Nagi no Asukara – Episode 15: Protector Of The Smile
Am I the only person who was smiling like an idiot throughout the entirety of this episode? I am in love with Nagi no Asukara. Seeing Hikari interact with the ‘new’ world for the first time was magnificent, Miuna and Akari helping him along every step of the way. However, it is Chisaki’s absence that is most noticeable to everyone – everyone but Hikari, Tsumugu and Akari, the only people really who can understand what they’re going through. In seeing Chisaki realize that Hikari was back, my heart exploded with joy and the best episode in the series thus fur began.
For everyone except Hikari, years have past. It’s not real surprise that he’s suffering from an extreme case of culture shock. From his perspective, he’s just watched his childhood sweetheart die/be snatched away by a whirlpool and now he’s been torn out of the world he knew, and placed into a world were things are similar, yet are distinctly different in almost every way. He’s fourteen years old and he’s being forced to bear the psychological scars of a coma patient. It’s almost disconcerting when you really imagine what he’s going through, and the constant reminders of everything that happened ‘that night’ (e.g, the remains of the bridge, the glacial waters, the flag from the Ofunehiki, Miuna, Akari (e.g, everything) help in no way whatsoever. This was Hikari’s episode, the maturity he developed during the prior 13 episodes coming into affect here and allowing him not to go totally off the rails, he however (and understandably so) being unable to cope when faced with Tsumugu and his unreachable home (entailing an equally unreachable Manaka). Honestly, it was interesting to watch.
And the reality of the matter is that the person Hikari needs the most can’t/doesn’t want to see him. No, I’m not talking about Manaka, I’m talking about Chisaki, the girl who didn’t want everything to change above all else. The scene where Tsumugu walks in on Chisaki, comical though it was, is actually rather important, Chisaki viewing her ‘womanhood’ as a physical sing of change – something that can’t be revered and or taken back. She feels bad. If anything, she’s feels almost guilty for Hikari’s suffering because of the situation her change, and the change of all those around him, has placed him in. Hikari is miserable. Miuna claimed that it was almost “like a dream”, but the truth is that this is much more true from the perspective of Hikari who wants nothing more than to claim what he’s lost. This is the same in the case of Chisaki who, sad though she is about the disappearance of her best friends, feels abandoned. She’s grown up and they’re still ‘children’. She wants nothing more than to have them back but to have them back is to remind herself of everything she and they have lost. They wanted nothing more than to be together and avoid change, but, ultimately, change was all they received. It’s depressing, really. That said, Hikari and Chisaki are good for one another, healing the wounds that have been created by almost returning to how they were before everything changed. Let’s just hope nothing else gets in the way of their ‘repairs’.
However, it is the precarious relationship between Chisaki and Tsumugu that interests me the most. If any character has really grown on me, it has to be Tsumugu, stoic caricature of manliness that he is. He’s quite, but it is within his subtle actions that we finds his true personality…namely that scene where he slams his cup down against the table after his research buddy slags off Chisaki. I think that Tsumugu loves Chisaki. I think that Chisaki has feelings for Tsumugu as well (minute though they might be). Tsumugu just needs to fess up to his feelings already…aah, yes, I realize how untimely that’d be, Tsumugu’s confession coming in a time of emotinal turmoil for Chisaki, but it’s really rather necessary, you know! I think that Chisaki knows how he feels and that’s what makes it interesting. Subtly, they’re stepping on eggshells around one another. Who does Chisaki like? Who knows…maybe Kaname’s still even got a chance? Only time will tell, I suppose…but, if that last scene is any indication, Tsumugu can read Chisaki like a book, and, well, Chisaki feels…awkward? No, out of place, I think.
Miuna was the (cute) star of episode 15, her selfless and mature attitude encompassing all those qualities of those fourteen year old’s who came before her. Miuna and Sayu are the product of knowing children as amazing as those from Shioshishio – it’s only natural that they’re just as mature and caring as they were. Seeing Miuna’s character develop properly for one of the first times was really very nice, the viability of her as a romance option heightening significantly. But Miuna’s not just about dat romance, she’s just a generally nice person (in the case of Hikari). I’m eager to see where Mari Okada takes Miuna’s character…I hope it’s somewhere nice.
Overall, episode 15 of Nagi no Asukara is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes to date. Encompassing all of the traits that made the show great in the first place (barring Kaname), it provides an apt meal for the anime viewer, beautiful scenery, fitting music, and a heartfelt story all drawing the viewer into an amazing experience that left me wanting more and begging for the episode to continue past the credits. Nagi no Asukara, Episode 15…yum.