Long ago, all humans lived beneath the sea. However, some people preferred the surface and abandoned living underwater permanently. As a consequence, they were stripped of their god-given protection called "Ena" which allowed them to breathe underwater. Over time, the rift between the denizens of the sea and of the surface widened, although contact between the two peoples still existed.
Nagi no Asukara follows the story of Hikari Sakishima and Manaka Mukaido, along with their childhood friends Chisaki Hiradaira and Kaname Isaki, who are forced to leave the sea and attend a school on the surface. There, the group also meets Tsumugu Kihara, a fellow student and fisherman who loves the sea.
Hikari and his friends' lives are bound to change as they have to deal with the deep-seated hatred and discrimination between the people of sea and of the surface, the storms in their personal lives, as well as an impending tempest which may spell doom for all who dwell on the surface.
The age-old idiom of "don't judge a book by its cover" never ceases to amaze me. Every so often you come across an anime that just blows your expectations out of the water and delivers something completely different. In the case of Nagi no Asukara, on the surface (or below the surface in this case) it mostly looks like yet another done-to-death high-school romcom. Consequently, if there was one thing I didn't expect coming into this, it'd be that it turned out to be the most beautiful anime TV-series I've seen aired since 2011.
Nagi no Asukara (or Nagi-Asu for short) takes place in a fantasy world where there exist two different subspecies of humans. In this story, people originally came from the ocean, however over time there were ones who started crawling up on land as well to see what lay above the surface of the water. Now, ages later, the population has been split completely into land people and sea people, and they generally live quite isolated from each other.
The story follows a circle of childhood friends from the sea, living in an underwater village called Shioshishio. For various reasons their local middle school closed down, and they had no choice but to transfer schools… to one above the surface. Trying to adapt to a life on land is not an easy thing, as they constantly have to keep themselves wet in order to not dry out their Ena; the protective shell given to the sea people by the Sea God, which is what enables them to live and breathe underwater in the first place. Furthermore, there is substantial discrimination and tension between the land people and the sea people which keeps raising new hurdles for the group of friends.
There are numerous areas that the plot revolves around over the course of time. There is the diplomatic relationship between the two groups of people, the mysterious supernatural aspects concerning the Sea God and Ena, and last but not least Nagi-Asu has some of the most complicated love drama I've ever come across in anime. However fear not, because Nagi no Asukara is an exceedingly rare case of romance done right.
You see, unlike 99% of all romance anime out there, Nagi-Asu is actually unpredictable. Normally you barely have to watch five minutes of the first episode of an anime TV-series in order to know with almost complete certainty which couplings will end up taking place before the end (unless there turns out to be no development at all, which is even worse), but not this time.
For one, the main character cast of Nagi-Asu is rather large as well as evenly divided in gender. There is also no one that really can be called a protagonist in this series; Hikari probably gets the most screen time but I wouldn't really go as far as to call him a “lead" character. Point being that it never really feels like anyone has any innate “advantage" when it comes to love rivalry simply due to the concept of plot armour, because they all appear to be on fairly even grounds from start to finish. Above all though, if you would draw up all the characters and their various crushes in a relationship graph, you would very quickly realize that there are just way too many arrows… and there is no obvious nor optimal solution in sight. Hence, I honestly didn't know how any of this would turn out until very close to the end of the entire series, and that is something extraordinarily rare in anime (which in itself is a pretty sad realization for the sake of the anime industry).
Anyway, all the love drama aside, the character development in Nagi no Asukara is fantastic. Each and every character feels like he/she actually serves a purpose, and adds something crucial to the bigger picture. The anime covers a quite large timespan and there is plenty of opportunity to see how everyone matures and changes over the course of the story. All the members of the main character cast have very specific and detailed personalities and depth behind them, and you never get the feeling that any of them are any less important than the other. I guess the best way to explain it is that the supernatural aspects aside, there is a constant sense of realism when it comes to the characterization in Nagi-Asu and it just kept getting better and better the longer it went because of it.
Oh the burden of not having an 11/10 rating.
If there is one thing you will realize within the first few minutes of the very first episode, it is that the visuals of Nagi-Asu are simply out of this world phenomenal. I'm not talking as much about the facial expressions etcetera although those are certainly very good as well, but this category is all about the environments. Everything involving the sea in this anime is breathtaking. Absolutely stunning. The underwater world and its submerged town has all kinds of marine creatures swimming around everywhere in perfect detail, and the lighting coming through the ocean surface (which works sort of like the sky in this case) and how it refracts with the water looked almost futuristic at times. P.A. Works really outdid themselves this time around.
That is not to say that the surface world is that much less impressively looking in any way, as the animation quality of this show is just all-round top notch. I don't really have much to say about it however other than the fact that it is really solid throughout; it's just that it kind of gets outshined simply by how gorgeous the water world of Nagi no Asukara is. I really cannot praise it enough.
Anything starring Hanazawa Kana is always an immediate potential winner in my book, but she's not exactly the only factor to take into account regarding the audio of Nagi no Asukara. As far as the voice acting goes, I think pretty much everyone really lived out their characters' roles as good as you could possibly ask for. While there was no one character that really stood out for me as being above the others in this regard, the amount of feeling that was put into the voice acting should definitely not be understated, and consequently I think it was a really good performance by the seiyuu cast in general.
Regarding the soundtrack… this part is actually pretty hard to comment on. The reason for this is that the music of Nagi-Asu is generally pretty quiet. It doesn't have any sort of epic OST or catchy/emotional music; rather it goes with a generally ambient theme that tries to up-play the atmosphere of the anime in general as well as its key scenes. As far as that goal goes, I think it does its job very well, but on the flipside it also results in the individual tracks not being very memorable as they're pretty much only good alongside the show itself and not as something you would ever listen to on its own in a music playlist. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but it's simply the way it works.
The various OP/ED themes would probably all fall into the category of “good, not great" to me; originally I wasn't too fond of them but they kind of grew on me over time as the show kept getting more and more emotional.
Overall I feel that the music of Nagi-Asu was mostly intended as a supporting aspect for other categories of the show rather than something intended to be great on its own. It's not the most common way of approach but if that was indeed the producers' goal then I think it was executed fairly satisfactory.
This show took up almost all the spare time I had available over the course of the three days it took me to marathon it. Normally that is not something I manage to do quite as much anymore, at least not for anime of this type of genre, but in the case of Nagi no Asukara I really could not stop watching it. It has this constant drive of making you want to know more, both regarding what is going to happen to the characters in focus, but also regarding the entire population of the two human subspecies and the world itself. It is extremely immersive and has a huge sense of realism to it that makes it really hard to not get absorbed by it. Also, like I mentioned earlier, it is less predictable than most anime series out there so you can never take what is going to happen next for granted.
Nagi no Asukara is a series for people seeking feels and beautiful landscapes. It utilizes environments you normally never get to see in anime and it does so in style. It once again showcases that a seemingly stereotypical concept can be extremely successful when you add one or two twists to it on a very basic level, as well as boost it with very high production values. It also makes you care, not just for the main characters but for everyone and everything in it as the scope of Nagi no Asukara is unusually large.
This anime made me bask in its beauty as well as sob silently. It went above and beyond all my expectations and now I have to consider it as one of the best I've seen in ages. A gem not quite like any other.read more
I made sure I watched it until the end even though I wanted to die, so that people would not say that I hated it just because I missed the best part.
It was crap from start to end, they took a nice idea about a fantasy world that could totally become decent and turned it into the most senseless idiocy about "love", a kid's fairytale with no goal whatsoever.
The best ideas such as enviroment and history were completely skipped and left unexplained, the setting under the sea could become absolutely awesome and they botched it, because instead of adjusting it to the situation they simply stuffed a copy of a normal village on the bottom of an ocean with no change at all. They even have stairs. They drink broth. I just don't understand what was the point of such a forced setting.
There are loads of things that I don't understand, but just to say a few: why in the world do people from the sea and from the shore hate each other so much if they don't differ among each other in the slightest? They have the exact same culture and habits, they eat the same stuff, they even put the same designs on curtains; Why the hell should salt fall from the sky? I'm fine with fantasy but you could at least try to come up with some kind of explanation; Did someone tell those guys that they didn't have to go as far as to make every possible pairing? There are fanfictions for that; Just where did the other students of the sea school go? That's kind of creepy, they simply melted away, right?
Oh, and yes, I totally agree that the series did a 180 turn. The characters visibly leveled up in annoyance.
The ending was the best part of them all, it just wrapped things up as uncomprehensible as they were and gave it all that sickly sweet taste that dulls every black hole in the plot to a triviality.
The dialogues were awkward, trite and embarrassing to listen to.read more
When I first saw the description for Nagi No Asukara I really didn't know what to expect. The synopsis didn't really give off much of an idea of what this show was going to be like. So thinking that Nagi no Asukara would be another cheesy romantic comedy. I began watching with low expectations. Little did I know that what I was about to watch would be one of the most enjoyable slice of life anime I have seen in a long time.
A long time ago people lived and flourished in the sea. But one day some of the sea people wanted to live in the land, and thus they moved to the land and away from the sea. The story revolves around 4 middle school students who are forced to attend a school on land after their school in the sea village closes. Many problems such as adapting to new environments and dificulties making friends follow.
The story presents itself as a slice of life in the beginning with the main focus on problems the main characters have on the surface. Now for some people the pacing in the first half might be a bit slow, but There is good reason for that. As a character driven anime, Nagi No Asukara has to focus on its characters a lot and flesh them out properly, and Nagi No Asukara does just that. The show uses a lot of its time developing its characters and making sure they feel more like actual people rather than flat characters that you care little about. Was it worth it? Definitely.
But don't be fooled. Nagi No Asukara doesn't always stay a fun, light slice of life. The mood changes dramatically darker in the second half. The show takes a turn from slice of life to being more dramatic, and this is where Nagi No Asukara falls short on. Many slice of life romances that try to implement drama in their plot tend to be overly melodramatic, and this also seems to be the problem with Nagi No Asukara. Nagi No Asukara's second half is chocked full of drama. From unrequited love to arguing. The show sometimes becomes quite frustrating in the dramatic parts. Many parts felt uncomfortably lengthened because of the melodrama and how the characters are so unwilling to talk and make up after an argument. Now although to me this wasn't a major problem. It still dampened from the experience as a whole.
Story isn't the only thing Nagi No Asukara focuses on.The animation of Nagi No Asukara is top-notch, with animation that rivals even The big studios like Kyoto animation The show looks absolutely gorgeous. The backgrounds were created with such detail that it felt like I was watching an art gallery. Character designs were also very appealing and detailed. Seriously, Nagi No Asukara's art is definitely some of the best I've ever seen in the anime industry. I'm not exaggerating at all.
The sound of Nagi no Asukara is also paid much attention on. "lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~" by Ray is a great first opening that fits the slice of life aspect of the show perfectly. The second opening "ebb and flow" also by Ray has a more serious tone to it and is also a great song to listen to. ( I have already listened to it 20 times). The soundtrack also doesn't disappoint. Pretty much every track and tune fits the mood well. Nagi no Yanagi also does a great job on the ending song.The first ending song "Aqua Terrarium", is a calming song that fits the show very well. The second ending song "Mitsuba no Musubime" is also a very good song that fits with the second half very well.
As a character driven show, the characters are the aspects that make or break the series, and I can honestly say that Nagi No Asukara has quite the cast. The main cast consists of 5 characters. The crybaby Manaka Mukaido, the hotheaded Hikari Sakishima, the calm and collected Kihara Tsumugu, beautiful and caring Hiradaira Chisaki, and the handsome Isaki Kaname. Now at first the characters felt very stereotypical. Hikari is the main character that gets mad at many things and gets the viewers pissed off because of how much a jerk he can be. Manaka felt like those characters that were made to be cute and cater to the audience. Tsumugu was the smart one in the show that would preach life lessons to the other characters. Kaname was the handsome guy, and Chisaki is that kind girl who also joins in on the love triangle. As you can see. The cast doesn't seem to be very likable or original in the beginning. What P.A works does an extraordinary job on though, is putting a serious amount of depth to the characters and developing them immensely over the course of the show.The characters develop dramatically and feel way more alive throughout the show. As you get to learn more about the characters through the show. You end up feeling way more connected to the characters.They turn into characters that you actually care about. Not second dimensional characters that you forget about in a few weeks, but characters that really make an impression on you.But that's not the end. There are two more main characters added through the show. Shiodome Miuna and Sayu Hisanuma. Although they only receive development in later parts of the show. They recieve a lot of development through the series and although they might not get as much depth as the other characters. I ended up caring for them just as much as the main cast.Another very interesting part of the show is that Nagi No Asukara has one of the biggest and most complicated love webs I have seen in a while. Almost every important character in the show loves someone else. And watching this web unfold was truly an enjoyable experience. As I watched the characters grow up and see how they coped with their unrequited love. I began to root for their happiness from the bottoms of my heart. The characters truly made an impact to me, and it was a bit sad for me to finish the show.
Nagi No Asukara isn't for everyone. It's slow pacing in the beginning and it's focus on the characters are enough to scare off people who have little patience and want immediate action . But for people who are patient enough. Nagi no Asukara is a show that will deliver. With its beautiful atmosphere, great characters, and a very interesting story. Nagi No Asukara is that gem in the rough that should definitely be watched by fans of romance and slice of life.read more
First a little background, having just watched Golden Time, I was on the look out for something new to watch and first came across Nagi no Asukara in the suggestions list. At a first glance at the anime and having read its description, I thought perhaps it could be worthwhile and decided to chance it. It didn't disappoint at all, this show was magical from start to finish and I couldn't have been happier to have stumbled across this gem. It certainly ranks among my top 7 favourite anime.
This show is a "slice of life, fantasy and romance" show in a nutshell, however it takes these themes and fulfills them really rather well and isn't without some original twists.
The story is set in two villages, one in the sea and one in the land. There is a conflict between the people of these villages due to friction about their cultures and beliefs. The people from Shishoshio, the sea village, believe that the people originated in the water and that those who had left in the past for land had betrayed the sea god and had turned their backs on their way of life. This rivalry in the show is actually well developed as the show goes on and plays a defining role in moulding the story.
The story starts of with four main characters, essentially around whom the meat of the story revolves around (although there are two other main characters added shortly after). These are Chisaki, Kaname, Hikari and Manaka, the few children in the sea village. They have been childhood friends and in the same school for as long as they can remember and are being transferred to the school on the land to continue their education. Obviously, having been together for so long, they all have strong feeling for each other and the refreshing fact is how realistic their relationships are. They fight, have fun, love each other and are jealous of each other at times. Unlike many other shows this really helps drive the story further on solid foundations.
The story then revolves about their life on the land and the interactions between the characters. The new main characters added are Tsumungu, a quiet but reassured boy who lives on the land with his grandpa and two younger girls, Sayu and Miuana. All of these characters are well developed over the show and themselves are involved in secondary themes such as dealing with second marriages in their family and loneliness. Not everything is laid out on a plate however and there are certain things that are left for you to figure out or wonder at.
The first half goes through the gears and describes the life of the characters and how they get on, with a few usual bumps and twists, some of which is original and some which is to be expected but by no means boringly cliched. The main plot of the start is the build up to the "Onefeukhi" a ritual which is carried out by the sea and land people together to pay sacrifice to the sea god. I shall say no more. This is one of the very few anime with a twist that is shocking however done in such a way that doesn't irritate but actually works with the story and ultimately makes it better. It is this "twist" that actually helps to make this such a memorable anime.
So thats the story glanced over, of course there is so much going on all at once for me to explain but take this much 1) The complex relationships (between sister and brother, children and parents and between the children themselves, even the adults, the villagers too. 2) The character development is paced perfectly with the story and is satisfying to watch unfold. I haven't even scratched the surface of the story yet.
The art style is nice, there are no faults and quite mellow.
The soundtracks are well used and OPs are definitely amazing.
Overall this anime gave me a chance to feel what I had with anime such as Clannad and Little Busters. It's a story driven by the entire cast, there is a whole bigger picture behind everything and the fantasy setting doesn't detract it really defines the show in a way while still making everything absolutely relatable (not in a practical sense but an emotional one).
So if you are looking for something with substance, a well paced story and a brilliant cast all blended to amazing effect, Nagi no Asukara is not a show to miss. read more
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