“Love, Is Just Like The Sea.” (好きは、海と似ている。)
And we are at the penultimate episode! Only one more to go and if the next episode is as good or better than this one, I’ll be really quite pleased and satisfied with the way this show has panned out. Well, to some extent in any case. What I can say for absolute certainty is that this episode was beautiful in more ways than one. The scenery and the art seems to grow exponentially more stunning withe every episode and the play of light and water is always a treat to the eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen art of such calibre on such a consistent basis in a show in a very long time. I think this series is right up there in terms of graphics with shows like Gundam 00, Kyoukai no Kanata, and XXXHolic, just to name a few. I was left thoroughly breathless this time.
It’s finally the Ofunehiki, which means that emotions are high and everyone’s hopeful that this is going to really change everything that’s going wrong with the weather and Shioshishio. Since the last episode, things have started tying up and together, which is definitely necessary for such a long-running plot as this show has. This was definitely a very dramatic episode, and I don’t mean in terms of relationships, but the plot really surged in this episode, pun unintended. Everything that has happened since the second half of the series began has led up to this moment and the subterranean implications all throughout the show hinted at such an outcome and that outcome is both breathtaking and heartbreaking, especially since it involves one of my favourite characters, Miuna.
This has been an episode about closure in some respect because so many questions – not necessarily the ones I’m entirely invested in – have been answered. It turns out that what Manaka told the white sea slug all those years ago was that she loved, and still loves, I believe, Hikari, which, I think, after all the drama since her return, was quite obvious. It did kind of appear a bit of a red herring if we consider the penultimate episode of the first arc, where it really did look and sound like she loved Tsumugu. But I’m willing to overlook that plot-squiggle because that leaves Tsumugu entirely focused on Chisaki, who has finally admitted in as few words and actions as possible, her feelings for Tsumugu (who amused me greatly with his firm belief that Chisaki loved him back – go you!). I like their love story – it’s definitely up there, if not my favourite romantic plotline of the series, probably because it felt so unlikely from the start and yet here we are. The writers definitely get a round of applause for that development. Another enjoyment for me was the very subtle hints at Sayu and Kaname’s newfound friendship slash crush slash potential romance. It’s no secret that I adore Sayu and so it made me extremely happy to see Kaname take the initiative to protect her when the need arose in this episode. Well done.
There has always been something very tragic and sad about Miuna and perhaps it’s the way they built up her character throughout the show. From the start there was a sense of altruism, not unlike Hikari’s, hidden behind a soft-spoken, angry persona, which has grown and transformed into something very kind, sweet but still self-sacrificing. Her character development is so rich and such a joy to watch, and she has a way of settling into one’s heart. I love how this story has slowly moved from one about Manaka to focus very intrinsically upon Miuna, because she very much deserves her own story arc. Her altruism was truly brought out in this episode where she sacrificed herself in Manaka’s place, when the sea god attempted to take her back. The relationship between Manaka and Miuna really grew and there’s something so sisterly yet motherly about the two of them and the way they interact with each other. Manaka says it herself that somehow, she feels calm and her mind is quiet whenever she’s with Miuna and I think that speaks for itself. She has a way of really affecting people in a way that not even Uroko is immune to, if his ever-present grin where she’s concerned is any indication (how amazing does he look in that screencap, though, I mean honestly). The real tragic moment for me, though, was when she lay in the midst of all the other Ojoshi and heard Manaka’s confession of “I love Hii-kun” and just smiled even as Hikari and Tsumugu attempted to free her. It was very beautifully done.
That’s the other thing that impressed me with this episode. The graphics and the music and the perpetual emotion running through this episode worked in perfect synergy. The music during the Ofunehiki was stunning and I cannot wait to get my hands on thattrack when the OST is finally released.
One more episode to go! And what does this have in store for us, I wonder? Will it be another timeskip? I’m not entirely opposed to that idea, simply because I feel like it would not only be a rush but a disservice to Miuna’s sacrifice if they somehow manage to find a way out for her within the next few minutes. Whatever it is, though, I can only hope that the next episode is as good as this one and that everything gets tied together neatly. I hold out hope for the happiness of all these kids and their (sometimes unrealistic) sense of maturity and hope that everything turns out for the best!