Episode 19 Impression:
In episode 19 of Nagi no Asukara, we witness the ramifications of Hikari, Miuna and Kaname’s actions come into play. Manaka has been ‘saved’ – the love debacle continues to simmer. Now that the entire main cast is back in action, we can rest assured that the plot will continue to evolve and develop. As the mystery surrounding Manaka’s Ena deepens, our characters continue to grow, and Akira’s skills as a Kancho Master shall tear the world asunder!
Before we get to Manaka, let’s talk about Kaname and Tsumugu. Poor Kaname. We’ve glimpsed Tsumugu and Chisaki’s chemistry in episodes past, but in episode 19 we saw it finally addle Kaname (overtly anyway)…and then we saw Kaname and Tsumugu blushing over the sight of Chisaki in, yet another, provocative position. Gotta love Chisaki. But I digress, when Chisaki inadvertantly treats Kaname like a child over dinner, he’s forced to realize that he’s no longer the only level-headed member of the groups anymore. That, and he’s not the only boy Chisaki can relate/talk to…and then Chisaki goes and gets ‘drunk‘ (on non-alcoholic plum wine) with Tsumugu, talking to him about change – one of this series more prominent themes, it would appear. Once again, we’re shown how much they’ve matured through this conversation, leaving only Kaname to walk in on Tsumugu admiring Chisaki’s pretty blue head.
With the return of Manaka, the love triangle…square…pentagon…is thrown into chaos once more. Miuna likes Hikari, but can only watch from afar; Chisaki doesn’t know if she likes Hikari anymore, despite the heroic features; and Manaka…well, she’s asleep. (Sea) God knows who she likes… The romantic turmoil is bubbling into fruition with every new episode, and even Miuna’s subtle glimpses and frowns reveal enough information to glean the current situation – but the issue still remains in that it’s getting harder to understand who likes who and why. In fact, you’d probably be able to write an entire dissertation on the subject because it’s just that ridiculous. That said, it’s also ridiculously enticing.
Chisaki attempts to return to Shioshishio by herself but is dragged by the currents until Hikari appears to help. As they arrive at the village, Chisaki reveals to Hikari that according to Isamu, the young woman who offered herself to the Sea God could not forget the loved one she left behind at the surface and in the end, the god let her go, for a price. Hikari then decides that he’s going to take it upon himself to find Uroko-sama and ask him about Manaka’s lost Ena – Chisaki’s Quest and Hikari’s Question; ’tis deep (beneath the sea). One things for certain though – Hikari’s not going to find Uroko-sama unless Uroko-sama wants to be found, as was evidenced by Miuna’s time in Shioshishio. If anything, this is the part of the episode that the entire episode was based around, Chisaki coming to the realization that she still loves Hikari, and the plot being progressed once again through the use of a Sea God prophecy. Nothing good can come of a Sea God prophecy, but only time will tell.
Ultimately, not much happened in this episode and the fact that Manaka has yet to wake does not bode well for the tone of the upcoming episodes. Arguably, this was one of the ‘lesser quality’ episodes, the plot seemingly appearing weaker, but that may just be because of the slower, calmer tonality of…well…everything.
Episode 20 Impression:
Change; stagnation – Nagi no Asukara melds these two concepts into one, melancholy, blend, revealing unto the viewer the emotions of children lost amidst a whirlwind of teenage turmoil and a situation they have no hope of overcoming. The tumultuous relationships in Nagi no Asukara echo the sentiment left behind by Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, all of the children in the series thus far (and now the young adults) feeling some sort of romantic infatuation and this feeling not being reciprocated. Episode 20 of Nagi no Asukara presents us with the conflicts ailing both Hikari and Miuna – Miuna realizing that she may have become someone she hoped never to be and Hikari attempting to repress any thoughts about the possibility that he might never see someone again.
It’s as Uroko-sama thought – Miuna is conflicted over the possibility of Manaka’s return into Hikari’s life. Manaka is the object of Hikari’s desire: the center of his attention. The thought that she, Miuna herself, might be thrust aside after growing so close to the group is too much for her to handle, and she finds thoughts and hopes of an eternally sleeping Manaka creeping up from her unconscious mind – albeit against her will. On the surface, she doesn’t want anything to happen to Manaka. That said, she wants Hikari to be ‘Hikari’ again, and she doesn’t want him working himself to death in order to save someone who might not awaken. So when Hikari falls ill, a spark lights in Miuna head, and she realizes that there’s more to the situation than her own, selfish, desires – but not without the help of Sayu and Tsumugu to show her the way. Tsumugu helps her to understand that what she’s feeling is normal – he felt it too – but, in the end, he was actually glad that Hikari and Tsumugu (in his case) returned, in spite of his feelings for Chisaki. Selfish though her feelings are, the reality is that she’ll probably feel much better when Manaka is awake – when the all tension has diffused.
Hikari himself is the focal point of this tension, his outburst at the beginning of the episode as a result of Miuna’s comments about Manaka’s condition highlighting simply how stressed he is. He doesn’t want to believe that she’ll never wake up – not only because he’ll feel responsible (for dragging her from the Sea God’s clutches), but also because he feels like he’s not going enough. He’s making himself ill trying to find Uroko-sama (whilst also admiring that beauty that is Chisaki with Kaname), and he’s slowly becoming Manaka-centric as a result of this.
And then Miuna tells Hikari to kiss Manaka (because she remembers her ‘kiss’ with Hikari before his waking up occurring only moments before), this leading into an embarrassed debate of the power of Sleeping Beauties kiss, and the eventual comic waking of Manaka. It was funny to see Manaka to wake up for no other reason than to scold Hikari, Nagi no Asukara doing what it does best and exploiting it’s child cast for comedic effect. But it’ll be interesting to see the effects the ‘new world’ has on Manaka – will she fall into a state of denial? Perhaps she’ll pass out like Hikari? Or, maybe she’ll just be Manaka and accept the world that’s presented to her (a trait that I dislike very much, but that’s simply my opinion). Who knows – maybe we’ll finally get an answer to the question of who Manaka likes best…?