Nagi no Asukara – Neutrality and Self-Insertion in Tsumugu

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Self-insert characters – they are the types of immersive characters with qualities which allow viewers to easily put into their shoes – thus, more easily inserting him or her into their worlds. This is more apparent with anime adapted from games, but I’m also surprised to see one character from Nagi no Asukara fitting the criteria of self-insert characters too.

That particular character in question is Kihara Tsumugu. In the world of Nagi no Asukara, the worlds are divided by the land and sea. Out of all the five main characters, four of them are people of the sea, residing inside the water realm and only one out of the five main characters: Tsumugu, in this case, is the people of the land, living on the surface – a realistic reflection of us ourselves.

Tsumugu

Tsumugu: Why don’t you finish your sentences?
Manaka: Finish?
Tsumugu: You know, instead of “this was like this or that,” and trying to make things ambigious… You should always talk without hesitating like you did today when you went to help Hikari.
Manaka: That was… that was just natural…
Tsumugu: I see. So that’s the real you.

The basis of Tsumugu’s personality is that of a stoic individual, as seen by his poker face, though he does expresses a few vibrant expressions on some rare occasions. He only speaks when it’s necessary and even then he’s not really talkative either, barely only speaking a few words. He’s quiet, but not shy either, as he is able to speak his mind out if the situation requires so. He is cool, calm and collected, and also incredibly perceptive of other people.

Tsumugu does not discriminate between the people living in the sea and the surface dwellers, and he also has a sense of morality and justice that allows him to sympathize both sides. His perceptive and observant abilities, and that bluntness to speak his mind, had helped a number of times – from mending the characters’ social issues, settling disputes, and his silent, straightforward bluntness had even contributed with the self-discoveries of the other characters. At some point, the two sides reconciled, and Tsumugu may had played a portion of that role.

[HorribleSubs] Nagi no Asukara - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.37_[2013.12.11_07.37.31]

[HorribleSubs] Nagi no Asukara - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.40_[2013.12.11_07.37.39]

These few attributes of his characterizations is what contributed to self-insertion capabilities. Tsmugu’s quiet, passive and almost detached altitude makes it easy for self-insertion. As at Tsumugu’s very foundation of his character, he is almost close to a neutral “blank state”. Only speaking when it’s necessary creates a contrast to his normally quiet self that begets an empowering presence; the contrast also reinforces immersion as it expresses the desire to share a lending hand to aid in the insecurities of the other characters. Lastly, his morality of not discriminating between the two and his ability to sympathize both sides is a close reflection of human’s ego.

Watching Tsumugu, it feels like one is literally supporting the other characters of the series. Important pep talks and subtle hints are given, yet he is usually not present during the crucial moments which may kickstart a character’s development. I also see his perceptive abilities as a byproduct of us viewers’ eyes. We, the viewers, are looking down at Nagi no Asukara’s world from another dimension, so we possessed knowledge that the characters themselves don’t know about, but it feels as if Tsumugu too, has the same abilities.

The end result of such character design for Tsumugu makes his characterizations varied quite significantly from the others. Despite the other flawed characters, Tsumugu takes on the caretaking and supportive role, helping the other characters realize and conquer their inner flaws. I would also think in terms of character developments, Tsumugu will receive the least of those, as aforementioned, his character is more of the caretaking role.

[HorribleSubs] Nagi no Asukara - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.03_[2013.12.11_19.30.28]

Judging from the direction of Nagi no Asukara’s plot, and especially the romance side, I got a feeling that Tsumugu might lose his vague charm as the story progresses, but for now, I’m liking Tsumugu’s character designs – bland, quiet, vague, yet empowering.

What do you think of Tsumugu? And while on that note, who is your favorite character in the series?

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This entry was posted by Kai.

7 thoughts on “Nagi no Asukara – Neutrality and Self-Insertion in Tsumugu

  1. Tsumugu… I like how he didn’t discriminate against the sea people and how he’s quite discerning, but as a character I don’t feel anything in particular for him. My favourite character is Manaka. At first, I didn’t think I would like her, because I assumed she was going to be a stereotypical shy girl. But I thought it was great how she was actually the bravest of the characters, willing to get to know the land people and stuff. Where Hikari and Chisaki wanted to keep things the way they used to be, Manaka was willing to look forward, and I thought that set her apart from the stereotype.

    • The reason why you didn’t feel anything about him is probably exactly the reasons I described, and is also the same reason why I think he will receive the least character development, since I don’t think there’s anything much to develop in the first place. His disposition is passive, incredibly so, and almost close to a “neutral blank state”, as I called it, but that’s exactly why he possessed such self-insertion qualities. To me at least, he’s not a character designed specifically to “feel” anything but to “self-insert” instead. Indeed, but don’t forget that part of Manaka’s developing characterizations were influenced by Tsumugu too.

      • Auqaman is one of my favorite heroes in Batman: Brave and the Bold.
        Aquaman of my favorite male characters to play as in Injustice next to Superman and Joker.
        There is a top 10 explaining why Aquaman is a badass and why internet geeks should stop referring to the Superfriends cartoon when thinking about Aquaman.
        Aquman is one of the original founders of the Justice League in the comics.

        I could go on and on but the point is that this show would greatly benefit from Aquaman’s presence.

  2. While I only watched about 8 episodes (pretty much in limbo since I’m not blogging about it), I do find him a particularly interesting characters for reasons you mention. Compared to other humans, he seem to have a bit more open mind. Compared to Hikari, he is hot headed, but in a way, I think Tsumugu managed to change him and get along with the land people a lot better. Of course Miuna probably did a bit more in that aspect compared to him.

    • I stopped at episode 6 since I found it a good conclusive point and decide to marathon new sets of episodes at a later time, gonna be awhile though since I only noticed after I started watching that it’s actually a 20+ episodes anime, lol. Indeed, not just Hikari but I think his appearance effected quite a lot of people, most significantly, the group of sea students. I think in Miuna (and Sayu’s case), it’s actually the other way around and they are the ones that were effected and changed, lol. I may had missed something though or perhaps I haven’t reach the part of the anime you reached yet.

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