Things are about to change once more.
The word I would use to describe this episode would be “haunting”, though perhaps not in the way I would usually use the term. This is no horror flick, no suspense driven arc, nor is it even haunting in the sense that you necessarily expect something bad to follow, though that isn’t impossible. This is haunting in the way the site of an accident is haunting, the way a city in the dawn is somewhat off, in that too quiet way. That is, of course, very fitting, considering where the kids find themselves. This is Shioshishio, but as Hikari makes sure Miuna understands, it’s not the Shioshishio it’s supposed to be. It is, in some ways, a form of graveyard, though the inhabitants are sleeping rather than dead, and that allusion is only sustained when we see another graveyard of sorts near the end; but I’ll get to that.
Firstly, Uroko-sama’s return and the resulting conversation between him and Miuna were of particular interest to me. I never doubted we’d be seeing the mysterious “scale” again soon, and his presence is rather foreboding in that god-like “I know something none of you do but I shouldn’t interfere” sort of way. He’s always been a bit of an enigma, the one who seems to be behind the scenes despite the fact that he claims he is only a part of the sea god, and his words to Miuna are just as dripping with that sense of otherworldly insight. The question he asks her, if she has found what she has been looking for upon arriving in Shioshishio, is something I think is relevant to all the sea kiddos and not just Miuna.
Miuna is not the one searching for Manaka, after all; as much as she might care for her safety, Manaka has never been Miuna’s priority. What she wanted was to insert herself in Hikari’s life, to form the bonds that already exist between him and the other sea kiddos. At first the boundary was age, then it was the fact that she could never know the world he came from, and even once she arrived in Shioshishio, that boundary is simply the fact that one cannot insert themselves into a past that has already been written. The one who has always been searching for Manaka has been Hikari, but it can hardly be said that he and Kaname were prepared for what they found in Shioshishio either. As much as they want to believe the people they love are just sleeping, it doesn’t change how eerie and wrong it is to see their village in the state it is. Finding the Ofunehiki graveyard and Manaka in the state she’s in must have done nothing to allay their nerves and fears, nor does it help fix the situation in regards to the rest of Shioshishio.
On top of all that, Manaka’s reappearance looms over all; has the sea god willingly returned her, or was it against his wishes, as Kaname asks? Why is she losing her Ena, and why is it Miuna who can hear the scales? Why has Miuna suddenly acquired Ena in the first place? Why is there a connection between the two?