When a show decides to skip the opening sequence, you know the gloves are off and plot critical events will be exposed to all. Even so I was taken aback that it took barely two minutes in this episode for the question that I cared about most to be answered.
And so there you have it. From that conveniently sighted jewel in the sea that just happened to be from Manaka’s sea slug confession five years ago, we are informed that she did eventually fall in love with Hikari before the previous Ofunehiki. Predictable it may be, but I can’t deny I was relieved to finally have that uncovered. And happy, yes, very happy. In case you haven’t been following my posts, the Hikari-Manaka pair and Chisaki-Tsumugu pair are my personal favourites in this show. Unfortunately, the Chisaki story, while going in the correct direction, hasn’t filled me with enthusiasm since the writers decided to keep Chisaki stuck with the same character as she had in middle school. How about some character growth after five years? But forget about that, you can read my previous post if you are so inclined to hear me rant about her. While this episode does involve everyone, frankly it’s all about Manaka, love, and sacrifices.
The whole “love is like the sea” seems to apply to everyone. I found it amusing that Manaka said she loved Hikari because he was the sea and then five years down the line, Tsumugu decided that was how he should go about confessing to Chisaki. Everybody loves the unpredictable and temperamental sea. Speaking of which, really, why were so many people so enthusiastic about going through another potentially cataclysmic Ofunehiki. I wish I could say “I told you so”. This one didn’t do any better than the previous one at first glance. The Sea God’s emotions are still wild as ever. All of this is just for the final push of the true plot of this show – the resolution of love polygons.
Miuna as a main character never really worked for me. I always view her as she was before the time skip and Hikari’s younger sister (well, step-niece, but whatever). Regrettably, that also meant that a lot of the emotional trauma from this episode lacked impact for me personally. This was one of my complaints last week. If the show had planned to do this, I think I needed some more time spent on Miuna growing up so that my mental image wouldn’t be stuck on chibi-Miuna. For those of you who were able to look past that and view Miuna as a legitimate partner for Hikari, this episode was quite heart-breaking. The scene where Miuna forces Hikari to confess his feelings for Manaka out loud reminded me of a similar tactic employed in a recent episode of Chunnibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren. Hearing the words “I love (someone else)” from the person you love’s own mouth is quite a harsh technique to try and force yourself to give up on that person.
Anyway, we also now know that Tsumugu already knew Manaka’s true feelings. He really is a sea slug. Both Chisaki and Manaka told him their true feelings (at the time), and also told him never to tell anyone. With events playing out just as needed, Tsumugu realizes the time has come for everyone to be honest with each other. Kaname tells him about Chisaki’s attitude. I think this was probably about how she felt guilty about Manaka – or to be exact was using her as an excuse to avoid changing the current relationship dynamics by admitting to herself she was in love with Tsumugu. It doesn’t take long for Tsumugu to shatter that defense, yet Chisaki is still being pretty stubborn. She’s going to be dragged kicking and screaming into a relationship she wants to be in at this rate. She passively accepts and yet denies what is happening; such turmoil. I think she’s improving though, a little bit more honest with herself. She probably needs that next episode to finally let go of her irrational fear of change which I thought she was rid of 13 episodes ago.
Then we have that side story about the end of the world as we know it. Plus, the whole hibernation mystery. I wonder if we’ll ever find out more about that. The fate of the surface is just mentioned in passing by Hikari, with the Ofunehiki supposedly maybe perhaps helping out with that too. Such confidence in the ritual. Of course, Miuna wastes no time in correcting Hikari’s priorities. All that stuff about possibly saving the world is not important, let’s hope that Manaka gets her feelings back. I can’t help but think that the show missed out on some potential – I don’t mean it should have focussed on the end of the world or anything like that, I think the writers handle emotions and relationship drama much better – but I feel some of the family aspects of the show which I also found really interesting have fallen by the wayside. Hikari and his Dad, Tsumugu’s parents, and even more could have been done with Manaka and Chisaki’s families as well. But with all of them hibernating (or completely ignored), it feels like the writers just threw them out of the story. Wasn’t there supposed to be more to the Sakishima family?
One family member does come back though, Tsumugu’s grandfather is discharged from the hospital just in time for the Ofunehiki. He’s an enigma. There’s only one episode left, and I’m still struggling to figure out if there’s more to him than just an experienced and tired old man of the sea. Him, and Miuna’s real mother are two characters that I’m really suspicious about having more to do with the Sea God than meets the eye. Now that Miuna’s been sucked in as the sacrifice this time around, with the Sea God’s emotions ensuring an actual barrier keeping her down there, I wouldn’t be surprised at some last minute revelations. Was Miuna’s mother the original Ojoshi-sama, or a descendant? The Sea God’s emotions are rather unpleasant in a way, they seem to always crave girls who are already in love with someone else. Perhaps it is because the original Ojoshi-sama was in love with someone else, but still. Misuse of divinity right here.
The surface weather seemed to have improved drastically even without having started the Ofunehiki. The sky was clearing, and the snow was no longer falling. Clearly even a hint of preparation for a sacrifice distracts the emotions of the Sea God from ending the world. But once the Ofunehiki was underway, well it was almost deja-vu. Except this time, I think the ceremony went ahead further than last time, and Uroko-sama was more of a bystander. The previous time he was party to the sudden upheaval of the Sea God’s emotions – not so much now. Instead of Manaka saving Akari and sacrificing herself, we have Miuna saving Manaka and sacrificing herself. I can’t say this was surprising, I’ve expected something like this since the change in the opening. Ena continues to haphazardly leave and return to people, I think Miuna either transferred or assisted in re-creating Manaka’s Ena. With that, I hope Manaka has regained her feelings, even though her confession was still locked away in the pendant. Also shouldn’t some oceanography researchers like Tsumugu’s Professor have been here, whatever happened to that whole “there are people saying the Sea God isn’t real and the underwater villages never existed” arc?
Next week is the last episode, let’s see what the writers do with it. I’m cautiously optimistic. Seeing as this episode gave me everything I wanted from the past of Hikari and Manaka, I really hope their present and future will not be crushed somehow.