「ぬくみ雪ふるふる」 (Nukumi Yuki Furufuru)
“The Saltflake Snow Falls and Falls”
If you had the means to survive the end of the world, but not everyone could, what would you do?
It seems the sea kiddos’ problems just keep getting worse and worse, no matter how many steps they take forward toward coexistence. It’s no longer a question of population loss for Shioshishio, though that’s certainly related to the problem. This is still overwhelmingly a question of survival, both in the long and short term, but it’s no longer just about sea people not wanting to lose their reproductive capabilities and culture to the land. This is about a not-so-far off imminent demise, of all humanity no less, with the problem of having few young to spearhead the issue. The more young people the village loses to the land, like Akari, the less chances the village has of making a comeback in population after going into hibernation; there won’t be a whole lot of people left after the end of the world, after all, and to the elders of Shioshishio, who already dislike the surface, they must see giving up their precious young to an already doomed culture a foolish move indeed.
I’m going to go ahead and imagine that Shioshishio’s problem is not something that only affects the land around them; if this were the case, the simple solution would be to simply get the people of the land to move away once the saltflake snow accumulated and covered the area in unnatural cold and darkness. If this is so, however, then the people of Shioshishio very literally have the end of the surface world on their hands, and not much of a resolve to do anything but survive it. Their priority now is to take the kids with them, regardless of what the kiddos want themselves; humans, after all, are a rather selfish lot with the instinct to protect their own first, and the people of Shioshishio certainly fit the bill. But then again, is that really such a distasteful thing to do?
Let’s put it this way: if we all knew the planet was doomed within the next fifty years (pick the apocalyptic event of your choice; I’ll go with solar flare event), and we only had one spaceship that could carry, say, a hundred individuals to establish a new colony somewhere out in the solar system, who do you think would get to go? Certainly not me, probably not you; it’s going to be the Haves of the world, whether that means political power, economic power, or maybe some sort of super power they developed that allows them to control whoever they want. No matter how much that sucks for you and me (and our families, I’m sorry future children named after certain anime characters), the fact remains that only a hundred of our billions strong race is going to get on that ship at any time, and the rest of us are doomed no matter what. Perhaps an even better allusion, if you’re familiar with Christian belief, is Noah’s ark and the flood, where only God’s chosen few get to survive and repopulate the world. It’s fairly close to the sea god and the people of Shioshishio, though Uroko-sama claims the sea god does not wish this, and is simply not strong enough to stave off the impending demise of the world above. Regardless of cause, however, the fact remains that as of this moment in time, only those with Ena are able to board the spaceship (metaphorically speaking), and everyone else has to be left behind, no matter how much they may or may not sympathize.
Unfortunately that does put the kids in a horribly difficult place. They, unlike the adults, have been living among the land-dwellers, and some, like Akari, Manaka, and Hikari, are bound to the people there by love and friendship. It’s enough of a moral conundrum, ignoring the death of everyone but the few chosen to survive, without having personal attachments to go along with it. Even worse, Hikari’s hope to fix the situation, by going forward with the Ofunehiki to strengthen the sea god, seems like it will never come to pass at this rate. The unfortunate truth is that the adults of Shioshishio are too bound by past insults and hatred to want to try for any mediation at all, even if there is a chance it could save lives. What the kiddos are looking at now is a choice, and a horribly difficult one indeed. Should they stay with their families and choose to live on at the cost of losing their new friends and connections on the land, or should they, like Akari, choose to go to their deaths with those they love? Is fifty years of torn happiness and coexistence better than ensuring the lives of your children and grandchildren at the cost of everyone else dying?
Note: Apologies for the late post, I’ve been ill with a cold and migraine since finishing a particularly horrid paper on Thursday. Thank you so much for your patience!