Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translation Rating: A
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 14.99
- Pages: 320
- ISBN: 9781421535418
- Size: A5
- Orientation: Right to Left
- Series: Children of the Sea
Children of the Sea Vol. #04
Children of the Sea Vol. #04 Manga Review
By Kate O'Neil
January 18, 2011
Release Date: December 21, 2010
Children of the Sea Vol. #04
© Viz Media
They say the ocean is the womb of the planet, but what exactly is it giving birth to?
Story/Art: Daisuke Igarashi
Translation/Adaptation: JN Productions
What They Say
Jim, Dehdeh and Ruka's mom finally track down Anglade's yacht, but neither the rogue scientist nor Umi or Ruka are on board. All that remains is a cryptic invitation to Jim. While Jim tries to figure out the game his ex-colleague is playing and Kanako dives into memories of her daughter Ruka, the strange sea-changes continue around the globe.
Volume 4 of Children of the Sea picks up after the cliffhanger of an ending in volume 3. Ruka has seemingly been swallowed by a whale after following Umi into the ocean. The truth of where she really is remains uncertain. The search for Ruka and Umi becomes the focus of the story for this volume, but the theme is something else altogether different.
The disappearing fish phenomena that was once rarely glimpsed by the normal public seems to have become common knowledge outside the scientific community. While the search for the kids goes on Jim and the aquarium staff continue to delve into the mystery they’ve all become a part of. All of the signs keep pointing in the same direction, and a prevailing theme becomes apparent. While the previous volume seemed to focus on death, this time it focuses on birth.
The “testimonies of the sea,” which have begun some of the chapters throughout the story so far, take a more personal turn this volume when one focuses on Ruka’s mother, Kanako. Kanako relates the story of her youth as a traditional free-diver, her meeting with her husband, and the subsequent birth of Ruka. Kanako wonders if she passed on her connection with the ocean to her daughter, and sets off on a sailboat with Dehdeh to find her.
Kanako isn’t the only flashback in this volume. Several chapters detail a research trip Jim, Anglade, Umi and Sora took to the antarctic six years earlier. At this point the conversation turns highly metaphysical and underneath all of the pontificating lies a power struggle between two different schools of thought. Self-centered Anglade seems to be on the side of nature and letting it take it’s course. Jim, who is still struggling with guilt from a previous encounter with a child of the sea, looks at everything from a scientific and human viewpoint. The always enigmatic Sora chooses not to pick a side, instead choosing to watch both sides play out.
At breaks between the present and the past we only catch bits and pieces of what Ruka is experiencing. In these moments of quiet she drifts among the sea life and watches as strange events play out around her, trying to make sense of it all.
Children of the Sea falls further into elements of fantasy as the story progresses. The sketchy artwork evokes research notes and continues to add to the dreamlike quality of the story. Often it’s impossible to tell what part is dream and which parts are real. I can’t help but be reminded of the work of James Cameron, the story evokes elements similar to the Abyss and Avatar. The metaphysical dialogs are beginning to wear thin, and even though the story is clearly moving toward something profound, it’s getting dangerously close to becoming pretentious. Even so, I’m curious as to how this whole thing is going to resolve itself, and as to what Umi’s ultimate fate will be.
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