Nagi no Asukara (Crunchyroll) is one of the new season’s more interesting shows. This has a rather unusual fantasy setting. It takes place in Umimura (“Sea Village”), which of course is located on the ocean floor, and in a rival village on the nearby shore.
What I initially had a hard time dealing with is that, except for the fact that there are fish swimming around, life under the sea is pretty much like life on land. The people wear regular clothes, walk on the ground, cook, eat soup out of bowls and watch television. Well, they can swim if they want to…
You just have to accept that this is all possible because of magic. Or to be more precise, due to the beneficence of the Sea God.
According to legend the land people once sacrificed a maiden to the Sea God. He married her and their descendents became the Sea People.
The main characters include four children who are forced by the closure of their middle school to attend a school on land.
Hikari Sakishima is a hot-tempered boy who deeply resents having to go to school on land.
He is fond of Manaka Mukaido, a timid, clumsy and very naive girl.
Manaka’s best friend Chisaki Hiradaira is more mature and looks out for her. She secretly likes Hikari but keeps it to herself since she knows that he likes Manaka.
The fourth transfer student is Kaname Isaki. He is more mature than Hikari, closer in temperment to Chisaki.
Tsumugu Kihara is a boy from the land village who lives with his grandfather, a fisherman. He meets Manaka under embarrassing circumstances. As she gets to know him better she starts to have feelings for him.
These are two bratty shin-kicking little land girls who keep attacking Hikari. At this point it is not entirely clear why they are doing this.
Hikari lives with has big sister Akari and their father, the chief priest of the Sea God. Akari has decided to give up her dreams of going to college in order to ensure that Hikari can go. She has taken a job in a convenience store in the land village.
But Akari is not able to completely suppress her own desires and has fallen in love with a land boy. This is problematic since any sea person who marries a land person will be permanently exiled from the villag.
Uroko-sama is a minor avatar of the Sea God. He hangs around the temple accepting offerings and offering advice that is sardonic and often disturbing. Like most deities he can be hard to deal with but he seems a decent guy underneath. Still, if this story turns out to be a variant of The Little Mermaid, he probably corresponds to the Sea Witch.
The land people have decided to give up their annual tradition of making a wooden figure of a maiden to offer to the Sea God. Encouraged by their teacher, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, Kaname and Tsumugu decide to make a substitute.
I am not sure where this story is going. It has been mostly lighthearted so far but there are hints that it could get much darker. However the characters are engaging and the events so far are interesting enough to keep me watching.