Time for the pool episode?
Nagi no Asukara has been a bit drama-filled to this point, but this episode lightened it up quite a bit, even with Hikari crashing around like a bull in a china shop.
Someone needs to cool off
This episode explored a lot more about Hikari, shifting the main character focus from Manaka to him both at home and at school. We get more about his thoughts, but even though he’s thinking about things, that doesn’t really temper his anger towards the entire world. He’s definitely roiled by many things he doesn’t understand, although I get the feeling that these things around him aren’t beyond him, just that he doesn’t take the time to understand them. Instead he lets his emotions take over leading to impulsive actions.
Maybe she’ll go for that ‘forbidden love’
Faced with another big disappointment in her life, Akari puts on a cheerful face, but cries to herself all night. The reaction was the same when their mother died, and Akari put her future on hold to help take care of Hikari, forgoing college and taking a local job to stay at home. Hikari doesn’t understand why she makes the choices that she does, or why she’d focus on him, but a part of him is actually glad to see that she has actually thought about a boyfriend, because it indicates that she’s thinking of herself again, at least a little bit, and not feeling so obligated to providing for him. This doesn’t really temper his anger at her boyfriend, however, and so he concocts a scheme to track him down and beat him up, with Kaname and the rest dragged along to try to keep him from getting too out of hand.
Hikari overhearing Manaka talk about Tsumugu doesn’t exactly calm him down
Information that surprises everyone from Tsumugu
The person who seems to know the most about life in this mixed society is Tsumugu, which they find out after following Akari’s boyfriend to his house. While there, the kids finally learn why relationships are discouraged, on pain of banishment, between the two peoples: Mixed children cannot breathe underwater, which means they have to leave the village, leading to eventual depopulation. This is likely to happen anyway, but they’re trying to stave it off as long as possible, it seems. They actually did come up with something not completely out of left field for a reason, relating the Ena which allows breathing underwater to the amnion babies develop in. And it’s not just the umiko that didn’t know this, but also Akari’s boyfriend, who endures a pummeling from Hikari, who doesn’t see that there’s space between dating and marriage.
Stoic and sparkly
But the bigger surprise to Hikari is Tsumugu’s knowledge of Shioshishio, as well as his curiosity about it (like why their clothes are never wet, as the water is soaked up by the ena for use). And he reluctantly realizes that Tsumugu, and his grandfather, are both good people, even if they’re both taciturn and rather gruff, or knock Hikari out to get him to stop beating up Tooru. The reason for this knowledge and interest becomes clear, however, when Hikari sees the characteristic glistening skin on Tsumugu’s grandfather, indicating that he’s one of the people who was forced to leave the village. Learning that Tsumugu isn’t just pretending in order to get close to Manaka, and that he’s a pretty cool guy, Hikari finally warms up enough to him to consider him a friend, much to Manaka’s, and everyone else’s, relief.
These three will be best friends for life
We did get a final kicker in this episode as well, by way of an explanation why those two grade schoolers were so intent on harassing Akari. After an attempted knockout (I’ll give Sayu a pass on this, it took me a while to understand there was chloroform on those handkerchiefs too), Hikari finally is confronted by Miuna about what they want: Miuna’s father to stop being with ‘that girl’, Akari. Boy, he doesn’t look that old, does he!
Chisaki isn’t too upset at the idea of Tsumugu x Manaka
I think everyone figured there was something that would be going on with interspecies reproduction, and we get that confirmed to us this episode, while also learning that Tsumugu is at least a descendant of that kind of pairing. I still think that’s not a reason for the village to shun the people who choose to fall in love with someone from the surface, but it explains why there is going to be a drain on the village. There’s essentially a one-way flow of people, and the best they can do is try to slow the rate of loss. Even Akari says that there’s pretty slim pickings among eligible bachelors under the surface, and the fact that there’s only the four children in our group, with no evidence of senpais or kouhais either, just reinforces this point. It’s difficult to watch your group slowly pass into extinction, even if there would be a chance of the individuals and descendants surviving.
My thoughts start to turn to ways that such a decline could be slowed? I wonder if some land people would be interested in raising a child that was not their own genetics, but of their spouse’s? You wonder if a boy like Tsumugu would be interested in that, for the opportunity to raise a child like his wife (if Manaka) and grandfather? They’ve obviously figured out how to live on land, so I wonder if people would swallow their genetic pride and go with it.