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.