Nagi no Asukara – 02

beautiful village

The beauty of the undersea village draws Tsumugu in

spring13-highwNagi no Asukara is an early candidate vying for my top show of the season (even if it’s two-cour). The second episode wasn’t a let up in either the beautiful art or the romantic drama. So let’s see what went on.

Growing Love

Hikari mad at Manaka

Hikari’s usual face, and Manaka just doesn’t know what to do

Manaka isn’t sure what she’s feeling, but she’s pretty sure that she likes it. So much so that she’s willing to try to anger Lord Uroko again to get her cursed fish knee back, and wrap it and pretend that it’s still there when that doesn’t work. But she still doesn’t get why Hikari is so grumpy about it, even as she tries to not do things that make Hikari mad. But she’s also still really interested in Tsumugu, and the show gives a really good feel at how conflicted she is.

Manaka in love

But this is how she looks at Tsumugu

It also does more to make Tsumugu more of a person, and show how much he cares about both the world he lives in and the town of Shioshishio. He’s the only person who’s willing to help make the Boatdrift Ceremony happen, and he’s also able to explain why he is interested: having looked down from the surface and heard singing from undersea, he finds beauty in that world, just as he found beauty in Manaka’s curse and Manaka herself. But you get the impression that he’s not doing it just because of Manaka, but because he really feels that he wants to do what he can for the umiko (and thanks to their teacher for that name, I really like it).

Attack of the Grade schoolers

Hikari doesn’t really yell at the grade schoolers… much

Conversely, Hikari is pushed more into the ‘angry dumb kid’ role. While I understand and think we need to allow for the narcissism of youth, at some point when you’re being an angry idiot, and all your friends are telling you you’re being an angry idiot, maybe you should listen to them. And just because you don’t understand how you feel doesn’t mean that your friends and others can’t understand it. You’re not the first person to have those feelings, and sometimes the separation from the turmoil that other people have is instructive. But instead of reflecting at all on it, Hikari just tries to blunder through, yelling at Manaka, yelling at Chisaki, bristling at everything as he feels like the life he was constructing falls apart with nothing he can do about it.

Hikari pushes too far

Hikari pushes Manaka over the edge

Serious Consequences

Akari's fate sealed

Akari’s forbidden romance

The other main theme this episode is the status of cross-surface relationships, with Manaka thinking about Tsumugu and with the discovery that Akari is seeing a boy from the surface. And rather than people turning their back on the village, as Hikari thought, or it not being a big deal, as Manaka thought, the ‘rules’ of the village say that being with people from the surface is forbidden. And the punishment for breaking this rule is apparently banishment from the village thereafter. Not enough to even be lenient and let them try which way of life they prefer, the middle-aged men of the village seem ready to banish Akari immediately.

Akari's reckoning

Akari looks defeated

And if I’m looking for reason #1 why Shioshishio is failing, as it obviously is, this is certainly a good candidate. This is provincialism at its worst, an unnecessary limiting condition that ensures a drain from the village that won’t be corrected, but will only spiral into the collapse of the village. If you make your land inhospitable to outsiders, then you can’t replenish loss. At this point we don’t know what the offspring of land and sea people are, whether they are strictly land humans or have a chance to be sea people, and maybe there’s some basis for this rule in the outcome of that. And maybe people who leave the sea lose their Ena, the protective coating which allows them to breathe in the air, and their ability to return to the water, although it seemed much more life or death for Manaka when she was out of the water too long.

Hikari's vision of Manaka

If this is how Hikari views Manaka, no wonder he’s afraid of losing her

Even if there is no permanent change, and those who leave would have to spend the night in the pool or something, that would still be workable for a couple. But if a route to welcoming those who leave is closed, then those people will turn their backs on the village that has turned its back on them. What would they owe to people who would deny them love, especially for small-minded and petty reasons like the continued existence of a small village (and yes, I consider forcing people to stay in a dying village “small-minded and petty”).

Kaname and Chii

Kaname and Chii discussing their future

header-spr13-highway

Another nice episode, this one seemed able to focus more on the characters, which will hopefully get some of the people who had their immersion ruined by mechanics more into the story. The story of the girl who always chased behind being the one who takes the first big step is compelling, and the politics of Shioshishio are going to play a part. I can understand the flailing in desperation that would cause people to try to enact a law like that, but it takes reflection and insight to realize that banning things that people want to do does not work. If they want their village to rebound, an iffy proposition, they need to find a way to be more welcoming (and who knows if this just mirrors Japan’s current population issues, or if it’s intended as a metaphorical reference to them).

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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17 Responses to “Nagi no Asukara – 02”

  1. Irenesharda says:

    Well, this is getting better with each episode. We run into the rules of the world we see of the relationship between the sea people and the land people. I always wonder why the land people can’t become a sea person to be with the one they love? In not just this story but many of the ones involving sea people who fall in love with land people. Why is it always the sea person becoming a land person never to return? It just doesn’t really seem fair. If there is magic enough for a sea person to become land human, then why can’t there be magic to go the other way around? And I’m not talking specifically this story alone, I’m talking the this sub fantasy genre in general.

    Honestly, this episode made me more Hikari x Manaka, even if Manaka’s such a big crybaby. Hikari really cares for Manaka, and is lashing out because he doesn’t understand his feelings. Tsumugu seems to be nice but indifferent towards Manaka, sometimes he seems like he’s actually more interested in her fish!

    Also, I’ve always been against girls lying to guys just so the guy will like them more. Manaka lying about her fish is stupid. Just tell him the truth, don’t lie and scheme your way around because you think it will make him like you better. If he doesn’t like you without the stupid fish, it wasn’t meant to be!

    As for Chisaki, I think it will continue to be unrequited love. In fact, they seem to be hinting that she might just find comfort in Kaname sooner or later. As for Hikari’s sister, I don’t know where that will go. (Again, why does she have to sacrifice everything for the guy, but the guy can’t do it for her?) Hopefully she won’t be banished and be unable to return, but I don’t know how it would work if she has to go underwater everyday anyway in order to not dry out and to be able to breath.

    Anyway, a good start, I give this a 7.8/10.

    • Highway says:

      Technical aspects aside, in this one it appears the land people still wouldn’t be able to go below the surface because of politics of exclusion. And like I said, that’s just a recipe for collapse on the part of Shioshishio. I do wonder if the mechanics of living underwater are more magical, in that if someone wanted do, Lord Uroko could make it possible for someone to transform into a sea person.

      Besides, it’s not always. In Splash, Allen forsook the surface to be with Madison underwater (ignore Splash, Too, because it’s a crappy TV movie).

      I don’t know if Manaka is lying about the fish because she thinks that’s what Tsumugu finds attractive about her (he did say that she was beautiful on her own), or if she’s afraid of losing a special connection to him. Something like Yozora trying to hold on to being friends first with Kodaka in Haganai.

      • Irenesharda says:

        My cousin has that movie but I’ve never watched it. Maybe I’ll give it a look.

        I actually would like it if the sea god would allow humans to become sea people again if only they asked. From the myth they spoke off, the sea god was angry at the humans for rejecting that which he had given them, which is why they had to do the maiden sacrifice ritual. Wouldn’t it be a better reconciliation with the sea god, if some of the people who rejected him (or at least their descendants) wanted to return to the sea? I honestly think the Tsumugu would, and not just for Manaka, but because he loves the sea world.

        I’ve decided to take it easy on Manaka because as someone reminded me, these are all middle schoolers, and lying to impress a boy is quite common at that age. I know I fudged the truth sometimes at that age so that others would like me. I ended up being mostly a loner, but whatever…:P

        As for Hikari’s sister, unless that boy is very serious about this relationship with her (and I mean full commitment), she should rethink her priorities. His sister looks as if she’s in her late teens/early twenties. She’s got a lot of her life to live, and does she really want to face banishment, especially if the relationship might not mean as much to the guy as it does to her? What happens if it doesn’t work out? What happens if he dumps her or she him? Does she really want to stay in the land world if that happens? I know this is said to be “fairy tale like” in the synopsis, but I doubt that includes the “happily ever after” parts.

        • Highway says:

          I dismiss any ‘god is angry’ myth as superstitious nonsense, fed by confirmation bias. “Bad things happened this year!” “The gods must be angry for *make up reason here, generally self-serving to the person making up the reason, too*. We need to appease them!” Then when you have regression to the mean, as in the weather is better next year, “It must be because we did that appeasement!” And in the future, if the weather has another bad year, “Well, you just didn’t pray / offer / sacrifice enough! Do better next time!” There’s no appeasement to the sea gods needed here, just understanding of fellow people. I’m going to posit that there’s some as-yet-unstated reason for the importance of the Boatdrift Ceremony to the people of Shioshishio, such as food support.

          I also think the sea village should welcome as many people as it can get, and I think this will end up going back to Lord Uroko.

          Even if they have a rule that if you marry a land person you are banished (which is dumb enough), it’s many times stupider to make it “You are banished the first time you even show interest in a land person.” People need to try things when they’re growing up. And young loves are particularly resistant to logic or consequences. *Especially* when a girl has baby fever, as Akari seems to.

          • Irenesharda says:

            I know logically it would make no sense, but remember that they’ve already called this a “fairy tale” and in fairy tales there are mythological beings that influence the situations. They’ve said that Lord Uroko was born from but a scale of the sea god and we can see that he does posses magical powers. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the sea god himself, but I don’t doubt that there’s some sort of sea god in this mythological world.

  2. zztop says:

    Does the title,凪のあすから, translate to anything particular?

    • belatkuro says:

      With my translating skills(read: Google Translate and basic Japanese knowledge), I translate it as “Calm from Tomorrow”

      Don’t quote me on this. I don’t think there was any official translation for this.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, I tried to see if there’s a translation, but as belatkuro says, there really isn’t one. I was going either with Calm from Tomorrow or ‘Calm from there’.

        • Noc says:

          I think it might be “From the Calm Tomorrow.”
          ‘Nagi no Asu’ sates that the ‘Asu’ (tomorrow) is ‘Nagi’ (calm), so it’s a calm tomorrow. ‘Kara’ usually implies ‘from’.

          Well, that’s best line I could put together that made sense, anyways lol

  3. sadakups says:

    Ah, early teens and raging hormones. Normally I want to see someone smack Hikari in the face for being a cockblocking, angsty and possessive friend, but it’s more of him not being honest with his feelings that he ends up raging on everybody, including the girl he likes.

    It’s funny how Tsumugu is like, more interested in the fish that used to be on Manaka’s knee, but of course, it’s also because of his fascination with the sea community.

    Oh man, I actually feel bad for Chisaki. She should stay away from Hikari or risk being hurt by the guy.

    • Highway says:

      Perhaps it’s being overly charitable to Tsumugu, but I think his hesitation towards more direct interest in Manaka might be because 1) he knows how Hikari feels about him and pretty much all land people and 2) he knows the consequences for Manaka if more happens between them. I think that his interest in the fish on her knee is something he feels is a connection between them, a way for him to show interest without being too overt.

      Chisaki needs to either be more assertive and selfish with going after what she wants, or accept that she will probably get left behind.

      • Irenesharda says:

        I wish I could give the guy that much credit, but when he simply called Manaka “that girl with the big eyes”, I couldn’t help but think that at this point the girl’s crush is one-sided. I think Tsumugu really enjoys and is curious about the sea, but he’s probably still oblivious to romance. These are all middle-school age children on the precipice of puberty or starting to make their way through it. Girls most of the time start earlier and mature faster, which is probably why Chisaki is so mature and Manaka is beginning to notice boys as something other than what she hangs out with. Tsumugu is still oblivious, and Hikari is on the precipice since he’s beginning to see Manaka as more than a friend, but doesn’t know why he’s feeling that way. Kaname seems to be the most mature of the boys, which is why he can understand the nature Hikari’s anger and also Chisaki’s feelings. I think he cares for Chisaki as well.

    • skylion says:

      Oh man, I actually feel bad for Chisaki. She should stay away from Hikari or risk being hurt by the guy.

      One of the lessons I learned is to look carefully before you fight your way into an ongoing fight. Few get any rewards for it. But that is life, isn’t it?

  4. BlackBriar says:

    A lot of great animation and drama. I’m liking this even more.

    I understand how Hikari feels about the surface and wants to protect Manaka but he’s unfairly forcing his views on her and expects her to be alright with it and that’s just not good. The only thing that could come out of a path like that is resentment and blowing your top in a moment’s notice every time will drive friends away from you. If someone is making a mistake and it isn’t too big, you’ve got to let make it so they can learn from it and do better next time.

    Manaka is having a first time crush so it’s no surprise she doesn’t know what to think and luckily the kid she wants to impress doesn’t seem like a bad guy since he’s kind and shows a lot of interest in her world and lifestyle because personally, she doesn’t take enough time to read people and has a considerable amount of naïveté so that’s probably what makes Hikari so overprotective of her.

    Poor Akari. I really hate it when there’s an innocent relationship (It looks that way) and everyone tries to destroy it out of prejudice. There shouldn’t be a reason for banishment from village if the surface openly allows their people to attend their schools and such. It’s sheer bias. Her father might accept her involvement with a person from the surface but he seems like the understanding type but he probably will have to forbid it or carry out the consequences to uphold the villages’ traditions.

    • Highway says:

      I did like that they finally showed that perhaps Hikari views Manaka as something besides a troublesome little sister, with that imagery of her swimming for the surface and shedding her ena.

      Akari and Hikari’s father is in a rough place, because he probably understands the same things I say above: The village is dying, and driving more of the young people away is not the way to fix that. But as the village priest, he can’t just ignore what the rest of the people think.

  5. anaaga says:

    Kind of giggled when Kaname talked about Manaka being the first wanting to get out from the comfort zone when it’s just raging hormone and puberty stage. Not that I mind though. PA really knows how to make drama sounds philosophical and deep.

    I have a feeling that the four are going to do something big though. Something that will change the negative policies in the village. Another proof that raging hormone and puberty are important parts of our lives. It’s that stage where we become who we are now

    • Highway says:

      Hey, there aren’t many factors that make people go outside of their comfortable world. It takes something special like major life changes.

      I’d love to see them be the impetus for major societal changes. And looking ahead, maybe it is the ability to bring surface people down to their village, because you’d think that Tsumugu might be the ideal candidate for that.

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