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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, I'm not gonna make myself any new friends with this review. PA Works is one of those studios that you either praise the shit out of or you just don't give a rat's ass about. Even for the number of "successes" that they've had in the past, I don't really find myself feeling anything but indifference toward the bulk of stuff that they've produced. Hell, I'm surprised I found myself giving this show a negative review. Granted, I've never truly liked a single show that they've ever released. PA Works' programmes aren't as visually enticing as A-1 Pictures', they're nowhere near as emotionally involving
as Kyoto Animation's, and they're not as comfortable to watch as JC Staff's. But yeah, PA Works doesn't really rank all that high on my visceral outrage meter. So what is it about Nagi no Asukara that doesn't work for me? Well, it's hard to sum up in just a few words so let's just dive straight into the review.
I should point out that I actually quite enjoyed watching Nagi no Asukara when I first started. The fantasy setting was certainly intriguing and I also found myself quite fascinated by the relations between the land and sea people. Of course, another reason why I picked this show up in the first place was that it was supposed to be one of the better anime romantic dramas out there on the market and I was in the middle of a romance binge at that point in time. But over time, the stuff that I found myself liking about the show combined with other things the show was doing as it progressed ended up causing me to actually really hate the show. Allow me to explain.
1) The "romance" is fucking terrible and it eclipses the actual plot of the show
Now, I'm not one to despise will they/won't they romances from the get-go (especially given how I happen to adore the shit out of Rumiko Takahashi's works) and I usually don't take umbrage with love polygons because if done well enough, it makes for a more suspenseful read and leads to interesting developments going down (like in the manga for Ichigo 100%). But in Nagi no Asukara's case, nothing of the sort actually happens. This is the kind of love polygon that's just meant to shoehorn some shitty melodrama into the show for no other reason than to give off the illusion of actual romantic development.
Kaname likes Chisaki, but Chisaki has the hots for Hikari. Hikari wants to bone Manaka, but Manaka's fingering herself to the thought of Tsumugu. Meanwhile, Tsumugu's just standing there like Kurasama from School Rumble with a blank expression on his face. Hell, this isn't even a love polygon. It's a love line segment, if anything. I mean, I wouldn't mind this so much if the characters were actually capable of carrying a scene without it devolving into melodramatic territory. I wouldn't mind this so much if the farcical melodrama didn't eclipse the actual plot of the story, but it unfortunately does.
I have nothing against works that try to tell a romantic subplot whilst telling a larger story at hand, and if done correctly, it can actually be quite lovely (i.e. Futurama, Justice League, Daria, The Spectacular Spider-Man, etc). Unfortunately, it would seem that PA Works forgot that the real story at hand is (supposedly) about two tribes of people with vastly different ways of life that must work together to avoid cataclysmic disaster. I wouldn't mind this so much if the "romance" actually went somewhere but unfortunately it doesn't and it never does at any point in the series. Hell, the resolution is open-ended with only one official couple actually forming by the end of it all (and even then, that pairing didn't have much build-up going for it).
2) The characters are one-note archetypes with no depth whatsoever
You know, it seems like just yesterday when I was 15/16 years old so the hormone mixture was still running wild and I was having a shitload of brand new experiences. As such, I can definitely sympathise with what our leading quartet would (presumably) be going through... to a certain degree, anyway. Unfortunately, being able to sympathise with someone does not a good character make. I suppose it's not entirely fair to say that the characters are one-note archetypes but I'd be lying through my teeth if I said they weren't defined by a gimmick or two.
Hikari is your typical male tsundere, whilst Kaname is the mature, mild-mannered one. Manaka is the primary love interest who's a crybaby, relies on her friends, and has the hots for some other guy whilst Chisaki is the tertiary love interest who withholds her feelings for Hikari because he knows he wants to fuck the shit out of Manaka. Meanwhile, Tsumugu doesn't even have any sort of characterisation about him. He's just this quiet guy who follows our leading quartet around.
Manaka and Chisaki could've easily been fused into a single character, because they both feel like they were meant to originally be one character but were then written into to separate separate characters for some undecipherable reason. On that note, Kaname has to be the most useless character in the entire show. I appreciate how he's a foil to Hikari, but he never contributes anything of relevance to the story at hand. All he really does is just stand there chatting with the other characters. At least Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki, and even Tsumugu (at one point) contributed *something* of relevance to the story at hand. Hell, I can't even call Kaname a Kaworu Nagisa clone because Kaworu actually did more stuff in Evangelion in one episode than Kaname ever does across the span of 26 episodes.
Then again, I really shouldn't be bitching about Kaname and Tsumugu not contributing anything of substance to the plot because they (along with some irrelevant side characters) are the only ones I could actually find myself liking. I couldn't help but feel contempt any time I saw Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, or Miuna in the frame because they're so fucking unbearable. Hikari's tendency to shout at everything he doesn't understand is what ultimately causes me to viscerally despise him because I just want him to shut the fuck up AND HE NEVER DOES. Whilst I hate Manaka and Chisaki, I can safely say that they're nowhere near as infuriating as Hikari is.
On that note, let's talk about our two lead "heroines" and why they make me want to shoot up some heroin. Manaka is a moeblob plot device and nothing more. Thankfully, she's not the insufferable hyperactive type of moeblob, but that still doesn't change the fact that she's a useless crybaby who serves no purpose other than to advance the plot. Say what you will about Usagi from Sailor Moon, but at least Usagi grows as an individual over the course of the series. Hell, at least Nagisa from Clannad helped spark Tomoya's growth as an individual. I have absolutely nothing of the sort to say about Manaka whatsoever. Virtually everything I've said about Manaka can also be applied to Chisaki, but it should be noted that Chisaki at least has *some* sense of characterisation about her.
3) The worldbuilding in Nagi-Asu is absolutely appalling.
Considering the fact that this show takes place in a fantasy world where one group of people split off from another and then went on to live their own lives whilst still retaining *some* form of contact with one another, one would assume that the cultures of the people on land and at sea would be highly divergent but that couldn't be further from the truth. Aside from the fact that the people of Shioshishio live underwater and worship a sea deity, there's virtually no conceivable differences between the people of the former village and the people of Oshiooshi. I mean, their names are just anagrams of one another's for Christ's sake!
On another note, I love how the series claims that all of humanity originated from the sea and moved onto land but we only really see two locations throughout the span of the entire series. By sheer implication, Shioshishio would've been the origin of all humanity since that's the only sea village we're ever made aware of and it's never stated whether or not other sea villages exist. So how is it that a faction of people could emigrate from a single village and then go on to populate the rest of the planet? I mean, Nagi no Asukara does exist in /some/ space of reality. We have electrical grids, motor vehicles, grocery stores, and other such things that would imply that the history of the world that Nagi no Asukara also follows real world events to /some/ degree. I wouldn't be bitching about this so much if the show didn't bring up all this shit and decided to do absolutely fuck-all with it. Hell, I wouldn't have minded any of this whatsoever if the actual "romance" went anywhere meaningful, but both plots are fucking awful and half-baked.
4) The second half of the show is a poorly paced time skip and has a resolution that forces a happy ending
The second half of the show starts us off with a time skip after a MAJOR event occurs, which is already an indicator that these episodes are bound to suck because PA Works already proved that they're incapable of writing a cogent plot in the first half of the series. With that in mind though, it's not like the first half of the show was entirely without merit because the actual plot of the story, though extremely atrophied in terms of depth and detail, was still interesting enough to keep my attention and the episode before the timeskip was nothing short of intense to the point where it was almost enough to make me forget about all the shit I was complaining about previously.
On that note, I should point out that I don't have anything against time skips in general. When you get right down to it, a time skip is a literary device and what ultimately matters is how that literary device is used. Oyasumi Punpun, one of my all-time favourite mangas uses time skips to great effect, as it covers life-changing events throughout various points in time that ended up shaping the person that Punpun would eventually become. Unfortunately, the guys at PA Works lack the tact of Inio Asano so they just ended up using the time skip as a crutch to avoid actually writing up the direct aftermath of what just happened after said major event.
If that weren't bad enough, the pacing is just dreadful. There's almost no sense of transition whatsoever, so events are brought up like there's no fucking tomorrow. Random plot details are also introduced at random intervals with almost no sense of foreshadowing whatsoever and effectively diminish the impact of events that previously happened. The events pre-timeskip implied that the world was doomed because the sea god was angry at the fact that people abandoned the sea to live on the surface, and the land dwellers aren't appeasing him with regular offerings. It's not a perfect set-up, but at least that seems like something meaningful, right? Post-timeskip, apparently the sea god is just lonely and he needs someone to cuddle on those cold winter nights. Way to ruin what little good there was to be found in your shitty programme, PA Works!
On top of that, the actual ending to the entire series just feels forced beyond all belief. I understand the desire to see everything work out for the better in regards to your protagonists, but god damn it, you have to fucking EARN that happy ending and I can safely say that nobody in Nagi no Asukara deserved that happy ending. The entire conflict is just resolved without any hint of subtlety, foreshadowing, or anything of the sort. Hell, nobody ends up getting sacrificed to appease the sea god's raging boner by the end of it all! Like, what the actual fuck PA Works? Is it so hard to actually write up an ending that doesn't stick a gigantic middle finger to anyone with a functioning brain? Of all the things that I dislike about Nagi no Asukara, the ending would definitely have to be the thing that I hate the most.
So, in conclusion: this show sucks the chrome off of doorknobs. In between the farcical melodrama, the shitty worldbuilding, the hackneyed "romance," AND that shitty ending, I just have one question to ask: Why? As in, "why did PA Works even greenlight this show in the first place if it had such obvious problems?" I guess this is the level of quality we should expect from a studio that's effectively the poor man's Kyoto Animation. Whilst Nagi no Asukara is far from the worst thing I've ever watched, it's still undoubtedly the most disappointing thing I've ever sat through. Here's to hoping that PA Works won't fuck up another show beyond all belief... oh wait, we have Charlotte. *sigh*
Do NOT judge a book by its cover, I've learnt that very well from this anime...
At first I thought it would be a cheesy cute child's play but after watching it i realized how much meaning it had and how touching it was.
The summary gave me the idea of a few kids from magical sea cities just wanted to play on land and it sounded pretty simple and somewhat boring.....seriously do NOT trust that stupid summary it got me in tears and I literally got so into it I took a day and a half to just finish it!
The ocean is a mass and mysterious place. It seems to be endless and stretches beyond our imaginations with its vast amount of creatures that lives within. If I was to live in the ocean, the possibilities would be endless to how my life would change. But in the world of Nagi no Asukara, living in the waters is not an uncommon sight to see. No, in fact it’s a way of life for sea people like Hikari Sakishima and Manaka Mukaido. Nagi No Asukara chronicles the lives of a group of young people as they go through stages of childhood, adolescence, and maturity that
divides the race of human and amphibian.
The series is not based on any previously existing works but rather stands alone as an original story produced by P.A. Works. It’s the first series since Hanasaku Iroha that is produced by P.A Works that presents itself as a 2 cour show. But more importantly are the themes explored. While the show is colored as fantasy, Nagi no Asukara surprisingly explores many factors that can be interpreted as human. This series explores various themes ranging from jealousy, regret, prejudice, alienation, bullying, and identity. It’s a show not to be taken just as a love story but something like a treasure box because you’ll someday come back and relive its precious moments.
Nagi no Asukara’s setting blends in two major contrasting style of societies. On one side is the people of the land who are just like you and me. On the other side are individuals that originated from sea. The people from the sea are curious about the surface world so they decide to venture from the deep and explore land. There’s an interesting insight based on this premise as there are various and controversial ideas poured in that divides the two societies. For instance, there are certain rules involving relationships between a sea dweller and a human living on land. This is presented early on in the series when a case involves such an incident. It sets forth a theme of prejudice and racism with debates between various characters. While it seems unfair, there are justifiable reasons to back up some of these themes such as involving the population of the human species. On another note, people on the surface world often associates themselves of being normal while identifying the sea dwellers as being inhuman. There’s a case of identity issue at crisis with even some of the sea dwellers themselves wondering where they belong in the world they live in. What Nagi no Asukara presents skillfully is the cultural clash between the people living on land and sea dwellers. Rather than some farcical soap drama with senseless dialogues, the show does well by showing rather than telling with its actions. The beginning of the school with our main characters sets a primary example of what’s to be expected with this cultural difference. It’s what Nagi no Asukara does at its best that divides its societies that draws the audience in beyond just a love story.
Of course, no story can be complete without its characters. Nagi no Asukara’s strong points involves its small yet complex characters. Not all of them are human but they often demonstrate explicit traits that can be found in humanity. Hikari stars as a main male protagonist whom may be initially seen as a brat. He is overprotective with the people he cares about but also gets into fights over his own problems. On the other hand is Manaka, a timid girl with a frail nature prone to crying. She is perhaps one of the more normal characters with her behavior and often not trying to cause people problems. Of course, she has problems of her own with insecurity about identity and sometimes even feels alienated from others. Other main characters also become involved in the story such as Tsumugu Kihara and Chisaki Hiradaira with their own interests. These interests settles itself with the romance and formulates angles of drama. Tear-jerking might not be the exact word to always describe these angles but it presents itself in a way that makes the audience want to know more and more about the characters with its dramatic storytelling. This is probably because some of these characters are relatable and have complex natures.
Taking a retrospective point, we also get to witness growth as each of the characters climbs stairs to adolescence. Characters such as Miuna and Sayu grow up more than just their physical selves. They mature from kids into young women with their own feelings and ideologies. More importantly is how far they have grown from their previous kiddy stages. What makes Nagi no Asuakra stands out itself with these stages is the construction of its timeline. There’s consistency although it lacks depth on some parts. Yet, the show also demonstrates how people can change with circumstances with characteristics learned from the characters whether it’s through bullying, romantic relationships, or alienation. Responsibility also takes in as a factor to be considered especially with some of the older characters such as Hikari’s brother, Akari. Surprisingly enough, some of the younger characters demonstrates more maturity than the adults in the show. It contrasts itself with them being one dimensional in this case with their unpredictable actions despite knowing some of the consequences.
As far as romance goes, the series can be or feel forceful at times with their exaggerated dialogues. Hikari can be seen as a male tsundere with the words that comes out of his mouth as well as his actions. Often or not, he says the opposite of his true intent and comes off as a rather blunt individual. On the other hand is Tsumugu with his easy-going nature. He’s more of the guy like a textbook with ambiguous words and difficult person to read on the surface. Nonetheless, he gets involved with the complexity of Nagi no Asukara’s love polygons. Because let’s face it here, this show focuses on romance as a main structure of story presentation with angles developing from various stages with even fantasy elements added to the mix. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as the world this show takes place in is decorated with fantasy elements. The waters is just one element of conventional presentation that allows this show to become what it is rather than what is trying to be. On the other hand is where we see how normal the surface people live that reflects on a society where we humans are used to.
Despite the melodramatic nature of this show, there is also room for comedy whether it involves our characters or the events that takes place. Kids in the beginning such as Sayu still says things that kids would say. It fits well with their initial role before growing up because it defines Nagi no Asukara as a series that matures itself. This later comes with regret from our younger characters that may earn sympathy from the audience. While not all expressive in nature, it demonstrates itself with characterization that focuses characters in more ways than just relationships.
While the story itself has some unexpected plot twists later on, the show still has some generic attributes that doesn’t shine itself at times. Most of the characters have complex personalities but sometimes hard to appreciate with their actions. Manaka is one character I find difficult to get accustomed with her frail nature and constant prone to tears. The audience might also find this a hard to bear and takes patience to get used to. Hikari’s outbursts sometimes also feels forceful and over exaggerated that serves as a primary example of being immature despite his intentions. And while the show’s plot can be unpredictable at times, there are various foreshadowing hinted at throughout some episodes that makes the show seem lifeless. This pinpoints some future events that can come as unsurprising even if done in a way that seems dramatic. Yet still, Nagi no Asukara doesn’t just focus on its fantasy-romance nature. It does more than that with its pyramid of character building on a foundation of its story.
By technical art standards, Nagi no Asukara can be described as a lavishly and luster anime that shines in this field. Thanks to P.A. Works, this show stands out more than just its images but with its setting that demonstrates credibility. The aquatic natures and backgrounds presents itself fair with consistency such as the fishes and sea. Not only has that but the characters themselves also showed evidence of being sea dwellers. These include but not limited to the characters’ azure-green glowing eyes or their bluish hair. They don’t look like merman or mermaids but rather as people not too different than you and me.
The soundtrack also demonstrates progress. In the beginning, most of the music has a light tone with some dramatic moments. But later on, we hear more of an emotional tone with the events going on. The OST itself also becomes an embodiment that reflects as a clear view to present Nagi no Asukara’s melodramatic style. Additionally, the OP and ED songs presents montages of characters and how they have changed over the time. Most of the voice acting of the characters fits well thanks to their talents. In particular, Hikari and Tsumugu’s voice becomes a symbol of opposites with their clashing personalities. Manaka’s voice also is easily recognizable thanks to the talents of Kana Hanazawa whom is well known for portraying cute characters.
I would recommend giving this show a try at the very least besides just from reading the synopsis. While it seems generic at all once with its characters, the show moves itself with characterization and plot that demonstrates maturity. It also focuses on a variety of themes that is credible and relates to humanity despite having fantasy elements. More so however is the way the characters interacts and the circumstances they undertake to become who they are. While the show focuses on romance as a central element, there is also themes of responsibility and cultural clashes that becomes insightful to get accustomed to. Not everything is fair after all in a world with drastically different cultures. In the world of Nagi no Asukara, that’s an understatement and you’ll find out exactly why.
P.A. Works is known for delivering shows chock full of drama in a school setting; however, different from shows like Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari, romance is the primary focus in Nagi no Asukara. Why does this matter? Because P.A. Works really nailed it on the head with the drama this time around, and romance might have been the reason why. Compared to other romances, Nagi no Asukara's unique setting combined with its compelling cast of characters makes Nagi no Asukara a fresh entry into the established school romance genre.
Nagi no Asukara's setting revolves around two worlds: the land above the sea and Shioshishio, the
village under it. People who live on land are the same as normal humans, like us. The people living in Shioshishio however have an advantage. With a protective layer around them called "Ena," the villagers of Shioshishio are able to live underwater while also being able to freely maneuver on land. The setting is completely unrealistic, yet at the same time, the relationships explored in the show feel completely genuine. Of course, the drama is exaggerated to the point of being completely artificial, but such exaggeration is a necessary evil to keep its audience enthralled; a tactic that worked well.
Of course, a setting combining two distinct worlds wouldn't be complete without its own religion and lore, and Nagi no Asukara certainly delivers. The problem is that the religion and lore comes on too strong. Romances are supposed to be stories that are driven by the character's emotions and actions, but in Nagi no Asukara, there are many times where the plot advances as a direct consequence of its religion and lore. Now I'm not saying that these events shouldn't ever occur, but in Nagi no Asukara's case, the plot advances so many times due to its mythology that you begin to question whether the show is about teenagers experiencing romance or high schoolers fighting against the supernatural. While it certainly can be both, the fact that the mythology is so forward in the show consequently adds many plot inconsistencies and leaves the watcher with numerous questions; it ultimately detracts from the romance, which is conclusively the prevailing factor. I'll apologize in advance for being so vague, but as the plot and mythology are so closely tied together, I wouldn't be able to provide a good example without spoiling the plot.
As for the romance itself, be prepared to draw one of the silliest relationship charts ever. A square? A pentagon? A hexagon? Unfortunately, things are just too complicated, and with seven main characters, it would be pretty much impossible to keep everything straight in your head. Yet somehow, I can keep all the relationships straight in my head. That's where the Nagi no Asukara shines. Even while the plot advances and everything becomes more and more complicated, Nagi no Asukara doesn't want you to forget that these are the main characters. Yet while it's impressive that I've become attached to the characters to this point, there are still too many characters. While I can keep the relationships straight, it doesn't mean I fully understand all the characters. Talking about specifics, the only characters I feel like I truly understood were Hikari, Chiasaki, and Miuna. I felt like these three characters were truly fully developed. While Manaka can be considered the most important character in the show, the fact that she was missing for a considerable amount of time made her feel distant, even more so when she begins to profoundly discuss love in the last episode, which felt completely uncharacteristic of her. The remaining characters, Kaname, Sayu, and Tsumugu felt distant for the majority of the show; it almost felt as if they were contrived solely to advance Chisaki's character. Ultimately, a mix of developed and undeveloped characters crossed together as if they were all equally developed makes everything feel extremely complicated and messy.
And speaking of complicated and messy, let's talk about the pacing. Before getting into details, Nagi no Asukara is divided into two major arcs. The second arc is a direct consequence to the events of the first arc, so as a result, they can't really be considered separate entities. But back to the topic at hand: pacing. The first half of Nagi no Asukara threw a myriad of themes at the audience including themes such as racism, the death of family, parent-child relationships, romantic freedom, and tradition. With so many different things going on, everything felt frantic. Yet even still, the underlying plot barely moved an inch in the first half until it reached its pinnacle, which was unsatisfactorily ushered by the fantasy of Shioshishio's mythology. As soon as the second half began, everything was reset. Essentially, all the themes from the first half instantly vanished and were replaced by new themes. Could Nagi no Asukara have been a 13 episode series? Probably not. But does it need 26? I'm sure it would have been fine in 24 or even something like 20 (I'm looking at you, NiseKoi), especially when the show essentially restarted. But that being said, I honestly can't complain about the second half of the series. After being completely engrossed in the setting of Nagi no Asukara in the first half, the pacing really began to feel natural during the second.
P.A. Works does a fantastic job with animation as always, and this is certainly highlighted by the gorgeous underwater landscapes present in the show. Of course, the animation still falls short when animating crowds, and you still have a fair share of CG usage due to the vast amounts of water present in the show. Overall, there's not much to comment on this subject. Expect fresh art and animation when watching this show due to its setting, but keep in mind that like all anime, Nagi no Asukara is still prone to CG, still frames, slide shows, and the works. It's not ufotable, so don't expect movie quality, and it's not Shaft, so don't expect any interesting artistic choices, but it's still P.A. Works, so expect it to be good.
On the subject of P.A. Works, the music and sound in Nagi no Asukara is definitely up a notch from their usual work. Putting popular voice actors aside, the soundtrack is where the sound department really shines in Nagi no Asukara. While there might not be anything iconic or inspiring in its music, the eerie yet serene tracks really make you feel like you're listening to the music of the sea. Of course, the tone of the music shifts to its opening and ending songs as well. For example, I found that the intro to the first ending song really captured the eeriness from the soundtrack, and fit the show's drama perfectly, bringing a fantastic mix of curiosity, mystery, and sadness. And of course, how could I forget Miuna's piercing yet poetic voice in the second opening song? Such a poetic start is greatly complimented by the second ending's upbeat intro, which gives the audience a sense of apprehension and urgency. Overall, the music fits Nagi no Asukara beautifully; unfortunately, the soundtrack just isn't memorable enough despite being so fitting. That doesn't make it bad, it's just a little disappointing to think that I won't remember anything about the original soundtrack a few months or years from now.
I wish I could tell you more about Nagi no Asukara's themes, and dig deeper into its plot, but I feel like I have already articulated the vast majority of my opinions, so any more would be unnecessary. A more in-depth analysis on Nagi no Asukara's definition of love or Akira's arc on star-crossed lovers might have been great points to cover, but I leave them to discuss another day.
So should you watch Nagi no Asukara? If you like romance and drama, it's certainly a great addition to the genre. Personally, I grew very frustrated with the characters and themes as the show progressed, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good experience. Besides, you might have a different opinion about it, so give it a try, and remember, everyone deserves a chance at love.
Since there are only good reviews about this anime, I thought it only fair to add in one that focused on the bad aspects of it. Keep in mind that this is only my opinion and that everyone is entitled to their own.
Let me start off with what I liked about the anime.
The art style was one that I'd never seen before, therefore it was very refreshing and overall very pleasing. Since turquoise blue is my favourite colour, the art was really a gold mine for me, seeing as all of the characters who come from the sea have turquoise coloured eyes.
Overall I thought the art was beautiful.
Wow! In terms of music and sound, this anime would be up there with my top 10. All of the openings and endings gave me chills, and I actually have them in my iTunes playlists. Both Ray and Yanagi Nagi have incredibly beautiful voices, and to be honest I thought they were the same person at first. They sound very similar, however they each have their own style of singing which adds a beautiful aspect to the music. I don't have much to say about the inserted music because I actually don't remember much of it, but I'm sure it was appropriate for whichever scene it was used it. Overall the music was stunning and used very well throughout the series.
Okay. Now that I've gotten what I like out of the way, let's get to the biggest issues that I have with this anime.
I would give this a higher rating, as I actually liked most of the characters in the anime. The two characters that broke this anime for me were Manaka and Miuna. I actually quite like Miuna's personality, so I'll get to why I don't like her later. Let's focus on Manaka. God, I hated her. I still hate her. I hate Manaka with a burning passion and it will never go away. One reason is because of the voice acting. Manaka is played by Hanazawa Kana, who is a respectively known voice actress. She has a childish but very cute voice, but she was wrong for Manaka. I feel like Hanazawa-san is repeatedly getting thrown into the crybaby role, which I hate. The only character that I really thought Hanazawa-san played exceptionally well was Kuroi Mato from Black Rock Shooter (the OVA, mind you). Now let's move on to Manaka's character. She acts like she's 5 or 6 years old, constantly crying and making other people worry about her. She is incredibly naive, such to the point where she can't face the truth when it's right in front of her, and doesn't pay attention to the way anybody else is feeling around her. She runs away from everything, including Hikari's love for her (which isn't really a spoiler since it is known that Hikari likes her from episode 1). One could argue that she's very noble, since she does a certain something halfway through the series (I will not give up spoilers), however I found that she had no basis or motivation for doing what she did. It's like the writers just wanted to paint her as a good person so they made her do what she did. She confused me for a long time into the series, making me believe that she liked someone when she actually didn't. Sigh. Overall, I hate Manaka.
Okay. I am done ranting about Manaka. Time to look at the other characters.
Personally, I really liked Chisaki. Chisaki, unlike Manaka, had a very in-depth character, and actually took the time to think through her actions and decide why she wanted to do something. She is a very mature, independent person, and I really like that about her. It's really hard to analyse Chisaki's character further without adding spoilers, so I will just say that Chisaki is a very likable character.
I also really liked Hikari and Sayu. Hikari was one of the boys with a short temper, making him angry at almost anything. However he got angry with good reason. He would usually get angry trying to protect Manaka and his friends, or he would get angry because he was jealous of Tsumugu, whom he thought Manaka liked. I liked Hikari's playful and caring side, however, and that he would honestly admit a mistake when he made one. Throughout the episodes you watch his character changing, so that he becomes a more flexible and less angry guy. I don't understand what he sees in Manaka, but that's just me.
I also liked Sayu. Sayu looks like a typical tsundere on the surface, however she really cares about her friend Miuna and about the boy she loves. She felt tortured because she started liking him when she was in elementary school, and worked hard during middle school to get him to notice her. I really liked Sayu's voice and I hope that the voice actress, Ishihara Kaori, get's more opportunities to star in more anime. Overall, Hikari and Sayu are very likable characters.
This anime's characters all have the opportunity to be likable, depending on what kind of person YOU as the viewer like. As I have said many a time before, I hated Manaka's character. But I liked everyone else. Overall, the characters were pretty good.
I usually love the kind of drama found in this anime. Friends that are dealing with unrequited love within themselves is a genre that I wouldn't give up any day. However the fantasy part of the story was really bad. Let me start by saying that this is one of those stories that makes you think it's about one person the entire way through, and then at the very end it pulls the rug out from under you and says, "Whoops, it's actually not about the main character." This is the main reason why I don't like Miuna. Miuna, from what I understood, was supposed to be a side character. A character that sort of mattered to the plot, but not really. Then I find out at the end that she is essential to the plot, and suddenly she becomes a main character. Think about it like this: if you were reading Harry Potter, and the main character is Harry Potter, wouldn't you be ticked off if, at the last page of the last book, it became about that kid that Harry said "Hi" to one time in the second book? Of course I'm exaggerating a bit but that's what it feels like to me. I was extremely thrown off when I found out that Miuna was the main character all-of-a-sudden, and I honestly hate stories like that. The fantasy part of the story, while it did it's best to be explained, didn't really make me believe it. It seemed very shallow, and there were a lot of mysteries that weren't explained, which makes me angry. The ending of the story felt very rushed and hurried, and suddenly there were these new things that had to be smushed into the last few episodes. I was also astonished by how foolish the sea god acted at the end of the series. I was honestly sitting there, at my computer, thinking to myself, "How could you be so stupid?!" But I digress.
Overall this anime didn't strike me as anything worth watching, although I am glad to have watched it so that I know exactly what I hate now. I'm also glad that I got to listen to the music as that, as well as the art, was probably the only thing that kept me going. Please remember that this is only my opinion, and that I am not trying to convince you to share it, but rather tell you of the things that I noticed while I was watching it. Anyway, happy anime watching!
Nagi no Asukara is a story about two races of humans. One of them lives on Earth the second in the sea. I've got to say, the setting is actually a great one and can give birth to a good story but it failed to do so.
As stated before, the setting is original. The plot line however fails to bring forth anything. To put it in simple terms, it was crap from start to end. Basically, we follow a few youngsters and their romance. There is no goal whatsoever and the romance isn't even properly developped. They completely scrapped the idea within the setting
by failing to talk about it or exploit it. Sure, it is present over the whole series but except them being from the sea and the transition in between arcs, there isn't any manifestation of it. We have something awful that happens on a global scale but in a few years, the people haven't even acted when their life was endangered. Instead we have a resolution full of bullshit which smells as bad as the rest of the show.
The art was great. Unfortunately for Nagi no Asukara it isn't what makes an anime.
OST wasn't that great. Didn't like either OP and ED.
Just how the hell can every single character fall in love with no character developpement whatsoever for more than half of them. I can't comprehend it. Also, I hate how everything went in between the characters. The interactions in between them were just bad and sometimes embrassing. Unjustified hate in between people of the Earth and the Sea. They do the same things, have the same decorations and some people of the Sea even end up leaving it for the Earth.
I could not comprehend such a high rating with the first few episodes. I had to watch the first episode three times before forcing myself to get into the show. I was expecting things to go smoother in the rest of the show because of its rating but it clearly didn't. It even got worse.
This show was boatched. This series is an overflowng garbage dump. I usually hate to use 'overrated' but it can only be described as such. A last thing I want to add is that the script wasn't well-written, it was written to please a large audience. I find it very stupid how naive people can be.
If I had to define "beautiful" with an anime, I would have to say Nagi no Asukara.
The anime industry often has a tough time dealing with the idea of love. Very few have ever portrayed it correctly, and even then it's difficult to move us. They either fall flat because of pacing issues or the plot fails to convey a character's motivation causing climactic moments seem melodramatic or forced. Nagi no Asukara doesn't face these issues. In fact, the show has been one of the most well-paced anime I have ever seen in terms of character and plot development. I will get to that soon
enough, but first I would like to start with the art.
You may know them best for animating Angel Beats!, Another, Tari Tari, and Hanasaku Iroha. Yes, it's P.A Works and they have done it again, creating wonderful background arts and stunning imagery as well as good, consistent animation. None of that going-to-shit in some episodes to save budget to make one or two episodes look fantastic. I don't know how many times I had to pause to take a screenshot to store in my wallpaper folder.
A lot of time is evidently dedicated to creating the world of Nagi no Asukara, and rightfully so. Story is heavily focused around their lives on Shioshishio and Oshiooshi. The sea's art alludes to the beauty of our own world but retains its mysteriousness. The ocean's depths isn't something people see every day and yet the studio is able to capture its beauty with little details like the schools of fish, coral reefs, and among other details that I won’t spoonfeed. The art manages to enrapture us by showing what the sea looks like, and it is only made more stunning by the inhabitants of Shioshishio going about their daily lives.
The sound to me was something to admire. The OPs and EDs were composed so well, and even the lyrics fit well into the story. The sound department did a stunning job, it’s not often you find a studio adhere to the laws of physics when creating sounds for the background. By this I mean the claps of thunder, thrashing of water, birds, fish, the bloops you hear from fish, etc.
I love good character development and I love good characters. It is incredible to see how much Hikari changes throughout the show. If you were to watch the first episode, and skip a few, you will notice that Hikari isn’t the same. Everything that happens in the plot serves to progress his development, and this was done extraordinarily well. While development is good, no development is also good when portrayed correctly. Take Chisaki for example, her development remains static, but it does something for the plot. It drives Kaname to act the way he does after the time skip and when juxtaposed to her peers accentuates the change that the group of friends go through. Furthermore, many, but not all of the supporting characters play their role into the story. Not everything is great though. I take issue with certain character interaction in the show. One blaring issue is the friendship between Kaname and Hikari. Their interactions with each other are so bland that it almost seems like they’re hardly childhood friends at all. It is known that tension exists between the two regarding Chisaki, but it isn’t conveyed enough in the dialogue between the two boys. Sure there was the time at the Shioshishio’s school, but having a climactic moment to portray that tension without proper character interactions prior to the incident is simply melodramatic. This just undermines the whole issue they have with each other and depreciates its attempt to move the audience.
The web of love may seem overwhelming at first, but when you stop, start at one character and ask yourself “who does this character like?” you will realize it is much simpler than you think.
The story is a simple one. This is a story about a young group of friends dealing with the concept of change, both themselves and the world around them. However, the plot is a lot more intricate. Four childhood friends from Shioshishio attend the surface school Mihama. Their coming of age becomes the catalyst that motivates the Sea God (Notice how Uroko-sama acts as the herald for some radical shift when he sniffs out Manaka and Miuna.) Along the way, tensions between the inhabitants of Oshiooshi and Shioshishio continue to grow and culminate into that dramatic shift. What I think the writers did best is how they well they incorporated the issue of change and love as a theme into the plot. I will explain; BEWARE, BEYOND THIS SENTENCE IS SPOILERS AND THEME ANALYSIS TERRITORY.
Theme of Love
One would imagine that after the main group deals with the idea of love after 26 episodes, at least one relationship would have formed. That isn’t the case, but that is the beauty of it. They are young and naïve, and they deal with love as young and naïve children do. Notice how by the end of the story the only ones to truly form a relationship is Akari and Itaru. This is because they are mature enough to understand love. (If you really want to use Egawa Takashi as a point to refute this theme go right ahead, but I disregarded him because he served very little importance to the main cast as opposed to Akari and Itaru).
Theme of Change
When Hikari wakes up after the time skip, he mentions to Chisaki that she hasn’t changed. He speaks in terms of maturity. Yet Chisaki feels she has changed. She speaks in terms of age. Two forms of changes are at play in this story, Age as a form of change, and Maturity as a form of change. Chisaki may have changed in regards to age, but she has not matured at all. This is evident when Chisaki pushed Tsumugu, it is very much like when Manaka pushed Hikari. Hikari on the other hand, while he hasn’t aged at all, he has matured very much. The character development for Hikari is so top notch such that no three episodes is he static. He is a very dynamic character that grows after facing a challenge.
In a nutshell, Nagi no Asukara is anime with a great plot-driven and character-driven premise. The art and sound is breathtaking and something to be admired. I am glad this nice little story was able to grace the face of the anime industry in such an ecchi-harem-romcom dominated age.
Note: The following review contains spoilers for the whole show.
I’m usually not much for romanticism, and Nagi no Asukara was a clear reminder of why.
Despite a pretty interesting lore around the sea (which is represented beautifully here), the show spends nearly all of its running time on teens drama, with a pointlessly complex love polygon. In the end, all the drama created by the lore of the sea god, and the sea, and all of that, was all resolved through the power of love. Riveting.
Maybe I wouldn’t see it as that big of a problem if the show didn’t remind me of Shinsekai Yori in
the mysterious feeling coming from the environment our characters are living in. While I never expected Nagi to become as dark as SSY, I expected a payoff, like after seeing how Uroko always seemed to hide things, or the sea god’s almost malicious actions, but nothing like that happens. The sea god was basically oblivious and sexually frustrated, but got saved by the power of our characters’ feelings. And started giving Ena to everyone. While I don’t mind how everything is resolved through emotions in something like AnoHana, here it felt like there should have been some logic in this world. Why taking the time of introducing a god, with an entire society built around him, with a religious ceremony, but not taking the time to create a deeper reason on why the god would act like that? And a deeper meaning on how and why the main characters are bonded to the sea? Instead, the show tried to make the viewer go through a purely emotional journey, which is fine, but I wasn’t expecting this from the start. Even then, maybe I wouldn’t have mind that much, if it wasn’t 26 episodes. It felt like most episodes were empty and kind of boring to watch.
Still, to a certain degree, I can let that go, but what I really can’t let go are the characters: they are awful and ungodly annoying. The biggest problem with them in general is that they are only there to serve the drama. Most of them had their personality entirely centered around creating drama, like Kaname’s jealousy, Manaka’s weak character, Hikari’s anger problems, Sayu’s uselessness or Chisaki’s… everything, being a giant plot device. Their connection with the story were farfetched, and most of them were either forgettable or plain unlikable (especially Hikari. God, how many years before he gets arrested for domestic violence or something like that) even if some gets better as the series goes on… or worse (poor Kaname though).
On the plus side, it was gorgeous to look at. It really was. I adore the sea, and it was presented really well, with some breathtaking scenes, like both Ofunehiki and I think the show is almost worth watching for those two moments alone. The colors were also really well used, with a lot of emphasis on the blue, but with enough others colors so it doesn’t get jarring. The Ofunehiki song is also great.
Overall, the show is a beautiful looking representation of the sea with a really interesting lore, but buried under melodrama and annoying characters. I wished the show would have put more focus on the world, and most of the series would have been about exploring this exotic universe. Instead, we got a mediocre product were everything is resolve with the power of love. What a disappointment for what could’ve been a great show. Damn romanticism.
If you’re looking for an emotionally filled (but forcefully filled) journey, then you might enjoy it. Otherwise, don’t bother.
I struggle to understand how others enjoyed this when I couldn't. The concept was great. It really was and I wanted to know how they'd explain the mechanics of the sea village. For example, how was gravity working to keep they food from floating out of their bowls and mingling with the sea. What did they do with trash and bodily waste?
But they never focused on those and instead spent an entire 26 episodes dragging out the romantic drama between various characters. I'm Sorry, but I live in Japan and the 14 year olds here are not so wrought with frustration, full of deep reflecting
insight, or angst as anime likes to portray. Why is that necessary? Are the writers all 80 year old men with no concept of how children actually talk, behave, and solve problems?!
In reality, if there was a love triangle, then there'd be a quick janken battle and the winner would be decided. Easy peasy.
Perhaps it's because I hate this style of overly feely, unrealistic characters, that ruined this anime for me.
That, and the crap way writers always seem to throw a bunch of explanation at the end as if they didn't have 26 episodes to explain. Or as if they were somehow hoping this turd would be polished into another season.
Are ya ready kids? I can’t hear youuu!!! OHHHH!!! Who lives in a village under the sea? Hikari Sakishima! Ill-tempered, in love, tsundere is he! Hikari Sakishima!
Joking aside, my first impression of this show was that it was going to be just another slice of life anime, this time set in Bikini Bottom rather than in your average high school… Oh how wrong I was. Nagi no Asukara turned out to be sooo much more, and is not only currently my personal favorite show of 2014 so far, but also a future classic if enough people are smart enough to decide to
Story - 8.2:
Nagi no Asukara follows four friends who are in essence “sea people” who can breath underwater. These four middle school friends have to go to school on land after their school closes. This show really gives the impression that it will be another carefree slice of life school anime at first, but slowly builds up the drama until the drama levels are set over 9000. Yes the show goes into detail about what it’s like living underwater and how the underwater students are treated in the transitional phase by the land people, but the main focus of the show is the relationships between the characters. This show has one majorly complicated love triangle, er… pentagon… octogon? whatever, it’s a shape with a lot of sides. Now personally I usually don’t like when shows make it unclear who will end up with who, but Nagi no Asukara really just perfectly nailed this aspect of the show. More detail as to why it was so successful will be discussed later in the character section, but just know that it is done wonderfully. To go along with the personal issues each of the characters are dealing with, there is an impending larger issue that I will avoid going into due to spoilers, but is also very intriguing. This issue is made so interesting because of the fantasy setting that the world is set in, and the lore behind it all is truly fascinating. As for negatives, there are some things that get left unanswered, as well as a few poorly explained plot devices. Some of the plot devices or decisions made by the characters may frustrate the viewer as well depending on his or her preferences. However, these issues are few and far between for the most part. Nagi no Asukara’s story has its share of humor, but also moments that could easily cause someone to shed tears. The drama created by the situations the characters are put in, the problems that the world is having, and the love-triangle always keep you interested in what is truly an incredible story.
Art - 9.1:
P.A. Works has just been on fire lately with their production. Once an anime is revealed to be produced by P.A. Works, just assume that it will be absolute scenery porn. Other shows by P.A. Works include Angel Beats, Another, and Hanasaku Iroha for reference on how good this show looks. The fantastical setting is gorgeously realized both under the sea, and above ground. The animations (particularly under water) are just beautiful and incredibly fluid. It is a wonder how P.A. Works manages to make a profit with the seemingly limitless budget they throw into everything they do. There really is not much to say on the negative side for the art department for this show, so it’s about time to move on.
Sound - 8.4:
Much like the art, Nagi no Asukara’s OST is just plain beautiful. The music really perfectly matches the setting, and appropriate songs play for appropriate moods. The OST sets the tone and setting wonderfully. There aren’t necessarily any songs I would download onto my phone to listen to on a regular basis (besides the OPs and EDs which are great as well), but everything sounded perfect as the show was happening. The voice acting was also wonderful with varied emotions on display from each of the characters in a large cast of family members and friends of the main 4 characters.
Characters - 8.7:
This is the department that separates Nagi no Asukara from the vast majority of anime shows out there. The overall cast of characters is one of the strongest overall that I have seen in anime. While the cast lacks one stand out character like a Lelouch, a Light, or a Saber, each character is incredibly human (which many anime can’t say). Obviously all of the main characters are extremely relatable and 3 dimensional (although Manaka can leave a bit to be desired in terms of development). The characters that we see a lot of screen time of like Hikari, Miuna, Chisaki, and Kaname really get a lot of development and grow vastly out of their initial archetypes. Even characters who don’t seem to develop much are still multi-faceted and very likable (Manaka, Tsumugu, Uroko-sama). Side characters are also strong, displaying their own opinions, struggles, and personalities when the spotlight is on them, even if it’s only for a minute or two. Although there was a massive love web going on throughout the show (which I usually don’t like), the characters made me interested in it and made it an enjoyable experience. Usually I come up with the pairs I want, and if they don’t happen I feel disappointed. But with Nagi no Asukara, I didn’t care who ended up with who, because I loved all the characters so much. I just wanted everyone to end up happy, because they all deserved to be happy.
Enjoyment - 8.8:
Nagi no Asukara is one of those anime that can make you laugh, cry, sit on the edge of your seat, pull your hair out in frustration, and do just about any other emotionally driven action. The beautiful world, and loveable characters alone could keep you anxiously waiting week to week for a new episode. Add in the wonderful story filled with drama, emotion, and excitement, and we have ourselves a show that earns extremely high marks in the enjoyment category. The show is one of those shows that you will want to rewatch immediately after finishing because you love it so much and just want to experience it all over again. This was THE show I waited for every week, dying of anticipation to see what would happen next. Think about the other wonderful shows that aired at the same time (Kill la Kill, Golden Time, Noragami, Nisekoi), and then you will realize just how enjoyable this show was for me.
Overall - 8.64:
With an 8.64 overall score, Nagi no Asukara comes in at number 6 in my ever growing list of anime series. That should show you just how good this show is. Nagi no Asukara was a masterpiece not only from a production standpoint, but in its story and most importantly in its ridiculously strong characters. As far as drama, slice-of-life, fantasy, or romance anime go, this is among the elite and should be watched by all, and is an absolute must watch by fans of any of the genres listed above.
A wonderful slice of life story of friends in a beautiful world that is an absolute treasure to watch, will deserve consideration for anime of the year
+ Eye-meltingly beautiful animation
+ Incredibly strong cast of characters
+ Intriguing world and lore
+ Drama is wonderful
- Some characters can be annoying based on personal preferences
- Poorly marketed to the public
If you liked Nagi no Asukara, watch...
Shinsekai Yori - childhood friends, romance, fantasy, captivating world
Anohana the Flower We Saw That Day - childhood friends, romance, tear-jerking drama
8.64/10 - Wonderful
*For those of you disappointed in my 8.64 score and feel it deserves a 9 or a 10, please see my review scale and/or my google spreadsheet link of anime ratings on my profile and you will recognize just how insanely high this overall score is.
This is my first review, so I thought I'd start with one of my favorite shows. Nagi no Asukara (eng. A Lull in the Sea) is, at its core, a heartwarming tale of growing up and learning how to love and let go. This is given to us packaged with a beautiful setting and fantasy story that deals with themes varying from loneliness, love, and loss to politics and family.
I highly recommend this anime to anyone who likes a good story. You'll have a good time.
Good fantasy stories in anime are surprisingly rare. Don't be
mistaken, there is plenty of "fantasy" out there, but Nagi-Asu is the rare story that can take you with it, infect your mind, and fill every corner of your being with its soul. You'll remember it for a long time. Experiencing this story, watching this anime is like getting washed away into the ocean; it moves slowly but before you know it, you've lost sight of land.
Nagi-Asu presents itself as a classic middle-school slice-of-life anime as it introduces the story and the characters to the audience. At first glance it looks like everything else out there - four childhood friends (spoiler alert) go to school. They experience the drama of being 14. Some viewers will be immediately turned off by this, especially ones coming in with high expectations. Thankfully, the story has much more to offer than this, and as the episodes rolled by I found myself more and more invested in these characters that I initially thought nothing of. By the midway point, I was completely hooked and couldn't stop watching.
While good and well-written, there is nothing especially unique about any of the characters, and this is perhaps the weakest aspect of the anime. You feel their joy and sadness, wishes and problems, but if you look too closely, you'll also at times see the cogs of the story turning behind them - they can feel like plot devices, tools to get the message across. Admittedly, it is the story that leads the viewer and the characters along on a little string, hitting all the important plot points and moving on. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, I just didn't feel these characters met their full potential. Is there development? Yes, and it's rewarding, but if you find yourself not invested in the story, you might end up disliking the characters.
The animation is good. The artwork on the other hand is an absolute 11/10 masterpiece. Stunning scenery and beautiful colors bring the screen to life. It's amazing to think that this originated in someone's mind. The overall setting is not very expansive; the majority of the story is spent between Shioshishio, the underwater village, and Oshiohshi, the land-based town, and yet it all feels massive and very familiar. It feels like home, like I've lived there my entire life, and I think this is a result of the artwork.
The sound design and voice acting is fully serviceable and there is nothing to complain about. The soundtrack is good, but I wouldn't consider it a masterpiece. It mostly serves as background music, and unfortunately rarely gets the chance to take over and shine in its own space. There were times I found myself wishing for more variety in the music, maybe something darker in tone or more intense, larger in scale, especially at the story's big moments.
PERSONAL ENJOYMENT (9/10)
Should you watch this anime? I say yes, absolutely. Although I can only give this an 9/10, it stands as one of my favorites. Occasionally the story can feel manipulative when the characters are specifically placed in situations in order to further the plot - I recall one scene where someone is listening in on someone listening in on someone confessing their love to another. Certain scenes can feel overly dramatic at times.
But looking past that, there's a childlike wonderment, a warmth to the story that is really very hard to find, in anything, not just in anime. It feels Ghibli-esque in its charm. It's the kind of story that moves slowly past you and asks "Do you want to come along?" Whether you do or not is entirely up to you. Allow yourself to be immersed and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
Well, for anyone who is a fan of the romantic drama genre, Nagi no Asukara (or “A Lull in the Sea”) is definitely a must watch. Personally though, I have never been a big fan of the genre for a wide variety of reasons, including its dependence on sappy melodrama, the abundance of clichés, and a lack of general depth in the plotlines. However, after witnessing the massive influx of monumental praise for this series, I couldn't resist giving it a try. Quite frankly, it's not hard to see why this anime received such high praise; beautiful animation, memorable characters (sort of), a
perfect soundtrack, and an immersive world that's impossible not to fall in love with. However, while NnA manages to break free of many of its genre's traditional flaws and stand out from the crowd, it seems to add a new flaw of its own for every flaw it eliminates.
Synopsis: In this universe, all humans were created by the "Sea God" and designed to live underwater. However, some humans who longed for the land abandoned the ocean, casted off the Sea God's gifts, and began a new life on the surface. Mankind was divided into sea dwellers and land dwellers, and it didn't take long for them develop a strong dislike for each other. The story follows four sea-dwelling teenagers who begin attending school on the surface, as their experiences with the land-dwellers create a youthful fantasy tale as the character's lives unfold for better or for worse in the bittersweet world that they live in.
Let me just go ahead and say this right off the bat: NnA has one of the best settings and conceptual fantasy elements for a fictional world I've ever seen in an anime. Shioshishio, the underwater city, feels unbelievably alive, as does the surface world. It is truly special how immersive this setting really is, especially when you factor in the amazing and well-thought out mythos that the world is attached to regarding the Sea God and split between the ocean/land dwellers. That being said, I was dumbstruck when the show proceeded to glaze right over the world it had masterfully crafted as if it was nothing special. The plot of this show pays an insultingly miniscule amount of attention to its setting, which is by far the greatest part about the show. It's essentially skipped over in the beginning in favor of introducing the characters first and then only reappears in flashes and during major plot events; what this show instead opts to focus the majority of its time on is something that everyone and their mother has seen a million times over; Love polygons! While I have nothing against shows centered around romantic drama, I've already touched on some of the problems the genre always seems to fall into, and while NnA is a very good installment into the genre and does most aspects of the concept correctly, it is no major exception to copious melodrama and clichés. It’s just frustrating that there were so many great opportunities for potential main-plotlines here, like the hatred between the land dwellers and the sea dwellers (a symbol for racism?), yet they decided to go with something cliché. Overall, the plot is a pretty standard romantic drama with less focus on the exceptional setting and mythos than most people would want; a missed chance.
Being a show about romance, NnA is very character driven; it's these little guys that are going to either make or break the anime for you, and in my opinion, they make it. I think the best thing about NnA's characters is that the writers completely understand the role that each character should have and do a fantastic job of balancing the amount of screentime each of them get as well as fleshing out their emotions and motivations. A brilliant example of this is the character of Kaname, my personal favorite. He seems to be nothing more than a bystander character at first; he is given no discernible personality or emotions what so ever. However, when the show actually takes the time to give him a spot in limelight, you can see how much of a well-written and relatable character actually he is. The lack of attention that the show gave him compared to the other major characters in the beginning was purposeful; it served isolate him as "the odd man out", a feeling that we later see that Kaname was not oblivious to. This, my friends, is some very clever character writing. The rest of the characters, as I just mentioned, fill their respective roles more than adequately. Hikari is the protective friend with a short temper, Manaka is your typical ditzy girl character, and Chisaki is the shy, big-breasted girl, but they are more than just stereotypes; they all have depth to their personalities and they all receive character development, which is all you can really ask for. There is one character who really bothers me though, and that is Tsumugu. I don't understand why it is still considered acceptable to write characters like this… He has no personality what so ever, he never receives any development at any point, and he has only one expression: a blank stare. Could this guy be any more boring? And yet he is a huge part of the series of love-polygons that this show is centered around? Ridiculous. Overall though, this is a pretty well done cast of characters. I'd be shocked if you didn't find at least one that you get attached to.
It’s also worth mentioning that NnA has some truly beautiful animation; everything is colorful, bright, fluent, and alive. There aren't many scenes where the animation is fast paced, but when those scenes arrive, they also look fantastic. NnA is the definition of eye candy. The music is also well executed; a very calming selection of music for a very calming anime. It doesn't have the heart-wrenching emotional tracks of, say, a Clannad: After Story, but I don’t think it needed to. I don't think I've ever seen a pair of OPs that perfectly represent the anime they are attached to, both animation-wise and sound-wise. I don't think they could have been done any better (same goes for the EDs, I suppose). The voice acting is pretty good as well, although there is a lot more SCREAMING then crying going on here…
In conclusion, if you are a fan of romantic dramas, you have no excuse for not watching NnA; you will absolutely love it. If you are not a fan of the genre, I still think it's worth a watch. The immersive world, excellent animation, and well-written characters make the experience worthwhile. The only people who I think should pass on this anime are those who can't stand shows about romance or shows with very little action.
This anime was rather dull and childish. "Emotions" and "change". This didn't really carry any message with it except the repetition of these two motives that aren't even deeply explored. Same shit you see everywhere except that here they actually even managed to contradict themselves a few times and have opinions that are logically wrong. Did they reach any conclusions on either of the subjects they tried to explore? Oh gosh they did, "the world is filled with beautiful shining emotions that are passed down and surpass time". A lot of attempts to be serious sound like a badly written essay of a 14 year
old who was desperate to get a passing grade in his literature class.
The characters are not realistic. Tsumugu wtf? He's a motherfucking lifeless robot who can see into other people's minds because they're shallow. He's supposed to be special because of that as no one else seems to possess that convenient ability called sapience.
Chisaki wtf? You didn't feel like you were allowed to love anyone else because you thought you should wait for Hikari and the rest to return? Wtf is wrong with you? Five fucking years have passed and there wasn't any development, she's thinking like a child, a very stupid child indeed. She wanted to be the fucking sacrifice because she's the "only one who's changed" and it wasn't fair to the others because she changed and they didn't. She felt like she betrayed them. She spent five fucking years without her friends and family, living with Tsumugu and his grandfather all while she couldn't even enter her hometown to see if everyone's okay. Hikari, Manaka and Kaname felt like a day passed by. I would feel anger in her stead, not fucking guilt. Anger because they don't know the pain and what it was like. It feels natural to embrace the change and even emphasize it, not act like a kid and pretend that five years didn't go by.
Kaname's one of the characters I simply didn't develop any feelings for. I feel like he didn't get enough screen time, but by what I've seen they probably didn't know what lines to give him.
I did find Manaka a little annoying, but as I'm trying to be objective I won't count that in. Everything she's done until she went to hibernate hinted that she liked Tsumugu. The plot twist on that boat was poorly implemented and expected. Everyone knew that Hikari was going to get a reward for being a tryhard even though the plot didn't go in his favor.
The show didn't use its potential. When I saw it recommended from Shinsekai Yori, I had completely different expectations. I personally hoped that the plot would turn darker, not resolve around badly done romance.
The sound was decent, I didn't like the openings very much but they knew which scenes to emphasize and used the correct music while doing it.
Art was incredible. It's truly beautifully done. I didn't watch it in HD, but it still felt amazing.
The enjoyment was decent. I didn't hate the series, it was fun to watch, but I can't shake the feeling that I wasted my time.
You ever begin a show with moderate to low expectations, find more than you were looking for, get super into it, hype it up to your friends, and get so god damned excited for it every week that you just can't contain yourself (an exaggeration, of course)? Nagi no Asukara was that show for me. It blew my expectations away with it's excellent character development, good story, great art and sound direction, and just overall feel. "But then why is it a 6", you may ask. Because endings can cripple a show. A stool with 3 legs will be wobbly if one leg is too
short, and fall if said leg is almost non-existent. Nagi's ending is the prior, a weak link in an otherwise strong show that, despite my bitter stance on it, is still good and worth your valuable time if you are into shows like Clannad, AnoHana, Angel Beats!, and others of such ilk.
So story wise, Nagi takes sometime to pick up. Think Steins;Gate. The beginning is somewhat boring and not quite perfect, even boorishly melodramatic in spots. But there are glimpses of excellence here and there to keep you interested. But the proverbial shit hits the fan at the end of the first cor. Everything changes after this point, and Nagi enters it's golden age. Quality character development, good humor, great dialogue and excellent pacing. I was hooked, like a fish on a lure. Christ I was preparing a spot for it in my 5 favorite anime, pondering over which show to give the axe and remove from my hallowed lineup. Then, Nagi's gilded shell began to peel and crack, revealing something not quite so perfect, like discount chocolate. The melodrama began to pick up, confusing new plot lines were introduced, and the amount of crying per episode reached beyond my tolerable limits, which are rather high for the average anime viewer, if I do say so myself. But I held fast, muttering to myself as I scoured the interwebs for my fix that it'd all be rectified by the time the show ended. Much to my dismay, this didn't occur. Most poor endings either provide too little closure on plot lines or really bad closure, too the point where you wish they didn't even do so in the first place. Nagi is special, in that it resolves abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Overall plot line, left out in the open in a "maybe we fixed the problem" conclusion. Romantic sub-plots? "Maybe ever after" endings. This is disgraceful. The absolute worst thing you can do with a story is leave it out in the open. And I don't even know where'd they go with a second season either. It's like this unfixeable clusterfuck that I just can't get over. The ending is just plain awful.
Now though it may seem like I have nothing but ills to say about Nagi, such isn't the case. As i've exemplified before, I love 90% of the show's story. It does few things wrong, and even fewer of these flaws are critical. One of the best parts of Nagi, IMO, is the characters. Hikari, the main protag, shows huge development throughout the show, going from my least favorite character to my undisputed favorite. Manaka, though I feel she functions as more of a plot device to an actual character, shows good development and does some amazing things in the show. Chisaki is probably the weakest of the cast, constantly inducing groans from me due to her indecisive and grating personality, but still, she grows as a character. Kaname....let's just skip him. His role in the plot in dazzlingly minor, and by the end of the show is revealed to be nothing more than a plot device, much like Manaka (you'll see). Miuna and Sayu are two characters who, though initially seem like unimportant side shows, become incredibly important (at least Miuna does) as the show progresses. Miuna functions as one of the main characters, if not THE main character, in the latter half of the show, taking up most of the screen time with her plot. Sayu always felt like a spectator in the show more than a character being actively affected by the events in the story, and in all reality isn't all that important, but IMHO she is the best girl in the show and I love he-I MEAN, what I meant to say was...*ahem*; she is ultimately an eternal side character that has minimal impact to the plot, but is still likable.
You notice how most of the characters in Nagi grow, in differing degrees, as characters as the episode count rolls higher. This exposes the predominate motif in Nagi: growth and change. This is one of the most bread and butter themes in anime, considering the demographic that much of anime is aimed at (young people and teens). Nagi manages to provide a fresh take on the growth theme, but not so much change, which is arguably the more important of the two. The show spends quite a bit of time stressing how change is the greatest fear of the characters, and that any change in their relationships with each other is a bad thing. Now, logically, the show would then show the viewer how change isn't bad, how it's a natural part of life and should be embraced, not shunned. The show seems to go in this direction as we wind down to the finale. But guess what happens? Take a guess. Got one? Was it "the ending"? If it was, then you're absolutely correct. The ending doesn't provide any real conclusions to the side plots it introduces, with perhaps one exception (you'll know by the ending, trying to refrain from major spoilers here). In this, it betrays the theme of "change", as nothing concretely changes. It's certainly in the midst of changing, so perhaps it half-delivers on it convictions, but it still stands that this side-plot is left out in the open, like so many other things in Nagi.
SUPER RUSHED ART AND SOUND SECTION TIME
Yeah, I never like writing these sections, so let's just get it over with. Nagi is animated by PA Works (PAW), a studio predominately known for a little anime know as Angel Beats! Now if you've seen Angel Beats!, you know PAW does a bang up job with it's art/animation, and Nagi is 10X better than Angel Beats was. The art is super sharp and the animation is more than fluid enough for a slice of life show like Nagi. The sound is equally excellent. The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in awhile, with tracks complimenting every scene under the sea. The OPs and EDs are all good, but the second OP is definitely superior to the first OP. So yeah, no complaints here, the art and sound are actually what keep Nagi from being a 5 overall.
Nagi is my prime example of what an awful ending can do to a show. I was balls deep in this show, so to speak, and was about to finish when it just slapped me across the face and left me hanging dissatisfied and betrayed. A crude anecdote to be sure, but it should summarize what I feel about Nagi as a whole. Mixed feeling abound, with an intense longing for something better, but bitter regret knowing that I probably won't get anything to satiate that craving. Nagi no Asukara, The Lull of the Sea is truly-
When you see the poster and genres of this anime you may think this will be a childish romantic comedy show. Besides here the characters are not even high schoolers. What can you expect from some middle school going kids and their childish crush? Not to mention all those characters with large moe moe eyes. But no! Nagi No Asukara has a lot more than that to offer you.
In this anime it is shown that human beings originally came from the sea. Some people craved to see the world beyond the ocean. So they left the sea and started living permanently on the
land. Soon they were divided into two groups. The sea people from Shioshishio and the land people from Oshioshi. 14 years old Hikari Sakishima, Manaka Mukaido, Chisaki Hiradaira and Isaki Kaname; a group of four childhood friends are forced to go to Mihama Junior High School on the land as their Nami Junior High School of underwater village closed down and that’s when they discovered a whole new world, learnt about their newfound feelings, the conflicted relationships of land people and sea people, the mystery of the sea god and many more.
First and foremost, the remarkable animation of this anime must be discussed about. This is one of the best part of this anime. The underwater village looks simply stunning and breathtaking. You can see water in any anime. But since water is a major part of Nagi-Asu it is animated with great care and details. You will feel like you’re the one who is diving under the ocean and watching the underwater creatures. Of course the lands, snow and other things also look splendid. Every scenario looks amazing. As for the characters it goes all out with the big, round, sparkly eyes. People from the sea have gleaming azure eyes which looks very pretty. Whether you like this type of character design or not is completely your choice. But at least in my opinion this is what makes them look attractive and charming. You could stare at the characters and the scenes forever. The animation is that much appealing and eye-soothing.
The sounds and music are mellifluous. They did a great job for the OST. Voice acting of the characters is done perfectly. It completely suits with each and every character’s personality and characteristics. Opening and ending songs are both good. Both of the openings are suitable for the two parts of the story. Originally Aketagawa Jin was in charge of the soundtracks. But he left and was replaced by a talented composer Dewa Yoshiaki. So you know what you can expect from him. But you may not notice how amazing the background musics are when you’re hooked up to watching it. So make sure to check the OSTs in youtube.
All the characters of this series are like the life of this anime. Each and every character has his /her own important role. Without any of them the anime would be incomplete. You can say every character is the protagonist here. No matter how much you like particularly one of them, you will still feel bad for the others. They are just that lovable. You might think it’s only about those four kids. But it has more characters like Tsumugu, Sayu and Miuna who are the essential part of the story. Also the characters are not always kiddy. It’s actually a coming-of-age anime. And if you ever get bored with all the serious things going on, the cute Akira will be there to make you laugh!
Now let’s get back to the story. What makes Nagi-Asu so special? At the first half of the series this is what will come to your mind. It seems like a normal story at the beginning. But if you can wait patiently and finish the first arc you will see what an unexpected turn it takes. Nagi-Asu gets even better at the second half of the series. Just when you think of something as a fact, it will make sure to surprise you and prove you wrong. You can never guess what is going to happen until you watch it through the very end. Whether it’s about which character will end up with whom or it’s about something else. Nagi-Asu develops centering two things. One of them is love. Yes, it is all about love. This anime has one hell of a love triangle! Or should I say a love heptagon?! But please don’t be discouraged just by hearing it. Relax! Because this is not your regular, cheesy romance anime. It shows the feelings we go through while stepping into adulthood from childhood in a realistic way. Growing up little by little every day and seeing the change in our beloved ones. The other important thing of the story is the fantasy part. It doesn’t end playing its role with making people live in the water. The sea has its own tale. The story of the sea god will make you feel like you are listening to folklore or a legend.
Fantasy, slice of life and romance; these 3 genres merge in impeccably and make this series splendid. All of these create a big plot twist that will hook you up. It will make you wonder how will be the ending of such complicated story. Luckily it still manages to give you a perfect ending you can think of. I assure you there will be a big smile of satisfaction and enjoyment in your face in the end and a little sadness in your mind that it ended!
All in all Nagi No Asukara is an amazing anime. I don’t really know why it didn’t gain much popularity or why less people have heard about it. If you like romance or fantasy then it’s a must watching anime for you. Lastly I will say “don’t judge an anime by its’ poster”! Though I must say it’s not your cup of tea if you’re not a fan of the romance genre and too picky about anime.
Nagi no Asakura is focused around a group of four middle schoolers who live in a village under the sea and go to the surface for schooling, even with some hostilities between humans and sea dwellers for the former's abandoning of the seas to live on land. The series starts off focused on exploring the tensions between the sea dwellers and humans, with the four children learning to adjust to life on land and accept being among both races. This is mainly shown with Hikari who at first hates humans until his increased understanding of the close connections between his kind and humanity lead him
to accept bonds with humans, even trying to prevent them from being affected by an old prophecy from his village's god that would lead to humanity's extinction.
The show does start off a bit slow as it's mostly focused on the everyday activity of Hikari and his friends interacting with humans at their school, while hints are dropped of lingering hostilities between both races. It does have some developments with characters like Manaka becoming less dependent on others and Hikari showing less prejudice towards humans, though nothing too significant occurs. The plot does pick up in the second quarter of the series when the prophecy concerning the sea god begins to manifest itself onto the humans and affect the sea dwellers. This leads to events building up as Hikari and his friends try to help the human residents of the seaside village in trying to halt the oncoming calamity, which they do at a great cost to one among the group.
A timeskip occurs which focuses on the four children learning to come of age as they come to terms with their feelings for one another and any lingering doubts they had from the events that came from the sea god. The character developments that take place throughout Nagi no Asakura's felt natural for me and I could connect with the issues faced by the characters as they try accepting any changes they experience and overcoming any doubts they are facing.
However, these developments do come at the cost of the title's plot quality. The events of the timeskip lead the focus on the tensions between humans and sea-dwellers to get shafted and later developments involving the sea god up to the show's finale were not as engaging as the events in the second half due to the lack of huge risk affecting both parties compared to the first half's events and it seemed a bit too convenient in its resolution with the fates of humans and sea-dwellers.
As to be expected from a PA Works title, the visual presentation of Nagi no Asakura is high quality with plenty of vivid color and detail shown off in the title's gorgeous scenery shots with character designs getting similar treatment. While not the prominent element of the series, the show's animation is still quite fluid in showing off the movements of characters as they walk or swim, with animated highlights coming off both the events that involve the sea god spurring up disastrous events like whirlpools and huge waves to those within the sea.
Issues aside with its plotting and slow start, Nagi no Asakura is still a solid series that offers up a nice amount of character drama faced by its young cast coming to grips with growing up and the first half events with the sea god offer up some genuine suspense over what would happen with both humans and sea-dwellers. It's not perfect, but it is still worth looking into if you are a fan of PA Works' titles.