「変わりゆくとき」 (Kawari Yuku Toki)
“The Time of Change”
Those tears are Ghibli worthy.
If there’s some sort of metaphorical crossroads to one’s life, then these kids are at theirs; I’m not sure if we’re truly looking at a timeskip or not, but we are looking at a choice, and that choice is not one easily avoided. Before the comment by Hikari and the others that not everyone might wake up at the same time, I’d have argued that a timeskip was somewhat unfavorable narrative-wise (never mind my subjective thoughts on why it would be unnecessary) anyway. There would, after all, be no one on the surface left if the whole point is to bypass an unnatural winter of disastrous proportions, and it would seem kind of odd to forcibly take all the important landed characters like Miuna, Itaru, and Tsumugu out of the picture (remember, this event isn’t supposed to happen until much later in these people’s lifetimes, so after a hibernation of that length, they’d all be dead and/or aged to their fifties/sixties or more) at this point. Wouldn’t that run a rut through the coexistence narrative?
There could, of course, be some interesting way of having the landed people survive and the sea kiddos interact with the children or what have you (would the sea kiddos have aged? Possibly, but not to sixty years, I doubt), but somehow, considering the emphasis placed on the importance of Tsumugu and Manaka’s meeting, I find that somewhat difficult to believe. The other option is where a time skip is more likely; for whatever reason, if the sea kiddos wake up much much earlier than this, but not long enough to bypass a disaster, then we could ostensibly see something like this happen with only slightly older versions of our cast. My problem with that scenario would be what the kids would do in terms of the disaster, but I’m imagining that it would probably prompt them even further to find some way to overcome it. A time skip could also occur should the children decide to stay and then later have to deal with the consequences. Whether or not I find such a skip necessary, though is a different question. Personally I like the way things are now; it’s not every day we get to watch a middle school cast in such believable emotional circumstances, and I’d like that to work out on its own without the need for the usual scenario with high schoolers acting like middle schoolers. Then again, maybe that wouldn’t happen either, but I’m happier not finding out, for the most part. However, the fact remains that this is speculation, and while the writers definitely have some choices as far narrative goes, the choices the characters face are more immediate and pressing to think on.
The romantic relationships aside (despite the fact that they’re incredibly important in terms of how they fuel the kids’ thinking about the situation), there’s a lot riding on the simple question of “eat or not to eat”, if only because that’s not the real question at heart. This is about deciding whether or not to listen to Shioshishio and Uroko-sama’s assurances that the land is doomed no matter what and save themselves, or to eschew that completely and leave the village for the sake of staying with the landed. That’s in essence giving up one’s family and lifelong friends and neighbors, and for the village, that’s essentially the end of most of their reproductive possibilities for the future. It’s also about deciding which attachments matter most; does Akari, for example, love Itaru and Miuna more than her father? Manaka love Tsumugu more than Hikari and her parents? The sea kiddos their friends (including possibly each other) over the entire village? As of now, there is some hope riding on the Ofunehiki and whether or not a live sacrifice would have more effect over a wooden one, but if Uroko-sama is right and the Ofunehiki truly has no bearing on anything, then the choice must be made, and it must be made soon.