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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50 Followers Q&A Responses

HELLO EVERYONE! After one week of waiting, I have returned with a clear head, ready to answer your questions!

From mirrorpurple:

“Who ye waifu?”

Haha, ok, so I realize that you can pretty much only have one, and cheating on her would be considered very disrespectful, but at this moment in time, I have two: Saber (Fate/Zero) and Sinon (SAO II). In terms of respect, it’s definitely Saber – I bow down, trust me. But if I were to chill with another girl, I think Sinon’s pretty awesome.

From Lovely:

“What’s your favorite anime of all time? Any places you want to go someday?”

Hontou ni?? Of all time? I could never pick, as it depends on my mood. Buuuuut, Steins;Gate does tend to gravitate towards my top five every time . . . that and Railgun, and Fate/Zero . . . Kill la Kill‘s pretty rad, and I’m an Eva-boy . . . >.<

As for places, Japan of course! But that’s with every anime fan. I think it’d be neat to visit an Irish castle or go shopping in China. I’ve always liked castles and such, and China just seems like a cool place.

From LitaKino:

“What was a funny thing that happened of when you were younger? What do you aim to be in your life work wise? Whats your favorite food?”

I guess this one’s kinda anime-related, but whatever: When I was younger, my mom would always take us to our Dillons food store, because back then, they had a movie-rental area where we’d rent stuff all the time. Probably my first anime (besides like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh), she rented a random DVD of Ranma 1/2 for us. For those who don’t know, Ranma is full of straight-up boob flashes, so when the first one was revealed on our TV, my siblings and I just cried laughing, while my mom was just giggling and blushing! Sadly the rental section went out of business, but when they closed they let us buy the DVD for like a dollar. It currently sits on my sister’s shelf with the Dillons casing and everything, a memento of childhood. 🙂

Work-wise, I’m not quite sure yet – it’s been the big question since I started my anime hobby. I do great academically, and am talented in the arts, but yeah, still not sure . . .

Favorite food? Anything with rice. Seriously, anything!

From The Otaku Judge:

“Which anime has the most disappointing ending?”

Ah man, I can’t choose the most disappointing, but I do have one in mind. Also, I’m going to interpret this question as “most un-fullfilling” ending instead. My award for a very “disappointing ending” goes to Black Bullet (check out my review!). I fell in love with it, hoping it would be a new fav, but instead it deteriorated like a creaky, rusty gate. Not good.

And I guess that’s all! Yup! Thanks for asking your questions and of course thanks for following, liking, and supporting my lil’ blog. Become a cafe-goer today buy clickin’ the follow button on the right! Now, I’m shooting for 100 followers! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Review

Ah yes, adolescents at its finest. I too, “suffered” from chunibyo, Japanese term for eight grader syndrome, when I was younger, though I wouldn’t call it suffering by any means. Sure, mine was only from elementary school until sixth grade or so, yet they were some of the most fun, carefree years of my life. Today, we invest ourselves in a girl who claims to “live in the world beyond” – yet she’s an incoming freshmen in high school.

The “Dark Flame Master,” AKA Yuuta Togashi intended to leave behind his embarrassing past when his family moved to a different city. Wanting to start anew with his freshman year in high school, he tries to make a fresh batch of friends. This changes when a mysterious girl appears climbing out of her apartment. That neighbor – that same delusional girl in his class, Rikka Takanashi the “Wicked Eye,” hears him speak of his past when he lets it loose on the school balcony for relief. She becomes fascinated, hooked – drawn in by his cool display of chunibyo. This crazy chick is the full on thing, though – eye patch, umbrella shield, battling with the “priestess” (her sister) and more ridiculousness. Together, the two recruit members for a trivial club and hilarity ensue.

Let’s just face it: the characters in this anime are beyond incredible. Yuuta is a simple boy desiring to leave behind his childishness. He’s awkward when trying to meet people such as Makoto Isshiki, a kid who attempts to rate the girls in his class; however, the two become best of friends. Isshiki’s love, Kumin-senpai, spends the majority of the show sleeping – no joke – but is still adorable.

Another duo is Shinka Nibutani, class representative, cheerleader, popular, yet ex-chunibyo sufferer “Mori Summer,” and the middle school servant of “The Wicked Eye,” Sanae Dekomori. Nibutani is beautiful and regarded as gentle or sympathetic by her classmates, but when playful Dekomori is found carrying around a book written by Shinka from her delusional days, she does everything in her power to protect her image by retrieving the tome.

Dekomori’s extremely long blonde twintails, her preferred weapon, are very original in design. She even loads them with weights when she enters harsh combat against the “fake Mori Summer,” for she doesn’t believe that Nibutani wrote the book. Also, unlike Rikka, Dekomori is the highest in her class – smartest, cutest, and rich. This background gives Nibutani and Dekomori great depth and memorable scenes. I love them both :3

Rikka is the epitome of Yuuta’s past, and thus presents major problems to the guy – well, just comedy for us. She finds pleasure in the smallest of things that we as viewers often forgot ourselves, be it in the form of a calculator lock taped to her door or spinning around an umbrella as a sword. But she’s more than just creative, as the two develop genuine feelings for one another to the point where they start dating. Even Nibutani backs down to kindly support Rikka and her motives, returning as “Mori Summer” when absolutely necessary. They don’t get very far at first due to Takanashi’s delusional state of mind, but that’s the time when we get to enjoy the couple, cause from here on the story sadly loses its touch.

The second half of the series throws in a concept that I absolutely love, yet classically hits the viewer like a bus – drama. Rikka’s family and past are delved into with sudden furiousness that made me go “wut, I thought this show was built upon light-hearted comedy and romance, not overused dramatic clichés.” Sure, the events improve Rikka as a character and explain her motives, but that development throws the rest of the plot down the drain. Takanashi and Togashi spend several episodes apart which made me drop most of the momentum their relationship carried through the first half; they had worked so enchantingly hard to sculpt an unfinished project. The writers took the “Chunibyo & Other Delusions!” out of the show, leaving a failing “love” to support the title.

A better side to the show is its visuals. If I tell you anything, it’s that this show is cute! J Kyoto Animation, as always, does a remarkable job capturing the youthfulness of the characters by using bright colors and outlines. Movements are extremely fluid to the point where any few seconds of the show would make a hilarious gif. Characters are lively and background sceneries stand appealing.

The OST, though nothing fancy, sounds fairly decent. To contrast the energetic or more comedic moments in the show are lovely slow-moving piano pieces played during depressing/relaxing scenes. The opening, “Sparkling Daydream” by Zaq is paired up with fun, fast visuals of the characters doing what matches their personality and Rikka shakin’ her ass, which is just awesome!

So, is Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! worth the watch? Yeah, I think it is. I feel younger and older audiences can appeal to the characters equally. The show’s highlights were any of the cute chunibyo-filled scenes and quick-witted character interactions, though they substitute those later on for more, and I put this in double quotes, “”character development.”” Chunibyo is definitely better than most rom-com anime out there, and I enjoyed it a lot; however, I wanted to watch these lovable “kids” goofing around doing stupid stuff and not worrying about real life. It’s a shame we all have to grow up sometime . . . “Reality, be rent. Synapse, break. Banishment, this world!!!”– Rikka Takanashi

You can watch the series to its entirety for free over on Crunchyroll, as it has a really enjoyable Japanese voice cast. Also, it has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks if you wanna pick up a copy. Thanks for reading and hit the like button if you thought this review was somewhat decent! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host