「あのねウミウシ (Ano ne Umiushi)
“You know What, Sea Snail…

Author’s note: I’m filling in for Kairi on Nagi no Asukara this week – she’ll be back with episode six!

 

Classic Okada, that one – for better and for worse.

Here’s what I said in my spirited defense of Nagi no Asukara after the third episode:

I am aware that there’s a certain manipulative quality to the writing here, as there is in much of Okada’s work.  I’m not blind, and I can see when she’s pulling my strings – but it doesn’t so much matter because the way she’s pulling them is pretty artful.

The truth of the matter is, that’s a fine line for any writer to walk, and Okada has certainly crossed it many times in her recent career.  I do now as I always have like Nagi no Asukara’s willingness to confront big emotional issues openly, without the frigid reserve which seems to be such an intrinsic part of most anime.  I like the fact that this is a series where people hug each other and tell each other they love each other – that’s a good thing, not a bad one.  In itself.

But with the last couple of episodes, I think Okada has overstepped herself and we’ve at times slipped into the realm of the maudlin.  Simply put, there was too damn much crying and wailing here for my tastes.  I think there are times when Okada has gotten the point across and simply doesn’t know when to stop, and when you factor in exploiting the cuteness of little girls, you really reach the point where manipulation becomes excessive.

For me at least, the issue with this episode isn’t one of substance so much as degree.  I like the Akari subplot, and I think it’s provided a great forum both for Hikari to show his increasing maturity and to highlight the long-term crisis facing the Sea People.  There was a lot of good stuff in this episode – I really liked the dancing scene, which so perfectly captured the almost immeasurable awkwardness of organized coed dancing for pubescent kids.  I liked where the episode took Chisaki’s character, showing us how being a little more mature than normal for one’s age can sometimes give you the perceptiveness to realize why you’re unhappy, but not to do anything about it.  Her conversation with Tsumugu – using him as her “sea slug”, which about describes his personality – was good too, showing us how badly she needed to unburden herself, and I liked his calm “Stop” when Manaka appeared on the scene.  I even liked the interaction between Hikari and Miuna for the most part, and I especially liked when Hikari told Akari to stop being his Mom and start being Miuna’s.

It’s too bad Okada didn’t trust the audience to get the point (which is often an issue with her) because the emotions behind all this were very authentic and the point would have been easily gotten without all the histrionics. C’est la vie – I can honestly say I’d rather watch a show that gets the big emotions right but overplays them than one that’s false to the core, though I do hope the writer steps off the gas now that we’ve seemingly reached the story’s first major resolution.  I think the bigger problem is very clear here, and it’s way Akari’s happy ending isn’t really a happy ending.  It’s nice if she follows her heart and stays with Tooru and Miuna, but that means another lost breeding-aged Sea Person, and a net gain for the Landies (who hardly need the help).  The intro scene made it clear that the Sea God (whoever that is) is fully aware that the current situation can only result in one ending, if unchecked, and it doesn’t seem as if he’s willing to let his people go extinct without a fight.

Perhaps this will all come to a head with the five children of the core cast – not technically the “next generation” as they’re the same one as Akari, but certainly at some remove from her.  If indeed Manaka loves Tsumugu (frankly it’s getting harder and harder to see why, as he isn’t very interesting) would Hikari have the stomach to let her go as he did his sister?  Hikari has, not surprisingly, shown the most growth of anyone in the cast and this is clearly his story, so it seems very likely that he (perhaps after a timeskip, though I hope not) is going to be the key player when the crisis of the Sea People is resolved one way or the other.  He’s stepped up as a very fine lead, one of the strengths of the series – he was always relatable for me as he seemed quite realistic for a 13 year-old, but he’s actually become likable as well as believable.

Full-length images: 33, 34.

 

Preview

29 Comments

  1. What measure is a good anime? I don’t know the answer to that. Saying that it is interesting is not really answering it because of the vague properties. But I think what I can be certain of is that a good anime doesn’t have the features that makes it a bad anime.

    Nagi no Asukara is not a bad anime. I’m not sure if it is a great anime but I think that call is still to early to call of its greatness.

    TQ

    KF
  2. Hikari good job on maturing up… offering heart advice to Akari in style “Stop trying to be my mom and become Miuna’s!”
    But the Miuna/Akari mutual bawwing was a bit over the top.
    Meanwhile, things have hit the fan with our main love pentagram as Manaka and Chisaki now in open rivalry for Hikari. It seems this is where main focus of the show will move now?

    ewok40k
  3. I feared that might happen. and it did.
    it reminded me AnoHana. in terms of feels..this episode is very alike.
    that “over-melodramtic”…it’s like they are forcing us to the feels, and it’s certainly not necessary ’cause we’ve already established a connection to the MC, their feels and everything around it.
    it’s like unwritten rule – you shouldn’t force your viewers to crying. I mean it’s OK to have some crying scenes, but this was too much crying. sometimes forced too.

    if it wasn’t original, I’d have say we cleared Miuna’s route 😛
    Akari may have found inner peace within herself, but things are far far from over (aka we only cleared a flag in her route 😛 ).
    I wonder what our sea-god is planning. but I must say in that matter, this set a high standard for anything in terms of plot, characters and performance with anything related to sea.
    so..whatever you’ll do sea-god..you must aim higher (if u can).

    well, despite the exaggeration of feels, there were stuff I did like this ep.
    there’s the stuff with Manaka and chisaki. it’s a good thing that NnA isn’t keeping the complex hidden for too long. little by little the characters are being exposed to more info about the feels of the romance-complex..and it affect on them. so there will be implications for later events.
    so things aren’t static, it keeps evolving but not too quickly. showing us the maturity progress and how those slight changes affect on the MC and their change.
    for now it’s between chisaki and manaka..but that’s only the beginning.

    I bet Manaka won’t be able to shut her mouth for long..we can see how she’s struggling with her thinking in that matter. what should she do?I don’t know..’cause it’s unclear what she really thinks and feels. does she really love Tsumugu?clearly she is fascinated by him…and it make some sense despite him being indifferent…but is it really love?
    besides, from the show, it seems Hikari fits to be with Manaka rather than with Chisaki…but it’s still very complicated.

    random thoughts:
    1. a new term in the anime world was born – dollicon . Hikari you are such a dollicon. LOL. though it might have a better use in Rozen Maiden or Machine-doll IMHO 😛
    2. wow the dancing scene was awesome. it felt so genuine and fun to watch it.

    thedarktower
  4. I feel the same way, too much excessive crying for my taste. I’m more a fan of the silent weeping, which brings a lot more emotional impact than the hysteric bawling Akari did in this episode. However, the dramatic content was still well-written, so I’m willing to let the cringeworthy melodrama slide for now.

    Sylpher
    1. Agreed. The silent weeping method would have definitely been more impactful than just the hysteric bawling. It would certainly bring about a more emotive drama. I would have gotten teary eyed myself if they had used that method. Still, I would say that this sub-plot line was pretty well done. Its not often they would do so much for sub-characters.

      Euzio
    2. This is a flaw usually seen in Japanese Dramas (live action or not). They got their point, they scored a touching scene, they even managed to have you shed a tear or two but it seems that they can’t get satisfied until you (and the cast) start sobbing like toddlers.

      A golden rule for Drama writers there is “If it won’t make you cry, then it is not good” and that’s why they (unfortunately) tend to go overboard with it.

      Exukvera
  5. The highlight of this episode was the scene with Hikari and Miuna . It was so heartfelt.
    Looks like we might see a side to Tsumugu’s personality through Manaka in the next episode, judging by the preview.
    And with that Uroko-sama scene , the saltflake snow , which I’d previously simply thought of as beautiful , takes on a sinister note.

    Aki-Chan
    1. And with that Uroko-sama scene , the saltflake snow , which I’d previously simply thought of as beautiful , takes on a sinister note.

      There’s actually a similar real life phenomenon that occurs in oceans called marine snow.

      It can often give a beautiful vibrancy to the ocean, particularly when deep sea diving. Well, beautiful until you find out that it’s basically the small pieces of dead organisms and organic material.

      Tre
  6. Can’t wait for Miuna to call Hikari “Onii-chan.”

    But I’m laughing at your jabs at Tsumugu, Enzo. I agree completely. He’s just not that interesting. He has his moments, like him laughing and “Stop” but for the most part he’s just…there.

    EmD
  7. I think I’ve become a dollicon. 😀 Anyway, I digress.

    I’m actually more interested in how shit has hit the fan by Manaka overhearing Chisaki’s true feelings.

    Besides poor Chisaki, I do wonder what’s going through Tsumugu’s head when he brought on the topic to begin with, and not expecting Manaka to suddenly barge in.

    OTOH Tsumugu might be a Machiavellian strategist, knowing by nudging Chisaki and purposely letting Manaka eavesdrop on them, that could solve two birds in one stone: He gets Manaka while Hikari gets properly taken care of.

    And of course, this “one-way love pentagon” has just got more complicated now that Hikari has unlocked a loli route (ditto for Kaname last episode, who managed to get the other stubborn loli to own up for her crimes)

    echykr
  8. On Okada Mari and a writer’s manipulation-

    You’re absolutely right that she’s manipulating us. Any writer trying to elicit any sort of emotional reaction is doing that, and if you know that intellectually it’s not a big deal – it’s only when you feel their hands on the strings that there’s a problem. Or care about it. I recently read a review of a Spielberg movie…

    You know what? I’ll save it for a podcast. Should be a fun conversation : )

    Stilts
    1. It all boils down to the blurb at the top of the post for me, Stilts. When it’s artful (AnoHana and the first 3 eps here, for example), I enjoy it and I don’t mind. When it’s like it was this ep, she loses me. I compare Okada to a highly skilled surgeon who prefers to operate with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel far too often.

      1. I couldn’t agree more!

        of course she manipulates us and leads us toward the emotional climax. and it’s OK.
        but there is a way of doing things like that. and it just feels..too much. too much forced..too much pushing the viewers. too bad ’cause we really had the click for the whole complexity of NnA.
        but there is still a long way ahead of us. we shouldn’t jump to further conclusions of how will things be executed next. I still have great sympathy with the show, even after that.

        thedarktower
      2. For most of the episode, I actually didn’t really get the feeling she took things too far. That is, until that final scene between Miuna and Akari.

        I don’t really know what was with that scene, but it left me shaking my head for some reason. It just kind of felt like a moment where they should have had a proper heart-to-heart rather than the imbecilic bawling we were subjected to.

        Majority of the episode I was fine with, but that scene…

        Kuntzy
    2. Mari Okada podcast in the future?

      Oh boy… that’s going to be one helluva ride.

      Should make it MORE fun though. Conditions are that you need to be webcamming and crossdressin since Okada loves putting guys in drag. Also Yuki Kaiji impersonations, lots of em. Okada likes dem emasculated males.

      Then one you will break and cry out really loud begging for no more. And okada from half a world away will have the biggest trollface.

      …In other words, this writer drives me f@#$ing bonkers to the max.

      Pocarisweat
  9. I am also enjoying the ease with which characters express emotions in this anime.

    I think if there is too much emoting though, it’s more a function of there being too many emotionally fraught crises in play at the same time. Having Akari, Hikari, Chisaki and Manaka facing down serious personal issues virtually simultaneously is probably somewhat more than an average willingness to suspend disbelief can withstand.

    But the specific expressions of grief elicited by these individual crisis are proportional and appropriate, especially, in my opinion, Akari’s breakdown at the end the episode. She is, after all, at a turning point with ramifications far, far beyond those of the kinds of issues faced by Hikari and his friends.

    I keep seeing the image from the second episode of her being manhandled like a rag doll by that mob of burly men.

    Akari has finally committed to going against the wishes of her god, her country, her people, and her only parent, in declaring her intention to never vanish from Miuna’s life. Tears were understandable.

    filbert
  10. Episode 7 has already aired and episode 6 is still to be posted.

    Could you please at least just post a “blank post” so that those of us anxious to discuss the stuff we’ve just seen in more detail lest we forget it?

    Hyouka, Psycho Pass, Servant Service, now this. I’ve lost count of how many series where great discussion of the finer details of each episode (as many things can happen in 23 minutes to be able to recall them all at once) have been lost due to them no longer being remembered by the time you do blog it simply because you could not commit enough time to blogging it.

    It is really frustrating for you to keep doing that for many of the series you guys have picked to blog lately despite you guys hiring so many writers. Omni and Divine at least kept their workload under control even when they were the sole writer.

    In a nutshell, if you do not think you could commit yourself to blogging it, don’t.

    Anonymous
    1. Agreed. A similar thing happened with Hiiro no Kakera:Dai Ni Sho-it was simply stopped with no explanation as to why, and there were so many things to discuss… It would be nice to at least have an explanation if a show will no longer be covered.

      Aki-Chan
    2. Kairi has explained her absence here in last week’s Galilei Donna post: https://randomc.net/2013/11/09/galilei-donna-04-05/

      Going forward, no show will be dropped without a notification (probably in the announcement column on the side) or a post (like when Zephyr dropped Coppelion). If there’s no notification, you can assume that it’s still being blogged. That being said, I don’t think Kairi has intentions to drop this one.

      We are working on the timely posts issue. You’re not the only one to bring it up so don’t worry, it will be addressed. How we go about doing it, will be another discussion entirely, that’s for us to discuss =)

  11. I agree that Tsumugu doesn’t seem interesting at all right now! 😛 He is very stoic (other than that time when he burst out laughing… haha). I love how much Hikari has grown too, and I hope that the sea people would not go extinct! Their eyes are so pretty 🙂

    wintermelon
  12. Will The Awaited ManakaXHikari finally bloom in this anime.(i seriously dont wanna see TsumuguXManaka)
    If,Manaka starts to lose patients with Hikari’s Attitude WHat will happen?
    I hope this anime will end up with all the people being happy..

    well….thats to optimistic isnt it??

    BlossomsVeil

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