Nagi no Asukara – Episode 5: Hey, Sea Slug
I hadn’t realized it until I read some other reviewers episodic reviews but some people do not like Nagi no Asukara. Honestly, I think I’ve been blinded by my own one track mind view of yet another P.A. Works masterpiece, I mean, ‘Uchouten Kazoku‘ was amazing, the story was great, the characters were compelling and I felt compelled to watch every episode. Nagi no Asukara… I’m not going to go as far as to say that it ‘pales‘ in comparison to ‘Uchouten Kazoku‘, ‘Hanasaku Iroha’, and ‘Angel Beats!‘, but it’s not blowing me away. A lot of the reviews that I’ve read have made it clear that they do not like Hikari. A lot of reviews that I’ve read have outright stated that they find Nagi no Asukara bland and banal. Hell, one review I read even called it “A Shinsekai Yori clone, with nothing remarkable to make it distinguished”.
I’m still undecided. Episode 5 was one of my least favorite episodes, veering away from the forbidden love route that I thought it was going down and instead dealing with the mommy issues of some girl that, to be honest, I don’t care about. Where are the character arcs dealing with the characters I’ve been introduced to? Chisaki isn’t a side character! I was ready to delve further into hers and Hikari’s relationship – but no, apparently we have to watch Hikari ignore Chisaki some more and wait until the next episode to see Chisaki get one or two lines before she’s sidelined… yes, I’m jaded. Although that might have something to do with the fact that Chisaki is my favorite character in the show even though she hasn’t had much screen time… call me weak to the charms of a despairing girl.
This episode was all about ‘The Disappearance of Miuna Shiodome’ (if you’ll parden the pun) and the lolicon within… Hikari, that is. I don’t want to say that this Miuna arc (as I’ve aptly named it) has gone on for too long and that it’s ‘boring’ (per say), but I wasn’t as enthralled by it as I should have been. What happened to Tsumugu? He’s had like one or two scenes in the last few episodes and, if anything, his character has regressed back into the old unemotional bastard that I came to hate. And was there really a need for Manaka in this episode? Why was she so shocked by Chinami’s admittance of her love for Hikari? If anything she should already know, seeing as they’re all such good friends ‘n all. Ah, I’m just bitching now aren’t I? Breath Chris, breath. But (I suppose) I digress, the ‘Miuna arc’ did have some touching moments, although most of them came from Akari and her true tears. Hikari also had some moments, the hug scene in the ocean for one. I just feel as though the character development has come to a halt, you know? Did Kaname even have a line in this episode? Ah, I’m bitching again… let’s just move on.
I’m not entirely sure if Akari’s despair was too extreme… I myself am not emotionally disposed and so it takes a lot for me to feel anything pertaining to a character or and plot and, honestly, I just felt uncomfortable whenever Akari was crying. I blame the voice actor (Kaori Nazuka). That was a lie. It just felt very over the top, y’know? I had to take out my headphones for fear of deafness. Crying scenes can be done well – a lot of shows have shown that – but Nagi no Asukara is not one of them. I understood Akari’s plight, that wasn’t the problem, and I understand that it’s all been building up for a long time but… there are councilors for that shit, you know? I don’t need to see you crush a poor child’s neck because you have mommy issues… actually, wait, no, that was extremely insensitive, please forgive me. Maybe the ‘arc’ needed more time? Or maybe that would have made it worse? I’m working with hypothetical’s here people, give me a break. I thought that the arc would delve deeper into the interpersonal relationships between land and sea humans, but instead we received an over-dramatized cliche in which a child runs away from home after receiving a new mother… uh, what? That’s not even remotely compelling. I’m looking for depth! Meaning! Teach me something about people and their relationships, don’t feed me some story that I’ve seen one hundred times before…
I like Chisaki. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps it’s because she’s not as overzealous as Hikari? Perhaps it’s because she’s not as creepy as Kaname? Perhaps it’s because she’s not as annoying as Manaka? Perhaps it’s because she’s not as bland as Tsumugu? Or, maybe, it’s because I (personally) find her the most relatable. She’s serious and she follows the rules but she’s afriad that that makes her seem boring and a killjoy. She has an unrequited love, someone who won’t even look her way because said person is in love with her ‘best friend’. She’s traditonal, she’s all for staying in the sea, but then again she’s liberal in the sense that she doesn’t mind intermingling with humans on the land. She is, I think, the ‘multi-faceted’ character of the show. Whilst at first glance there doesn’t seem to be much there, she’s actually the most opinionated/conflicted character of them all… and that’s why I’m so pissed of by the fact that she’s being sidelined in favour of characters such as Manaka and Tsumugu! F**k them! Manaka is as simple and cliche as you can get (what is this moe shit? Kyoto Animation, I blame thee!) and Tsumugu… don’t even get me started on that unemotional bastard. Where’s my Chisaki time!? Let her search for the red bellied sea slugs go on! I mean, sure Tsumugu’s as bland as a red bellied slug, but don’t make him her outlet! Hikari’s going to get the wrong idea, you know?
The thing is… I’m not entirely sure what Nagi no Asukara is about? I suppose it’s about the differing romances and tribulations of the main characters? But what’s the underlying plot? Sure, there’s been a distinct undertone in each episode so far in the guise of the Lord Sea God and Uroko-sama, but that’s really hard to decipher. Last episode’s “I know, Lord Sea God. We can’t hand over the people of the sea to the surface ‘just yet’“, sets my mind aflame with theories, but, ultimately, it reveals nothing. Just what is this ‘Lord Sea God’ and what kind of perplexing machinations are floating about in that head of Uroko-sama’s? There’s still a lot of questions that need answering and I’m sure they’ll be answered soon… we’ve still go a lot of episodes to go after all.
Let’s wrap this up shall we? Episode 5 wasn’t as good as it could have been. Some parts felt exaggerated and, ultimately, I felt that the episode suffered for it. A lot of characters aren’t getting enough screen time, some are getting too much and there are still a lot of unanswered questions… That said, episode 5 looked amazing, as was expected, and, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I’ve been making out. I still really like the show, it’s just that there are a lot of issues that need weeding out.