Nagi no Asukara – Episode 4: Because We’re Friends
Nagi no Asukara has the potential to be an amazing show, in fact, I’d say that it has the potential to be the best show this season – however, it’s not utilizing the tools it has available. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that this is only episode 4 of 26 – I’m not (I don’t think) an idiot – but I can’t help but feel as though episode 4 was weaker than episode 3. Mari Okada, series composer, is responsible for works such as Hanasaku Iroha, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Toradora!, shows that, whilst in now ways heralded as anime ‘greats’ are consistent in their truly amazing nature (although this is entirely subjective). That’s not to say the Nagi no Asukara is lacking in quality, on the contrary, it’s as I said, “it has the potential to be the best show this season”, but I could almost feel the ever so slight drop in the quality of the plot – just a little bit. I’m being facetious and picky. Don’t mind me.
Episode 3 was all about Hikari and Hikari’s growth as a character. Episode 4 is starting to show us the first few glimpses of character growth across the board, Hikari still being a ‘main focus’, his personality fluctuating between childish and adult-like frequently. Hikari’s growth is, perhaps, the most astounding and whilst it’s made note of by Hikari that Manaka is predominantly more outgoing, I can’t help but feel as though this is still the ‘Hikari show’. Not that I have a problem with that, mind you. However, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is meant to be a show about the entire five man group and what was made even more obvious was the obvious (yes, it’s all very obvious) lack of Tsumugu in this episode. Sure, he’s still playing the knight in shining armor role well but his relegation to a side character in episode 4, after his distinct integration into the group last episode was… well, it was disconcerting. But we forgive him because he’s pretty darn dope. The characters and their progression will be, I think, the shows main focus for a while; if not the entire series. The trials and tribulations of five weird teenagers… how cliche. I joke, of course.
Ah, Chisaki and Kaname, our two sort of main characters but not really(s). For the last three episodes (and yes, before you complain, I realize that this is intentional) she’s been complaining about how she wants to be more like Manaka and how Hikari is ignoring her in favor of another, smaller, moe character, but once again she’s done nothing about it. She’s a cutie, I’ll give her that much, but I want to see more of her. Where’s her zeal? Her gumption? She needs to take a leaf out of Hikari’s book and jump into the fray gungho. Kaname, like Chisaki, is took a much more passive role in episode 4 and… and… what the hell is his deal? One minute he’s all creepy and psychopathic; the next he’s defending Hikari as if they’re brofriends (I like to think that they are). I just don’t get that boy. He and Chisaki make an obvious ‘substitute’ couple, but I don’t want that – I don’t think anyone does. I want Nagi no Asukara to spice things up a bit, make the romance aspect of the show stronger. Whilst it’s great to hear Chisaki speak about her love for Hikari, it’d be better if she did something about it. Whilst it’s great to see Kaname suggest that he likes Chisaki, it’d be better if he began scheming and plotting to steal her heart
and eat it. Whilst it’s great that Hikari can’t get laid… you get the point.
Can we briefly talk about the scene depicted in the above for a moment? What is Hikari’s refrain meant to symbolize? His admittance of defeat in the face of Tsumugu? Or perhaps something more? Perhaps it’s simply Hikari allowing Manaka to ‘protect him’ and develop like said wants to, his comforting her only causing her to rely on him more. But I just want it to be something more, you know? Maybe it’s finally time for Hikari to get over Manaka.
The drowning man… what an idiot. How does one drown at the surface after only using the diving gear for, presumably, no longer than a few minutes? Did he bang his head on the side of the boat? What an incompetent fool. Akari should just forget about him. Whilst I found it interesting that they developed the Akari Itaru subplot, I didn’t understand the need for a lot of things. Now obviously this is building up towards some event, Uroko-sama making that clear by his comments pertaining to the people of the sea and leaving the sea, but why was the Sayu Miuna childhood story necessary? For emotional effect? I’m not emotionally attached to their characters yet, so far they’ve portrayed themselves as delinquent brats who don’t go to school (something that even Kaname alludes to). I felt almost filler-y. Maybe it’ll make sense later on. Maybe they’re just laying the plans for an elaborate plot involving the two children. Who knows, eh?
But of course, episode 4’s main plot pertains to the racial divide and the slow progress made towards fixing it. This divide has been made prevalent before, but not in such a larger capacity, Hikari’s further development coming from his acceptance of the land humans. Look at Hikari two episodes ago, he was one the verge of killing someone from the land without really knowing anything about them, and look at him now,
grovelling like a little bitch accepting their differences and being the ‘bigger man’. ‘Racism’ (and all it’s various connotations) is, I think, one of the shows underlying themes and I know that it’s something that affects Japan very personally, Japan being a rather culturally identical country and also being known for it’s disdain towards foreigners. Now obviously not all of Japan is like this, but it does help to put things into context, y’know? I’m glad to see that the issues both ‘races’ have with each other are being worked out, that handshake symbolizing the first step towards a better future, and I can’t wait to see how it plays into the story. We can only wait and see.
I suppose we should conclude… yeah, I think I’ll do just that. Episode 4 was by no means a bad episode – it was captivating, emotionally evocative, fundamentally astute and visually appealing – I just felt as though it lacked the direction that previous episodes had, weird snippets of possible plot points being thrown in to ‘fill out’ the episode. I imagine that episode 5 will raise the quality from a nine to a ten again, but until then, au revoir.
P.S, they broke the f**king door! If I did that at my school I’d be expelled… or at least fined… they appeared to be completely unaware!