viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2016

Children of the Sea

The fact that I decided to write this review in English must seem ridiculous to most of you taking into account that Children of the Sea has been already published in Spanish by ECC. However, the Spanish edition is smaller than the English one, with poorer quality, printing mistakes and kinda expensive. Furthermore, the publisher has largely ignored their readers' complaints about the moiré effect and continues to print the volumes without any significant improvement. Thus, I've decided to buy it, read it and, of course, review it in English. If you don't agree with me in this decision I am sure you will find plenty of Spanish reviews in other blogs. This said, I can't wait to share with you my impressions on this bizarre but marvelous manga. I am not going to write a synopsis though, since I think it is pointless for such a strange story.

Since I read Witches (Majo or Hechiceras), I knew I would like everything or almost everything Daisuke Igarashi had ever created and it seems like I wasn't wrong. He has a very unique sensitivity which makes all his manga different from everything else I've read so far. Although this story is 100% supernatural, it has so many (accurate!) scientific information about topics ranging from marine biology to astronomy. I already knew several things but there were also a lot which I didn't! I just enjoy learning so much it was impossible I didn't like Children of the Sea. Biology simply fascinates me, the fact that every single being is necessary and has its own niche to colonize, that any (innatural) perturbation can be fatal for the whole ecosystem while the most (natural) violent event, such as a typhoon, is required to keep balance. And I am positive Daisuke Igarashi must love biology too judging by all his works (not just this one).

Actually, this manga appears as an incredibly rellevant read nowadays when there are so many signs that something's wrong in the ocean (well, also in the whole planet but the ocean covers most of it, so...). There are so many marine creatures that are massively dying with little or directly no explanation. Coral is going white everywhere. Chinese are chopping sharks' fins to make soup thus condemning amputated sharks to die in the bottom of the ocean. Marine biodiversity is decreasing dramatically and is expected to continue to do so in the next years. And, at the same time, new research efforts allow to unravel for the first time some of the secrets the ocean still keeps from us. A ghost shark has been filmed swimming for the first time ever, mysterious sea blobs have been genetically identified, underwater animal pollination has been described, submarine structures thought to be human-made have been now discovered to be the result of methane-consuming microbial activity and the the most recent new who directly resonates with Children of the Sea would be the identification of a really weird metallic sound accidentally recorded as a whale call.

Back to the actual manga, Children of the Sea is... just weird. As I said, it is a supernatural fiction where superhuman abilities, extinct creatures and atypical ghosts are its main protagonists. It is mystic, it is philosophical, do not expect a piece full of action and romance because you will not find (almost) any. It is more of an ensemble of monologues about life, and death, and what is in between. The duality formed by Sea and Sky (Umi and Sora), between Earth and Outer Space, marine creatures versus land creatures, how the role organs play within humans may be compared with the role humans play within the Earth and the one Earth plays within the galaxy. And then, it all goes semi-religious going back to the myths of creation, so different and so similar across cultures, with the ocean always playing a primordial role somehow.

As you may be suspecting at this point, Children of the Sea is not a conventional read at all, at first it seems like there is a plot, like that is a beginning, like it will develop following a somewhat predictable/logic/coherent manner. But don't let the author fool you, once you surpass volume two, it all goes so abstract and mystical, any shadow of a plot you could have thought you saw vanishes through the awesome panels depicting all sorts of marine fauna over and over and over again (the fifth and last volume has over 150 mute pages, you get the idea, right?). And that is one of the appeals of this manga, the countless animals the author bothers to draw in each and every one of the volumes, you'll see whales, killer whales, whale sharks, sharks, dugongs, turtles, dolphins, shrimps, nautilus, mantis shrimp, manta rays, krill, eels, and a ton of different species of fish.

Although the characters themselves are so in the background of the real story, that does not mean you won't absolutely fall in love with impetuous Ruka, a troubled girl with social issues who does not adjust with the other kids; sweet Umi, an ever-smiling boy who would rather do whatever he feels like doing before talking too much about it; and elusive Sora, an arrogant and spooky lad with no survival instinct who only seems to care about Umi. This childish trio is further complemented with weird old Dehdeh, crazy old Jim and crazy genius Anglade, who all have their own interests on the children of the sea... and their own personal views of humanity. The thing is that here is absolutely no character who you would rate as minimally sane; thus, empathy is difficult to be found across its pages but that alienation helps with the immersive experience to the fucked up world of Children of the Sea.

Children of the Sea is ultimately a philosophical piece; an essay about what does it mean to be born and what does it mean to die and whether they are so opposite as they seem or they are actually the exact same thing. Just keep in mind the author will only pose the questions, perhaps even develop them a bit, but he will never answer them.

4 comentarios:

  1. It sure looks like a different kind of manga! good!

    I don't know what to do with the ECC version for the reasons you stated at the beginning and I'm not too fond of buying manga in english and if it's very art-oriented I don't want to read an scanlated version of it either! so many doubts XD

    So, I'm not sure, I definitely want to read it since it looks a lot like my cup of tea (I surely enjoy a lot, most of the times, the mystical-phylosophical stuff in my fiction and I'm okay with not getting answers at all), but maye it looks a little bit presumptous? or maybe i'm just getting the wrong vibe?

    The art looks STUNNING, and I did like Hechiceras
    Ah, the doubts.

    if the spanish edition didnt have the moiré I would have bought it already! damn you ECC.

    PD: long time without writting anything in english longer than a sentence, sorry if my grammar is a bit messy xD

    1. You already know what to do... as you said, it's the kind of manga to just stare at each and every of its pages... so, if the scanlated version is not good enough, the moiré one can't be either!

      The art is so stunning I actually thought about buying the artbook (yes, there is one) but is so so so so so incredibly expensive T^T

      Of course it is presumptuous! I mean, how could it not be? As in my own review, there is a lot of scientific gibberish and some of the main characters are totally arrogant but I dunno, it did not bothered me at all.

      Thanks for the comment, let me know whenever you decide what to do with it!

  2. Que sepas que he tenido que usar el traductor en alguna frase para ver si la había entendido bien o no, pero teniendo en cuenta que mi nivel de inglés es malísimo, estoy orgullosa de haber entendido más del 50% de la reseña sin traductor (en el 3r párrafo he tenido que usar el traductor en casi todo porque no entendía casi nada de los hechos que ocurren en la actualidad y me he quedado algo en shock).

    Sobre el manga. Cuando leía todos los datos sobre la biología marina, me acordaba tanto de ti... pensaba: "si es que ahora entiendo porque la fascinó tanto este manga a Kuroi", pero como comentaba con Javi en Twitter, el hecho de mezclar tantos mitos e historias de diferentes culturas, al final he terminado hecha la picha un lío. Aunque lo que me ha quedado claro, es que el autor da a entender que el universo en si, es un ser primigenio y que todo (galaxias, estrellas, planetas) formamos parte de ese ser.

    Muy de acuerdo en lo de no empatizar con los personajes, pero supongo que como dices, no era algo que el autor quisiera destacar en este manga, aunque si que me gustó mucho la historia de la madre de Ruka y el personaje en si.

    En fin, mañana voy a ver la peli, a ver si termino de atar algunos cabos o saldré de la sala peor que antes XD

    1. Ay Miya, no sabes la ilusión que me hace que te hayas leído esta reseña después de tantos años (gracias a Javi por rescatarla también ^^) a pesar de que estuviese en inglés!!

      A mí es que me gusta que me saturen con información, sobre todo si es todo tan lírico y preciosista (y si la información es, al menos en parte, verídica claro). El autor se queda súper ancho después de haber dibujado lo que le ha dado la gana xD

      Miedo me da tu opinión sobre la peli porque es todavía más sinsentido que el manga, que ya es decir...