This is a mythic land where no outsider has ever set foot. The spirit-like dwellers there, however, know us mortals well. They are responsible for human emotions and desires, for seasons, weather, the elapsing of time...
Our protagonist, a spirit girl named Chun, has just turned sixteen and goes in the form of a dolphin to explore the earthly part of the sea, to see what the human world is like. While cruising at sea, Chun gets caught in a storm and finds herself enmeshed in a fishing net. A human boy spots her and comes to her rescue, trying to free Chun from the entanglement. By accident, the boy drowns leaving Chun wretched and heartbroken.
Da Hai tells an absorbing and bittersweet story of sacrifice and redemption when Chun is determined to bring back to life the boy's soul, now in the form of a little white fish. Da Hai is about an adolescent coming to terms with her limitations, and a spirit, coming into possession of her powers [...] dealing with the difficult issues of death, love, and maturing emotions with empathy and nuance.
I made an account on here just to write a review for this, since no one else has! This is such a beautiful movie. In my opinion (and I know not many will agree with me but whatever), this by far surpasses any Ghibli movies, as well as Kimi no na wa. Of course there were a few things it could have done better, but honestly, everything was too superb for me to notice many flaws at all.
Art: 10/10. Literally so gorgeous. The vibrant colors and scenery were incredibly majestic and stunning, and the whole time I felt completely immersed. Not to mention, all of
the characters were super well done. The men were really attractive, which is a plus for me, but in general -- everyone had their own little quirks about them instead of being bland and repetitive.
Animation: 9/10. I would give it a 10/10, just for being so smooth and extremely well done, but the use of cgi at some points was a bit annoying. Even so, the studio still managed to meld it together without it being too standoffish. It was unique, if anything, so I had almost no problems with it.
Story/Plot: 10/10. I might be sounding super biased, but honestly, I've never seen such a well done plot revolving around reincarnation, and the concept of life. It's perfect to me, and because I was raised around this type of belief, it really hits home to see something depicting it in such a way.
Voice acting: 8/10. There were some parts - especially towards the beginning of the movie where I was not yet used to the voices - that I felt the emotions were not being portrayed as powerfully as they should have been, and were lackluster. But overtime I was able to adapt quickly to it, and throughout the movie it almost felt like the voice actors themselves grew, as I was hearing much more depth in the tones they were taking on. I did, in particular, really enjoy Chun's older voice. Very wise sounding (as she should be, after all she went through).
Soundtrack: 10/10. I loved it. It's not too over the top, yet still very impactful. There were no scenes where I felt that the ost was out of place.
Characters Development: 8/10. I didn't see much of this with Chun, honestly. She seemed to stay the same throughout the whole movie, and I didn't feel like she grew very much. Qiu, on the other hand, went through a heck of a lot of development. He was somewhat selfish at first, caring more about what would happen to Chun than listening to what Chun herself actually wanted, and then ended up sacrificing quite a bit for her wishes nearer to the end.
Overall: Deep storyline, beautiful message, and lots and lots of much appreciated heartwarming feels. To me, it was perfect, and I will most definitely be re-watching this again.
*This review contains minor spoilers for the sake of humour*
China strikes again!
But seriously, there are more and more Chinese animations that are coming out lately and managed to capture an overseas audience which is pretty interesting to see to say the least. So we really should find a better one word representation of this because “Chinese Cartoons” is 1 word too many for my mouth. That aside, let’s actually get on with the review.
We are going to start with sound because ear-gasms are apparently a thing. The music and sound effects are really well done and are used perfectly; melding together the
art, characters and story into a piece of stunning visual entertainment. Suffice to say, without this the movie would definitely not be as spectacular as it could have been. Also the movie is dubbed in Mandarin Chinese, so if you really picky with your dubs, then you are going to miss out for sure.
The animation is great, there is no doubt about that. However, some parts of the movie is CG (like one object in one scene) which might put you off the magnificent art style and animation if you are a hardcore “ALL CG IS BAD CG” fan. Character design is also unique, since it is a fantasy film expect to see many different Chinese mythological creatures (many nekos).
You shall meet three mains: 1 male, 1 female, 1 dolphin; let gender equality reign (unfortunately no apache attack helicopters in this film, since the setting isn’t in the modern world).
Female main is called Chun (not cousins with Chun Li), and the story is told through her point of view for most part of the movie.
Male-chan is called Qiu (good luck pronouncing that), and he will be accompanying Chun in her endeavours.
Dolphin-kun is called Kun (no seriously, I’m not lying), 他 is the drive of the plot of the film, so fairly important.
Now the development of the characters is not bad, particularly Qiu undergoes monumental changes from one end of the spectrum (cheeky and selfish) to the other (selfless and super saiyan) in the name of 爱. Chun on the other hand doesn’t change very much which is not surprising if I’m honest since there really isn’t too much of her to change. Kun is a dolphin, that’s ample development.
One last thing before moving on though, the side characters do what they needed to do, none of them were there to “fill the numbers” and all of them has a particular personality associated with them. Chun’s granny is a phoenix for goodness sake!
Ah, the minor pitfall of this movie.
Generally the plot flows, with powerful themes of life, death, love, reincarnation, family, rebellion… as well as philosophical questions like how much are you willing to lose to gain a certain thing. However, some parts of the film was slightly confusing, as it would make you question “why?” or “how?” or “wait, what?” but these don’t detract you from the entire plot point and many are explained/revealed down the line, it’s just the spur of the moment confusion might put some of you off the plot a minute or two. This is coming from a person who understands Chinese to enough of an extent that don’t use the subs so the effect might vary depending on your viewing experience.
All in all though, the plot made sense in the end and it does make you question your existence.
It’s a very stunning looking piece of visual and auditory entertainment. There are only a few minor chips and dents in the plot but otherwise everything is great. It might take you a bit of time to understand everything fully but it is well worth your time to watch it.
Da Yu Hai Tang is like a Ghibli film, but instead of Japanese it’s Chinese, instead of No-Face it’s dolphins but otherwise it’s very similar to Spirited Away and explores many deep themes. So don’t be fooled by the visuals and concept, the film definitely makes you think.
yes for some the Chinese is going to throw you off a little bit but other than that the movie is on par in animation with Ghibli movies and Kimi no na wa, garden of words etc. The story was a bit weak but many supernatural storylines tend to have such effect.
ART (10/10): one word stunning. You will be totally mesmerised by the level of detailing and the vibrant colours. The amount of work put in the art is completely visible in the incredible visual sequences. At some points you can notice CGI being used but the animators did manage to meld it in quite
well so it does not appear too standoffish.
SOUNDTRACKS(10/10): not too exceptional but no where in the movie it felt like the soundtracks were not meant for the scene.
STORY(8/10): it is a supernatural movie so to some people the story might not appeal so much and to some it may look not too well prepared and structured or given proper depth to, however the plot is well developed around the idea of rebirth.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT(8/10): the lead role didn't show much of development however one of support roles had a good growth towards the end.
overall beautiful artwork, good storyline and heartwarming. Definitely recommend watching it.