Nagi no Asukara Initial Reactions/Review


ep1 so cute

Prior to this fall season, I had already picked out the anime I planned to watch and write reviews for on Bakatachi.com. The series I picked out were based on the plot overview from AniCharts and I was simply content with my selection. After seeing a clip of Nagi no Asukara displaying a fish face protruding from a girl’s knee, I picked up the first episode and was immediately impressed with the artstyle, animation, impressionable characters, and beautiful scenery. The subtle humor and cute characters brought a grin to my face.

Nagi no Asukara is like a modern day Romeo and Juliet meets The Little Mermaid set in an alternate world where certain humans can live underwater. The series takes place in a small, not-so-secret underwater city called Shioshishio where the main four protagonists have lived and grown up. The humans that can reside underwater possess a waterproof film that covers their skin called Ena, which allows humans to breathe in the ocean. Humans that possess Ena can also breathe above the water as well, however, humans that either do not have Ena or have lost it through drying cannot breathe underwater. At first glance, I assumed this was opening up to a happy story of coexistence between land and water dwellers but I was horribly wrong.

So far, the story is centered around two of the four main protagonists, a young boy Hikari Sakashima and his childhood best friend, a girl named Manaka Mukaido. Because of the lack of teachers in Shioshishio, the four kids have to commute on land to attend a local middle school. Hikari has strong feelings for Manaka, but after Manaka is accidentally scooped up by a fishing net, she meets the grandson of a fisher, Tsumugu Kihara and falls for him. We are quickly thrown into a story of differing ideals and discrimination between the two races of human beings where our main conflicts arise. With the diminishing numbers of Ena bearing humans, coexistence between the sea and ocean dwellers begins to raise issues.

Don’t get me wrong, this story is incredibly happy-go-lucky. The characters are really cute and have their own likes and dislikes. I’ll elaborate on my thoughts in a bit.

Characters:

ep2 jellyfaceHikari Sakishima, the main male protagonist, is the epitome of adolescence which allows us to bridge the gap between the differences we are shown between the two types of humans. He is hot headed and over protective of his friends and family especially his sister and the feeble minded Manaka, who he has shown that he has romantic feelings towards. Hikari is caught in situations of discrimination towards his kind and other scenarios where the two types of humans try to mingle. His father is a Chief Priest of the Sea God, governing the lifestyles of the citizens of Shioshishio.

ep3 CUTIEManaka Mukaido, an emotionally frail girl and the main female protagonist. She is childish, clumsy, and cute which causes her friends to feel like they have to watch over her. After her accidental introduction with Tsumugu, she wishes to bridge the gap between her friends and the people at her school. Did I mention she is adorable?

ep3 FREETsumugu Kihara, Manaka’s crush, is the grandson of a fisherman and lives directly on the coast. He speaks in a monotone yet strong voice and is envious of his classmates that possess Ena. Though being the target of Hikari’s jealousy, he befriends the group and defends them whenever they are the target of harassment.

ep4 yeahshecutetooChisaki Hiradaira is jealous of Manaka’s influence on Hikari and is the mother figure of the four. So far, she leaves a very small impression on me out of the group, but stands out as being equally loving of her friends despite being in love with Hikari and understanding Hikari’s love for Manaka. Though being very soft spoken and loving, she feels guilty after catching herself feeling proud that if Manaka loves Tsumugu, she could have Hikari to herself.

ep1 isakiKaname Isaki is the least influential of the four so far that I’ve noticed; the fourth and least notable in the group. He is closer to Chisaki than the other two and tends to be the voice of reason. Kaname is the most level headed out of the group and has a tendency to know what his friends are thinking or feeling.

ep1 OHGAWWWDUroko, the Lord of Shioshishio and the messenger of the Sea God, governs the people of Shioshishio and maintains order. Immature, perverted, and a drunkard, he possesses certain powers such as distributing spirit fire (an energy source to citizens of Shioshishio) and casting fishy curses on clumsy girls. His word is absolute and in order to keep the sea dwelling humans from dwindling, he placed a law forbidding relations between the sea and land dwellers.

ep1 akariAkari Sakashima is Hikari’s older sister. She is very mature and motherly, giving up her chance to go to college so her brother can attend school. Risking banishment from her society, she becomes one of the figures of the main conflict facing the people between the shores.

ep2 demcutiesSayu Hisanuma and Miuna Shiotome, best friends and third graders who become directly involved with the main four protagonists. Miuna is the daughter of a land and sea dweller, born without Ena, living with her father. Miuna’s mother, who was born in Shioshishio, dies when Miuna was much younger. When Akari becomes romantically involved with Miuna’s father, the two elementary schoolers begin to harbor ill-will towards Akari and the four protagonists.

ep2 bootifullep2 thisguyep2 choppindatwoodep1 so purdy

One of the best aspects of Nagi no Asukara is the artwork and animation. Every background scene is beautiful and incredibly colorful. In fact, all the colors, from the school classroom to Manaka’s eyes are amazing. This also includes the character artwork. Each character has their own unique design despite the heavy shoujo art style. As for the animation, Manaka’s quirkiness and Hikari’s facial expressions really helped hook me on the characters. Though I notice a bit of stiffness in the animating, especially in scenes underwater, I am thoroughly pleased.

My Thoughts:

Since there are only 4 episodes released at this point there isn’t much I can predict. The little details are humorous or cute enough to pull a smile out of me. I’m still not quite sure how this show appeals to me so much..

So far, I already sense much conflict. The Romeo and Juliet elements of forbidden love raise conflict when the children are abruptly informed about the banishment from Shioshishio if there are any relations between land and sea dwellers. This is due to the dwindling numbers of citizens in Shioshishio and the fact that offspring between the two are born without Ena and are unable to breathe underwater. The events in the plot are played out in a way that impending issues will rise between the four friends because of Manaka’s involvement with Tsumugu. Of course, Hikari is very passionate and hot headed, his ask-questions-later mentality already conveniently created a bit of conflict.

I’m going to avoid too much predicting with this series simply because it feels innovative to me with hardly any cliche to nitpick at. I thoroughly enjoy the characters and artwork enough to call it one of the best series this season so far but that is still open for debate. I’m feeling a bit of tear jerking in the coming future and am I the only one that thinks I’m watching a mermaid version of Ano Hana?

I’ll be continuing an episodic review starting with episode 5 this week!

How does everyone else feel about this show so far?

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About Clooby
I am half Korean from my mother's side while the other half is a mix of Cherokee Indian and German I grew up in Seoul, Korea swimming competitively and playing Counter-Strike, Halo 3, and Call of Duty semi-professionally for cash prizes. My favorite anime series include FMA, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Steins;Gate, and Gurren Lagann among others.

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