We have an episode of confirmation, and plot acceleration.
Let’s begin. It is now confirmed that it is indeed Uroko-sama that is responsible for leading Miuna down to Shioshishio, and therefore also most likely her Ena gift giver. Why he chose Miuna isn’t completely clear, yes her mother is from the sea, but we don’t really know too much about her. However, seeing how quickly events unfolded this episode, the writers have more than enough time to clear everything up if they continue on at this pace.
Last week I was surprised that the pathway to the underwater village had opened up so soon. I was considering the return to the underwater village to be episode 21-22 material – perhaps some sort of climactic moment. Well after that theory got smashed I expected the finding of Manaka to be held off for a while, and then this episode happened. So not only did we enter Shioshishio and see all the inhabitants hibernating (their look reminded me of Manaka in the original ED for the show), but we also found out the fate of all the Ojoshi-samas that were sacrificed during all the Ofunehikis over the years.
Before I move on, I’ll just like to mention a few things about when Miuna, Hikari, and Kaname enter Shioshishio through the “protection boundary” surrounding it. For one thing, Uroko-sama is the one in control of most of the phenomena. So I’m certain that if he did not want a person to approach the underwater village, the weak current identified by the sound of flowing sand would simply not exist. He has specifically picked Miuna for this, and I’m not sure if he’s still simply carrying out orders for the Sea God, or he’s made a personal decision about this. I haven’t forgotten about his apparent “betrayal” of Hikari’s father during the Ofunehiki when he puts him to sleep just before all hell breaks loose. He is, after all, just a scale of the Sea God. For what it’s worth I’m confident he meant no harm to Hikari’s father, since Hikari finds him back home, so obviously Uroko-sama had to have transported him there.
Then we have the atmosphere of the underwater village. The music is really good, and I loved the periodic overlays of how things were and how they are now. This wasn’t the Shioshishio that Hikari wanted Miuna to see, this feels like an alien world to him as well, and his nervousness can be plainly seen as they walk through the streets and catch glimpses of all the hibernating people. Of course Miuna has seen nothing like this, and it’s foreboding enough for her, so for Hikari who remembers what was and now what is, the impact is much greater. And Kaname too of course, but Kaname has always been able to handle himself better than the others. The three of them holding hands as they swum down to enter the village strongly reminded me that they had probably done the same with Manaka and Chisaki countless times as they headed home.
Hikari is legitimately worried about the fate of everyone underwater, especially Manaka, and when he can Kaname split up with Miuna to go to their respective homes he voices this. Kaname calms him down a bit, and Hikari’s one sided conversation with his father was touching in its own way. I wonder what thoughts were going through his mind as he spoke to him. Not knowing when the main hibernation will end, how many years would pass before his father would awaken? In five years the world outside had already changed, imagine if it had been fifty? Would his father get to meet his current family again? He also tells him it was thanks to Miuna that they were able to come down here again, and how he should thank her for it.
I was slightly disappointed that they showed nothing about what Kaname did. It is true that we barely know him outside of the gang and his crush on Chisaki, but it might have been nice to see something. Miuna, in the meantime, has been led by Uroko-sama to the underwater middle school. I’m not sure, but I think she’s shown a vision of how things were in the school, though that led me to question where all those other children in that memory have disappeared. I mean, they were probably a year older than Hikari and the rest, but where are they all now? It was interesting to note how Miuna and Manaka did similar things in the school, both ended up in the music room (though Manaka was with Chisaki at the time) and played the same instrument (a xylophone?). I’m not sure why Miuna said that this was the place she had dreamed of underwater. I can’t quite place that statement. I know she had wished of being able to go underwater, but specifically in the school? On a side note, I think those sea slugs are probably going to play some part again at some point, and they always seem to have something to do with Manaka.
Miuna’s conversation with Uroko-sama outside the school confirmed that it was him that had led them down here. Remember Uroko-sama telling Hikari that he knows the pain of love? Well it’s no wonder he can understand Miuna as well. When she tells him her wish is to find Manaka, he immediately tells her that she knows she’s lying. All the same, they do indeed find the “graveyard of the Ojoshi-samas” … and Manaka.
Manaka’s Ena is running out. I would guess this is because she (along with Hikari and the others) had not allowed their Ena to thicken? Perhaps Hikari and Kaname were ejected because they ran out of their nourishment and the Sea God (or Uroko-sama) didn’t want them to die? This could also be the reason why Uroko-sama led them down to the village – to save Manaka? But wouldn’t that probably go against what the Sea God wants? I wonder how Manaka’s Ena can regenerate, I suppose she would need to eat and then salt water would regenerate it. I really hope so, because it’s clearly not regenerating underwater right now. And without Ena, thinking back to episode 1, it’s not possible for the sea people to breathe even on land (Miuna is probably an exception to this). I can’t say I’m not a little worried.
Well there’s another possibility – that Manaka’s Ena is what has been transferred to Miuna? Miuna seems to recognize the sound when the three of them notice Manaka’s Ena is flowing off her skin. Well I’d assume if that’s the case, Uroko-sama would be responsible for it? Of course, with Manaka’s return, Miuna is finally faced with Hikari’s true feelings. Not that she didn’t know it already, but it’s in right in front of her now. As Uroko-sama says, “Once something appears, something is lost.”
What is Uroko-sama thinking at the very end? Miuna notices this resigned look on his face as they are escaping with Manaka. Yet, he’s still helping them safely escape (Miuna can still hear the sound of flowing sand telling her where to go). I get the feeling that we still know nothing, there is yet more hidden under the surface here, and I’m really excited to find out about it in the coming weeks.