Nagi no Asukara – 20
「ねむりひめ」 (Nemuri Hime)
Being in love often reveals the darker parts of ourselves that we try to pretend don’t exist.
Love and romance are difficult at any age. The difference is that at younger ages, it’s harder to understand just how much one’s psyche is bound to change. Feelings you never thought you could feel, thoughts you never thought you would have, all of these things develop and surface from places you never gave a thought to before. It’s not uncommon to realize, upon reflection, that you’ve become someone you never were before; for Miuna, it’s not just her feelings for Hikari that are coming to light more clearly, but also how she views the world in relationship to her love.
As Uroko-sama already insinuated and we’ve already guessed, Miuna isn’t too eager to see Manaka back, and less to see her awaken. That’s not because she hates Manaka, or because she is indifferent (she actually cares quite a bit), but because Manaka is as always, at the center of Hikari’s attention. In that sense, she doesn’t wish any harm or suffering for Manaka herself, but rather towards that which keeps Hikari’s world and Miuna’s world from coming together properly. Before Manaka, it was the world of the sea that stood in the way, but even once Miuna has slipped into that bubble, it changes nothing about her position as an outsider to Hikari’s life and emotions. Miuna is jealous, she resents Hikari’s unwavering attraction to Manaka to the point that she begins to wish, deep within herself, that Manaka won’t wake.
But it’s also a sign of Miuna’s development (and of her age), that once Sayu points it out, she begins to dwell on what she’s become. It’s painful to realize that you’re capable of hating someone or being callous enough to want them out of the way for your benefit, and that’s no different for Miuna. It’s a sort of harsh self-pity, one that doesn’t allow you to find comfort in feeling bad for yourself because you’ve been driven to such an emotional extreme. It’s Tsumugu’s wisdom and experience that helps Miuna see that her feelings are normal for her situation, and that though she may feel upset with herself for her selfish inclinations, she can (and will) feel better once Manaka is actually awake.
But Miuna is not the only person dealing with difficult realities. Hikari showed some of his frustration this episode in form of his short temper as well as through pushing himself too hard. Manaka is so important to him that it’s as if he’s had blinders put on; he can only see what’s right in front of him, and that’s his goal of waking Manaka again. He’s especially snappy when Miuna insinuates that Manaka may not wake up because he refuses to believe it. He’s afraid, and to counter that he’s forced himself to be as positive and as cheerful about it as possible.
Even without all the optimism (or maybe because of it), Manaka does wake up, and in the most casual and un-dramatic way possible. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve come to expect a decent level of soap opera level drama in this series, so I found myself laughing at how easily she awoke; it wasn’t overly done, nor was it out of place. Manaka is still being herself, and even her last look of surprise fit in perfectly with the situation. It’s up til next week to see how and if she’s changed, and what her awakening has to do in the larger scope of things.