This latest arc has the entire cast spinning each others’ wheels about their feelings, regrets, and loathing. They are afraid to confront each other directly about issues deferred for five straight years, content with the precarious situation they put themselves in, and unwilling to rock the boat. The current web of relationships is, in other words, paralyzed by the inability to change.
Where have we heard that before?
If you’re familiar with the past few episodes of Nagi no Asukara (episode 17 as of this post), we’ve heard this exact sentiment. Ad nauseam, if we are to talk about it in that fashion, but I am not interested in criticizing this show on its execution right now. Instead, my interest lies in figuring out why these characters are so obsessed with change. Had anyone else in their group changed? Have they, themselves, changed? What might it take for them to stop changing? What does change even mean in this context? When will they fucking stop talking about change and just bang each other for once?
In seriousness, a myriad of different elements comprise the meaning of “change” in Nagi no Asukara and it differs between each character. Chisaki, being the only one of her friends to end up ashore after the boat drifting ceremony, worries about how her five years of physical growth will affect her reunion with Hikari and Kaname. Tsumugu wonders if Chisaki has placed her romantic feelings for Hikari behind her after all these years. Miuna and Sayu, once children in the eyes of their respective loves, are now faced with the possibility of turning their romantic dreams into reality. Hikari now has to worry about this in terms of Manaka. Kaname… well… he still has his little self-imposed rivalry with Tsumugu. He’s the only character who hasn’t shown any motivations beyond those of romance, whether by time constraints or the possibility that he’s an asshole, but he does struggle with change too.
To summarize, the big question is this: Have any of these people “moved on” in those five years? And to answer, probably not. At least, not yet. For the cast of Nagi no Asukara, that five year period was not a time of healing. Rather, it was a time to forget. They placed themselves in emotional stasis until they day came when Hikari and Kaname would return. Each character has waited until this moment to come to terms with both the separation between and their feelings towards each other.
Conversely, stasis in Nagi no Asukara is also literal. Hikari and Kaname develop neither in body nor spirit after five years. Both must deal with the fact that they remain in middle school while Chisaki and Tsumugu have outgrown them both in age and in human society. Conversely, again, Chisaki and Tsumugu pursue careers in nursing and oceanography because of their refusal to let go of what happened that day. Of course, all of this takes a backseat to the romantic drama, but it’s notable to mention it in this circumstance. The cast will slowly but surely change within the next couple of episodes, whether romantically, literally, or both.
One thing I notice about romantic dramas, especially ones that feature love polygons, is that there exists a moment where every character is together and enjoying each others’ company. Nagi no Asukara once called back to the underwater middle school, with Hikari’s constant insistence that they do not forget their origin. Happier times, still, can be traced back to when all the children were busy preparing for the boat drifting ceremony. Happiness manifest in a moment. Visually stable relationships with little risk of collapse. Fragile, fleeting, yet caught permanent in a moment.
Now, I figure that Miuna, Sayu, Tsumugu, and Chisaki were more content when Hikari and Kaname hadn’t woken up. Their presence in the story is a catalyst for trauma and old memories, some of which are none too happy to be reminiscing about. This, too, works on a lower level for Hikari and Kaname themselves. Their own existence weighs heavily on how they view the world, now that it has moved five years without them.
That’s why they take baby steps towards better understanding each other, feeling, wondering if their relationships are still intact after all this time. Asking if anyone has changed. Asking if it’s okay to change.
For to do that would leave the memory of your loved ones behind.
Or so the sentiment goes with young people. Dagnabbit.
- but dat scenery porn tho
- sasuga pa works
- All they really need to do is give some balance to Kaname’s character, perhaps some real life worries outside of “i still love chisaki sempai hurpdurp pls notice me”, and it would raise my opinion of his inclusion into the story. I’d be sort of disappointed if he remains the emotional instigator of the group.