One summer vacation, Ruka meets two boys, "Umi" and "Sora," whose upbringing contains strange and wonderful secrets. Drawn to their beautiful swimming, almost more like flying, Ruka and the adults who know them are intertwined in a complex mesh...
Meanwhile, an unexplained anomaly is occurring all over the world: fish are disappearing. Thus begins a marine adventure of boys and girls to captivate all the senses!
Breathtaking and seamless animation. I'm glad they translated Igarashi Daisuke's art to the big screen pretty well. The art and the soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and I'm also a sucker for animes with the ocean/summer days/ fantasy aesthetic themes (reminded me of the anime Nagi no Asukara). Seeing it on the big screen gave me that same chest expanding feeling whenever I see amazing animation alongside moving soundtracks.
Honestly, the storyline lost me a little bit but I'm not gonna say I wasn't entertained and absorbed. I would still highly recommend for the imagery. Can't wait until it is released in English to rewatch it!
For those that are curious, this is an animated adaption from the manga with the same name, beautifully illustrated by Igarashi Daisuke. For starters, I think the film was definitely ambitious, but in honesty was all round lacking in a sense that the director could not successfully portray the clarity within the material of the original work.
STORY: (7/10) Five whole volumes of plot, filled with existentialistic concepts combining science fiction and supernatural themes, delicate portrayals of the relationship between the characters and the panoramas of sea life- all of these are condensed into a mere 111 minutes, a little less than two hours. Nevertheless,
I applaud the teams' effort in trying to follow the footsteps of the manga with their universal and surrealistic message; However, if you are a manga reader like me, I suggest that you don't keep your hopes too high that every detail would be the same. Some scenes were replaced and rewritten in order to fit in the time frame, while others, I really don't understand the choices for such replacements. I also felt that some of the more important and emotional parts were cut out as well, which really takes away the overall tone and message of the manga. (eg, Sora and Umi's backstory with Jim and Anglade, which would have provided a LOT more insight towards their relationship with one another, as well as the plot of the story).
Kaijuu no Kodomo is a free form of expression, but Ayumu Watanabe doesn't seem to be able to grasp onto what is needed in order for the film to have become successful. Overall a promising story which gradually loses it's way to mass targeting. If I had to make a comparison- the film made me think of Finding Nemo or some fantasy related ocean cartoon. I felt comfortable watching the film, and that was the problem; The ocean in the manga made me wonder, doubt, and fear the terrifying beauty of the depths of the sea, as well as the haunting panoramas of the marine life.
ART: (8/10) The character designs stayed true to Igarashi's indie, sketchy style, which I was very delighted to see. Precisions and details elaborating on the eyes of the characters give more emotional depths to our understanding of their roles within the narrative. I could also say the same to the way the ocean and the marine life had been beautifully animated, especially during the "festival" and Umi's "birth". Movements are smooth and stylistically 'wonky', yet again possessing the sentiments of Igarashi's funkiness. I'd say the minor flaw in the art was the use of CGI, which were not the best ones I've seen- it kind of takes away the mysterious feeling of the ocean when you compare it to the manga. The ocean in the film makes everything seem all too welcoming and friendly, instead of haunting and dangerous. Nevertheless, the animation is definitely something worth praising, and it's rare to see water, and movement in the water being drawn so smoothly.
MUSIC: (10/10) It's Joe Hisaishi, nothing can go wrong when it's him. He perfectly captured the oceanic vibes with his use of 'random number technique', and uses the same melody throughout important scenes, just with different variations. The brass instruments give off a more exotic feel and really captures the cultural aspects of the story, while the orchestra as a whole representing life within the sea. I am not a music expert, but his melodies never failed to provoke some emotional response within me.
CHARACTERS: (6.5/10) That being said, major characters such as Jim, Anglade (ESPECIALLY ANGLADE!) and Dede were robbed of their spotlights in the film due to the limited time. They had their defining roles, but were reduced to such labels- Jim was a scientist who merely looked after Sora and Umi, Anglade cooked dinner and did some chores, and spouted some universal nonsense under the starlights, and Dede? She repeated the same 5 lines about 10 times in the film, then drove away on a boat without contributing much to the plot. I was especially disappointed to see that they have taken away so much of Anglade's charm, since he was one of the most important and intriguing characters of the story. Like Sora and Umi, he was an outsider, he was intelligent, sophisticated and complicated- yet they have made him into a pretty insignificant person in the film, cooked some fish then left.
Likewise, Ruka's mother also did not get her backstory, which I felt would have helped a lot with explaining Ruka's natural attraction towards the water. I don't understand the reason for having Ruka's father replace Dede in the final scene when they went to rescue Ruka too. Perhaps this film focused a lot more on Ruka and her estrangement with her friends and family- but I quite liked the idea of her reconciling with the girl she knocked over in the beginning, which is anime exclusive. It somehow added another kind of sentiment and changed the narrative (in a good way), as if to relay the message that life moves on. With the people Ruka met during summer gone, it's like she was being welcomed back to her ordinary life (which in this case, you may argue that it takes away her eccentrics and the fact that she doesn't get along with everyone, but again, they're children).
I had no major problems with the three protagonists, but somehow felt that they were all lacking the charm they had in the manga- the film took all their most obvious traits (Umi and his naivety, Sora and his otherworldliness, Ruka and her curiosity) and made them kind of one dimensional. Ruka in particular became more taciturn in some major scenes, instead of being her usual curious self regarding the two boys who, in the film, were a lot less preoccupied with one another.
ENJOYMENT: (7 or 8/10) Again, this was a promising film considering that the manga was particularly a masterpiece. It's ambitious, it's creative, it could have created something new for the audience- but the choice of director has allowed it to lose its colour throughout the film. It's not as philosophical or complicated as the original material, but nevertheless attempts to recreate the same message in a very condensed animated version. However, I overall thought it was still quite enjoyable. For those that may find the film confusing or constantly feel like it's missing something, I really suggest that you read the manga first, as it will help you understand a lot of aspects and ideas they don't mention and explain in the film. The characters in the manga are portrayed with such raw emotions, and Igarashi miraculously writes their relationship with one another through such vertiginous depths that you can't help but love every single one of their quirks.
I do suggest the film to those that may be interested, but only if you decide to read the manga as well. Trust me, you won't regret it!
RIGHT OFF THE BAT!!! THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER FREE!!!!!!!
Not gonna lie I originally posted this review/report in a twitter thread but it's so detailed it deserves to be a review here. Due to this though, it's not in the standard review form.
Report: Children of the Sea (film)
Aaaaaaa I loved the film so so much (non manga reader)
Overall it was a very solid movie (cont. SPOILERS)
Disclaimer: this is all opinion!!! You can disagree!!! You can agree!!!
The story was easy enough to follow but I could tell they'd removed a number of other plotlines in order to fit the main story into a short 110 minutes.
The biggest example being the hinted abuse, exploitation and mistreated of Umi and Sora by the oceanographers. This missing plotline then tied in with the science of the boys' deteriorating physical condition, Joe's actions and disappearance towards the end of the film, and Anglade's relation to the happenings of the film, leaving many questions unresolved. The history of the "festival" is also left unsaid, adding more questions. Despite this, the movie still flows well and all of the things mentioned above come from my own observatory inclinations. Much is left out, but not enough to spoil the film for a non manga reader (me). The main story doesn't give quite enough information to become invested in the characters, namely the 3 leads. Sora and Umi (esp Sora) are gone almost as soon as they appear with how the film was paced. (Personal statement but Sora is a little shit and I love him for it).
Animation was above average but obviously not UBW level. The art (which is adapted well from page to screen) was the real breadwinner for this film. I will note, though, that the use of CG was done very nicely. CG is looking like the next big step in anime and this film is definitely a shuffle forward. That being said it could be thanks to the art and its compatibility to the medium.
It must be said that the artwork and style of the film is absolutely breathtaking. The last 30 minutes of the film showcase some of the most gorgeous, detailed art I've ever seen in the medium, and I'd dare say that Children of the Sea challenged Itou Junji's oceanic masterpiece Gyo more than a few times, namely the deep sea shark that is showcased.
Music (OST by Joe Hisaishi)
Hisaishi composed for greats like Spirited Away, Laputa, other Ghibli classics and This Corner Of The World (drama). Unfortunately, his composition for Children of the Sea failed to capture me like it had countless times before. This was probably due to lack of "That One Track", that one work in the OST that manages to stick with you even after you've left the theatre. The reason for this track not existing within the Children fo the Sea soundtrack is due to Kenshi Yonezu's Umi no Yuurei. Despite this, the soundtrack still serves its purpose, and quite well at that. Subtle changes in tone between land and ocean made all the difference, and really added weight to the characters' movements depending on the setting at the time and scenes where the two tones met were truly majestic.
The theme song of Children of the Sea is Umi no Yuurei (ghost of the sea) by Kenshi Yonezu, a song I've been raving about since its release before the film. You can tell Yonezu put a lot of love into the song, and its relation to Children of the Sea is undeniable with the lyrics seeming to be the words of Ruka for Umi and Sora whom she'll never "see" again, yet is forever tied to.It's so hard for me to not go crazy analysing Umi no Yuurei as there's so much I could talk about, but in the end I feel the best way to understand my overflowing emotions towards this song even before watching the film is to listen to it yourself. The one comment I will make it that Thank God Children of the Sea was able to live up to Yonezu's song, I was quite worried after DAOKO and Yonezu sung the theme for Fireworks (not full title), which ended up as a flop of a film, but I'm glad he wrote for such a good film.
If I had to give Children of the Sea a score out of 10, I, personally, would give it a 9/10 as it hit all my good spots but generally give it a 7.5/10 as it's heavily philosophical and symbolic, which I know peeves quite a few people.