「たゆたう想いのさき」 (Tayutau Omoi no Saki)
“Beyond the Wavering Feelings”
I have grown to like Hikari quite a lot over the last few weeks.
That, more than anything, is what really stood out to me this week. This definitely isn’t quite as plot-heavy an episode as the last, but I’m seeing a sort of pattern emerging with the pacing. We’re sort of oscillating between the micro and macro aspects of the problem in the world of Nagi, with the micro focusing on the kids and characters in general, and the larger picture looking at the relationship between Shioshishio and the land as a whole. This being one of the “characterization” episodes, so to speak, it’s rather remarkable how far Hikari has come over 8 episodes. Even better, his growth is completely in tune with who he is and what he has experienced, and I find this process of maturation to be pretty believable. He was never a bad kid, per say, he was just immature, which makes perfect sense considering his age and his strong personality.
It’s not like the latter has really changed either; he’s still hot headed for one thing, but he’s now reacting to situations in a much more considerate and thoughtful way. He understands that his jealousy and anger toward Tsumugu and Manaka’s feelings were selfish and that he wasn’t thinking of their feelings before getting upset for his own sake, and he has also realized how wrong it was to base his anger on prejudice. As a result, he is now actively coming to terms with the feelings of those around him, as well as with his own. Chisaki is definitely right that he doesn’t have to give everything up and deny his feelings to honor Manaka’s; after all, you never know what will happen until you act, but there really aren’t many other choices anyway. Right now, Manaka would almost definitely choose Tsumugu, and I’m sure Hikari doesn’t want to be outright rejected and confuse her more. Ironically, that mirrors Chisaki’s position in terms of her feelings for Hikari, which is why, of course, she doesn’t want him to give up. If he did, it would be admitting that such a love is hopeless, and thus crushing her own hopes.
One of my favorite aspects of Hikari’s maturity, however, has to do with his relationship to Miuna and her father. He’s adapted well to their presence in Akari’s life despite his initial dislike, and he’s come to regard Miuna like a little sister. Miuna, of course, has probably developed a bit of a crush on him, but considering all he’s done for her and her family, that makes sense. The way they interact is pretty endearing, especially since they’re somewhat similar souls at heart, and the moment when Miuna tried to rehydrate Hikari out of fear that he would dry out was very symbolic as to the state of how much things have changed.
Unfortunately, even if everyone is starting to find happiness together, the issue at large is not about to simply disappear. The sea god definitely has something to say after Akari and Hikari’s departure from Shioshishio, and the appearance of salt flake snow on land cannot be good news.