(Review contributed by Misya Danielle)
Nagi No Asukara is an emotional and heartwarming anime series produced by P.A. Works that aired from October of 2013 to April of 2014 and consisted of 26 total episodes. Nagi No Asukara is one of many hidden gems that didn’t get the recognition it truly deserved as a result of being buried behind many of the already mainstream titles released during the same years that it aired. The background art is some of the most beautiful and lively art that I have seen in any anime series since Angel Beats! and the way the characters are drawn adds more color and emotion to their already unique personalities. The anime’s soundtrack is full of beautiful musical arrangements that are greatly emotional and add perfectly to the tone of the entire series while the opening and ending themes for both seasons are well composed and sung beautifully from start to finish by japanese singers Ray and Yanagi Nagi, the opening and ending sequences match seamlessly with these beautiful songs and help set the tone for the series as much as the soundtrack within the episodes themselves. The anime starts with a more carefree tone with the first half of the series being a little more slice of life but in a sad twist of events becomes increasingly tearful in the second half of the series, this transition is done perfectly and balances out the overall emotions of the series.
Nagi No Asukara takes place in a world ruled by a sea god where all of humankind once originated from the sea and survived in the depths of its waters thanks to a special material covering their skin called enna which was granted to the humans by the sea god himself, as time went on some of the humans began to wish for lives on land and left behind their home in the sea forever casting aside their enna and with it their ability to survive in the depths of the sea. Long after the events that led to the formation of civilization on land the people of the land and the people of the sea struggle to live peacefully with each other and many of the past traditions they held together begin to fade as their ideals and ways of life continue to grow further apart, the people of the sea struggle to survive safely and comfortably as the people of the land begin to wander into their territory to fish as their need for food increases creating further tension between them. One of the most important ancient traditions held by both the people of the land that live in Oshiohshi and those from the sea village shioshishio is the Ofunehike, a special ceremony in which they throw a wooden manikin wearing a special ceremonial robe into the sea but it was originally completed by sending a woman out to sea as a sacrifice to the sea god in order to calm his rage towards the humans who cast aside their precious gift and moved to the land, the woman sacrificed to the sea god is to become wed to him and trapped forever in the depths of the sea.
The series begins when Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname who are four middle school students from Shioshishio are forced to attend school on land due to the fact that the only middle school in Shioshishio is now closed down for good. Manaka arrives later than everyone else after returning home to change into their old school uniform as promised then getting caught in a fishing net that belongs to a young fisherman named Tsumugu who attends their new school. Tsumugu becomes one of their first friends from the land though Hikari quickly becomes jealous of him for getting so much attention from Manaka. They continue to struggle getting along with the other students but in a twist of events they grow close and fight together to get things started for the Ofunehike, the only obstacle in their way is the growing rivalry between their elders who still can’t seem to get along with each other enough to plan for the Ofunehike. In an attempt to strengthen the effect of the Ofunehike Hikari’s older sister who plans to marry a person of the land decides to combine her wedding with the Ofunehike but it may already be too late to calm the sea god’s rage this time. Although the people of the land and the people of the sea begin to work out their differences the sea god still feels rage towards the people of the land and attempts to keep the people of the sea away from land, with the lives of many people of the land at stake and the sea gods plan to put the people of the sea into a deep slumber in which they don’t age the Ofunehike becomes their last hope for survival and their last hope to mend the relationship between those of the land and those of the sea.
Nagi No Asukara is one of many emotional and magical series to air in the year 2013, though like many of the other great titles it went unnoticed by many anime fans due to larger already popular series taking all of the attention. The anime features an emotional story, a beautiful soundtrack, amazing and colorful art, and a unique cast of characters. This series is perfect for those who enjoy anime series that are magical, emotional, tragic, heartwarming, and full of romance and this is an anime that those who are new to the anime fandom can equally enjoy. The anime’s only downside is the ending is not quite what fans were expecting or hoping for but it is still a great ending nonetheless.
PROS: Emotional story, beautiful art, emotion soundtrack, unique characters, beautiful fantasy world, a lot of episodes, transitions well, great finale.
CONS: Ending could have made some things a little clearer, the romance can get a little grating
SCORE – A