Nagi no Asukara
Episode 4 – Because We’re Friends
Nagi no Asukara continues to focus on friendship and character development rather than throwing a spanner in the works with Episode 4. That’s not to say that things aren’t moving toward uncertain times, as we see with Uroko-sama and Chisaki in particular later in this episode. The previous episode wrapped things up nicely, with all the guys and girls putting away hostility and getting along with each other. However, in an “uh-oh” moment we also found out Akari’s boyfriend has a child from a previous relationship, and that kid and a friend demand Hikari to break them up.
The episode begins with Hikari refusing to meddle in his sister’s affairs for the two kids, Miuna and Sayu. He makes quite a big impression on the daughter, Miuna, with his stoic principles of not playing dirty. The next day during class it becomes obvious that tensions between the Sea People from the village Shioshishio and land dwellers from the surface still run high. Especially between kids in the classroom. During a home economics class, the friends have to share their food with another group, leading Manaka to offer her plate to a couple of mean-looking surface kids.
This doesn’t go down well, and it ends with poor Manaka on the ground and the plate of food all over the floor. Call me old fashioned but I can’t even imagine a guy pushing a girl over while she’s carrying something, even as kids in middle school. Tsumugu steps in and tells them to apologise (you’re doing it again!), catching Manaka’s attention. The friends go check up on their hand-made, wooden offering to the Sea God, making eye contact with the two boys who caused a scene earlier on the way. Once they arrive, the whole thing looks as if it went to the dogs. Naturally, Hikari is led to believe those same guys did it and shoulder charges them both into the lockers. While Hikari blames them for the act, they escape punishment by the principal and Hikari storms off home with Manaka in pursuit.
This leaves Chisaki and Kaname alone, and I have to admit I find these moments the most interesting. These two have really intriguing chemistry going on. While Chisaki is jealous of Manaka’s cuteness and personality, Kaname just tells her to be herself but he also pokes fun at her. While cleaning the wooden offering they discover the graffiti has Sayu’s name on it (not too clever, Sayu!), ruling out their classmates’ involvement but Chisaki wants to keep this a secret. Why? Because she wants to protect Hikari from taking the blame of wrongful accusation.
It’s almost awkward seeing these two talk in private only for Chisaki to show she’s still head over heels for Hikari, secretly. The question is, what does Kaname want? He seems to be the most cluey out of the friends and yet we haven’t got an inkling of his true feelings so far in the series. Tsumugu comes in at this point and suggests they shouldn’t keep this a secret, causing Chisaki to snap at him and run away.
In the meantime, Manaka and Hikari save Akari’s boyfriend from drowning when he decides to visit the village in faulty diving gear. While Hikari accuses the guy of having an affair, the truth is his “other” partner is already dead. Miuna’s mother (who was from the sea) passed away, and so of course she feels at odds with her brother finding a replacement. We see a pretty interesting conversation between Akari and Uroko-sama where rather than worshipping him, she is really informal around him. While their talk does nothing to ease Akari’s worries, Uroko-sama’s musings to himself reveals that the Sea God is trying to prevent the people of the sea from disappearing to the surface. While it seems inevitable they will “die out” due to land dweller-mixing, it seems they’re not allowed. Not yet, apparently.
Manaka is clearly changing. We learn from an honest conversation between the two that she doesn’t want to be the timid girl at the back that Hikari always protects, but wants protect him herself instead. They bump into Miuna who declares she ruined the wooden maiden, defending Sayu. After that Hikari and Manaka apologise to the boys at school, getting on their knees in a humiliating gesture. They in-turn say sorry for pushing Manaka over. While they’re reconciling their differences, Kaname notices Sayu outside and confronts her for the trouble she caused. Here is another element on the importance of friendship, just in case we didn’t have enough already. We find out that the bond between Sayu and Miuno runs deep, and that Miuno always looks out for her.
One more apology later (they do that a lot here!) we’re reminded that all is not well, once again. Chisaki is clearly troubled by her desire to want to protect Hikari but she is feeling hardly relevant at this point. Here’s hoping her pent-up frustration doesn’t turn into contempt or lead her into a downward spiral. Come on Kaname, snap her out of it by stepping up to the plate!
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