「海の色。大地の色。風の色。心の色。君の色。～Earth color of a calm～」 (Umi no Iro. Daichi no Iro. Kaze no Iro. Kokoro no Iro. Kimi no Iro. ~Earth color of a calm~)
“The Color of the Sea. The Color of the Earth. The Color of the Wind. The Color of the Heart. Your Color. ~Earth color of a calm~”
At last, the lull lifts…
As I sit here pondering all the little nuances of this series, a show I’ve been following for about half a year, I can’t help but feel that was a pretty fitting end in some ways, even if the details might irk here and there for certain parties. I can easily imagine both Miuna and Manaka shippers feeling a little shortchanged (or not, depends on how you take the developments), and I can definitely see how some people would feel discontent about the fairly convenient plot devices used in wrapping the story up. But really, subtlety was never this series’ major strongpoint, and what it had it more or less abandoned by the second half. The last episode basically boiled down to the answer to Manaka’s predicament: is it better to forget about love and its associated pains or is the feeling of loving worthwhile no matter what?
Nagi would argue that yes, it is better to have love and lost. The theme is constantly hammered through in this finale, from the Ojoshi-sama’s story to Manaka and Miuna’s sacrifices and explanations. To love is a wonderful thing, they say, and it’s rather fitting in that sense that Miuna does not get her love reciprocated but moves forward regardless. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel a little annoyed at the convenience in the Ojoshi-sama’s story. It was heartwarming, and hugely interesting (I’ve been dying to see and hear more about the Sea God and his mythos for ages), but I do have to ask if it was necessary to make her reciprocate the Sea God’s feelings at the last minute, especially when we’ve heard relatively little from her in the first place. It’s little conveniences like these (seems all the mixed kids now have Ena too) that didn’t make for top-form storytelling; yet despite this, it still feels like Nagiasu through and through, for better or worse.
There are lots of good things too. Scenery porn aside (which has been consistently gorgeous), this episode didn’t trample too much on the emotions of the piece. Hikari never stopped loving Manaka despite understanding Miuna’s feelings, and though he is desperate to save her, it isn’t out of his character in the least. The return of Manaka’s love and affections felt quite resonant as well, and it was like the color flooding back in at seeing her be her old self once more. Even the Ojoshi-sama’s story, and particularly Uroko-sama’s reactions, held a fair amount of emotional depth. So much so, in fact, that I really do feel that we needed more from that particular camp during the course of the series. Regardless, it was an effective aside and added nicely to the overall theme and presentation of what this finale wanted to be.
It is a bit sad to see the series end after being with it so long, and it can be, for some, a shame to see it slip away from the narrative opportunities they hoped they would see. For others, the finale was everything promised, beautiful and meaningful in its own way. I see it as a bit of both. I do wish some things, like the mythos and impending crisis, were expanded on more in the second half, but I can also accept and appreciate what the series actually became. At the end, seeing Manaka and Hikari discuss the impermance of life and change, I feel satisfied, and that is a merit in and of its own.
Nagi no Asukara has been a special series for me as a blogger. This has been my first two-cour series on Random Curiosity (as well as the series which marks a full year since I first wrote here), and the first series I have covered here which has held a significant emotional and dramatic pull on me. From the beginning, I was entranced by the sheer beauty of the series, of the apparent simplicity in its premise and lovely world and character building. As Hikari and the others developed in the first half, I grew more and more invested, and more interested in the larger plot at hand. While I, like many others, felt some dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the time skip and the second half, I don’t think I could the experience as a whole as negative in the least. I do express regret at the focus on Miuna and her pining for Hikari, not because it was a bad decision, but because it cut off attention from the larger plot and the development of the sea kiddos in the first half.
There’s nothing wrong in having new characters with their own problems, but it felt like it dragged on sometimes and didn’t introduce many new developments or changes. As Zephyr-senpai said, it’s the “lull” of the title; yet, I do wish there had been a step further with those threads of narrative. I think the series had the ability to reach a greater level of depth and emotional growth for everyone involved, even with the time change, but it didn’t take that risk. Instead, it spent time entrenching those themes it had already set forth, but without necessarily leading them to new places. That split opinions, including my own, but in the end, the fact is that the series is what it is, and you have to take it for what it is than what it could have been. In that sense, the series stayed true to itself, even if it was less satisfying as a result for some.
Despite that, I think I enjoyed Nagi greatly, and though I did hope to see more of the mythos, and more character development, I am still very happy with Hikari’s character and with the world building. The charm and beauty of the series won me over, even if the story was not quite at its zenith, and I hope most of us who invested the time were rewarded in one way or another. After all, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?