Yup, this guy right here. At least for now, he is the reason why we have a very curious Manaka and a very jealous Hikari. And depending on how you take these romances, it could either be delightfully entertaining or excruciatingly corny. Apart from Manaka’s goofiness at times, I think the story manages to curb the latter just enough to help us focus on things I think we as viewers care more about than typical character pairings, such as Tsumugu’s genuine interest for the local sea village and its inhabitants. This was something introduced in the opening episode and is only revisited this time around via brief flashbacks of his outings by boat to the ocean surface. Why exactly he is this fond of the sea is still a mystery.
Hikari’s jealousy towards a potential Manaka x Tsumugu pairing lands him an involuntary voluntary spot in the school’s voluntary Boatdrift Ceremony, simply because he doesn’t want Manaka to work on ceremonial props alone with Tsumugu. Naturally, Chisaki and Kaname tag along. This allows for some character development for Tsumugu as they take time to understand his interests for life in the ocean. He even goes so far as to begin constructing a pond for the sea village crew (which I totally took out of context at first; shame on me) so that they can stay on land for a bit longer without having to worry about the time.
Queue the drama! Seriously, Akari having relations with a land dweller? What blasphemy! At least that’s what the older men from the sea village think. So far, we only know that one is banished for getting into and continuing a relationship with someone from the land but don’t know why. This would probably explain why Akari works in a store on land and perhaps even explain why those two young girls that frequent the store dislike her so much. Of course, this sets up a lot of internal conflict with Hikari as he struggles to come to terms with Manaka’s feelings for Tsumugu and whether she may share the same as-yet foreseen fate as Akari should either girl choose to pursue love on land.
Next week: tears, and lots of them! It looks like we’ll be getting some flashbacks of Akari and Hikari when they were younger and what happened to her after she has a word with her father. It seems we are getting more into the deeper sense of separation between those on land and those in the sea and whether this new generation will be fighting for or against traditions. Having the kids go to school on land was already a major leap forward towards bending tradition, but it also seems contradictory. These kids are still young and have lots to learn and be influenced by. So if they don’t want things like this to happen, why put them in an environment with an inevitable mixing of cultures/races? It will be interesting to see down the line what sort of compromises both sides will take on to better their relations between each other, starting with a growing bond between an ocean otaku and his newfound sea friends.