Show: Nagi no Asukara— Genre: Drama, Fantasy— Episodes: 26
Nagi no Asukara 凪のあすから, AKA Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea ran in Japan and was simulcast on crunchyroll October 2013 through April 2014. When trying to explain this show to others, I feel like I’m voicing an old movie trailer: *ahem* In a world where sea gods are real, where merpeople are forced to go to middle school on land, one lovestruck teenager fights the odds to reconcile an age old conflict between land and sea.
It’s actually way more nuanced than that, but I love those old trailers. In Nagi-Asu, merpeople exist in the bays of Japan. The local sea town is called Shioshishio, its land counterpart is Oshiooshi. (Shio means salt)
Sea people look, act, dress, and are cultured just like land people, but they have a special layer of stuff on their skin called Ena that has to be moistened from time to time, or they can’t breathe. Because of an unusual amount of salt flake snow, the local sea middle school has been closed, so all of our main characters are transfers. They all share the same genetic trait of very light blue eyes. They begin their year by quietly protesting the closure of the school by wearing their old uniforms to the new land school.
Screw that land school. Sea uniforms all the way.
Sea snow is a real thing in real life, you can learn about it here →http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_snow
Although officially it’s considered one long season, there is an opening and ending theme change after episode 13, as well as a time jump.
I like this anime because it gets me more interested in the world they live in than involved with the characters. There is a really fascinating political dichotomy between the two towns, a unique arrangement with blurred borders. This features heavily in the second half of the show since the beginning pieces of round two aren’t about our main characters at all.
The whole concept of Shioshishio is based on the idea that Japanese deities are real and literal things. According to legend, the sea god fell in love with a girl chosen to be his sacrifice, and so the first sea person is created. Their origin harkens back to Adam and Eve, as all the current citizens of the sea town are directly descended from that pairing. I found this particularly interesting because the voice of the sea god is a character with real implications to our main crew
and he’s super hot.
There is a lot of tension between the sea town council and the land town council, specifically about regulating the worship of their sea god and fishing, both of which are naturally related to the people who live under the water, but not as obvious to the land townfolk. That’s where our hero, Hikari, comes in. Although at first he holds some pretty firm prejudices, eventually he’s motivated to mediate between the two groups to help everyone get along. He also spends a lot of time fumbling through his feelings for his friend Manaka.
That’s a good sign, right?
There is a lot of social commentary about familial obligation lurking just below the surface here. If you fall in love with a land person and leave the sea, you are cast out, never allowed to return.
It’s about family and friends and love and burgeoning adolescence, but more than that it’s about societal roles. Loss of family members, estranged relationships, second marriages. At first glance this show is light and fluffy, but it quickly becomes obvious that the content gets at the root of what makes life worth living. Lasting friendships, familial love, faith. All wrapped in an enjoyable package of fairly typical middle school life.
This show gets 9 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. The characters and their world are full of depth, and little pieces of it have been flitting around in my head ever since I finished the last episode. Watch it, you know you want to.
Until next week, try not to get hexed!
Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime.