So, here we are, Ise.
Honestly, the “Kyoto and Ise” arc has been so full of ridiculous accidents that I actually said “Thank God!” when I read that the girls have arrived in Ise safely. Sanity, it seems, has finally been restored. Maybe this is partly because Isumi is not with them… wait, where is she now?
Just like in Ch. 405, Hinagiku is shown enjoying the local food, introducing sites and essentially loving Ise. It is as if she has been hosting a TV show (with her friends as guests) introducing Kyoto and Ise to tourists. There is no evidence that Hata is having an agreement with Kyoto and Ise that Hinagiku would be the ambassador of local tourism, but it is funny that she has almost become one.
Nagi, on the other hand, is unable to enjoy herself for good reasons: she couldn’t enjoy the trip in Kyoto because she has made zero progress with her manga, and the situation has not changed a bit now that she is in Ise, so she is still unable to have fun. It is actually quite funny to see Nagi telling Hinagiku off for playing around instead of paying serious attention to the work. Still, I kinda think that it would be a huge waste of a trip if people are not allowed to enjoy anything.
This is not the defence Hinagiku has put forward, though. Instead, she points out that Chiharu – arguably Nagi’s mastermind – is still on her way, while Nagi herself does not have concrete plans. With no input from Chiharu or Nagi, it seems that Hinagiku has no idea how to help Nagi either. The only thing she could do is to wait – and enjoy the sights while waiting. Interestingly, nobody else is trying to make a contribution at this point.
Now that Nagi has asked everyone to focus on the serious business, a few ideas have suddenly been put forward. Maria begins by asking what they are missing right now, and Kayura answers that Nagi is still not concerned enough. She the puts forward the “Super Saiyan theory” – when (strong enough) Saiyans get angry enough, they turn into Super Saiyans. Substitute “anger” with “concern”, and Nagi would draw the power she needs to finish her manga.
So Nagi needs to be more concerned, and thus she wants her friends to make her feel concerned. She starts with Kayura, who only manages to insult Nagi’s mother. Nagi then turns to Hinagiku, who looks and sounds sincere, but her words are so empty that it ends up discouraging Nagi. Funny enough, Nagi never asks Maria for some words.
There is someone else who doesn’t need to be asked before she speaks. Athena – still known to her friends as Alice – shows that she
is Darth Vader could find new ways to “motivate” Nagi. Simply put, it is a string of personal insult on Nagi (contrary to Kayura’s words which insulted Nagi’s mother) which is extremely sadistic (contrary to Hinagiku’s approach which is far too nice to be motivating). Each and every line by Athena stabs hard into Nagi’s heart, and finally Nagi turns into Super Saiyan gets motivated enough to start working.
Still, motivation doesn’t guarantee inspiration, and Nagi is still stuck. She knows what she wants to draw – the ghost and its favourite anime – but she doesn’t have a story to tell. Not getting sleep, Nagi sits alone on a bench near the hotel (I thought someone has run out of money), when Dr. Kurosu finally arrives.
As they talk about the visit to the Grand Shrine, Nagi suggests that all she could do now is to ask the gods for ideas. Dr. Kurosu, however, points out that this is a wrong attitude: you do not ask the gods to do this or that for you, but you could ask for them to watch over you when you work your best for your goal. As a religious person (I am a Roman Catholic), I agree with Dr. Kurosu wholeheartedly: God might not grant you every wish; there could be many struggles in our lives, but God has promised that His love is with us.
I know that a lot of people would find it difficult to appreciate.
The words “watch over” stirs up Nagi’s mind, and a story is quickly born. It now seems to me that what has been troubling Nagi is the ending – or a message behind the ending – of her story. Suddenly, she can relate her journey so far, and the feelings that come with it, to her main character. Every bit of Nagi’s journey becomes a plot point to her story, and finally the main character has a journey of his/her own throughout the manga.
What surprises me is that the manga Nagi has shown in Ch. 400 is actually useful. “Ayumu” now warns “Nagi” that it has only 49 days left. “Chiharu” is the director of the (BL?) anime that “Nagi” wants to see. “Athena” shows “Nagi” the way to earn the one extra day. “Hinagiku” might or might not give her hand to “Nagi”. In the end, “Nagi” has to leave the world, but “Chiharu” would know that he/she is watching over them…
You see, Nagi could actually start her manga with a lighthearted Ch. 400, and then make use of a twist (a car accident, maybe?) to enter the main theme. Other than ironing some flaws out (Hinagiku could become the “High Spec Advisor” again) and meeting the deadline (we saw Chiharu pushing Nagi on in a flashback in the movie), I think Nagi would have no more big problems with her manga.
So, with the help of a keyword from Dr. Kurosu, Nagi now makes full use of her journey to make a story. The efforts and chapters have, after all, not been wasted. While I have been heavily critical of Nagi ignoring her experience in the journey, it is now time for me to (shamelessly) give a lot of credits to her. Way to go, Nagi!
Just don’t mess this up for us, girl…