Hikari, Miuna and Kaname are finally able to reenter Shioshishio, where they find it a silent, snow-covered ghost-town full of the still-hibernating residents. For Miuna, who has never been here before, it’s rather dishearteningly different to the Shioshishio she always imagined from her mother’s stories. Many mysteries lay sleeping with the sea-people here – why won’t they wake up? Why is Uroko, on the other hand, awake? But most of all, why is Manaka cocooned in the middle of some bizarre ceremonial doll dumping ground and losing her Ena piece by piece?
Finally! After some rather slow recent few episodes, episode 18 got things moving again. That’s not to say that it was particularly fast or anything – that simply isn’t the show’s style – but it definitely felt like more happened here, with less scenes that dragged.
There was this amazingly eerie atmosphere throughout this whole music which was done very well (and I’ll say for the whateverth time that the soundtrack of this show is great at helping with this). The ghost-town Shioshishio contrasts drastically with the colourful place from the first half – yet it has its own sombre kind of beauty that makes for a hell of a lot of lovely scenery shots. Also, seeing those young children being carried away for hibernation a few episodes back was creepy enough, but the villagers looking like corpses covered in snow was even eerier. There were places where this seemed more like a horror anime, even – particularly the discovery of what ended up being referred to as the ‘graveyard’ for the sacrificial wooden dolls used in the funehiki ceremony. There is something very, very wrong going on here regarding the sea god, and its likely that Uroko knows something – although he was mostly just acting annoyingly cryptic in this episode.
It’s strange that Manaka’s Ena could be lost like that, seeing as how much the series had emphasized the fact that the sea peoples’ Ena was restored just by being in salt water. Perhaps the Ena that Miuna mysteriously gained was actually from the supply Manaka had already lost? Maybe the next episode has some answers.
Sleeping Manaka is brought back to the surface to be taken care of, however unlike Kaname and Hikari she doesn’t wake up. Chisaki gets a lot more time in the spotlight as she does what she can to try to figure out what is going on – while also trying to sort out her complicated feelings regarding Hikari and now Tsumugu. There’s a new lead in the form of another myth about the Sea God – perhaps phenomenon of losing and gaining Ena is his doing; although only Uroko will know for sure.
Hey, you know what would make the messy love-polygon in this show even more messy? By adding to it! We’ve gotten confirmation that Tsumugu has strong feelings for Chisaki, and is prepared to fight Kaname for her. So then, the updated mess is something like as follows: Sayu loves Kaname who along with Tsumugu love Chisaki who, along with Miuna, still loves Hikari who loves Manaka who presumably loves Tsumugu. Also some random dude loves Miuna. Is that everyone covered? Lordy. I’m seriously wondering how all this is going to pan out, if at all.
The plot tidbits in this episode were interesting enough (why no one has thought of Uroko before now I don’t know), particularly Tsumugu’s comment about the potential for the research into Shioshishio attracting unwanted media attention. While this show has demonstrated a significant amount of world-building, this is the first time something like the media has been mentioned, so I’m really curious as to whether it’s going anywhere.
A lot of the episode was more focussed on Chisaki’s point of view, as she hasn’t done much lately, and I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about that. I think she was a character who was definitely more interesting post time-skip, because she’s really bordering on bland here and the way she’s basically become a housewife is disheartening. (Thus of course it was nice to see that she’d started the nursing job she was after.) There was an entire segment in which she tries on her too-small old school uniform and then clumsily falls over, yelling at Kaname and Tsumugu for witnessing her in an embarrassing pose, which just seemed incredibly out-of-place for the tone of the rest of the episode (and the series itself). It was almost like the animators were trying to make people interested in her character again, ‘look, she’s still moe! Don’t forget about her!’ Surely there were better ways to do this, although her role in moving the plot towards Hikari getting the idea to look for Uroko helped with that too.