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[Review] Nagi No Asukara

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  • [Review] Nagi No Asukara


    Alternative title:
    From Calm Tomorrow
    A Lull in the sea
    凪のあすから
    Studio: P.A. Works
    Airing date: Fall 2013
    Discussion thread

    PV:


    Plot Overview
    Long ago, all humans lived in the ocean. But some who longed for the land abandoned the ocean, casting off the special raiments granted to them by the sea god to adapt them to life under the sea...
    Though mankind was divided into sea dwellers and land dwellers, each with different ways of thinking, they were all still fellow humans, and they continued to maintain contact as time went on.
    Sakishima Hikari, Mukaido Manaka, Hiradaira Chisaki, and Isaki Kaname live in an undersea village, while Kihara Tsumugu lives on land.
    When these middle school second-year land and sea dwellers meet for the first time, their hearts begin to undulate like the tides.
    The youthful fantasy tale of these young people's lives unfolds in a strange and beautiful world.
    Characters & Story

    "Is it better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all?"

    Mari Okada as a writer has always been a mixed bag, she could write moving stories found in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, powerful teenage dramas in True Tears to less than likable stories where she puts drama for the sake of drama such as in Aquarion Evol, AKB0048 and to an extent Fractale. But luckily, Nagi No Asukara is one of her best works yet.

    Originally I was under the impression that this series will be in a similar vein of Romeo & Julliet when the first episode showed us a world where racial tensions are present between the people of the sea and of the land, and a fateful encounter between Manaka, the clumsy and innocent girl of the sea. And Tsumugu, the calm and mature grandson of a fisherman of the land. But as the series continued on i found this wasn't the case, and while there is an overarching plot driving the series forward of the wide cast of characters preparing a ceremony to the sea god to prevent a coming ice age. The actual story are the characters themselves as they begin to learn about the feelings within them and growing up as a result, as well as the conflicts that come with growing up. This series is basically a coming of age story with drama and supernatural elements in the mix.

    But in Okada's writing fashion, just as the characters themselves are starting to understand and cope with the challenges, things become chaotic as
    Spoiler
    the ceremony claims the life of a character and throws everyone into a slumber of a number of years.
    Giving even more challenges to the already tough struggles of growing up.

    As a result the characters themselves go through faster character development with the main protagonist Hikari going through the most. Originally starting as a brat in the first episode of the series, Hikari becomes more mature and understanding throughout the anime, about halfway in the series he is almost a completely different character than he was in the beginning. The other characters also go through their own development as each one has their own conflicts but learns to deal with them later on. Especially in the second half when a plot twist gives the cast a few more conflicts to overcome. Other characters also go through a massive character development such as the character Miuna, whom at the beginning was a side-character but later on becomes an important heroine in the story.

    Though while the story and characters are great, the anime suffers from characters re-itering the same actions and feelings in a span of a few episodes, making the series feel a bit stagnant and uninteresting at times in which, when the episodes don't focus on that feels refreshing. Okada also tends to overplay the drama between the characters alot. So to repeat: if you aren't a fan of the drama, you would find these bits a bit unbearable which for the most part keeps escalating; an aspect that i enjoyed. An example is the character Chiisaki, whom having being the eldest of the group of friends as she didn't fall into the sea during the ceremony regularly displays her sorrow that she feels left out as she was the only one who changed.

    Finally, the world in Nagi no asukara is a world full of potential and history that unfortunately we the viewer rarely gets any information from and the plot holes get resolved by forcing the viewer to accept it or have really minor convieneces to answer it. Such as the ability to cook soups underwater. Luckily though they don't detract from the overall story, but if you want to get further immersed in the world or if your common sense is itching, you would have to accept it as is.

    Thoughts on: (Spoiler)
    The first half:
    Spoiler
    The first half of the series episodes one to thirteen, have been is my favorite part of the series. Mostly because Akari, Hikari's older sister is the main focus of this part as she is portrayed as a strong and mature person in order to achieve her happiness and to support her new family. Every moment that she appears in is refreshing from her dialogue and her actions. The rest of the cast however are great once they start to developing a few episodes later.

    Second Half: (Spoiler)
    Spoiler
    While i enjoyed this part, i did find it a bit unbearable and slow at times with the constant internal conflicts of Chiisaki, and the predictability of things. I did however, enjoy seeing how much Hikari has grown and his struggles to help Manaka regain her feelings. I also enjoyed Miuna's role in the story. But overall, i enjoyed seeing the character interaction and the dialogue of the characters to deal with their own and feeling of others.




    Music

    As the series is a two-cour series, there are two opening and endings. With both openings "lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~ and "ebb and flow" performed by Ray and Endings Aqua Terrarium and "Mitsuba no Musubime" performed by Yanagi Nagi. I personally loved all the theme songs, especially Aqua Terrarium as Yanagi's vocals and Ishikawa Chiaki's (of See-Saw fame) composition makes this piece a joy to listen. The pieces performed by Ray are great as well (as i am biased to I've Sound), but i found lull a bit boring, but luckily Ebb and Flow was a great listen.
    The soundtracks themselves aren't that noteworthy, but there are a few powerful pieces such as the one used in the ceremony episode. Overall, the OST does the job.
    Theme Songs:
    Spoiler




    Animation
    You can expect as a P.A Works project, the art will be instantly high quality and beautiful. But this series exceeded my expectations with the high detail in the background art, how beautiful and vibrant the characters look as well how well they can convey the feelings in the animation. Almost always the colours are bright and vivid making watching this a pleasant experience.
    The anime tends to drop in quality, but you'd have to stop and look for them and and doesn't detract overall viewing experiences.


    Final Thoughts

    After finishing the series, this anime has become a top favorite of mine, its a great slice of life anime with drama, romance and a bit of supernatural rolled up in one. I personally found all the characters likable and was invested in as well as enjoyed their development. To the point i was wishing them all happiness and praying that Okada won't write them a terrible story for them.
    Now, would i recommend this series to everyone? Probably not as Okada's heavy handed drama writing style is not suitable for everyone and can be unbearable at times. As the series is a constant barrage of various degrees of drama and dialogue.
    Though to me i enjoyed that every bit, even though i anticipated the plot twists thrown my way. But if you enjoyed Ano Hana and enjoy yourselves some slice of life, drama, and beautiful animation i suggest giving this a try.

    Last edited by sithstormjedi; 04-12-2014, 10:41 PM. Reason: spelling.
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