Nagi no Asukara
Was interested in watching the new original anime by studio PA Works “Nagi no Asukara”, after seeing its promotional video, which showed it might be an enchanting slice-of-life romantic anime set in a unique world.
So far, not only has this series delivered a journey into a wondrous, beautiful world, but it has surprised me by being much more, adding character depth, drama as well as sociological elements on racism and culture.
If I were to classify the series, would suggest it is more a coming-of-age story that offers more serious romance and drama than the average slice-of-life genre show usually does. Although plenty of things remain unexplained and scientifically doubtful about the underwater world, what is revealed about its history and how its people survive underwater is convincing enough.
The series paints a gorgeous picture of the wondrous underwater world the main characters live in, showing a unique and near magical place whose beauty masks its social pressure, hiding the strained society of a world on the brink of disappearing.
Animation by PA Works is sublime, not only is there lost of detail and attention to the characters, especially their facial features, but the studio also created gorgeous backgrounds, from the beautiful underwater city to the rustic coastal town.
More so than what I had originally expected of it, “Nagi no Asukara” has plenty of serious romance and drama, with lots of focus on how the various characters change and grow when faced with their own emotions as well as their interaction with others and the cruel outside world.
Even a fairly default character like short tempered Hikari begins to gradually change, where at first he seems to be just a perpetually angry brat, he too starts to grow and mature. With nearly each main character having -thus far unrequited- romantic feelings for another character, one could label it as the usual teenage romance show, but it is likely the series is setting things up for some dramatic and perhaps heartbreaking moments. In that aspect, “Nagi no Asukara” suggests it could be like “True Tears”.
Another serious theme the series deals with is racism, the main characters from the underwater world are ridiculed, shunned and ostracized by most people on the surface where they are forced to attend school.
However, this same racism exists in the underwater world, whose people equally shun and avoid those on the surface, even going as far as to banish those of their own kin that get in a relationship with someone of the surface world.
The series cleverly shows how practical concerns over the union of someone from the surface world and someone from the water world led to rules that cause even more suffering than they tried to prevent. An analogy undoubtedly applicable on our reality, be it in history or today.
Manaka is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, this anime season she also voices Ai in “Coppelion” and Charlotte in “IS: Infinite Stratos 2”. She previously lent her voice to characters like Matou in “Black★Rock Shooter”, Ruri in “Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai”, Kobato in “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai” and Nadeko in “Monogatari Series Second Season”.
Kayano Ai voices Chisaki, she also voiced Lucy in “Servant x Service”, Inori in “Guilty Crown”, Mashiro in “Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo”, Mayaka in “Hyouka”, Muginami in “Rinne no Lagrange” and Kanae in “Tamayura ~More Aggressive~”.
Hikari’s sister Akari is voiced by Nazuka Kaori, she’s tackled roles like Lynette in “Strike Witches”, Shizuku in “Kämpfer”, Eureka in “Eureka Seven”, Tsukasa in “Amagami SS”, Frau Koujiro in “Robotics;notes” and Miyu in “Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya”.
Komatsu Mikako voices feisty Miuna, she also voiced Mariko in “Mouretsu Pirates”, Neko in “K” and Saika in “Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Com wa Machigatteiru”. Miuna’s friend Sayu is voiced by Ishihara Karoi who voiced Madoka in “Rinne no Lagrange”, Kanna in “Ano Natsu de Matteru” and Azusa in “Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko”.
If you’re looking for a series that offers more than just the average romance or slice-of-life moments, but instead promises to deliver a moving coming-of-age story set in a gorgeous world, then definitely try “Nagi no Asukara”.