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Children of the Sea, Vol. 1 Paperback – July 21, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
As a young girl, Ruka sees a fish turn into light and disappear at the aquarium where her father works, but no one believes her. Years later, the mystery of the ghost of the sea unfolds before Ruka and a pair of mysterious young boys, Umi and Sora. Both boys were raised in the ocean by dugongs and can hear the same strange calls from the sea that Ruka does. After being suspended from her handball team, Ruka becomes caught up in the boys' world, which seems to ease her feelings of loneliness. This gentle tale of oceanic adventure reveals itself slowly, building upon the inherent mystery of the sea, as the kids become involved in the worldwide mystery of disappearing fish. Igarashi creates characters that are interesting on multiple levels and relatable for both young and adult readers. The art style is simplistic and almost delicate, but it's fitting for the overall feel of the story. Igarashi is an award-winning mangaka whose work is much in the mood of Miyazaki, and this nature-centered tale shows why. (June)
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*Starred Review* When she was little, Ruka saw a ghost at the aquarium—a fish that disappeared in a wave of light—but no one would believe her. Now that she is a teen, fish are disappearing from aquariums all over the world and mysterious children are found living in the oceans. Together with two such children, Umi and Sora, Ruka begins to wonder how all of the clues are connected. Just what is the sea trying to tell them? This oversize manga mostly sets the scene for the series, but that doesn’t make it any less striking. Ruka is a strong main character, caught between being a child and becoming a woman, and between a father who loves her but left her anyway and a mother who isn’t cut out for parenthood. Igarashi’s storytelling is quiet, thoughtful, and thought provoking, but it is his drawings that make this manga so amazing. Extremely detailed settings turn panels into mini-masterpieces, and the ocean scenes are so vivid that readers will feel that they are underwater themselves. VIZ’s handsome packaging does justice to Igarashi’s stunning work, making this a beautiful, must-have addition to any graphic-novel collection. Grades 7-12. --Snow Wildsmith
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I can appreciated the art and the story of "Children of the Sea" although I could not enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed and savored. As I was reading the book backwards, and reading the panels right to left, I'm sure that more than once I read the panels out of order. Silly me, but I really wanted to read it from left to right.
Plot: I am used to more words in the stories I read. I was too anxious to get to the story, to get answers, that I read as fast as I could. Not a great thing.
The first half of the book builds up the story-line. I prematurely gave it 3 stars. The last half was more interesting and so I gave it 4 stars.
--The last page of the book basically says that this story (part 1) was just to build up to the real story: in the next book! I already have the second book so if I ever want to figure out what is going on I'll have to read the next book.
The story in "Children of the Sea" has a surreal tone. The setting is a small but normal coastal community. The supernatural occurrences fit right into the natural world, and this lends them a sense of realism. It's the kind of magic you might expect to find in the real world, if you only knew where to look. The pacing is a little slow, but this is one case where it's appropriate. It reflects the lazy summer days of a small sea-side community, far removed from the bustle of modern life.
Igarashi's art is simple but beautiful with its thin, strait lines. It's a little rough in places, but the sketchy feel of it gives it a careless, natural feel. The environments are heavily atmospheric, and I love the way Igarashi depicts the small coastal town Ruka lives in. There are empty beaches alongside highways, showing nature and civilization existing side by side. The underwater scenes are beautiful, with good lighting effects and detailed marine life. I especially liked the rough, oldish feel of the town with its small wooden buildings and traditional shops. It has a rustic atmosphere, a place inhabited by humans but still in touch with the natural world.
The character designs match this tone. They look more like real people than the thin, big-eyed characters of most manga. They dress casually in simple school uniforms and T-shirts. The characters' personalities show in the artwork, especially in the eyes. In one glance you can see Ruka's quiet nature, Umi's cheerfulness, and Sora's sharp intelligence and awareness.
The characters themselves are realistic and likable. Ruka is a tomboyish girl who has always had problems making friends. She tends to be agressive, but part of her problem is that she just doesn't know how to relate to other kids. Although it's never stated, you can tell that she's different from her peers. She's a little lonely, but she's thoughtful and knows how to be alone. Ruka loves nothing more than running and playing, which makes her feel like she's flying. Umi and Sora are similar to Ruka. Umi is more cheerful and Sora more mature (and sarcastic), but you get the feeling that the three of them are similar. They are all outsiders with a keen awareness of the natural world around them.
Viz has done a top-notch job on the publication. This is a thick, over-sized volume. It has a sturdy, textured soft-cover with inside flaps. The color artwork in the beginning is included, and the paper is higher quality than that of most of Viz's other publications.
"Children of the Sea" is a surreal, atmospheric manga. It's got an original plot, interesting characters, and fine artwork. It's a thoughtful tale that reminds us of the things we might hear if we'd only stop to listen.