I’m super glad I found this one. It’s truly an experience, the story, the characters, the emotions, the animation and the color palette make this one of my favorites.
What it’s about: The people who live in the sea have a protective layer on their skin called “Ena”, which enables them to breath underwater, as such, the land and sea peoples have a natural hatred between them. Four young students from the sea will have to attend a school on the surface because their previous school has closed down. What will the four children learn? and will they be able to stop a phenomenon that might grow to destroy the surface and the sea?
Okay, I’ll be frank, I felt pretty moved when I watched this show. Despite how this anime might look to you, it has some serious stuff inside. The story follows the group of friends- Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki and Kaname as they deal with going to school on the surface and their own personal problems. It has themes like racism, friendships, family, sacrifice, love and change. There is a surprising plot twist halfway in the show. The first and second part are so different that they can even be considered two separate shows. The second part of the show will feel a little slow compared to the first part but I implore you to keep watching and it’s not half-bad, it’s got a lot going for it.
If you don’t want to know about the characters, skip ahead to the blod-letter paragraph. The characters are the pinnacle of this show and where’s the fun when you already know about their personalities if you start watching?
When you’re put in a class full of people you don’t know, what would be you introduction to them?
Make sure that everyone knows your ‘superior’ to the people on the surface of course. That’s Hikari for you. He initially thinks like that but his outlooks change as the show progresses. The sea people are not perfect either and Hikari knows about it but he doesn’t brag. He puts up this tough guy act to everyone, though he treats his friends differently. He has a tendency to hide his emotions and he can be bad at expressing them. Once you see through him, he is very honest about his emotions and is willing to sit and talk about them. Hikari might seem oblivious to the things happening around him but he shows that he can cope with a lot of different situations. He at first thinks that the people on land are unintelligent and dumb but he later realizes that there is no difference between the two. He clearly becomes more relatable throughout the show.
The other three are a bit below Hikari in terms of character enjoyment. They’re certainly not bad at all.
Chisaki is a good girl at heart but she will deny her true feelings when someone brings it up. She would be the type that hopes her crush would magically turn to her. And you know how those play out. A lot of jealousy, anger, fear and the final realization in the end. Chisaki is a lot more interesting later on. Chisaki does play a relaxed sort of role in the second part, she listens to people a lot more, she becomes more understandable and I could better empathize with her.
Manaka is a mixed bag for me. She’s the ‘innocent’ girl in the show. There is no character as annoying as Manaka. She kept me from fully enjoying some moments. Here’s the thing, she is afraid of her own feeling and the thought of their little group breaking up. Unlike Chisaki, she usually runs out of the room with tears in her eyes as soon as someone says something serious. She’s used more as a plot device than an actual character. Even when everyone is struggling with what might happen, she runs away. And she gets very little screen time in the second-half. If she was shown more in the second part, I would have enjoyed her more. She just doesn’t seem like a fleshed out character in the anime’s conclusion.
Kaname is another character with various flaws. He has good intentions but what he says ends up doing more bad than good. He says what he thinks is right and ignores the implications. He doesn’t mess with the character relations all the time but he’s also right when he does say something. If the characters are in a grid-lock, he clears it up and moves the plot forward. Overall, he is not particularly good and not particularly bad either.
There’s one special character that I didn’t mention, Miuna. Basically if I featured her, she’ll end up spoiling the plot-twist (and there’s not much in the first part that I could write about Miuna) so I left her out. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like her though. She’s actually my Fav! character by the way and I’m sure most of you who’ve watched this will agree.
Now, lets get a general idea about the animation, drama and character development and real world themes explored in Nagi no Asukara.
There’s one thing in Nagi no Asukara that is unique to itself. It’s the artstyle. The show has one of the most beautiful artstyles in all the anime series I have seen. The underwater shots are amazing with fish swimming everywhere. P.A Works really did justice to the crappy looking backgrounds in most anime. The environment is very well portrayed. The snow in the second part looks like real snow and the buildings underwater are textured and detailed with fish-like symbols relating to the lore of the show. The backgrounds are very realistic and you won’t be out of things to look at. There are some cleverly hidden 3D CG in the show but most people won’t notice it.
After a closer inspection, I discovered that there is a lot of DoF (Depth of Field, is a term used more in FPS games than anime. It essentially means that things in the background look blured compared to things in the foreground, like characters) used to add in a cinematic effect, further adding to the realism of the show. You’ll have to take a peak at the first episode to get what I mean.
The drama in Nagi no Asukara is, unlike other drama series, very unpredictable. The character and the story are the main contenders for the emotional drama. A lot of sad as well as heart warming moments are jam-packed here. It’s a thrilling ride, you don’t know what going to happen but the anxiety is real. The show throws deeply entrenched human emotions at us like it were nothing, and that’s one of the awesome points of the show, I can guarantee that you won’t get bored. All the characters have their own personal insecurities and they all eventually overcome their difficulties.
But the one thing that I would most like to point out is shear size and reach of the relationships between these characters. There’s essentially a giant love polygon. If you drew it up, you’d be surprised, there are just too many choices and no obvious pair. In the beginning, it was very simple but over halfway through and your brain melts. Every one of the potential love interests is deserving of his or her love and it really shows how different the anime is from similar shows in the same genre.
Let’s cover the character development. Each and every character actually serves a purpose, they add something to the theme the show plays at and also something to the bigger picture. The character development is very satisfying, Hikari in particular. We get to see his point of view in the show, from problems in his family the divide between the people of the land and the sea, the coming disaster to the changes in the second part. He is more calm, collective, decisive and excepting as the story goes on.
The anime covers a very long timespan and all the characters mature splendidly, dealing with the change and fixing their views. The second part is slower than the first. Only the final move is needed to wrap the story up. The second part focuses more on the characters and emotions. Any character that has outlived it’s usefulness is seemingly placed on the sidelines. The main characters get more time here. The MCs will have to adjust to the various changes to the world and and admit that what’s done cannot be undone. The characters introduced (well, re-introduced) in the second part helps the show enormously, they add A LOT to the show and we wouldn’t get some of the best moments in Nagi no Asukara because of them. Hikari, Chisaki and Miuna are all great characters and they deserve the praise. Their personalities deepen and we see them facing increasingly more complicated and varied issues. Every character has their own specific and well-structured personalities. You will learn a lot by watching these characters.
Nagi no Asukara is a rare gem in a sea of anime. It’s unique artstyle will immediately get your attention, a few minutes in and you’ll be astonished. The shear feat this anime reached with it’s animation is nothing less than amazing. The characters each have their own separate personalities and you can step into their shoes and get their opinion on important personal and social problems. The drama in this anime is engaging and well played out. I didn’t feel repulsed by any of the characters and they are relatable. Overall, Nagi no Asukara deserves its place in my favorites list and I whole heartedly recommend this to any drama anime fan.
If you’ve watched the series, feel free to comment your thoughts below.
Who’s your favorite character? Was I too harsh on Manaka? Does this post make you want to watch it again? Do you know any other anime similar to this?
As always, see you in the next post guys……..