused and angry. Good.

For all the concerns folks like Chisaki, Manaka, or indeed Hikari himself have had about changing as thematic element, Hikari has due to circumstances been forced to remain just as he was all those years ago and placed in somewhere very much the same and yet radically different without much of a personal sense of time advancement. How he navigates that going forwards will ideally be interesting, given the differences between Chisaki and Miuna after all this time and what they or their feelings can come to represent for him.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode 16)

 

From the studio that brought us the anime adaptation of Another: Industrial crane fall down and go boom out of nowhere. Also pulled from the ether: sudden sparkly mermaid ena skin development and swimming capabilities in someone who previously had none. I hope the wheels don’t fall off on this series like I felt P.A.’s swing at Another did when it moved to jack things up.

Nagi no Asukara Sayu Hisanuma Town Clock Waiting Park Trees Mountains Snow

Sayu’s slow burn descent into blowing up into an argument with Miuna over how she has been acting I feel was appropriately handled due to the time it took to actually explode. It’s a frustrating situation, being the third wheel on a day out, and especially so if it’s with someone who got their long term crush returned to them from a extremely terrible separation event. They don’t realize the optics of how they’re actually acting and making other people feel.

I do think it is really harsh that Hikari let Sayu sit in the back of the cargo area of the small pickup truck while she was clearly very emotionally distressed from her fight with Miuna and crying quite a lot about it. I’m not sure to chalk that up to raw boneheadedness on his part or what. Hikari, you let someone feeling like that ride in the truck with the nicer seat and where they won’t feel alone and bouncing around, come on dude.

That Sayu and Miuna are still very much hung up on elementary school crushes from five year ago though is kind of odd to me in its own right, I have to say. If at least one of them had let go, I think that could have led to a potentially more interesting developmental or interaction dynamic when either Hikari or Kaname returned. But we’ll see where they go now that the boys are back in town.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode 17)

 

Sayu in bed thinking of that one time she was patted on the head by Kaname is the sort of overwraught thing I have difficutling finding myself invested in, unfortunately. Her “There’s no way a childhood crush bears fruit, I’m bound to forget these feelings one day” is, well… it’s been five years since elementary school, that should have happened already.

It would have happened already. Unless you are a crazy person.

Nagi no Asukara Sayu Hisanuma Windblown Hair Sky Clouds Wonder Amazed

I would find her character position to be more intriguing had she moved on, and then he came back into her life as he did. Now the same age as her, having to potentially come to terms with that sort of matter and what she saw in him all those years ago and where she is in her love life now and the places that emotional conflict could go would be a far more interesting narrative to me.

The “I decided I’d live the rest of my life alone” stuff as a lifestyle choice made by a little kid half a decade ago just doesn’t jive with me. These are the areas where the series lurches from understandable and solid interactions and decisions from the preteen and under crowd to overcooked melodrama territory in my mind.

I do find it thematically appropriate that in reentering the sea in search of the village the boys are being led by a girl again after Hikari and Kaname agree together to not change, just as they were when they first left for shore school. The whole “Your ena is not complete” “I think it’ll be fine” and the observation of “The water temperature is pretty low” is all going to come around and bite Miuna hard though, of that I am quite certain.

It was nice knowing you, in the event the show bumps you off!

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode eighteen)

 

Mostly a pretty quiet episode of doing some meandering around our re-discovered undersea village, now with just a covering of that salt-flake snow from nobody being awake to shovel.

I didn’t even necessarily mind Hikari’s outbursts to Miuna about how things aren’t normally like this, since it would be quite a bit of a strain on his own mind as well.

Nagi no Asukara Miuna Shiodome Hikari Sakishima Kaname Isaki Shioshishio Saltflake Snow Landscape

What does kind of irk me is the continued “The adults weren’t lying, right?” stuff about everyone hibernating and/or being dead. If it does not turn out that large swaths of the villagers have in fact died, I’ll be more surprised, such has been the general handling of dialogue and theatrics surrounding this topic. I mean, we already had a big costumed funeral-like procession when other nameless kids succumbed to the hibernation way back when, for instance. Hikari and Kaname, meanwhile, were folks that were cheating on the fasting rules back during the festival preparation five years ago. So I’ve sort of been writing off the village for some time now, admittedly, as the program hasn’t really been too subtle in this department.

Miuna gaining ena could be followed up by other mixed background individuals gaining it as well, in turn seeking out the sea they could never be a part of before and in turn recolonizing or repopulating it themselves. It would work well with the imagery of her going through the town as a sort of outsider “invading” it, even adding herself to the height chart.

My feelings on Manaka’s rescue I figure need to be paused until we see what is actually done with the move of forcefully removing her from the graveyard of sacrifices. I will say, the notion that she had been down there for so many years but we just barely got here in time before she would potentially drown feels kind of cheap. But, given the more forlorn look of Uroko-sama at the time, perhaps the kids have doomed their village due to Hikari’s “I’ll never change” mantra he recently re-upped and that impulsive hotheadedness coming around to bite him in one of the worst ways imaginable.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode nineteen)

 

I had mentioned last week that I would need to put my opinion on Manaka’s rescue on pause until this week, to see what they would do with it. I’m not entirely sure I get to fully unpause it this week though, as we fundamentally have her in a Sleeping Beauty coma. Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear as though our sea village has collapsed into some gaping maw overnight or something. So it hasn’t really done anything yet aside from, well, the associated emotions and connotations folks get from seeing her.

Which is fine, it doesn’t need to do anything particularly quickly with her. But, I would imagine all this stuff about grampa talking about old tales from Sea God lore that he mentions few really care to remember because they don’t like the sad ending of the stories leads to someone getting burned sooner rather than later due to bringing her to the surface.

Nagi no Asukara Chisaki Hiradaira Isamu Kihara Hospital Landscape Snow Scenery Sunlight Lens Flare

It kind of bugs me that Chisaki going diving under the ice all alone to search out the sea village and being surprised that it was still pretty rough currents guarding it led not only to Hikari just happening to be around to help rescue her but they both make it to the intended destination safe and sound. A place that, as of an episode ago, Hikari only made it to because Miuna could hear the sand-like noise and figure out how to follow it.

Now given, Hikari could probably remember a path if it were it actually that straightforward. But I did think it took away a bit from a certain perspective of Miuna’s ability to find the way to somewhere she had never even seen before yet could attune herself to make it to that place better than the surface scientists or those who had lived there through much of their lives.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty)

 

Akari gets time off from Saya Mart to take care of Manaka? She has a pretty sweet workplace benefits package!

Meanwhile, the water temperature is dropping, and I think it might even be making the show itself kind of sluggish.

Nagi no Asukara Tsumugu Kihara Miuna Shiodome Dock Pier Sunset Water Ocean Clouds

Something that really stood out to me is that Hikari is doing all of this searching for Uroko, but we don’t really see it. He’s missing school, making himself sick, running himself ragged… but we only see the results rather than the cause.

Just one scene where he is underwater desperately searching in an empty village, but unable to find who he is looking for before needing to come back up, would have been welcome. The show would then be able to gloss over the other searches, as we would have seen how that bit of his struggle goes. As it is, I feel like this episode was more focused on telling me he is having a hard time than showing me, as he comes back from several of these trips. Which is unfortunate and I feel like I’m playing bad cop or something, as I know a lot of people really like Mari Okada as an anime creator. I would like to be more invested in what is going on here. I understand why Hikari is sad and frustrated, but I just wanted to see more of the how.

Thank goodness the whole thing with Sayu reading Snow White and suggesting someone should kiss Manaka like a sleeping princess was not actually tested. Bringing it up that way was already pretty on the nose. Speaking of Sayu: she and Kaname taking notes together for those missing school is one of their few legitimate on screen interactions.

I assume this means they are now husband and wife. Or something to that effect. She has maintained a remarkably strong elementary school crush for half a decade with very little to work with, so I can only imagine what this will do.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty one)

 

I’ve noticed recently this series has been getting to be the last show I watch every week. I usually don’t get around to it until Monday, but I watch all the others the same day they air.

It’s not the worst show I’m watching, by any means, but that is something I found curious once I picked up on it.

Nagi no Asukara Manaka Mukaido Wide Arms Ocean Sea Ice Frozen Water Snow

I think part of what has been getting to me is the sense of the show being stuck in neutral for a while now. It often has interesting ideas, it raises points it could explore. Then it just sort of does a lot of drifting around around until the last thirty seconds or so for cliffhanger time.

Manaka waking up from a five year coma and spending pretty much the whole episode giddy over the all encroaching snow across many stops feels… odd. This is a character who roughly the last things they remember should be the festival and desperately diving into a frenetic ocean current to save someone. But none of that seems to register here. She has always been the series embodiment of change, but she also had her own hangups and hesitations when she was active in the series before. This came off rather strangely.

Tsumugu has a quite reasonable reaction though: hanging back from the welcoming, the cover of saying Manaka might get overloaded, asked how she was, etc. The “Are you lonely?” “No, but you are” exchange with Chisaki? I rather liked how that went. He definitely hasn’t been someone who has been pining after the same person for half a decade since middle school. For someone I was on edge about at the start of the series, he has better come into his own.

Farting Mouth Fish Appendages are back as well! They were like a warped bonding element before, in how the previous one was kind of embarrassing for Manaka but caused some varied character interactions. I hope this one gets a line like the other.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty two)

 

How much fan fiction is going to come from Sayu feeding Tsumugu’s farting fish arm in the bath tub?

That isn’t even so much snark as a genuine curiosity. Scenes like that do things to the internet.

Nagi no Asukara Akira Shiodome Penguin Toy Toddler Kid

Kaname continues to do that routine of his which gets under my skin, where he says things like “Maybe I should ask you out again” and such to Chisaki. He claims he is joking, but, it isn’t exactly a good one because it is loaded with years of emotional baggage. He strikes me as a character who is supposed to be making me want to shake him for being a manipulative prick on one level or another though. So this is less me complaining and more recognizing if this is their goal for his arc it continues to be that for me. As an individual, he irks me. But, there are good narrative reasons for that.

Likewise, we do have our explanation for why Manaka was being a borderline child last episode: she outright had a lobotomy performed by the sea god. Fair enough. The whole notion that memories were wiped and the heart will never be able to love again and all that though is, well… I will have to see. I was not the biggest fan of ef: A Tale of Memories, which locks a central dynamic of the series on such a hook. We have four episodes to deal with this fallout, a bunch of other character hangups in our love dodecahedron (or whatever shape it has taken on), and the potential end of the world years from now.

I want this to work. I am just envisioning all the ways this could go wrong.

Who knows though: maybe the final message is Hikari could have avoided all this happening to everyone he cared about and dooming the entire planet had he just told the girl he liked that she was cute and if she would like to go somewhere sometime.

Even if she had turned him down, you know it would have solved a lot of problems before they even began.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty three)

 

Remember when I used to compliment this show on its writing for adolescents? Now, much like the characters themselves, the show has me dreaming of the past in fanciful ways I may not be able to actually obtain.

Even the seagull is starting to get into questioning what these folks are up to.

Nagi no Asukara Seagull Shifty Eyes Angry Stare

Chisaki being relived that Manaka forgot so much about Hikari ground all my gears in the worst way.

It has been five years. Half a decade. Her childhood friend has a serious lobotomy issue whose circumstances may or may not be keenly relevant for an end of the world ice age. She is in a medical training program en route to becoming a nurse, with all that entails. And is continuing to freak out over a crush from ages ago she did nothing about way back when, with zero romantic relationships in the time since. Her just running away from Tsumugu sealed it for me: her adult age narrative bugs me on a level I see as detrimental to the program.

For me, this is intrinsically linked to the entire love dodecahedron shtick the show wants to have in conjunction with its big time skip. All the plates it is trying to spin were only ever going to be maintained for so long. We could have had the love geometry stuff without the time skip, while the temporal jump would have been far more compelling if anyone on shore had moved on. That would been excellent, really: a more young adult age character in their whole new relationship after so many years had elapse, and being being able to see the very same person they used to hold feelings for as the exact age said individual was when those feelings existed. It would be a rather rich well for individual reflection on how the years had treated them in the time since, or the person they used to be.

But nobody did move on.

Chisaki and Miuna were still cruising for Hikari, while Sayu flat out states the only reason she did anything related to work or study for the last half decade was out of feelings for Kaname. Oy. We have our sea god scale going “there are some things in the world you can’t do anything about,” which I hope starts to sink in for someone soon because we are rapidly running out of time. This series had such a great opportunity for a rather particular kind of character explorations, and it has so very unfortunately seen fit to leave it on the table.

Sayu at least has finally worked up the sense of self to ask Kaname out. Good for her. She can be the little momentum engine that could. Assuming she goes through with it.

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty four)

 

Word to the wise: never, ever say a line like “I feel your feelings are for me now” to somebody you want to date.

Imperative after they have run away from you once already.

Nagi no Asukara Sayu Hisanuma Kaname Isaki Railroad Train Tracks Love Confession Snow

That said, I do like the sentiment behind Tsumugu’s speech about watching Chisaki going through so much. And I can appreciate that it is wooden in concept, as these kinds of declarations can be. But his flat intonation is rather odd. Tsumugu already has a stoic monotone most of the time, so here his I Just Chased You To The Bottom Of The Ocean love declaration sounds like he is reading any other line of the script. Something with a bit more of a pace to it one way or another would have been called for, I feel. He was more emotional impact when he discovered his farting fish arm than talking about the feelings of his heart.

Given, Tsumugu’s reaction was better than the giant dripping globby tear beards several folks wore this episode. I don’t care how pretty and sparkling P.A. Works makes them; it goes over the edge and just doesn’t do it for me. I feel I’m being told to feel sad rather than compelled to. That’s a fine line personal thing though, as I have for sure been sad at tears in other shows.

Same thing with Manaka bolting from her location due to a little kid who can not even form coherent words drawing an I Love Manaka crayon note. It just feels like a cheap shot. I understand she technically can not feel love at the moment, but… still. I just think there was a better screenwriting way to present her coming to grips with the whole I Do Not Feel Love And What Is That Feeling Like thing. Maybe react to her friends, after Sayu and Kaname give a go at dating after this episode. But that world have required said event to occur far sooner in the narrative, and would have meant more episodes where the plot moved after the time skip rather than trying to preserve the love polygon pileup.

Hikari remains denser than depleted uranium with his “What do the Ofunehiki and Manaka have to do with anything” remarks, while Tsumugu as one of our only adults and change agents gets the gears in motion to save the world.

Maybe they can make a point of that.

 

 

 
Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara (Episode twenty five)

 

Of all the shows I have been writing about each week, this is the only one that is not already finished.

I have been kind of down on this series for a while now, and part of me feels bad about it. It has a nice color palate, with the blues, purples, and other indicatives of ocean flavor that play well together and even more so with snow. The show is well shot for what it is going for, and it is never shy about landscape shots as a means of selling location, scope, and larger than life grandiosity. Aspects like the Ofunehiki ceremony appeal to me both as worldbuilding and story devices.

I’ve just slowly stopped caring about what happens to so many of the characters.

Nagi no Asukara Ofunehiki Ceremony Ships Boats Fire Night Evening Moonlight Ocean Sea Shore Landscape

What saddens me is there was a time I know I was far more committed.

By this point I fear I sound almost like a broken record, as something the show has been rather deft at is giving so many illusions of advancement while doing so very little to move people along. The love polygon is just so large. So many folks have been stuck on the same beats that it has been like an albatross around the neck of this series. Tsumugu talking to Chisaki about him needing to figure out how to get her to admit she loves him (which is just such a horrifyingly bad way to go about these things, by the by) comes off more to me as the show trying to somehow kickstart a stalled gear in a Rube Goldberg machine than a heartfelt push.

And it is all quite mechanical, because at worst perhaps only one of the characters in this entire long held crush structure will end up without a partner they met years ago. And that is assuming the show does not pull a move like merging Manaka and Miuna into the same person for Hikari. Which is wholly within the realm of possibility. For better or worse, that irks me.

It gets under my skin that little toddler Akira has had a more genuine and honest romantic progress development and resolution in his crush on Manaka than several of our leads have had with each other. That so much of this tugs for “feels” over feelings. That the show held a lot of promise at different points for being able to approach the childhood crush geometry in a new and compelling way, be it environmental matters, cultural collisions at school and society at large, and so on.

It has been this pebble like reveal every now and again, and for a while that was enough for me. Like Tsumugu’s mother showing up that one time, and there was clearly a tension and family problem there. And I think to myself “Well, this will be an interesting thing to explore later.” Especially if his family situation had called for middle school age him to move away from the shore or something, and how that would perhaps affect the various crushes or the like. But we haven’t brought mom up again at all. She’s just far away, and Tsumugu doesn’t like her very much because… reasons.

And in that context, it is harder to view the whole ice age thing as more than a convenient excuse to just shove all the ocean adults into the cupboard as well. Which is a shame, as these kinds of larger familiar and societal relationships seemed like they were going to be so much more important to our actual love and romance plot.

So many sparkling and lovely parts of the canvas were ejected over time in favor of bog standard otaku wish fulfillment in a pretty frame.

And that has been breaking my heart most of all.

 

 

 

 

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi No Asukara [Episode twenty six]

 

“Isn’t it a problem that there’s been no progress?”

In what is a shocking turn of events, Kaname of all people may present the single most pertinent question regarding this series.

I must level with you: I have not been enjoying this show for some time now. Maybe you’ve been reading my concerns about it for weeks, perhaps this is your first time here due to the new season. For me, this series has excelled in taking every intriguing and fascinating concept I hoped it would run with and has been methodically casting them overboard. There was so much crying in this finale, so much screaming, and I just wanted it to end. For my sake, not theirs. By what should be its finest moments, everything these characters do only hits me like a wall of static now.

Nagi no Asukara Hikari Sakishima Miuna Shiodome Confession Moonlight Ocean Clouds Sky Reflection

With Miuna taking the former place of Manaka with the Sea God, with so much calamity occurring in the tortured currents above and any number of potential outcomes, Tsumugu tells Hikari to hold on. Don’t do anything rash Hikari. It is a natural and logical concern. There is an encroaching ice age above, and the Sea God below. It would be nice to get a handle on the situation and what is going on. But Hikari tears away at the shell protecting Miuna anyway. Because that is how he always acts. It is what he has always done. And it works without any lasting consequences. Because that is what always happens. Miuna is not accidentally killed, Hikari’s inability to undergo a sense that maybe just this one time he should not be so rash does not cause a further ice age, nothing. Everything is fine. Because feels.

Characters like the boy who had a crush on Miuna are brought up again just before the very end. And I am reminded once more, as if it was twisting every final knife it can draw, we could have done so much more with concepts like the shore characters having moved on with their lives. That maybe Miuna would have given up on the hibernating Hikari, and perhaps developed feelings for someone else. Then his return complicating matters, arriving without a day of aging just as he was all those years ago, the exact Hikari she had once felt for. To explore her feelings. There is a good character story in there, with great granular issues to explore. There are a lot of good character stories in here that could have been.

This series was my greatest winter disappointment. Over time, it squandered so much rich thematic material to explore in favor of the most baseline way this story could have been. And that makes me sadder than anything it put on screen.

 

Looking for episodes 1 – 13 from the first half of Nagi no Asukara? Click here!

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