「笑顔の守り人」 (Egao no Mamoribito)
“The Protector of Smiles”

As good as last week’s episode was, getting its best character back really makes a difference for Nagi no Asukara.

Note: Kairi’s internet is being an “S” at the moment so I’m filling in this week…

After a really strong episode, I normally have a good amount of scribbles on the notepad I keep with me when watching anime I plan to blog. But right now this episode only has two words scrawled on the page: “sick” and “change”. What that tells me is that this episode did an admirable job of speaking for itself – which makes my job as a blogger either easier or much harder, depending on how you look at it.

One of Okada Mari’s gifts as a writer is emotional clarity. Not that she always displays it, but when she chooses to she can get to the heart of what we feel as well as any anime writer in the business. Shows like AnoHana and Nagiasu (and even HanaIro when dealing with the generational relationships in Ohana’s family) are not especially subtle, but they’re very effective because they build a bridge between the audience and the characters. We feel what they feel because the feelings are universal. It sounds easy enough, but there aren’t many writers who can get there without the material seeming false or preachy. Okada does too, sometimes – but not when she’s on. And with this show, she’s been very much on.

The story of this episode, really, is Hikari. It’s in his reactions after waking up from a five-years nap, and in the way his appearance impacts those around him. Watching Hikari dealing with those feelings was pretty heartbreaking, and watching the way he rose to the occasion was pretty inspiring. You’ll be seeing a lot of “Wow – it’s amazing how much Hikari has grown!” posts in wake of this episode, I’m sure. And there’s truth in that, but there’s also this: the qualities we’re seeing in Hikari now were present in him from the beginning, even when his immaturity and adolescent anger made them harder to see – as many of us pointed out at the time. The fact that some people chose not to see them then doesn’t mean those qualities didn’t exist.

That, folks, is a well-written character arc. And it would be a disservice to the writer and the character to dismiss what we’re seeing now in Hikari as some kind of miraculous transformation – dismissing it suchwise is really ass-covering more than anything else. No doubt Hikari has grown, but the signs of that growth were visible like new leaves poking through the snow, right from the beginning. The Hikari we see now has more reason than ever to be angry, and even more to wallow in self-pity. The growth comes in the fact that he realizes this much sooner than the boy we met 15 episodes ago would have – even if those close to him are a little slower arriving at that realization.

The “sick” I have written on my notepad refers to Hikari pretending to be ill when he saw the Ofunehiki flag the Fisherman’s Collective had saved for him. This was a concession to his pride – Hikari never liked the idea of showing his vulnerable side in public, but all the more so now that everyone he knew (apart from those still sleeping) has aged five years, making him all the more aware of his own youth. And the “changed” refers to Hikari telling Chisaki she hadn’t changed – something he did simply to make her feel less despair over the situation. In truth Hikari had every reason to be angry at Chisaki for not visiting him, and every reason to be the immature one – he’s the child now, not Chisaki. Yet he took the high road and acted to spare her feelings, which as much as anything shows how mature he is. I’ve repeated over and over that one of the major themes of Nagiasu is the transition from childhood to young-adulthood expressed through a growing sense of empathy, and Hikari is certainly the most obvious example.

I’m not going to be too hard on Chisaki here, even though not coming to see Hikari for two days (and who knows how much longer, had he not stumbled upon her at the seashore), knowing how hard this must have been for him, was a selfish act. As I said last week, it could be argued that Chisaki has had it harder than anyone – while her friends were sleeping, she had to experience those five years. For Hikari it might be the day before yesterday, but Chisaki has endured 1800 or so day-before-yesterdays feeling herself slipping further away from everything she knows, and from the boy she loves. And not even Hikari’s kindness can spare her the hard truth – she has changed, no matter what he says, and if there was ever any chance that they might end up together (I don’t think there was), it seems impossibly remote now.

For Hikari, now, it’s a question of staying himself and staying the course – hoping those he’s left behind under the sea will rejoin him someday. As with Chisaki, Tsugumu and Miuna have it pretty rough. It seems unlikely that, if after five years under one roof Chisaki hasn’t grown attracted to Tsugumu by now, he ever will. And Miuna must deal with the reality that Hikari still considers her a child, and a family member – anything but a potential mate. I hope Okada doesn’t gnaw at the doomed relationships too obsessively in the episodes ahead – they have real pathos, but that could get too gloomy pretty fast. Ideally I’d like to see a transition to the relationships that are possible – but without Manaka’s presence, it’s hard to see that train leaving the station – her return would be the event that would trigger a chain-reaction and allow the frozen time to move again for all of the main cast. As I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon, I think we’re entering a dangerous period for Nagi no Asukara, even as good as it’s been of late.




  1. Oh wow… since the timeskip there’s been so much drama added to this!
    All those triangles…
    I’m completely lost on whom I should be rooting for now orz

    Ps. this is prob just me shouting in an empty room, but somebody should really make a post on Magi S2 too, especially after what’s been happening in the last few eps…

    1. Tsumugu x Chisaki – the ones I wanna see the most. I’ve always found Chisaki’s character the most interesting and while Tsumugu has been kind of bland in the 1st cour,he’s finally snowing some emotions now which is very welcomed.

      Hikari x Manaka – duh,if there was any doubt before,there certainly shouldn’t be any right now

      Kaname solo – I like him but I don’t see him pairing up with anyone. Tough luck bro.

      Sayu solo – lol,not a chance

      Miuna solo,probably – just a SLIGHT chance Hikari will see her as a potential love interest but I really don’t think so. Tough luck sis.

    2. My money is on :
      Tsumugu x Chisaki – Boy not in good terms with his Mom, meets girl with motherly qualities.
      Hikari x Miuna – They’ve been the most compatible when Hikari hugged her, she calmed down. A completely opposite reaction from Manaka.
      Kaname x Sayu – Sayu may not even know, but she’s exhibiting attraction already. Kaname only has to push and prod his way into her life.

      aaaaaand. (I already mentioned this, last time)
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. I’m shipping the same pairings as well.

        The only difference is that I think Manaka might not end up with anyone. Considering the events in episode 13, I won’t be surprised she isn’t really human any more (she’d be one heck of a human if she survived getting slammed into the ocean bed like that…). In fact, I won’t be surprised if she returns as the new sea god or something.

        And I’m really rooting hard for Chisaki x Tsumugu to happen. Its pretty obvious Tsumugu is in love with her and cares for her very much. Chisaki herself seems to be conflicted with herself. My opinion is that deep down, she does feel something for Tsumugu (again flash-back to episode 13 when she jumped in save Tsumugu and her subsequent reaction having saved him). However, she’s being held back by her conflicting feelings for Hikari. To me, her feelings for Hikari are more out of admiration rather than actual love.

      2. I never thought about a second time skip… If that does happen then Manaka and Muinas little brother would be super cool. But then again things would get awkward ALL OVER AGAIN. Lol. I for some reason feel Like Mananka is going to be out of the picture for a long time.

        Anayssa G
    3. Still shipping Hikari x Manaka here. While Miuna is trying hard and all, it seems like Hikari won’t be forgetting about Manaka anytime soon.

      Also, I don’t think this anime will let the ships sail just like that, considering what happened in episode 13.

  2. Sorry Hikari x Miuna shippers, but I expect Manaka to be back. From the beginning, I just didn’t buy her sacrifice. Manaka’s the sweet, caring type, already with a big martyr complex. Just feeding into that complex doesn’t complete her character arc one bit. Rather, I expect much development from her fear of being left behind–by the time she comes back, so much will have happened to her friends, she’ll be struggling to catch up with them, yet again.

    As for Hikari, he’s… just great. Whoever he ends up with, I think it’s safe to agree that we just want him happy.

    1. The OP might hint at something, with someone’s hand retrieving Miuna’s umbrella at the end, so Manaka may yet come back, but since she did after all offer herself to the sea god in some capacity, she will most likely not be the same Manaka as she used to.

      I don’t mean personality-wise, as she’ll still be the klutzy Manaka we all love, but, metaphysically she may become somewhat omnipotent like Uroko, taking it upon herself to watch over the happiness of the Land and Sea Peoples, including her beloved Hikari.

      That said, as an initial Hikari x Manaka shipper myself, I must respectfully disagree about Miuna having no chance at all. In fact, my respect for Okada would go up a lot if she would actually have the guts to break up the old relationship and replace them with a new one, with the transition actually plausible and believable. From what I’ve seen the past few episodes and into the second half, Miuna has earned her right to be in contention, even if Manaka returns.

  3. Hikari is my favorite character in the show. It makes me feel proud when I see his character development.

    On a side note, this series will be a tear-jerker, wouldn’t it? All the drama in each episode ;_;

  4. Chisaki has the undisputed “Nice Body” of all the girls, but still, Miuna-chan FTW. You just can’t help but root for her.

    Miuna’s rapid rise to main heroine-hood is showing no signs of abating. (She has, after all, taken over the narrating role from Hikari in the first half) First she kisses her guy, now she’s actively raising flags, both literally and figuratively, for him.

    When the professor was insensitively remarking how cold Chisaki was for her not seeing Hikari, Tsumugu promptly finished his bowl of soup and slammed it on the table without saying a word. The prof took the cue and shut his trap.

    And then there’s of course his attempt to make a sort of confession to Chisaki.

    Let no one ever say Tsumugu is devoid of emotions again just because he’s usually stoic.

    1. A confession from Tsumugu will never be done in the form of a simple confession(for example like Kaname to Chisaki or from Hikari to Manaka).If that makes sense. The fact he is so complex would mean his confessions , if he ever made them , would be equally complex.
      And you are right. He DOES have a personality.

  5. I think a lot of people are forgetting that before Chisaki liked Hikari romantically , they were close friends. And if you look carefully at all of the ones who grew up,you can see traces of the people they were before. So basically , it isn’t so weird for Hikari to say that Chisaki hasn’t changed (although adding the ‘at all’ was clearly a way of sparing her feelings). That , and I am sure the friendship must have contributed to the difficulties that Chisaki had in making herself visit Hikari. It isn’t all about the romance , although said romance is significant to the story. It is about the way all these lives are changing and growing.

  6. My only complaint about this episode would be that the mood shift/reconciliation at the end came a bit too quick and easy. You could snarkilly summarize Hikari’s thinking as: “Chisaki got boobs. Massive boobs! I must see more of this amazing new world!”

      1. An entire arc of angst would be bad, I’d agree, But, pretty much the entire justification for his closing mood happens off screen at best because they don’t really get into his internal monolog as to what he’s thinking in that moment compared to where he was before. He just kinda sees Chisaiki, says what he knows she’d want to hear, teases her some more, and then they run laughing off screen.

        I suspect based on the ending that they’re going to revisit more of that conversation in the future, but right now it’s a bit of a jarring shift.

  7. Loving the transitions, this anime is simply amazing.

    I personally think Kaname would be a good match for Sayu, Miuna and Hikari, and Tsumugu with Chisaki. I have the feeling that Manaka will come back later, but not as the “normal” Manaka. Perhaps without her memories… Or even a timeskip at the end. (Kaname stating earlier in the series that Chisaki and Hikari are like Manakas parents leads me to believe that she will come back years later, not having aged at all.. While everyone else did)
    Either way, if Manaka comes back earlier, I don’t think she’d pursue Hikari or any of the other guys. Especially if someone else already loves them. (She seems too kind for that)

    Hope this rambling makes sense :3

  8. This show just consistently elevates itself to another level. Even though it’s not too subtle, as Enzo says, it still has enough subtleties that the overall product feels more refined than what we got in AnoHana, whose emotional moments just seemed to be too overly done at times.

  9. i’ve been pretty much speechless since the 2nd cour started, it just suddenly becomes too good that i don’t even know what to say anymore. for the first time since this show started it has now become my most anticipated show of the week topping any other anime in winter season

  10. of all the pairings, it seems that tsumugu x chisaki is currently the one most likely to happen. hikari saying that she hasn’t changed a bit somewhat frees her from clinging on to the past and allowing herself to move on and face her own feelings for tsumugu (not that hikari is even aware of it). while tsumugu is slowly coming out of his shell and confronting his own feelings towards her. poor kaname though, chisaki never really saw him as more than a close friend.

    i also like how the series presented miuna’s feelings for hikari as something that isn’t outright bad. cause if you look at it, it really isn’t. given a different outcome, say hikari and miuna did manage to break up akari and itaru during their younger days, then her later feelings for him would be pretty much alright. but the think is, hikari’s decision that time to fight for his sister’s happiness might have been what made miuna fall for him in the first place. so it would be better to say that miuna’s situation is very conflicted.

    they are also unlikely that they are going to resolve the whole global catastrophe thing, which for me is a lot better. it just distracts too much from the personal drama (which is the series’ biggest selling point) if the series goes shounen-y and have the cast do some world saving. i prefer it as its current form of a sudden even that changed their lives forever.

  11. I laughed at how Hikari finally accepted the changes: by running with making funny faces. I really felt how relieved he is when he found no changes with Chisaki(maybe except physical ones but that doesn’t seem to matter to him).

    The title of this episode seems to pertain to two people: Hikari and Miuna. Hikari’s the type of guy who never lets anyone down and even with the total jerk way back he only thinks about those people he care about. Then there’s Miuna who vows to protect Hikari’s smile. She loved him even before he hibernated and that didn’t change.

    I can only predict that there will be challenges for them in the future, especially Miuna who is in love with Hikari, now that he’s back. Next episode seems to focus about the side characters, especially Sayo(?), who likes Kaname.

  12. The new OP song is really growing on me. There is just so much “feels” with it. Both in the lyrics and the tune. Its in definitely in my running for best “OP” song of the season (gonna have a hard fight with Mikakunin’s one :P)

  13. As much as i like how the story progress, i never like the idea of Miuna and Hikari getting together.

    I mean, if Miuna has been thinking about being in relationship with Hikari, then i probably and maybe and might gonna hate her for not being able to understand Hikari’s situation at all. Its like, yes, to be honest, Miuna is still an outsider no matter how she wish to be a part of them (the sea kiddos) or related to Akari. How can she think of being in love relationship with Hikari consider his poor condition (“losing” Manaka, separated with his dad, cannot go back to his home and losing the 5 years just like that)…she should provide moral support to him…

    and again, pooooor Chisaki~! and poor Tsumugu, he will forever be in anguish…his condition is just like Miuna, losing to a memory/childhood crush.

    anyhow, waiting for the next episode! waiting for Kaname also~

    onion warrior
    1. Think ur being abit too unfair on Miuna. The 5 year time skip isn’t only harsh on Hikari. Everyone else who managed to avoid the hibernation has had to suffer the 5 years of not knowing whether the people they’ve cared about are every gonna come back. Miuna has been in love with Hikari since 5 years ago. And even after 5 years, despite knowing that Hikari was in hibernation with no knowledge of whether he would even return, she has only kept on loving him. So in that sense, everyone of them has lost something dear to them.

      1. yes, that is clear. everyone lost something and someone dear to them. yes, Miuna keeps on loving Hikari over the past 5 years.

        However, i think she’s being a bit selfish there if shes thinking of wanting to be in a romantic relationship with Hikari after what he has been through. her intention of helping him to move on with the flag is sweet, but i do hope she can look at this at a bigger scale. Even Chisaki doesnt want to make a move with the absence of Manaka in the scene.

        then again, maybe its just me being afraid if Miuna ever try to do so, she’s as if trying to make Hikari to forget Manaka (also his feelings for her). That one last waiting for the person who sacrificed herself to Umigami, i hope nothing comes in between to mess up Hikari’s waiting for her coming (as seen in the OP)…

        onion warrior
      2. I don’t think there is anything selfish of wishing to be in a relationship with someone whom you love. And its not as if Miuna has come out all guns blazing to try and do so. She herself knows very well that Hikari is still somewhat trapped in the past. Besides, would you rather help a person whom you care about move on or continue moping and be depressed for the foreseeable future?

        As of now, to me, Chisaki is completely out of the running (with regards to Hikari) due to the circumstances. My thoughts on her are as mentioned earlier, that she probably feels something for Tsumugu. But due to the traumatic events of 5 years ago, she’s been trapped in a bubble of sorts.

    2. Miuna is only a kid i think it’s normal to be selfish at that age and at the same time at that age she will learn a lot of things about love i just hope she doesn’t appear to be thirsty as seen on the first episode where she mouth to mouth Hikari.

      1. Haha~ well, the first instinct when trying to save someone who happens to not be breathing would probably be CPR. So I don’t think her giving mouth-to-mouth was juz so she could do so. 😛

  14. Hikari’s words to Tsumugu moved me to tears a place he felt like he doesn’t belong where everything he knew had grown it must be so hard. Tsumugu his mysteriousness makes me drawn to him his feelings for her is so obvious the way he dropped his bowl when the professor said something unnecessary about Chisaki and how he waited for Chisaki to come home.

    I’m still in Manaka and Hikari ship although Miuna and Hikari is cute but i’m not feeling them yet can’t wait for the next episode :]

  15. After this episode I tried to recaculate who would end up with who. I want everyone to be happy (or atleast with someone)by the end of the series even though the most likely won’t happen. For this happines to happen I think the relationships should be like this, TsumuguxChisaki, KanamexSayu, and either MiunaxHikari or ManakaxHikari. It would be less likely for Miuna to end up with her uncle, maybe she could end up with the boy that confessed to her in the previous episode. 😛

    Anayssa G
  16. Damn, after seeing this episode, I’m afraid I’ll have to jump ships to Hikari X Miuna now. I’m not sure why but they just seem really perfect for each other and while Manaka is still good for Hikari, I’m still shipping these two together and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who felt this way :3


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