Let’s be honest here; if I’m still blogging this show after 26 episodes and I even bother to write a final review, it means that this show is worth it. Which means, that you should watch it.
All opinions aside, however (or at least, biased ones anyway), Nagi no Asukara is a heart-warming Slice of Life/Romance that will leave you either crying or smiling every episode. Should you be interested in the genre, it would definitely be one of the first shows I would recommend.
If I had to point out a weak point in the show, I would have to place it on the story… That is to say, I’m still giving this an 8 out of 10, which is a very good sign for a Slice of Life anime, in which characters are usually the main focus of the show.
The original premise for the show doesn’t really hold anything special, but builds and stacks over time so as to eventually lead to a fairly strong storyline. The story starts out pretty simply with a group of 5 friends, a main character in love with one of them and – because it’s pretty – happen to live in the deep ocean. Honestly, whatever I see here does not change anything to what I have seen before except for the fact that the kids happen to live in a place where the sun shines all the time and there can be sparkles everywhere.
Over the course of the show, however, we are given many signs suggesting a stronger, deeper plot. The discrimination between the two villages and the preparation for an Ofunehiki celebration hopefully bringing the climate back to normal, for example, portray underlying themes which move this show into something much more important than just a stupid romance; granted, the themes were not overly developed and the show did not move towards the Seinen genre, but the inclusion of these themes showed that some clear thought was put into this anime.
The plot had some really interesting twists throughout the anime as well. The focus switch of the characters and the lingering uncertainty on the final pairings added a lot of unpredictability to the outcome of the show. What truly shocked me the most though was the few plot twists which are completely uncalled for (the first Ofunehiki ceremony, for example), grabbing you and immersing the spectator completely into the anime. For this specific genre of slice of life, there is always a tendency to have lots of unnecessary drama caused by trivial, daily life activities. Here, although the show contained a lot of those, we actually get some good darn drama out of those few key events, rendering the show much more emotional.
Unfortunately, the good points stop here. Despite the cool twists and good drama to keep us entertained, we notice quickly by the second half a slower pace and a repeat of the same problems we had viewed in the first arc. The plot twists become sometimes predictable, not because of their unoriginal nature, but rather because they are simply a repeat of the good things produced earlier. Miuna’s sacrifice, for one, was a scene which made me a lot less sad than it should have, simply because I’d seen it coming a while back; the foreshadowing, mixed with the fact that it had already happened, simply made it too predictable.
Not that the story was entirely bad. Heck, despite the repetition, despite the cheesy ass ending and the slow pacing, this show still manages to get an 8 out of 10 for its story. I’d say that, for a slice of life, that’s not bad at all.
If I could allow myself to be a lazy reviewer, I would review this category with one word: perfect.
Unfortunately, it seems like reviewers need to go into details (you know, in order to prove our point and such). To be honest, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the characters of this show. They’re complex, strong, real, heart-warming – there are no main characters in the show who could have been erased while keeping the show going as well as it did. Their complexity went way beyond anything I thought was ever possible in anime, and took me on an emotional ride full of smiles and tears before I knew it.
What surprised me though, was to see Chisaki and Miuna coming out of the shadows to steal the spotlight away from Hikari, in order to get even more character development than Hikari could have ever had. The kind-hearted Miuna, whom we see for the whole first half of the show as a small child, is completely different from the Miuna as a tenager; and yet, it makes sense to see her become that way.
Meanwhile, Chisaki, the mature friend whose job in anime is usually to help the main couple get together and to hide her love, turns out to be anything but mature and breaks down into a weak, but incredibly self-reflective character with the potential to become an amazing person. The fact that these two characters, whom we see in the beginning to be simply side characters, come around and steal the spotlight for more than half the show shows the complexity of all the characters who are part of the show, and showing the reality of life: everyone has a story to tell, and goes through experiences which may or may not be similar to what these teenagers lived through.
There is something contradictory to Nagi no Asukara‘s art: in the moments where art needs to be beautiful, it is absolutely gorgeous; and in the moments where art needs to be okay, it is absolutely awful.
For the most part of the show, the art is on par with any of the prettiest shows out there. The beauty of the characters, the eyes, and especially the backgrounds, are all well done and blend in so well with each other that probably half of the screencaps I took for this show could fit as a desktop background without anyone seeing any problems with it. In fact, this show is definitely one of the prettiest jewels I’ve seen in terms of its art.
So why, why does it then show me something like this?!
What I see here, is either a huge miscalculation of deadlines, or just plain laziness. I understand that certain scenes don’t require the same artistic beauty and detail as others, but to show a scene drawn so sketchily just gives me shivers and disappoints me. In terms of its art, Nagi no Asukara would deserve 11/10 if it wasn’t for scenes like this; hence why the grade dropped quite a bit from my original opinion. The first half of Nagi no Asukara is better at hiding such details, but the second half truly left me in awe as to the contrast between the show’s high/low quality art. It’s like an itch in the back of my neck which just won’t stop bothering me.
Despite this, I guess this detail is probably the only technicality which actually bothered me. The soundtrack was gorgeous, the OP and ED themes were fine (especially the first Opening theme, which was much more than fine), and the few scenes which required more fast-paced animation (such as the first Ofunehiki celebration) were full of quality. For this reason, Nagi no Asukara still gets a pretty high mark for its technicalities; if it wasn’t for that part of my neck which won’t stop itching, you can imagine that the mark would be even higher.
Is Nagi no Asukara good? It is an amazing slice of life/drama, and has really complex characters, definitely making it a good show.
Should I watch it? If you like the genre, yes. However, it doesn’t have flashy explosions or particularly active scenes apart from its emotional moments, so people who have no hearts shouldn’t watch it
Overall Rating: 9/10