A Lull in the Sea Set 1 is a two-disc set that includes all 13 episodes from the first cour of the series. The release includes both an English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

A Lull in the Sea Set 1
English Publisher: NIS America
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 14, 2015

The series is set in a world where long ago, human civilization lived on the ocean floor. However, there were humans who wanted to live above the surface and moved to land, and this created a separation between the humans. The series focuses on four middle school students who live in the ocean named Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname. Because their middle school shut down, they must attend a school on land. During the first episode, Manaka met Tsumugu, one of their new classmates. He’s from a family of fishermen and has an interest in the underwater village.

Even though the sea village may be sending its students to the surface, it doesn’t mean that the people of the sea and the surface necessarily get along. At first, Hikari adopts a rather negative attitude toward the kids from the surface, but as he gets to know them, he starts softening his attitude. Hikari’s older sister, Akari, has fallen in love with a man from the surface named Itaru who has a young daughter. Hikari and Akari’s father r disapproves of the relationship. Itaru’s daughter, Miuna, doesn’t want Akari to be with her father at first.

While all this is going on, we see various love issues arrive. Hikari has a crush on Manaka, Manaka is torn between Hikari and Tsumugu, Chisaki has a crush on Hikari, Kaname has a crush on Chisaki, and Miuna’s friend Sayu develops a crush on Kaname.

Uroko-sama, a scale of the Sea God that looks over the sea village, warns of an impending disaster and that the people of the sea will need to hibernate. Hikari and his friends decide they’ll do everything they can to avoid the hibernation, even though everyone else in their village has resigned themselves to their fate.

As part of this, Hikari makes it his goal to coordinate a ceremony called the Ofunehiki, which has always traditionally been a joint effort between the people of the land and the people of the sea. As part of the ceremony, an offering is made to the Sea God. The fishermen on the surface are excited for the idea (especially now that their situation has gone downhill), but the people of the sea don’t want any part of it. In the end, the Ofunehiki ends up being held as part of Akari and Itaru’s wedding. Tragedy strikes during the Ofunehiki, and this is where these first 13 episodes end.

Before the Ofunehiki, though, Kaname confesses his feelings to Chisaki, Hikari confesses his feelings to Manaka, and Chisaki confesses her feelings to Hikari. The day before the ceremony, Manaka says she has something she wants to tell Hikari but says she’s going to wait until after the Ofunehiki. These confessions take place in the episodes right before the ceremony, which creates some awkwardness between some of these characters right before the event.

I first saw A Lull in the Sea when it was being simulcast on Crunchyroll under the title, Nagi no Asukara. I had a different viewing experience this time around because I could see the story in bigger chunks, and I have my husband watching with me this time around. Unfortunately, my husband says that he keeps being thrown out of the story because there’s no explanation as to why household items don’t float in the underwater city, as well as no explanation as to how the characters are able to walk normally underwater instead of floating. For me, what appealed to me during the simulcast, as well as the viewing I’m doing now, is the character relationships, the character development, and the story progression, so I think I have an easier time overlooking some of these issues. But some of the lack of explanations for the things seen in the underwater village could potentially hamper a viewer’s enjoyment of the series.

When it comes to character development, Hikari definitely goes through the most growth. He starts out as the kid who looks down on the people of the land and has a shorter temper. But as he spends time around Tsumugu and his other classmates, as well as seeing what Ikari goes through with her relationship with Itaru, he comes to appreciate the people of the land… as well as starts to learn how to not lose his temper so much. Manaka is probably next in line for character development, and then Chisaki. Of the main four, though, Kaname seems to undergo the least in the way of character development. Kaname himself says at the time he confesses his feelings to Chisaki that he’s tired of being an observer, and I think he basically explains his role in that one sentence. While events happened around him, they didn’t always necessarily affect him directly, and this would explain why he has so little character development. It’s kind of hard to grow and change as a character if the character’s main purpose is to be an observer.

Now that I’m watching this series while in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m coming into the story element of something suddenly coming into the characters’ lives that’s bringing about a sudden change with a new layer of understanding that I didn’t have back when I watched this series as a simulcast. As I saw characters like Manaka, Miuna, and Sayu sharing their fears and anxieties over what’s to come, it really made me think of how the world seemed to turn upside down almost overnight in March 2020 because of COVID-19. Because of that, I found that I could relate a lot more to those characters during those scenes after personally experiencing the unknowns and the upheavals that this pandemic has brought about.

When it comes to this DVD release, the bonus features are spread out over the two discs. On Disc One, there is a textless opening and a textless closing, as well as two original Japanese trailers. Both of the trailers run for about two minutes in length. It was interesting to notice that the second trailer utilizes footage from the series that I recognized, but that the first trailer primarily seems to use footage that was animated specifically for the trailer (or, at the very least, I didn’t recognize most of these shots from the 13 episodes that are included on this set).

The second disc includes the 14th episode of the series and trailers for other releases from NIS America. To me, including Episode 14 feels like a waste, since it’s also included on A Lull in the Sea Set 2.

Between the packaging and the bonus features in the set, it kind of comes across that NIS America didn’t put a lot of effort into this release. From looking around, it appears that NIS America is no longer releasing anime and that they’re focusing on videogames and merchandise. If this release is any indication of what the company was doing for its anime releases, perhaps it’s a good thing that NIS America got out of the anime distribution business.

If you’ve ever seen A Lull in the Sea and enjoyed it, I would recommend this release, even with its faults. Unfortunately, the DVD pressings are all that are available now. While the series had been issued on Blu-ray, that release seems to no longer be available.

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