Nagi no Asukara
Episode 3 – The Tradition of the Sea
There wasn’t much time for Nagi no Asukara to develop before we were thrown into a troubling love triangle and a case of forbidden love between Akari and a surface dweller during the first two episodes. Everyone was left feeling uncertain and a little anxious about the future. It’s surprising then how much of a turnaround Episode 3 is, proving that in order to mend uneasy hearts a few words and a little understanding go a long way.
We begin with the group eavesdropping on Akari being spoken to by her Chief Priest father and the Sea God deity Uroko-sama. Although we can’t hear what’s being said to her, it seems like she’s accepting of the situation. The kids gather in their old, closed school and Hikari decides to confront Akari’s lover, promising to hit him regardless if he’s a nice guy or not. Here’s where the conversation gets interesting. Once the girls are alone, Chisaki directly asks Manaka if she likes Tsumugu, to which Manaka replies that she doesn’t know, only that her feelings for him are different. Even more interesting is that the guys overhear this talk.
Back at Hikari’s home things are back to normal after such an awkward confrontation; Akari is her usual self and their father isn’t mad. We get a really insightful flashback while Hikari thinks to himself in bed. When their mother died Akari didn’t cry and tried to act mature, holding a crying Hikari. Back then he still called Akari “Onee-chan”, as most brothers would. But that ended after that moment, so he now calls her Akari. I was actually confused at the start of the show as I wasn’t sure who she was. Most brothers in anime never call their sisters by their names!
Akari gave up her dream of wanting to be a manga artist and began working at a convenience store since they didn’t have enough money for both of them to attend college. You really get a handle on the ties that exist between the two.
As Hikari is still pondering, we also realise that he’s not an uncaring fool either. He’s relieved that Akari is deciding things for herself by dating that guy and he realises Manaka must be frustrated with the rules of the village and the differences between the two peoples. This moment completely reverses my opinions on Hikari, he’s actually a thoughtful guy!
The group of friends finally confront Akari’s boyfriend who was meeting with Tsumugu’s dad, and Hikari tells him outright that he’s hurting Akari by being with her. It seems the guy had no clue you can get banished by marrying someone from the surface. Tsumugu emerges to explain a bombshell, which is that a child born from two different humans will not have an Ena and so can’t live underwater. The Ena is explained to be similar to what covers a foetus, except it remains with the Sea People after birth. It becomes obvious that it’s not just a silly tradition to kick someone out from the village, it’s necessary deterrence to prevent the self-genocide of the Sea People.
Most intriguingly is Tsumugu’s dad who appears to have an Ena yet lives on the surface. Given his knowledge of the topic, I’m assuming his wife (who appears to have passed away) was a land dweller. That also explains Tsumugu’s fascination with the Sea People and his desire to have an Ena himself.
Always the adult, Ayaka decides to end her relationship and keeps a brave happy face while doing so. It was great to see Hikari bond with Tsumugu more, to the point where he calls him by his first name, much to the dismay of poor Manaka who was trying her best to call him by his surname. Finally, Manaka comes clean to Tsumugu and reveals that her fish isn’t on her knee anymore, prompting him to burst out laughing. The first time we see the guy smile.
This episode was simply heartwarming in comparison to the last couple and it really was satisfying seeing everyone get along for once. Although I have a nagging feeling Nagi no Asukara still has more trouble in store for us.
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