Nagi no Asu Kara, Episode 1: Love At First Catch

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Well, you don’t see this happen quite often. Imagine setting up a cosplay shoot for this exact frame; I better start making some friends who love to fish, own a boat, and find a model willing to be trapped in a net for a few minutes just for this seemingly awkward shot. Awkward, that is, until you understand that this isn’t an ordinary girl being hoisted out of the sea via fish net by a well-dressed fisherman in a fashionable middle school button-up short sleeve in the middle of summer. Read on after the break for a bit of a history lesson behind this world’s underwater life and how this moment in the story is probably the de facto scene for which the struggles of our main characters will be based around.

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Crabs, fish, sea life in general; they’re everywhere! And no, they’re not floating in air. That’s seawater all around them, which still doesn’t explain how the television works (water sealed and constantly cooled by the ocean currents?). This is a world where beautiful underwater cities thrive with people who have lived there for generations, which contrasts against the rusty yet familiar lands above the ocean’s surface that all of us land dwellers in real life can relate to. Our main characters Sakishima Hikari, Mukaido Manaka, Isaki Kaname, and Hiradaira Chisaki are all from the world beneath the ocean waves and are introduced to us as they begin their middle school life taking time out of the ocean to attend a school of students who live on the land. The only catch we know of so far is that the skin that helps them live underwater slowly begins to crack and fall off of their bodies as the day goes on unless they are treated to a saltwater bath, a dip in a pond, or find their way back to the sea in order to repair their ‘Ena’. Pretty cool concept since it forces the cast into a time limit spent above the water. What I’m more curious about is whether anyone from the land will spend time underwater since it’s easier for the sea dwellers to come up to the surface than vice versa.

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Curiosity killed the sea life in this world. At one point, everyone lived in the sea until some curious humans gave up their Ena, defied the sea god, and began a challenging life on land. Once in a while, they gave young female sacrifices to the sea god via a Boatdrift Ceremony. Born of the ‘young maidens’ sacrificed are the people in the sea today. In order to be forgiven of the sea people’s ‘sin’ of betraying life in the ocean, they provide offerings to Lord Uroko as thanks for his protection, as well as to refill their spirit flame.

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Enter the drama! Kihara Tsumugu’s involvement with Manaka’s troubles quite easily showed how much of a Romeo & Juliet role he may be playing with Manaka, especially with Hikari’s temper whenever he thinks Manaka is being careless. It doesn’t help that Hikari seems to push Manaka away and that she takes the situation to heart and feels she’s at fault for causing a rift between them. As of this episode, we can’t really tell what Tsumugu’s true intentions are for getting a little more involved with the main characters, and it especially doesn’t help that Hikari is alraedy getting jealous of him.

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More tension! It will be interesting to see just how supportive Chisaki and Kaname will be for Kaname and Hikari going forward. I can imagine it will be tough for Chisaki to harbor growing feelings for Hikari and still support the two; both Kaname and Hikari seem to be pretty dense so far about their own friendship, so I can imagine Chisaki stepping in at one point to make matters worse not because she thinks it’s right but because it’s what her heart wishes.

First Impression: Character shipping aside, which is what the last half of this episode seemed to give way to, the world of Nagi no Asu Kara is a very intriguing one in its concept of dividing two types of human races between the land and the sea and introducing to us some history behind why these two races are the way they are. The character and background designs are reminiscent of the soft and inviting feel that drama titles from P.A. Works are known for (Hanasaku Iroha and True Tears come to my mind). The muffled sound effects and overall feel of being underwater with the people of the sea was very well done; I almost felt like holding my breath during some scenes. With a decent amount of history told by Hikari of how people began to live on land, I do wonder just how much more will be introduced in later episodes. At this rate, we could just be getting more of the romantic drama elements this show might be known for more so than its fantasy aspects. P.A. Works did very well with Hanasaku Iroha, but this series may wind up being more akin to True Tears instead, which I don’t mind too much. One thing’s for sure: there will be many moments in which I question how one can cry underwater and still be able to form tear drops that are distinguishable from the water around them.

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