Children of the Sea is originally a manga that deserves more attention then it gets. So I was quite surprised when I saw that this series was getting an animated film. Given the content and complexity of the story, as well as delivery I wasn’t sure if a single film would be enough. Anything hovering around five volumes tends to to be iffy if it can be condensed into a single film. However, I was incredibly drawn to the series as a manga so seeing an attempt at the animation would be worth my time.
So on my trip to Sapporo to see Sandaime J Soul Brothers, my first night I took the plunge and decided to get a late night matinee of the film. I found the theatre and was already there after all! So after settling in with some other night owls, it was time for the show to start.
Giving context, but not full details since I don’t want to spoil this recent film, here we go. Children of the Sea focuses on a young girl, Ruka who has recently been banned from her handball team. Having grown up with both a mother and father who work at an aquarium, to the point of almost neglecting her, she ventures to see her father at work. When given special permission to head to the back, she meets the very impish boy, Umi.
From there, Ruka is compelled to learn more about Umi and his older brother Sora, as the mysterious children of the sea currently housed at the aquarium. It turns out she has more of a connection to the duo then originally thought, especially with the tales of fish disappearing and the secretly anticipated festival that has many fishers, fish and Sora and Umi on edge.
There is so much going on that works concurrently within this story that synopsis of mine really doesn’t do it justice. Due to that, this is one of the few times I strongly encourage anyone considering to watch the series to read the manga first. If I didn’t have the background of the original story in the recesses of my mind, no amount beautiful animation would have saved me from being completely lost. It’s not a series to go in thinking it’s an “easy” watch.
So, how faithful was it? From what I recall from manga to anime, honestly a solid adaptation. While all five volumes are obviously condensed and many events cut, or simplified the film captures the critical moments. There is enough added context through flashbacks and cut scenes to fill in the gaps without being overbearing. The story follows a consistent rhythm delivering a solid pace that keep everything afloat, without getting bogged down too much even with the more difficult concepts.
What I found more important then the exact scenes being rendered in animation was the feelings conveyed in this series. I am not someone how often gets chills while reading certain scenes, even in the most graphic or chilling series. However, it was undeniable seeing certain scenes rendered from manga to animation, sent true chills and even the vague sense of terror down my spine. ‘Children of the Sea’ really brings the emotional impact and immersing your senses in something as beautiful and calm as the sea, as well as rendering it a mysterious and powerful thing, even in animation.
It goes without saying, that given how distinct the original art was the animation matched how I thought it should look. There is no major flaws or rendering errors, and it shows that Studio 4°C took the time, and the effort to give this series the treatment it deserved. The wait was worth it, and on the fluidity of animation alone it was money well spent.
For fans of the manga, you won’t be disappointed. Given I watched in Japanese, occasionally the dialogue went over my head but with some subbing or dubbing the film should be highly enjoyable. I highly recommend this film not only for being a pretty faithful adaptation, but for the beautiful storytelling within, it’s animation and of course the emotional impact. Easily, one of my favorite animated and in general, films of this year.