This week's episode of Nagi no Asukara begins by bringing a rather unique experience to the school-goers of Shioshishio - a swimming lesson.
Needless to say, those who reside under the sea aren't used to the etiquette of getting changed, wearing swimsuits, or even warming up before jumping into the water, leaving them with plenty of alien territory to tentatively explore - in fact, when it comes to swimming in a pool, it seems that the natural swimmers aren't even the best at their craft as they find life rather more difficult in the sterile surroundings of the pool. In a haze of frustration and a little daydreaming about Manaka on his part, Hikari manages to injure his foot in the process, setting off another bout of misplaced anger which is mostly directly at Manaka.
It is, however, Manaka's relationship with Chisaki that really comes under the spotlight here, as despite making Manaka promise that she'll forget all about overhearing her pouring out her feelings for Hikari our shrinking violet is far from it when it comes to trying to get Chisaki to spend some time with Hikari. This really doesn't impress her friend one bit however, as she spends most of the episode trying to avoid Manaka before outright telling her to get lost. It's Manaka herself who finds the strength of spirit to learn and progress in her attitude once again however (albeit largely thanks to Tsumugu), as she finds it in her to acknowledge her own weaknesses and also take the lead in repairing her friendship with Chisaki.
Aside from the best use of its "fish out of water" (with every pun intended) premise so far, it's this sense of character development and how these developments tie in to the wider plot and events within the series that continues to be one of Nagi no Asukara's most charming traits - although Hikari continues to be frustrating at times as he reverts to type a little too often, it's still engaging and enjoyable to see those around him coming to terms with their various circumstances and figuring out how best to carry on in spite of them, even if that means getting things spectacularly wrong sometimes. It's the kind of organic character development that anime too often misses or does a poor job of representing, but much like P.A. Works' Hanasaku Iroha before it, Nagi no Asukara does a fine job of making full use of its characters, while also shaping those characters through their experiences in a most pleasing way. Long may it continue...