I suppose this would be a continuation of sorts to a post I made not too long ago; about how I find closure as something essential in romance themed shows, and the apparent lack of it.
I’d define closure as setting to place what are, throughout a series, the variable feelings of characters towards one another – something I really didn’t make clear in my last post. Although I am indeed honestly biased towards people ending up together as an acceptable form of closure, I’d also like to add that even getting shot down and getting back up again is also closure, in a way. It’s the latter part really that’s become the problem here in that, most characters in that situation end up in a perpetual state of unrequited-ness.
Not that that makes a show entirely bad, but ending a story with such a loose end wouldn’t really sit well with anyone I assume; more so if it’s about a meaningless love that will never bear any fruit (that came out a lot more serious than I wanted it to, lol). Maybe I just watch too much drama. Even so, that extra sense of finality of having characters you’ve seen go through certain things, now at a place where you can see them off and move on to the next; isn’t that truly overall a nicer feeling?
Which brings us to Fall 2013’s Nagi no Asukara. NagiAsu, to me at least, felt like it had a very frail balance of angst and romance early on, that I was sure it was going to tank hard once everything fell through.
It has the dreaded 3:2 main cast (although commendable in that regard is the fact that there are three boys, instead of the standard two) to start; all with overlapping interests of course. Two girls add to the equation mid-season which makes it actually 3:4 towards the end (and right on track with the girls > boys ratio), amounting to triangles upon triangles of secret to otherwise obvious feelings. This is almost a standard really, though I guess it’s better than the truer standard of x:2 (where x = any number of girls really), which in reality is just a harem with an extra guy.
AND To top it off, even the characters’ natural profiles were set up for a non-conclusive end; we have the clueless determined male lead (Hikari), the unrequited yet content friend (Chisaki), the friend in love with that friend (Kaname), the seemingly detached but apparently involved friend (Tsumugu), and of course the dead-lock (Manaka). The dead-lock in particular is the real fulcrum for any sort of change to occur in the series (either by accepting the feelings of someone, or rejecting them); and the reason why I call he/she as such is because they very often don’t do so. It was the perfect mix of stasis.
But NagiAsu’s romance did what I didn’t expect it to do – develop. It took until the last episode, but by the end everyone’s feelings, one way or another, were confronted, resolved, acted upon, and recognized. Sure, you could say that Miuna might have landed herself in the unrequited eternity of being a niece, but the bigger picture his is that everything is moving. Tsumugu and Chisaki are in a relationship, Kaname acknowledges Sayu’s feelings, and Hikari and Manaka are in a sort-of mutual understanding phase. It was uneven from the start, and someone was bound to get the shorter end of the stick – sadly it happens to be Miuna and I have to admit, Miuna made probably the second-most mature move in the show by keeping her feelings to herself ’till the end (second only to almost everything Tsumugu did in the entire series).
I guess that’s another element that NagiAsu has over other shows of the same nature is that, certain key characters display a level of maturity, slowly over the course of the series. There’s this notion of repercussion in their heads at all times with the subject of confessing one’s feelings, prioritizing instead the preservation of the status quo and knowing among themselves that there’s something more important than their romances (Shioshishio’s hibernation, the world freezing over).
That all becomes moot of course when it’s revealed that love, or “feelings” in general, is in fact rather important in solving the reasoning behind the Sea God’s actions. But still we see the struggle as to how they work around having that sense of caution in regards to what they feel and what they do in spite of it; Hikari allowing himself to give Manaka away to Tsumugu if it meant saving everyone; Chisaki forcing herself to look only at Hikari so nothing would change between the five of them; Miuna doing everything she can to wake Manaka up despite her feelings for Hikari. Selflessness. It’s almost ironic that characters can show true growth when they hinder themselves for others.
Everyone did their part. Not everyone ended up happy (Miunaa~), but they ended up somewhere – and that’s good enough.