By Leroy Douresseaux
July 15, 2009 - 12:29
|Children of the Sea Volume 1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
When Ruka Akumi was younger, she saw a ghost at the aquarium where her father, Masa-Aki Azumi, works. Now, older, Ruka is a tomboy with a quick temper. She feels at home at Enokura Aquarium; at least, it’s better than home. She befriends Umi and his older brother, Sora, two mysterious boys who were raised by dugongs (a member of the manatee family) during the early years of their lives. The brothers also hear the same strange calls from the sea that Ruka hears.
In Children of the Sea, Vol. 1, the adults seem only vaguely aware of what the children are experiencing, although Umi’s guardian, Jim Cusack, seems to know more than the other adults. However, both the adults at Enokura and the children get caught up in a mystery involving the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish. There also seems to be a mass migration of fish towards Japan. Why are they coming, and does it have something to do with Sora, whom Umi believes is dying?
THE LOWDOWN: Classifying the manga Children of the Sea into a particular genre is not nearly as rewarding as just reading the thing, and it certainly is a lovely read. It’s an ecological mystery story that’s also part family drama, fantasy, and suspense thriller. In a way, it reminds me of the 1980s ecological sci-fi comic book, The Puma Blues.
Children of the Sea’s narrative shares the youthful exuberance of the young characters at the heart of the story. The children’s inquisitiveness, their craving for the sea, and their openness to new experiences are the things that make the reader want to follow them and want to unravel the fantastic secrets Children of the Sea conceals. While Ruka, Umi, and Sora are nice characters, the star of this series, thus far, is the magical setting – the world of mystery and wonder in and around the ocean. Creator Daisuke Igarashi’s earthy art, with its busy line work and crosshatching and unsophisticated figure drawing, grounds this series in reality, which makes the moments of enchantment all the more breathtaking.
THE LOWDOWN: Readers who enjoyed Inio Asano’s Solanin may enjoy Children of the Sea.