「優しくなりたい] (Yasashiku Naritai)
“Wanting To Be Kind”

Author’s Note: I’m filling in for O-Kairi this week – thanks to Zephy for helping out with the screencaps.

Okada-sensei, you’ve really got it working here – for the love of Goc, please don’t screw it up.

It’s always a little scary putting yourself in the hands of Okada Mari, especially on an original series, especially a two-cour. She’s a literary seductress, so alluring and able to draw you in, and so often she leaves you dead on the rocks with the seagulls pecking your eyes out while she laughs hysterically and gets ready for the next batch of victims. But we’re twelve episodes in this time around – almost halfway – and I can’t deny that I’m completely hooked.

I realize now that I’ve more or less been waiting for Nagi no Asukara to disappoint me, and despite a couple of slip-ups in the middle and some very strong efforts by the competition it is now what it was after the first week of the season – (surprisingly) my favorite of the Thursday shows. It’s the one I most look forward to each week, the most consistent, and the one that works best as an overall package. Every time the moeblobs appear the dignity and intellectual level of the show nosedives, and it’s not especially subtle in some of the emotional development – but there’s a directness and raw emotional power to the premise and characters that just plain works. This is a simple, modern-day anime fairy tale, and it seems Okada and P.A. Works were the perfect match for its telling.

For my money the scene at the cafe with Akari (Nazuka Kaori really is terribly underrated) and Tomoru is one of the best in any series this season. This is the kind of material Okada is incredibly good at – a very un-Japanese open declaration of feelings that are as honest as the day is long. Tomoru doesn’t want to hear it – what parent wants to be thanked for doing the duty of raising their child the best they can – but dammit, it’s nice to hear Akari take the time to express some gratitude. The series has revolved around the problems of her generation, but Tomoru was the one who lost his wife and had to soldier on with two children, not showing his pain, while leading his people in a time of crisis to boot. He hasn’t handled everything well, but he’s doing the best he can and he deserves to have someone thinking of him.

Nagi no Asukara is always going to return to the five at the heart of the cast, though, and so it is here. I’m still not sure where this is going in terms of the hibernation – there are several comments that the kids (especially Hikari) aren’t developing Ena as fast as they should be (especially given the evidence that children generally fall into hibernation faster). Tomoru – again showing his stripes as a caring parent – actually muses that Hikari might be happier living on, on the surface, and I wonder if there isn’t some element of that in what’s happening here. Maybe these kids are at just the perfect age where their relentless energy and desire to move forward overcomes their inherent compulsion to hibernate, and of the lot Hikari certainly has the most restless energy and sheer pugnaciousness. Sleeping really isn’t his style, somehow.

We’re also, at long last, seeing the last two members of the fivesome to really come into their own as characters do just that. We finally get a look at Tsumugu’s mother, and a sense of the fact that he’s so estranged from her that he uses Manaka and Chisaki as an excuse not to have to eat with her. His grandfather has an anime cough, too, so it’s clear we’re headed for serious anime drama on that front. And as for Kaname, it’s not surprising that he’s proving to be the most forceful in breaking through the stagnated relationships of the sea kiddos – but what I liked here wasn’t so much his forcing the issue by asking Hikari in front of the others what he thought of Manaka, but his reaction afterwards. He’s been if anything unrealistically mature so far, but he’s still a kid – and being the mature one is clearly not as easy for him as he makes it look. And let’s not forget that as of now, he’s the only one of the main quintet who doesn’t have one of the others liking him romantically. Sucks to be Kaname, really.

The final scenes of the episode were very strong ones, with a lot left to interpretation. Manaka seems to be the last holdout trying desperately to cling to childhood (though it’s clear from the moments before Kaname’s instigation that all of them are still drawn to the carefree childhood they shared), and it’s not surprising that she flees after Hikari admits what she already knows. Nor that he chases after her, or that Chisaki chases after him (as Kaname is left behind, unchased). The vibes are strong her that Manaka is starting to awaken to feelings for Hikari – she flat-out says "When did Hi-kun become a guy?" after seeing him waving the huge Ofunehiki flag. And strongest of all is the hilarious wink at the audience of having Manaka say "Wave that flag, Hikari!" at the end of the preview. But in classic cliffhanger fashion Tsumugu intrudes like a text from Arata at the height of a Chihaya-Taichi moment, once again scooping Manaka up in his fishing net. Mixed signals, indeed.

I’m not sure where that triangle – or indeed the pentangle – is headed, or indeed where the larger story is going. Will all of the sea kiddos go into hibernation, or any or them? Will Akari sacrifice herself to the Sea God and prevent all of it from being necessary, or will it be Manaka – validating all those hints in the ED? Will there be a time skip, and for how long? But the point is that these are all honest mysteries, well-earned by the development so far, and that’s why I’m so invested in finding out. Nagi no Asukara is a very well-written series both in terms of plot and character development, and even as it prepares to be another commercial bomb for P.A. Works it also shows just what Okada Mari is capable of delivering in the right situation. If the second half of this show is nearly as good as the first, I’ll be more than satisfied.




  1. I actually liked this episode a lot. I loved the beginning with Miuna and Sayu. It was really cute of them to not want Hikari or Kaname to go to “sleep”. I couldn’t help but laugh when they had suddenly attacked Hikari/Akari Father. I was also rather surprised to see Kaname lose his cool for once and kind of break down since he has been the character to always hold it together. I was also fond of how Manaka & Tsumugu ran into each other again with her getting caught in the net though I can’t help but feel for Hikari ;_; This anime has so many possible ships, its hard to tell what will happen and what wont.

  2. Such a dick move from Kaname, at least let Chisaki confess her feelings to Hikari first. But I guess I can understand from Kaname’s pov, as the saying goes “All is fair in love and war”

    1. Kaname knew Chisaki love Hikari so he forced Hikari’s hand and let him reveal his love for Manaka.

      I think it’s brilliant. He’s being completely honest in his attempt to attain Chisaki.

      Kaname strike as a man who would do whatever is necessary to attain Chisaki. It’s a bit scary but it does have a certain appeal to it. That persistency and defiance of his has a wildness that is rare in a show like this.


      1. That’s why I said I can understand what Kaname is coming from, if you love someone you have to fight for them. Although all I can say is he could have done it a more better way, because he is now not on Chisaki’s good side and has to build her trust in him all over again. Plus it also made Hikari and Chisaki a bit closer in terms of how they can both relate and are in the same boat.

        I agree that Kaname’s persistence and defiance is good for him, because I feel that he gets overshadowed by Hikari and Tsumugu in the story.

    2. Do you really think it would have mattered either way? Hikari has been unwavering about who he loves – Manaka. Chisaki had no chance to begin with, and by forcing the issue not only is Kaname forcing her to consider (cough) other options, but forcing everybody to acknowledge some truths. It was a self-interested move, but I don’t see it as purely selfish.

  3. At least now everyone has pretty much gotten their feelings out in the open. I was kind of going for Tsumugu/Manaka at first but now I just want to see how this plays out, regardless of who ends up with whom.


    Sayu is the one chasing Kaname. 😉

  4. Kaname -likes> Chisaki -likes> Hikari -likes> Manaka -likes> Tsumugu

    Kaname reminds me of Kanna and really too many others for me to list them all. I always find myself rooting for the underdog in romantic shows, mostly because I can relate. I was always the underdog when it came to romance and it never ended well for me. That’s why I’m rooting for Kaname. But the only happiness the “friend who’s hopelessly in love” ever finds in anime is accepting that the person they love doesn’t love them back and moving on. You could argue that they grow stronger from the whole experience and while I do agree that’s a great thing, just once I’d like to see their crush go “screw you writers, I love him/her back!”

  5. Sooooo we will be seeing moar of tsumugu?(after introducing her mother?) Damn

    Man… Another “manly” moment for hikari… he really knows how to handle stuff now.. unlike manaka lol

    Another amazing timing by Tsumugu -.-

  6. I just love how you write Enzo, I think no blogger would have reviewed this episode better than you, even stumbled on what you wrote here:
    “But in classic cliffhanger fashion Tsumugu intrudes like a text from Arata at the height of a Chihaya-Taichi moment, once again scooping Manaka up in his fishing net. Mixed signals, indeed.” it was such a beautiful comparison.

    I was truly touched by Kaname being left behind, sometimes the mature kids are always expected to be mature and ‘understand’ others and never to be understood. I loved the final scenes, it is officially now in my list of anime scenes that I will never forget.

    I love this anime as it moves my heart a little which is something necessarly rare. Manaka desperately reminds me of Menma from Anohana, there’s a similarity in both the graphics and personality.

    I loved your review, you’ve not left any detail and I admire your work always.


  7. we’ve been through almost half the series for now, but that’s definitely P.A at works here 😛

    this time we got a full-view over almost every interaction possible between each of our 5 MC.
    at first, there wasn’t much, only Chisaki X Tsumugu that had a nice “occasional” interaction and chit-chat later. or Manaka fascinated by Hikari waving the flag. but these were a silent steps of emotions.
    but poor guy Kaname can’t keep everything in the stomach. and I can understand him. I don’t know if it’s because of fear from the upcoming hibernation or his pain from been “unofficially rejected” or because he is the serious person in the group, I mean, maybe he is growing faster than the rest, making him wants to confess and not “play kids” anymore when they are not (especially since the upcoming hibernation). maybe it’s all together, as NnA knows to do in terms of those kids.

    whatever the real cause for this, it makes NnA to release a lot of emotions. a steam of emotions (like when the teapot arrives its boiling point released steam)in the shape of interactions. so what happened is that a burst of interaction suddenly flood the screen – Hikari confessing, Chisaki is angry at Kaname (who looks in more pain), Manaka getting confused, Chisaki and Hikari share some common feelings and of course Manaka and Tsumugu suddenly return to “square 1” like the first episode, but this time..is it different?
    sure, it floods the screen and the viewer. but in fact, it was totally under control and it was carried out very very well. I don’t think it was rushed. because even when NnA is mostly consistent, it always moves forward and looking ahead, never too quickly, but it’s not boring for sure. especially in this aspect.
    yeah, those 5 are confusing me. Hikari X Manaka, Manaka X Tsumugu, Manaka X Hikari, Chisaki X hikari, Kaname X chisaki, Tsumugu X Chisake..not to mention the girls – Miuna and Sayo (of course the ultimate Hikari X Tsumugu is always there, it’s obvious :P) but that is also why I love NnA, it always interesting to see the development in dynamic with those 5.

    in the macro-level, nothing much changed. or so it seemed.
    people are getting tired because of hibernation (who is that girl?why there are more children in the sea-village and we aren’t knowing them..). but for me it suddenly got a strange feeling. look at this. it feels like a cult. something feels wrong more and more with the sea-elders. and I think Manaka is feeling that too, but she is so confused from the entire situation. she is still a kid who doesn’t know to approach a problem in that scale.
    if you ask me right know..what’s going on?I think the upcoming apocalypse might go the other way around – it’s gonna destroy the sea-village, not the Landies.

  8. A note about Tsumugu’s mother…

    Based on the color of her eyes, I think Tsumugu’s mother is half sea-person and half land-person. This therefore makes her the daughter of Tsumugu’s grandfather who from previous hints is a sea-person who decided to live on land.

    Then, I noticed Tsumugu’s mother is wearing a wedding ring. Is she married to Tsumugu’s biological father? Or is Tsumugu’s biological father out of the picture (deceased or divorced?) and she remarried someone else? This could be a reason to Tsumugu’s estranged relationship with his mother.

    I’m totally guessing here, but this is what went through my mind during that scene. I’m really curious now!

      1. Don’t forget his grandfather is a sea-dweller, remmeber that episode when Hikari saw his skin shine in the sun :p so it is not like it is not confirmed, more like it is sure he is 1/4 sea-person xD

  9. …also, from the ending credits, I get the feeling Manaka will be the first one out of the five to hibernate. It’ll probably happen when she sees Hikari for a real, young man too instead of “just Hikari”.

    Why do I get the feeling that I shall experience much feels with this show? ;_; Dangit.

  10. This show has became too painful to watch. I mean just look at this mess. The end of the episode had us thinking she’d run back to Hikari but Tsumugu caught her with a net. Seriously, Okada-sensei has things hanging like a thread on a blade. One wrong move will send the fans into rage. If she can manage to end this in a way at least half the fans can accept I’m voting this for AOTY.

  11. Oh, yes. Never have to wait for the last few episodes of the series for the chain of confessions. And, if per chance this show belonged in the Anime 2013 list, I would surely vote it as my AOTY. Definitely.

    Red HeartGold ZX
  12. Poor Kaname, sacrificing his happiness for the sake of character and plot development. 🙁 Your sacrifice will not be in vain, comrade. Please accept my salute.

    LOL at Miuna and Sayu mistaking Hikari’s dad to be a suspicious dollicon stranger. This “dollicon syndrome” probably runs in the guys in Hikari’s family. XD

    BTW Is next episode next week or after the New Year?

  13. Chihayafuru’s triangle, the most painful triangle ever. Just by reading the letter “Chihaya-Taichi” makes me feel like, a thousand needles piercing through me heart…ohhh~ making these kiddos (excluding Tsumugu) as the middle school version of Chihayafuru’s romance.

    The scene where Chisaki bumped at Tsumugu’s arm, i was like lol…please do not develop any kind of feelings on him girl! Manaka is just next to you! But i’m glad she overcomed their awkwardness during the chit chat in the train. Kaname, why do you have to be so painful TT^TT…When Chisaki tried to hit Kaname when he mentioned about being dead, i thought they went back to normal again. but dang, “…That was horrible, Kaname!” <– you dont have to bruise his feelings like that Chisaki! But i'm glad that Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname vent out their confessions and move on. Except for little Manaka, hope she could decides her feelings already.


    great review G.Enzo. Beautiful as always. Do you write any literature perhaps? I think it'll sell consider the beauty of your sentence. maybe i could get few inspirations for my writing too 😀

    onion warrior
  14. It’s always refreshing to see family and friends being family and friends, and this is what Nagi no Asukara has got going for it. The conversation between Chisaki and Hikari in my opinion is the high water mark so far for character growth. It was nice to see characters, kids no less, consider how their decisions affect their friends. It was great to see Tomoru approach Akari and Akari to be willing to talk. This is what makes the story so compelling.

    Yeah… I’m doomed.

  15. The most important thing for me at this point is for Nagi no Asukara not to pull a Star Driver. What I mean is if I see Manaka be like that chick from Star Driver and be all “well I don’t choose either because I love you both” I am going to rage my ass off. Stick to your guns, no open ended bullshit please. I’d rather have a Sekai Yori ending than a Star Driver ending if you know what I mean.

  16. What it will be interesting is Kaname’s evolution from this point. He has been the most logical kid and is well aware of the entire situation while the rest are struggling to understand even themselves. But even with that advantage he hasn’t achieved anything and has been left behind, maybe he will become more selfish and less adult. I don’t think he will evolve as Hikari did.

    On a side note, if he went to sleep, got up when Sayu has grown up and go for her, I would approve. And if he went and make this face at Chisaki while saying “Yes, I’m a horrible person”, I would sign it now. I like underdogs with a pair like Kaname and I root them not for achieving his goal but for go further and get a better reward. It would be topic and predictable, but not less satisfying.

  17. I’m just gunning for Tsumugu being the Sea God somehow, but there’s no basis for that. It’s nice seeing the head priest have a change of heart after Miuna calls him gramps and Akari’s little heart to heart.

  18. Kaname likes Chisaki, Chisaki likes Hikari, Hikari likes Manaka and Manaka likes Tsumugu but…

    Who does Tsumugu like?

    Maybe, just maybe, Tsumugu likes Kaname. And that, my friends, completes the love pentagon.


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