Nagi no Asukara

naginoasakura

Hikari is a somewhat hotheaded boy. Manaka is a girl that generally goes along with others around her. Chisaki is a very level headed and mature girl that’s very kind. Kaname is similarly mature boy, though one that’s more distant. The four of them are childhood friends that live under the sea. The legend goes that long ago everyone lived under the sea, however, a group of people moved to the surface, and with time lost their ability to live underwater. Those that remained were known as the sea dwellers, and those that went to the surface came to be known as the surface dwellers. With time these groups came to develop a distrust for each other, and though still interacting on peaceful terms, a gap still remained between them.

The four friends are thrust into this gap when due to various circumstances they are forced to go to school on the surface. There they must face a number of issues ranging from discrimination from other students to Hikari’s sister, Akari, falling in love with a surface dweller. They also encounter a number of people that they grow close to, such as Miuna, the daughter of the man whom Akari falls in love with, or Sayu, Miuna’s best friend. But most importantly may be Tsumugu, the somewhat aloof son of a nearby fisherman, who Manaka seems to fall in love with. As a love polygon already existed in the group of childhood friends, this ends up making things even more complications and causing quite the conflict. However, before this can be properly resolved, an event occurs that tears up all of these relationships, causing all of them to confront each other in new ways, sometimes rebuilding old relationships, and sometimes building entirely new ones.

***

This anime went very different from how I expected it to. It starts out as a story featuring a simple love polygon that begins to get more complex. It also features various themes about getting along with others that are different as such in the background. This is for the most part nothing too unexpected. And that’s certainly not to say that it’s bad, rather it does a pretty good job at this, just there’s nothing surprising about any of it, and there’s a general feeling about where it’s expected to go. It goes nowhere near that however. At about the half way mark, a major event occurs, that forces a time skip essentially, but a pretty complicated one, that ends up changing the relationship dynamics entirely. And with everything reshuffled, that’s where things begin to get really interesting. It makes a lot of love related points that are very different from your standard ones, the strongest and most impactful of which is most likely that love always has value, both love that is eternal and love that changes. While doing this, it shows characters developing in incredibly interesting ways, with relationships that are just as interesting, with a fantasy story in the background that raises the stakes when necessary and leads to incredibly fast development. All of this comes to a solid ending, with a love polygon that ended up quite a bit more complicated than I expected, and that ended quite a bit differently than I thought it would, though it had me guessing to the end. I’m somewhat bitter about it though, as it seems the only character that didn’t find love was my favorite. There are some issues in that it feels somewhat forced and convoluted at times, and there are points that I felt it were moving too slowly, but overall the whole experience for lack of a better word was quite beautiful.

The designs in general are pretty good. How there were two design schemes, those underwater and those above, really added to that though, and combined with the animation results in it overall being quite eye catching. The animation was quite good. The soundtrack was great and OP/EDs were good, with all of this fitting the show very well, though I feel that there wasn’t any specific track that was exceptionally memorable.

A beautiful story of a love polygon that evolves very differently than expecting, resulting in something quite different and impactful.

8/10

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