Nagi no Asukara – Neutrality and Self-Insertion in Tsumugu
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: Why don’t you finish your sentences?
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.
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.
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?