Marin and her younger sister Urin are seafolk who happen upon something quite strange: a beautiful silver ring lost beneath the waves. The kind-hearted Marin, intent on returning it to its owner, drags a reluctant Urin along with her to the sky world despite reminders of a turtle elder who left for the surface and never returned. After locating the ring's owner, Kanon Miyamori, they learn that Kanon had tossed it into the sea after her boyfriend dumped her earlier that day.
Though Marin insists that such a lovely item should not be thrown away, Kanon discards it once again. As they search for the ring, Urin becomes separated from the other two and accidently breaks the seal on a stone coffin, releasing an evil being known as Sedna. Sensing Sedna's release, the formerly missing turtle elder, Matsumoto, reveals himself to Kanon and her companions, naming Marin as the Priestess of the Sea. Together with the Priestess of the Sky, she has the power to seal Sedna away again. And as luck would have it, during an encounter with one of Sedna's minions, Kanon discovers that she is the Priestess of the Sky. Though Kanon is hesitant, she and Marin decide to work together to save the world from the evil that threatens it.
Man's relationship with the sea has always been one of awe and fear. Awe from its immensity and depth; fear from its power. Because we cannot explore it easily its mysteries that captivated our ancestors still resonate even today despite our technological advancements and control of our surface environment. Umi Monogatari ~Anata ga Itekureta Koto~ tells the tale of two worlds fated to be apart but still must coexist as part of the same planet.
Umi Monogatari's story is part magical adventure and part romance. Marin and Urin are mermaid sisters from the sea world. One day they discover a
ring that has fallen from the sky world and they resolve to go to the surface to return the ring to its owner. They don’t know that the ring was thrown into the sea by the heartbroken girl Kanon, who has just broken up with her boyfriend. Marin soon finds Kanon and returns the ring but she is unwilling to accept it back. Through these actions, a dark power is accidently awoken and both Marin and Kanon discover their secret destinies.
I was quite satisfied with the way the story unfolded overall. Unlike a lot of similar series the show manages to stay on task for every episode and not devolve into a series of filler and service episodes only to return to the main story near the end. There aren’t any "Marin and Urin go to school" or "Mermaids at the Hot Springs" episodes which I found quite refreshing. For the most part the story is told at a very relaxed and pleasant pace. There isn’t a lot of action though so I suspect some people will find its pacing to be boring at times. However, I felt there was a lot of powerful and complex drama, particularly near the end that kept me interested throughout. While not all of this necessarily works it was still quite enjoyable. The ending was also satisfying and complete, wrapping up all of the important story elements.
Marin and Urin are both sweet and likable girls. They are naive to the surface world’s ways though perhaps not as much as they probably should have been. We get a decent amount of back-story on the relationship between the two sisters and their past but it still doesn’t feel like you really know them that well. Towards the series climax the drama surrounding them is much more compelling and powerful.
Kanon feels like the most emotionally deep character in the series. She is a bit of a dark character, especially when compared to someone like Marin who is full of love and energy. Kanon is a girl who wants to be liked but just doesn’t know how to show it to people. Often what she does show is the opposite of what she feels and leads people to have the wrong impression about her. She’s referred to quite a bit as "evil" which I found a bit strange. Perhaps it is something that just can’t be translated well because she’s not an evil person. Her character grows tremendously over the series as she is able to overcome some of her emotional scars and accept and receive love as well as return it.
The supporting cast is very well done. The story does a nice job of making many of them fairly deep and interesting while keeping their actual screen time to a minimum to focus on the main storyline. Kojima specifically, as he appears briefly in the first half of the series, he doesn’t speak and he is seen through Kanon's perspective. So by the time we actually see him talking, the audience will have her view about him. Though we find that Kanon's viewpoint is skewed from the truth do to her own personality quirks. For a character that probably had less than 15 minutes of screen time through the entire anime he left quite an impression.
As a villain I found Sedna to be intriguing. Despite not having a physical form, she is a terrifying presence. Mainly because you can relate to that dark inner voice that everyone hears from time to time. She remains suitably mysterious throughout until the truth of her existence is finally revealed.
Visually Umi Monogatari is very beautiful. Both the surface and sea worlds are lovely and the magical effects and action are gorgeously animated. The character designs are also cute and realistically proportioned. I think my favorite piece of animation though was the EN theme which was just completely adorable and matched the song perfectly. The OP theme is a bit sleepy but I thought was very fitting as an introduction to each episode.
I enjoyed this series quite a bit and would give it my recommendation. Though I suspect it will not necessarily appeal to everyone due to it's pacing and lack of action. If you are in the mood for a relaxing series with good drama and romance and some lite action, then you should give this Sea Story a try.
Welcome back, Friends, to magical girl month. We've looked at Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha and Magic Knight Rayearth. This week we're going to look at a magical girl series based on a pachinko game. This is Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto, a series written by Tsukiji Toshihiko and brought to us by Zexcs, the same studio that brought us Cheesesteak Suppository also called Aku no Hana, but I don't like to dignify that pile of excrement with the literary reference. Let's take a look at Umi Monogatari and hope that it's better than the one other work of theirs I've reviewed.
A couple of
mermaids, mermaids in this look just like humans but with pointy ears, find a ring floating down from the surface world, which they will refer to as the sky. Marin decides that they need to return it, so she takes a magic bracelet that allows mermaids to breathe in air and heads to the surface. Her little sister, Urin, accompanies her because Urin doesn't trust the people in the sky. They find out that the ring belonged to a girl named Kanon, who threw it away because she'd just broken up with her boyfriend, who gave it to her. Kanon gets annoyed and throws the ring away again, this time into the forest. While searching for it, Marin and Urin split up and Urin opens a strange casket-like box, not realising that an evil entity named Sedna. Wait... their villain is named after the Inuit Goddess of the sea and marine life? That seems like a strange choice to name your villain after. A stone turtle statue then comes to life and tells Marin that she's the priestess of the sea and she has to find the priestess of the sky so that they can reseal Sedna and save the world. Fortunately, Kanon is the sky priestess, much to the turtle's surprise given her “evil aura.”
Let's begin with an examination of the problems with the series. The big one is the romantic subplot, which bears a striking resemblance to the main romantic subplot in Mai-Hime. Both feature a guy with no personality, a romantic rival with no personality aside from her aggressive pursuit of the bland guy, and a developed female lead who easily has a thousand times more chemistry with her female “friend” than with her supposed love interest. For more accurate results add 1 to the zero chemistry she has with the guy and then multiply. It's a tedious side element that does nothing for the major story except providing something for Kanon to throw away and they could have had her throw away something related to the family business since there is a far more interesting side plot about her not wanting to be a part of that. In all fairness, it isn't a huge element in the series but it does come up often enough to qualify as a minor plot tumour. There are also some things that really aren't explained well. The big example being a mysterious woman who hangs out in the background and seems to know what's going on, but her identity, her reason for being there and what she's doing are never explained. Can we lose the tedious romance and learn what her deal is instead? I am one hundred percent certain that it would be more compelling.
There are a lot of positives too. The main story itself has some interesting turns, particularly when it comes to revelations about Sedna, and makes really spectacular use of tension, especially considering the short length. There's a lot of creativity in the series and its approach to the genre. It also has a really good sense of humour with a lot of scenes that are simply hilarious and work well.
The two leads are very interesting characters and the dynamic between them is really spectacularly done. The side characters are mixed. On one hand, you have characters like Blandy Genericson and Aggressive Rival who don't have much, if anything, in terms of personality. On the other hand, you get some really compelling characters like Urin or fun, but also fleshed out characters like Kanon's mother. Most of the side characters are, at least somewhat, interesting and serve their purpose well.
The backgrounds in this are stunning and nicely detailed. The transformation sequences are nice and short but they also look really good. The action sequences are well handled. The character designs, however, are a bit lackluster. Take the mermaids. They're like humans but with pointed ears and wearing swimsuits. Sure, you could say that at least Umi Monogatari doesn't succumb to the usual cliché of giving them fish tails and seashell brassieres, but at the same time they don't replace it with anything really creative or interesting. There are also several characters, including Blandy, who just look like other character designs we've seen dozens of times with nothing to set them apart. I will give the series that some of the monster designs are nice and creative, but overall the character designs just don't stand out. They also get a bit fan-servicey at times, like having Aggressive Rival compare her breasts to Marin's after Marin's run forward in slow motion and bounced in a physics-defying fashion.
They did get some really skilled actresses for this. Kotobuki Minako (Rikka and Mugi), Horie Yui (Sarara and Manabi), & Asumi Kana (Strength) all give great performances as Kanon, Urin and Marin respectively. The big weaknesses are Sawashiro Miyuki and Toyosaki Aki, who aren't bad actresses. Sawashiro was Ginko in Mushi-shi. Toyosaki was Yui in K-on. I know that they can act really well. They just don't have anything to work with in this series since they're stuck as the two characters who have less personality than your average Raisinet, and that's combined. The music is pretty nice. It's not the best I've heard, but it's well composed and suits the scenes well.
I've already touched on the fact that Kanon has far more chemistry with Marin than she has with that guy who could easily be replaced by a Labrador, and it would only improve the series if he was, but how does that translate to actual chemistry between the two? After all, characters like that have about as much of a reaction with other characters as noble gases have with other elements. Well, the two do have their moments where they seem closer than just regular friends. There's also a mermaid named Warin who seems to have a thing for Marin. Still, these scenes are fairly infrequent and they don't actually do anything with them. So, the ho-yay factor is going to be a 4/10.
Umi Monogatari certainly has its problems. The romance is tedious and the two characters who are there exclusively for it have no personalities. The art also suffers a bit from standard character designs. Still, it is a solid series with some creative ideas, nicely executed tension a compelling story, a nice sense of humour and main characters who play off of each other very well. It is worth a watch for all of that. My final rating is going to be a 7/10. Next week we'll end magical girl month by delving into another installment of the Precure franchise.
There seems to have been a trend for -- or at least chatter about -- more mature, and often thematically "darker" takes on the magical girl genre. Arguably started by series like Mai-HiME and Nanoha in the mid-noughties, it became very prominent following the release of Madoka Magica, and has since been responded to in Yuuki Yuuna Is A Hero. While this is certainly an interesting idea to ponder, this approach runs the risk of making the story more driven by theme/symbolism needs than by in-universe setting interactions -- which was something I felt may have happened in Madoka Magica, for example.
Meanwhile, Umi Monogatari -- a lesser-known series spawned from a pachinko game, of all things -- seems to have done this idea right, perhaps rather unexpectedly.
Umi Monogatari ("Sea Story") is a 2009 magical girl series that I feel really represents best the idea of a "mature" show, especially one without the pretense that "darker" themes such as despair, philosophical quandaries, and hopelessness of the universe are what are specifically needed to make a story "mature". Instead, it derives, from its characters and setting, a thoughtfully complex yet emotionally meaningful story, and may even prompt the audience to reconsider what "light" and "darkness" mean.
Umi Monogatari is primarily a story about characters, their interactions, and their emotions. It does this not with shock value nor with too much spectacle. Instead, it focuses on those interactions and their consequences. Like you might expect, things are not exactly as they first seem, but rather than subverting tropes for for the mere sake of subversion (only questioning our presumptions about the story), the story also works those tropes in ways that form a coherent whole as well (thus providing meaningful answers to that questioning).
Umi Monogatari is also "mature" is another sense -- it might bore younger viewers. The show is heavy on details of emotion, and dialogue is quite common, as opposed to spectacle or high drama. In a similar vein, the soundtrack is often contemplative and features relatively simple instrumentation that's reused throughout the soundtrack (and I think it's largely or all on acoustic instruments, played by real people, as opposed to synths), as opposed to bombast, even when one might expect bombast. This suggests a patient and introspective approach to the story.
Overall, Umi Monogatari is an experience that connects thoughts and emotions, but is built by neither alone, instead connecting both in a way that weaves together light and darkness. At the same time, it works with some tropes typical of the genre but redirects them in ways that are well-justified by the setting and present a coherent narrative once all the pieces are revealed.
As some more interesting trivia: Umi Monogatari is set at the fictional island of Amamiko, which is based on the real-life island Amami Oshima, one of the many Ryukyu Islands that form the southern tail of Japan. The story features a number of cultural and geographic cues related to the real-life island, and the song sung by the miko seems to be in the local language called Amami.
Umi Monogatari is an interesting anime, at times it seems like a harmless "slice of life" show, with vibrant characters and pretty nice visuals. Although once the story actually starts to show its true colours, you realize the show is not as light hearted as it seems and in 12 episodes, it feels as if the same themes get used over and over and over again.
The plot is very simple, along time ago a dark entity / witch (whos name is Sedna) was sealed in the sea as well as on land, One of the characters accidently releases the seal and the 2 main characters
are forced to combat it using their "shrine maiden" powers. One problem with the plot is the themes it uses, without spoiling too much one specific character will probably annoy you to no end, and this does last until the end of the series. i felt as if the show ran out of ideas and it gets really repetitive seeing the same basic things happen..The main theme is the concept of Light vs darkness and because of it there is alot of angst and crying in this show, and in all honesty it can get pretty depressing at times, which is odd considering how light hearted the series seems to be at first. one major theme they constantly use as well to represent the the "light" is the idea of "love" but the problem is, when one problem seems to be solved and we see the characters somewhat content, almost immideatly another problem will surface, this really irritated me because the viewers dont get the time to realize what the "answer" was. There actually are a few heart warming moments in this anime but that hardly makes the plot any less boring. my last point is the plot is very obvious so dont expect a shocking plot twist or anything.
The art was fine, I didn't notice any irregularities, the animation was vibrant, colors were used well. Nothing really stood out but the anime definitely looks quite nice. my only complaint is the show looks better with its vibrant colors then when its really dark / red, and unfortunately alot of the last episodes dont have many bright colors
The music in this show was interesting, VERY relaxed, nothing upbeat and you could probably fall asleep pretty easily to it. Even during the short fight scenes the music was still very low toned, there is a certain violin track which plays alot you will probably get tired of. Other then that the music in my opinion is anti-climatic, it does not exactly capture the emotions being shown, but thats just my opinion, im sure alot of other people like the light hearted music. I however did enjoy the insert song, the opening and the ending were also done well but i admit to skipping them both after one listen
Urin: will inevitably annoy you , i will be shocked if someone actually liked this character as she is ridiculously frustrating to watch. Although you can somewhat sympathize with her i just thought she was annoying throughout the entirety of the show. I absolutely despised her
Marin: one of the 2 shrine maidens, the one who lives in the sea basically. Pretty light hearted, shes rather hard to dislike but she has her moments where you feel like giving her a "reality check" shes a pretty believable character actually. my only complaint is how oblivious she is in the beginning and how near the end she goes into a depressive cycle.
Kanon: she gets the most character development, if there was a character i preffered it would probably be hers since shes believable,. She basically goes from always wanting to be in isolation to the complete opposite, but the reasoning behind it is nonsensical, she apparently has a dark aura and is "evil" and thats why people stay away from her.. forgiving that ridiculous character trait, her friendship with Marin is actually done well, so i enjoyed her as a character.
Others: there are a few other characters in this series, there is Kanon's love interest who she thought dumped her but in reality she misunderstood (not too smart..) Theres Kanon's "friend" who we see like 4 times? Shes pretty pointless and doesent add much to the story. We have Kanon's rival in love who has a small arc that is actually decent to watch.. I still say the turtle is the best character in this series.
It's difficult to say rather i really enjoyed this series or not. In all honesty i really liked the beginning of the series, when they focused on the characters and their development but it was still light hearted, you knew the plot had a somewhat darker tone but it was still nice and colorful. I accepted this anime is not a "slice of life" series but a series with a little bit of everything. It has plenty of drama, some comedy in it, short spurts of action, character development, special powers. etc. unfortunately, alot of the episodes are really boring, chances are if you dont care about the characters you wont enjoy the final few episodes, personally i felt episodes 8-12 really dull and boring and i just wanted to get it over with. The anime is also extremely slow paced, takes a while for them to get over all the issues.
7/10, although i was contemplating a 6 this anime was decent. Its actually not a show i would reccomend but that does not make it unwatchable. Everyone has their own different opinions and im sure there is someone out there who loved this show. I felt as if it wasted potential. when the show turned from slice of life to serious i really didnt like the change so it effected my viewing, would i watch this series again? No definitely not, i was irritated at the characters (one in particular) and the plot was so, so. however the turtle is pretty much awesome so he contributes to the 7 :P
Since this review is purely opinionated, feel free to agree or disagree with it. If there were any spoilers it was not intentional and i apologize.