Nagi-Asu: Proving that Life is Simply Better Down Where It’s Wetter

A spoiler-free review of the 2013-2014 anime “Nagi no Asukara” or “Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea,” produced by P.A. Works.

I will sacrifice all of my worldly possessions if I could live in Shioshishio for a year. In fact, Umigami, just take my soul. I’ll even be the Ojoshi-sama if it means visiting this dreamlike underwater village. Please, give me Ena ~

Shioshishio, the enchanting undersea village

Since the dawn of humanity, civilization had lived on the ocean floor. As curiosity tugged at their legs (or fins), however, several humans migrated to the land, which caused a huge splintering in lifestyles. Upon their undersea school closing, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname – four 14-year-old middle school kiddos – are forced to eke out education on land and adapt to the unfamiliar environment. They aren’t alone in terms of emotional struggle, though. Three surface kids – Tsumugu, Miyuna, and Sayu – must also confront their feelings before the whole lot grows older, and the rift between the sea and the land, old and young, tears the two parties apart.

It should become clear right off the bat that we’re dealing with seven individuals, which means in terms of coupling someone will be left out. As dramatic as that sounds, Nagi-Asu manages to keep a level head, never allowing said drama to grow out of hand nor become overbearing. That’s not to say that the show is lighthearted, though! Uh, no, it’s got just the right amount of spice, but in that way, has its own way of plucking your heart strings, and thankfully it doesn’t ever snap them. The anime incorporates themes of love by using slice-of-life tactics, and it overwhelmingly succeeds on this front.

See, love – it’s easy as Hikari loves Manaka, but Manaka falls in love with Tsumugu, though Chisaki might have a crush on Hikari, but Kaname is already in love with Chisaki, and . . .

Oh the water physics – don’t try to wrap your head around it. Just admire its subtle beauty and convenience . . . writing on paper, running around, boiling food on the ocean floor . . . What is this, SpongeBob!?

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But moreover, once the drama wave sinks back into the ocean, we are left with a story about innocent crab children crawling out of their shells to deliver their unrequited love to one another. Because the characters are so unexperienced with the notion, and have even grown up together in the local village, it’s vital to pay attention to each of their reactions to the sudden emotional turns taken in the series. Thankfully, the animation directors have a very keen eye for these delicate matters, and display facial expressions with such passion! Props to the VAs, too, for putting up equally impressive vocal performances, especially Hanae Natsuki’s youthful role as Hikari and Kana Hanazawa’s adorable Manaka!

Let’s talk about those characters now. I’ll admit, they’re a great, well-developed bunch, but the only one whom particularly snatched my attention was the main character himself, Hikari Sakishima. Born ‘n raised in the deep blue, he harbors a distinct hate towards the land people. Specifically speaking, he loathes the silent but strong Tsumugu for him loving his little Manaka – or rather, Manaka sneaking a peak at this dark-tanned land dweller. Underneath his layers of stubbornness, Hikari prematurely believed that he and Manaka were an assumed pairing. Manaka has other plans. Throughout the series, Hikari struggles with his passive relationship with his other friend, Chisaki, and we witness him grow from a boy to a man (kinda sorta, not physically at least :3)!

I have much to say about the art and animation, but it’d do you justice to simply marvel at the “environmental porn” surrounding the sea village itself and its sister harbor above. The animators always use the color blue. In fact, it’s in every frame of the series. Sharply contrasting the magnificent hue is orange, blue’s complementary color. Whether it be the rust on the boats moored at the dock or the land school’s uniforms, orange manages to cancel out blue’s magic. Not only is it smart cinematography, but the most effective. Nagi-Asu is truly is the prettiest anime series I have ever seen!

There’s only one word to describe this OST: Heart. It has a lot of heart. While lively guitar strums out the cheerful opening tone, fitting for the youthful boasts of Hikari, a bittersweet piano slides in to caress the emotional moments featured in the series. “Cry for the Moon,” “Tears of the Sea,” “Prayer,” “Solitude,” and “The Ofunehiki Song” are the best examples of this mood. I could listen to this soundtrack for hours on end, but then only feel depressed that I spent so much time out of the water’s embrace 🙂

To add to the praise, I must admit that both of Ray’s openings, “lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~” and “ebb and flow” are so incredibly fitting for the undersea atmosphere! They make me want to swim around in cool, clear waters with all of my friends. But we can’t forget “Aqua Terrarium” by Nagi Yanagi, the first ending, which depicts the cold, deep blue ocean floor with a frozen Manaka.

It would be a crime to not watch Nagi-Asu. The art is divine and animation of this quality is rare to come by! Always, the story kept me intrigued, and the romance between the characters tied the package all together! But I can’t help but regret the switch to the above ground in the second half, especially when they had so much going for them down where it was wetter. So much life; carefree days of youth. The surface is a bitter cold. Adults struggle to make a living, and kids don’t have as near wide of smiles as the Shioshishio squad. Growing up and realizing your feelings, whether they are for others or nature, was a deeply felt theme in the anime. However much I disliked the change, the two halves of the series were the twin tides that brought the message in the bottle to the salty shore; truthfully, both were needed.

“Having feelings for someone just brings sorrow to someone else. Someone always gets sacrificed and suffers. If this is what it means to fall in love . . . then falling in love is terrible.” – Hikari Sakishima

+ Story felt fresh; romance and drama were never too overbearing, but enough to convey true feelings of love

+ Characters were very well-developed and entertaining, notably Hikari and maybe Chisaki

+ Themes of old vs. young, love of people vs. nature were demonstrated with a content satisfaction

+ UNDER THE FREAKIN’ SEA, absolutely stellar art and consistent superior animation quality

+ A rich OST full of heart, appropriate instruments to enhance the mood

– Switch from underwater to above land was somewhat disappointing

– A few interfering elements to the story were ‘too’ supernatural

I have returned to anime reviews! Do you prefer this new format over the previous one? It’s a work in progress, but I’m trying to find a style I’m completely satisfied with. Did you have similar thoughts about this under-the-sea fantasy drama/rom-com? Different? For the café menu, Nagi-Asu receives a solid 9/10, and I strongly recommend you watch this show on Crunchyroll – and it’s free of all things, so no excuses! If you enjoyed the review, feel free to caress that like button like a red-bellied sea slug, as that’ll let me know if you like my content! Ah, how grand it feels to be back to these reviews ~ Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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38 thoughts on “Nagi-Asu: Proving that Life is Simply Better Down Where It’s Wetter

  1. GAAAAHHHH DANG IT I wish I could finish this show now but I know I don’t have the time it deserives to devout myself to it yet, so it must wait! From the first four or five episodes that I saw though, it looked AMAZING and you make it SOUND AMAZING. Those gifs! I haven’t stopped listening the first ending song either. Great review, you’ve made me really angsty about wanting to finish this! Someday soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • AGH, one of these days, hopefully so, you MUST! And I hope I’m not over glorifying it, because it really is such a pleasant show. 26 episodes I think is a bit of a stretch, so you’re making the right move by waiting until you have the time to devour your soul to it 🙂 Thanks for this lovely comment, Jamie! I’m so happy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. HAHA I thought the art above water was spectacular as well! Sure, not as beautiful as beneath the sea, which is hands down the best, BUT. They really nailed the animation! Lol sometimes I think I need to rewatch this to experience everything again; gifs and screencaps do not quite do everything justice!! I actually really liked the love polygon haha, the plot twists and feels were amazing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, these gifs and pics pale in comparison to the anime’s superior animation, you’re absolutely right!! The love polygon proved way more entertaining than I thought it was going to play out, too. I was pleased with the twists and turns just like you were ^.^ I’ll probably end up re watching this show soon, even though I have so many other new anime to go find. Too much anime, not enough time, right? Thank you for this cheery comment, Shiroyuni!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, I thought they had already meaningfully fleshed out the possible love entanglements by the end of episode 1, and I remember thinking “Oh, so these are the relationships that are going to be developed.” BUT I was really pleasantly surprised when that wasn’t the end of the twists! 😀
        Exactly, not enough time, even when I am not even a seasonal anime watcher >.< xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yes, absolutely. I was like, “There’s more to this thing? Heck yes!”
        And oh the struggles. I’m still on my simulcast break (except Arslan, Food Wars, and the next season of Owari no Seraph), and I still haven’t started my next anime yet! Where does the time go?!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly!! Its really rare to find anime like that, I am always searching for series that make me react that way (because I LOVE the drama hehe) but those are really few >< I ought to start on some of the completed Summer anime, too. Are you planning on doing that soon? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, not quite ready for that yet. First, I must watch Hyouka and finish up these 2-cour simulcasts. Then, I’ll get rolling the second season of Seraph as I mentioned. After that, I’d like to hit up Death Parade and maybe Assassination Classroom from a short while back, as I’ve heard nothing but praise 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never seen Glasslip (though heard many, or rather, few things), and I won’t lie this show starts off pretty darn sluggish. Just give it a bit to warm your heart though, and you’re hooked! Trust me, even if you don’t care for all of the innocent child stuff, trust me!
      And yeees, deez quality high XD

      Liked by 1 person

    • I had the same thoughts! I at first, I was like, oh gosh, teens in love. Not like I haven’t seen this before. Then, as you said, it rounded out to be something truly special.
      And #kneecapfishforlife, *clasps hands over mouth,* “Matta ne~”

      It totally just farted.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello! I’m on the lookout for Anime and Manga bloggers which lead me to your blog. I could not find your email address, could you please send me an e-mail: alysonburston[at]live.com — It’s regarding writing about Manga/Anime type of offer. This isn’t spam by the way. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Lita’s Blogger Feature Friday: Ka-chan Anime Reviews + Post Of The Week | LitaKinoAnimeReviews

    • Wah, no way! *cross off major accomplishment off bucket list* Thank you for this honor, Lita, as I know you usually only post the best of the best on your feature blog post segment. I’m even more glad to know that you enjoyed the review enough to share it though. It makes me all warm and bubbly inside, despite this anime being cool and a bit icy at times 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this anime series. Me and my friend kept arguing about our different ships, for me it’s Hikari x Manaka, but for my friend, he ships Hikari x Miuna, we kept arguing nonstop lol. Anyway, great review. I agree with you with the soundtrack, it does fit with the undersea atmosphere.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, I like to think it’s a proper fit, too. And forget your friend, it’s Hikari x Manaka forever! XD I’m glad you liked the review!
      Welcome to my anime cafe, I hope you enjoy the selection and all of the content I put out. I’m Takuto, the host, and it’s a pleasure to meet you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved Nagi no Asukara! The plot was really original, and the animation was amazing. Not forgetting the songs, especially the opening songs! I must say that this is the first anime I watched with such complicated relationships, with such a “love polygon” haha, but that’s what means it interesting, and it ended off well. (Some anime really ruin the original plot with romance!) Although it wasn’t fast-paced or action-packed, Nagi no Asukara does have its unique charm. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nagi-Asu does have charm: the animation, plot, and romance were executed nearly without flaw. It was a decently well-rounded show, and yes, the openings are something special for sure! >.< Agh, it was such a great anime, and I'm glad you liked it just as much 🙂 Check out Kokoro Connect if you want more 5-way romance, as it's much more dramatic than Nagi-Asu if you enjoyed that aspect. Thanks for stopping by, Gwenice!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Nagi No Asukara Review | LitaKinoAnimeCorner

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