Posted on 22 November 2013 with categories: Nagi no Asukara

Well, so I thought that I’d check out what Nagi no Asukara was up to lately, so I set down to watch this. And boy, it actually took a long while for me to actually start the thing. Today I finally managed to finish the latest three episodes because otherwise I’d never be able to move on, but it did make me ask a question: why am I still watching this?

It’s episode seven, so at this point we have a pretty good idea of the nature of this show. For the past few weeks I really started looking at anime in a different way, and I asked the above question for a lot of other series. Is it really worth it to watch so many series that contain such lazy writing that contains so many glaring flaws, just for a few things they do well? The key again is balance. Does Nagi no Asukara have that? I’m afraid not.

The thing with drama is: you take a few ingredients, juggle them together and let them culminate into a powerful climax, with some mid-climaxees inbetween. What Nagi no Asukara does is having way too many of these ingredients, overcomplicating the dish. Every episode it finds some contrived reason to create as much drama as possible, ranging from a love polygon that’s triggered way too easily to people behaving like arrogant pricks who can’t use their head for one second. A bit of this is fine and all, but this just kept on coming with the drama, there was hardly any variation to what went on. It’s all just teenaged drama.

Especially now that Hikaru has developed, things should have been more bearable, since he isn’t annoying anymore and he actually tries to take care of his loved ones, and he actually can shut up at once, but… meh. It’s all just so gloomy. Episode seven with those fishermen for example. That came out of nowhere, but these guys acted just as bigoted as he did a few episodes ago. These three episodes consistently bored me because they had nothing going on here. Only episode seven had something noteworthy when Hikaru and his sister actually left their home. That was something different, but getting less and less sure whether it’s worth it.

I think Mari Okada overshot herself with this series. In this series, and with Sakurasou too by the way, she focuses too much on one-sided drama that is in most cases really quite stupid. Compare that to three series of her that did work: Hana-Saku Iroha, True Tears and Ano Hana. Hana-Saku Iroha knew how to spice things up. It might have been a bit boring around this point, but at least it used this time to show what everyday life is for the cast, so it could use that for some very effective climaxes. The sm-episode came out of nowhere, but it took guts and stood out. True Tears also had lots of drama, but it was calculated: slow paced and it knew exactly what to do to remain interesting, again with great characterization. Ano Hana also had tons of drama at a fast pace, but it also delivered many twists that really got the best out of the characters. The cast was well balanced and every character was different, and the drama kept moving forward. It had strange twists, but these twists went together with the characters. It didn’t throw in stuff for the sake of throwing in stuff like what Nagi no Asukara is doing.

The animation in anime is consistently improving: people are really innovating there to create graphics that are really gorgeous, and you see this more and more. That’s good. Now transfer that mentality over to the writing departments. Force them to think logically about what they’re doing. We need more people like Gen Urobuchi, who are celebrated for their writing talents. There doesn’t seem to be any glamour to the writing business and to be honest, the whole scene seems quite a bit closed off. Because of this you have one group of writers who gets picked over and over to write and adapt these series, and there hardly seems any incentive to attract new talent or cultivate it. That really needs to change, because as I see it, it’s the biggest thing holding anime in general back right now.
Rating: 3/8 (Mediocre)

Posted on 30 October 2013 with categories: Nagi no Asukara

Okay, so everyone aside from Hikari: I really like them. Dramatic, perhaps, but they work really well together, and this series has a knack of writing compelling drama for all of them, and this episode continued that trend. This was some really good character buiding here: no character here is completely onedimensional and even the typical high school bullies have a point and purpose, rather than just being the same streetpunks who are inserted for cheap drama, like what you usually see.

And yeah… Hikari. This guy is complicated. Last week he got completely on my nerves, but this time it changed. I still cringed when he zerged those classmates of his whenever he saw the first possible reason to do so, but the thing is that his sensible side is starting to shine through more. Whenever he didn’t go into “angry bear”-mode he too was an interesting member to the cast who plays off very well with the others. He can sympathize with others when he wants to. The whole apology scene was weird, but definitely a step in the right direciton.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 21 October 2013 with categories: Nagi no Asukara

Holy crap, that main character! This episode really was great! I really liked how this episode elaborated on the cultural differences between the fish people and regular humans, and all of the trouble that comes with trying to hook up with someone of the other side. The star crossed lovers here are done really well because of how this episode explored all of the implications it had, and how it involved the perspectives of a lot of different people here: elder, teenagers, adults, students. They showed many sides of the same coin.

But dear god, this kid acts like this angry bear in the way he constantly lashes out at everyone. I mean on paper he’s not a bad character and the point of his character makes sense, but his aggression is just waay overdone. He constantly screams, he constantly acts like he owns everyone, he constantly thrusts his nose into other people’s business. This guy really tries his hardest to be unlikable.

Character-development. The creators are definitely going for that, and I know from experience that Mari Okada can turn annoying characters around. But even then this guy is currently just stomping all over a perfectly fine show and his flaws are just caricatures. On top of that they just hurt the show by turning everyone off of it.

So yeah, unfortunately the creators here have done better. Mari Okada’s script for Ano Hana was much better, because it actually balanced the characters together. The same goes for the first three episodes of Hana-Saku Iroha (despite its really weird third episode), True Tears, The director, Toshiya Shinohara, is a guy guy who seems to need plot twists: that’s where he really knows how to deliver, as shown with Bantorra and Kuroshitsuji II. Nagi no Asukara unfortunately is at the moment too much of a standard series, and while you can see that the creators really try to throw in some good plot twists, the way in which the kids stand in this spotlight only ends up hurting this series.
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

Posted on 12 October 2013 with categories: Nagi no Asukara

So, Nagi no Asukara (apologies, I keep spelling the title of this series wrong) had an interesting second episode. The main character in particular was really unlikable and for a short while I thought of just switching this episode off, however he did somehow work as the episode went along.

Flawed characters are really difficult to write: it’s all too easy to make them too annoying to watch, however you NEED flaws for good storytelling, otherwise things will be too perfect and just boring. It’s often a case of balancing things out, and the way most series do it is by giving characters a simple innocent flaw that doesn’t stand out too much, or things like naivety or something. Mr Sparkly Eyes (I really forgot his name) yells, moans, acts like a spoilt child throughout this entire episode.

Somehow this was balanced out by the rest of the cast who keep pulling this guy back to the surface. The bit around his sister worked really well, and by showing how the adults in the underwater community are even more bigoted than he is when they found out really helped by showing him things from a different perspective. He feels like he owns that girl, and these episodes are really trying to break away from that. The second half of this episode also cleverly juggled the drama of the rest of the characters together, and that actually made quite an impression on me. If the creators can keep this up things will get interesting.
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

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