Nagi no Asukara: A Quick Take

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Hikari and Manaka are childhood friends from a world under the sea who are forced by circumstance to attend a new school up on land where their feelings will be tested. Manaka is caught in a fishing net early on by Tsumugu who so happens to be one of their classmates later. That early meeting quickly blossoms into feelings between the two of them while Hikari is in denial about his own feelings for Manaka. Later, Manaka finds herself in trouble due to her own embarrassment and is rescued by Tsumugu which only serves to complicates things further.

First and foremost, this is a show that oozes adolescent awkwardness. That can be seen in the fact that there is a refusal to recognize feelings on Hikari’s part, confusion about feelings on Manaka’s part and Tsumugu lacking subtlety when talking to her. However, it goes without saying that already this is some sort of love rectangle with the other girl in the sea village group, Chisaki, also having feelings for Hikari. In a way that could be interesting since this could be setting up for a scenario where Tsumugu ends up with Manaka and Chisaki goes with Kaname, the other member of the group and leaving Hikari as a complete loser. That’s far too adventurous for a P.A. Works show and instead they will end up exactly where they started.

There were two characters I did like from this episode though. Hikari’s older sister runs a store up on land and has to deal with children wanting her to leave. There’s a tiredness that she conveys when seeing what they have attempted to write in chewing gum on the pavement. It’s a bit of commentary on the world these people inhabit, but sadly that’s as adult as that topic gets. Tsumugu’s father is also an interesting character despite having all of 2 lines. The fact that he is calm about his son carrying Manaka home and knows exactly what to do with that situation speaks volumes about him. I’m sure he has an interesting back story to recount in future episodes.

The production quality is typical for P.A. Works in that everything is vividly colored. The CG fish under the sea was a nice touch as they felt like part of the environment for a while. They became less noticeable as each scene underwater passed likely for budget reasons. Everything is also made pretty on land and in the water because there aren’t any slums anywhere near villages that are struggling. Nope.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • Everything in the world is made as beautiful as possible
  • Somewhat accurate portrayal of adolescence even if it is between sea people and humans
  • Possible NTR angle for people into that sort of thing. You sick, sick people you.

Reasons to Drop

  • Forced romantic drama involving every young character
  • The adults in the show are underused already with the exception of Uroko-sama, he can just go away.
  • For you sick NTR fans, none of the male rivals to Hikari are creepy or big enough assholes to make it any good.

My Verdict: As with so many P.A. Works series before it, there’s just little substance beyond making the world beautiful. I can’t really bring myself to watch this show week-to-week and continue to ask why it is choosing to waste what little potential it has. I’d also be unable to deal with all of the horribly contrived drama (fish on the knee embarrassment) that this show will throw up.

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