We are but four episodes away from the the final episode now and the snow has, once again, begun to fall; it would appear Hikari’s actions only episodes ago are starting to effect the world around them and not in a good way. Manaka’s back – that much we already knew – and she’s helping the group in their attempts to find Uroko-sama, laying sexy magazines and food in the least obvious place of all time (I mean, seriously, if you wanted him to find it wouldn’t you put it in a more obvious place? Then again, he is the scale of a God, so…his powers transcend the barriers of hidden porno?) in the hope that Uroko-sama will reveal himself. This, of course, does not work, and this ‘plan’ is instead used a means of giving Manaka and Hikari some alone time – along time in which Hikari begins to question the very nature of Manaka’s ‘condition’…but I’ll get back to that later.
One of the more interesting moments of the episode came from Kaname himself, he bringing up his prior confession to Chisaki whilst talking to her in the hopes of gauging her current standing on her feelings for him and his feelings for her. Chisaki blushes – both Tsumugu and Sayu listen on. It must be hard for the two outsiders, they themselves having to always deal with the fact that, firstly, they are indeed ‘outsiders’, and that, secondly, they probably (or, at least in Sayu’s and Miuna’s cases) have the least chance of having their feelings reciprocated. With Sayu mulling the idea of a confession over in her head, I imagine there are going to be a couple confessions coming rather quickly (and in quick succession), especially with Tsumugu now being forced to realize that Kaname has a fighting chance with Chisaki, if only for nostalgia’s sake.
Yet Kaname, and Tsumugu, and Chisaki, and even Miuna (somewhat) are but background characters in episode 22 when the ‘final reveal’ of the episode is delivered to the viewer, albeit a somewhat more obvious and somewhat less shocking one. Manaka has lost her ability to love – and, on top of that, she’s also had every loving memory she ever had taken away from her (perhaps a reason why she appears so unperturbed by the absence of her parents and Tsumugu?). Poor Hikari. He fought so hard to get her back and now not only does he have the end of the world on his shoulders, but also the thought that he’s responsible for the fact that Manaka will never love again (even though, in reality, it is the Sea God’s fault). The group continues to battle against what feels like an inevitable fate, a fate that appears more and more to be that of Miuna’s sacrifice to compensate for Miuna…but surely they’re going to find a way around it, right? Even thought we’re now at episode 22, the romance aspect of Nagi no Asukara is as stagnant as it was in episode 1, but the plot continues to trundle along – where it will lead? Who knows. But, as it stands now, I can’t see this show ending without at least one sacrifice.
Episode 22 was…an interesting episode, to say the least. Manaka doesn’t feel like Manaka anymore – those dead pan eyes at the end of the episode pretty much confirm that. The girl who spent the entirety of the first half of the series blushing and fawning over Tsumugu’s every word and stolid facial expression? I can’t see her anymore. The Manaka in episode 22 of Nagi no Asukara is a husk – the hollow shell of what was once Manaka, and, to be quite frank, I find it rather disturbing. A Manaka who has no love in her heart is no Manaka at all – I just hope Hikari can see that in time to try and help her.