Underwater Double Post: Nati No Asukara and My Bride is a Mermaid

Okay, so today, Dear Readers, we have a double post dealing with underwater anime adventures. A fishy two-fer. A sub-surface twin-pack. An aquatic duo. A...well, they both happen underwater (and involve hijinx). UNDERWATER HIJINX!
Divine Prince Ugayafuki Aezu (1886)
woodblock print by Chikanoubo Yoshu
depicting Princess Toyotama, daughter of the dragon king of the sea, giving birth
From the Chinkanoubo and Yoshitoshi Woodblock Collection, Scripps College

And why shouldn't they? Japan is literally surrounded by water. Literally! (In the proper use of that word.) Japan has a long history of folklore and mythology dealing with water gods, goddesses, dragons and demons. They live and die by the sea as a constant and ever-changing reality. It brings life and death, destruction and plenty. In short, it makes sense that there would be anime dealing with underwater themes.

Nagi No Asukara (A Lull in the Sea)
Written by: Mari Okada
Based on the manga by Project-118
Directed by: Toshiya Shinohara
Produced: P.A. Works
Release Date: October 3, 2013--Ongoing

First up, Dear Readers, are my first impressions of Nagi No Asukara, a middle-school story that just happens to take place between the surface and underwater world.

The story begins with  our underwater characters cooking their dinner. There are flames, and magical stews in magical pots that don't just dilute and drift away in the ocean currents. It all seems very surface-like. Houses, stovetops, clothing, street, how does a viewer know that Nagi No Asukara is underwater? Because there are fish. And in the first episode an underwater girl, named Manaka, gets caught in a net on her way to above water school. Seriously, underwater world looks JUST like the surface world only there are fish. Why do people underwater need steps? Couldn't they, say, just swim up something?

Seriously, why does that stew not float away? What is keeping it in the pot?
Am I thinking too much about physics? My guess is yes, but my disbelief can only be suspended so far.

After watching the first episode, here is what I know: there are underwater people and surface people and they both know about one another, but don't like each other very much. But the underwater people don't have like fish-fins or anything, and they can breathe above water for a little while, but the surface people can't breathe underwater...what are the rules to this world? I'm so confused.

This is an underwater scene; you can tell because there are yellow fish instead of birds.
Also his clothing is rumpled. I am not sure of the purpose of steps underwater. I am over-thinking things. 

It's a good thing they provide some back story in the form of a myth. Here it goes (as retold by me):

A long time ago all people lived in the sea, but apparently they got tired of it and went to live on the land. The sea god (with awesome hair) got mad and didn't let them have any water. So, the people sacrificed maidens in a ceremony called "boatdrift" and the sea god took the maidens, humped them silly and the underwater people are their descendants. Descendants who use stairs underwater instead of swimming and have some sort of cling-wrap film skin.

Gross, dude! Get out of everyone's personal space.
Great hair, though. 
Also, the local underwater lord is a pervert (with awesome hair) who can tell by smell if fish-people are ovulating and can curse people to have farting fish on their knees if they don't give in to his awesome-haired advances. Farting fish knees naturally leads to hijinx, fish on human prejudices/fetishes, and people losing the fancy fish clear coat that allows underwater people to be on the surface.

This makes no sense.
I don't even know that it's funny. It's just odd.
Check out the look of horror on Manaka's is not nearly horrified enough.
Also, dude should not be laughing at this. 
In short, and this is just my first-impression, this anime is fairly predictable despite being utterly confusing beyond belief. I predict: a love quadrangle, more human and fish-people distrust, some sort of sports competition, the pervy sea god to make cameo appearances, and just general misunderstandings. I could be wrong. Other than the underwater us v. them situation, I don't even know that there is a reason for the underwaterness of the series. I don't think this is the anime for me.

I'm a little more fond, however of the next underwater anime...My Bride is a Mermaid which is a little more inventive with it's mashing of genres. Is it a yakuza tale, a mermaid story, a sort of Romeo and Juliet or Wet-side story (HA! I PUN!)? It is all of these things.

My Bride is a Mermaid
Written by: Tahiko Kimura
Based on the manga of the same name/author
Directed by: Seiji Kishi
Produced: Gonzo
Release Date: April 1, 2007- Sept 30, 2007 (26 Episodes)

The story begins with Nagasumi Michishio drowning in Seto bay. Passing mermaid (why not?) Sun Seto takes pity on the boy and saves him from a watery grave, but her secret is revealed. Later that night both Nagasumi and Sun learn the consequences of her actions. They must marry.

Sun's father is the head of an underwater Yakuza, the Seto Group (I told you there were yakuza). She is also her father's pride and joy. There is a law of the sea which states that there is a steep price for any mermaid whose form is revealed to a human: either the mermaid or the human MUST be executed. That is a crappy sea-law, and would have doomed Tom Hanks in Splash.

Sun impulsively saves drowning Nagasumi, revealing her deadly secret. 
The only solution (clearly) is for Sun and Nagasumi to get married. Anime-logic! I love it! Clearly hijinx ensue, with Sun moving into Nagasumi's house and attending his school. Sun's father is furious and not only repeatedly makes attempts on Nagasumi's life he also "arranges" for the entire Seto gang to become teachers at the school they attend. 

What do you do when your P.E. teacher is a ravenous shark bent on killing you?
Flail around and panic! 
Yes, this is silly. But, it's also fun. The side-characters are hilarious and range from a strange, panty-melting ladies man named Masa (who "accidentally" gives Nagasumi his first kiss), to Shark Fujishiro (a member of the Seto gang who speaks in questions and constantly tries to eat Nagasumi), to Nagasumi's best friend Chimp (who inexplicably looks like a chimp). 
The appropriately named "Chimp."
Why is this even?
He is supposed to be a human...from what I gather. 

The action is a little frenetic, the running gags are predictable after a while, but I still laugh. I can't handle Shark Fujishiro and crack up every time. It is a comedy for sure, but there is something sort of charming in the story nonetheless.  
Nagasumi with smitten-eyes gazing on Masa.
Masa has some sort of uncontrollable charisma that effects everyone around him,
but especially, it seems, Nagasumi's mother and Nagasumi himself.
Oh, the power of a first kiss (even if that kiss is technically life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). 
The relationship between Nagasumi and Sun is based, at first, on circumstance. Both attempt to make the best of it, but during their struggles a real relationship grows. They are partners in life, and come to depend on one another. It's...dare I say it...heartwarming? They are engaged, but they still seem frightened of is clear to viewers that the two are deeply in love, and yet they miss all of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) clues. In some ways this story reminds me of other animes I love like Fruit's Basket with its never ending cast of strange characters and (less-literal) fish out of water themes. Nagasumi enters a world he was never supposed to know about, and his actions are admirable, tender, and thoughtful. 

Even when sharks are trying to eat him. 

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