Quite often in a promise is made to go see the ocean. Just as often these promises can not/ no longer be achieved due to some events occurring.

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Is there some symbolism at play here? Leading to a character always having to dramatically fail at going to the ocean together? Or something different all together

  • 2
    I suspect you are massively generalizing from a small number of examples. I am unconvinced that "tragic ocean promises" are in any way a meaningfully common feature of anime or related media. (But knowing how [tropes] questions on this site go, somebody is probably going to come by with an overarching theory of Japanese media to explain this putative phenomenon anyway.)
    – senshin
    Sep 5 '16 at 10:52
  • @senshin Considering I can think of 12 series where this happened from the top of my head, I don't think it is that generalized. All though the tragic part is debatable. As often, some how in the end, the promises do get kept somehow. Let's hope somebody can catch a good overarching theory then.
    – Dimitri mx
    Sep 5 '16 at 10:57
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    If you have 12 series in mind, it would certainly be helpful to list them.
    – senshin
    Sep 5 '16 at 10:58
  • @senshin Will do so later today ^^
    – Dimitri mx
    Sep 5 '16 at 10:59
  • 2
    @senshin When we had that "Why is there so much fanservice in anime?" question, I was preparing my notes for an answer that would argue for the roots of fanservice in Jomon pottery. Then the question got deleted, and all my work went to waste.
    – Torisuda
    Sep 5 '16 at 19:52

It has something to do with the term Mother Ocean, the fact that Japanese islands are made of several volcanoes linked together, their work ethics and custom.

Mother Ocean

Mother Ocean is a term used to refer to the fact that all lives on earth starts from the sea/ocean as described in Nagi no Asukara. Even after leaving the sea and becoming land creature, the ocean still provides nourishment and food for them, thus it can be said that Mother Ocean is a symbolics of love. A love that knows no bound even when betrayed and left behind. An eternal love that is ready to accept when one repent and return to it as is the case with Miuna.

Thus, it can be said that a promise to see the ocean is a promise of love. The fact that the promise was broken and in some cases tragically, is a symbolics for a love that would never come true.

Japanese Islands, Work Ethics & Custom

See the following map.

Japanese map

Most of Japanese lands are mountainous terrain. People live on these mountains. In the olden times, these terrain makes traveling hard, thus not many mountain people travel to see the sea. In the modern day this would be due to their tight schedule making them unable to take vacation to the sea. I think it is already a common knowledge that Japan has a crazy tight work schedule. People rarely use their paid visit. That is part of their work ethics. Also, most Japanese visits ocean only during summer. It's an old custom.

Thus, while Japan has plenty of beaches, and given the distance and the availability of public transports it should be relatively easy to access, going to the beach is not something Japanese people easily do unless they already live by the sea. This means that going to the sea can be counted as a luxury for the Japanese.

  • You might also want to read this, japantoday.com/category/have-your-say/view/… Sep 5 '16 at 16:47
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    This answer certainly is "truthy", but is it true? Does anybody actually use the phrase "Mother Ocean"? Is it really true that the ocean symbolizes love? Is it relevant that it is difficult to travel from inland Japan to the sea? (Japan's population has, throughout historic times, been concentrated along the coast). Does this answer even have anything to do with the supposed "tragic ocean promises" that OP has not provided any evidence of?
    – senshin
    Oct 17 '16 at 2:54
  • @senshin I think it is one the ways of interpreting things. As such there is always room for discourse over what something in an anime depicts; extra large in Death Parade and Death Note. XD
    – user79161
    May 23 '19 at 7:53

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