Monday, December 13, 2010

Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi

Children of the Sea Review

For our manga we chose to read Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi. We liked the novel as a whole for its beautiful pictures and mysterious storyline but as a whole we felt the novel felt slow due to the fact that it is merely the introduction to the series where it introduces the plot line.

The Children of the Sea is about a rough tomboy girl who has trouble making friends, who meets two unique children, Umi and Sora, and uncovers a few mysteries of the sea, revolving around glowing lights and “ghosts of the sea”. The manga begins with a woman on a boat telling her grandchildren a story. We assume that the woman is Ruka, since she states that she is in her story and immediately following after we follow around Ruka on her adventure. In the beginning of the story we learn more and more about Ruka. She is very passionate about Handball, but in the very beginning of the story she is kicked off of her team because she pushes another girl after the girl had stepped on her foot. She is very distant to her mother, although her mother is the only parent that she lives with, which is shown through the rarity of her mother’s face appearing in the comic, although Ruka does talk with her mother a few times, and how Ruka talks about her mother. After Ruka is kicked off of her Handball team, she decides to go to Tokyo to see the sea, where she meets Umi, with whom she begins to make a close connection. Ruka’s father learns of her scuffle at Handball and offers her to work with him at the aquarium as a “punishment” for getting in trouble. Umi is often at the aquarium, and so Ruka sees him more often. Umi’s guardian is a man by the name of Jim Cusak, who shows up many times throughout the volume after Ruka’s meeting with Umi. Jim has been searching for people who think the same way as him, Umi and Sora, who we meet in later chapters. Ruka thinks the same way as them and also has shared a similar experience where she met a “ghost of the sea.” We learn that Umi, along with his brother Sora that we meet in later chapters, was raised by Dugongs. They adapted to their life when they were young. They became excellent swimmers and sensitive to sunlight (the sun dries them up, so they need to immerse themselves in water often). Another mystery that we learn is the unexplained glowing lights that appear on Umi and Sora when they swim in the sea. Spotted fish are attracted to Umi and Sora when they swim in the sea and eat glowing lights that fall from Umi and Sora. We come to believe that there is a connection between Umi, Sora, the mysterious disappearing fish, and the glowing lights. This mystery will most likely be further explored in subsequent volumes.

Children of the Sea Volume 1 can be considered a haunting manga. The narrative style makes this story seem like another world, mysterious, and hard to put down. The book starts with a mysterious woman wearing shades and a hat on an unknown boat in the middle of the sea. She starts the book with “I’m going to tell you a story about the sea”. This is the opening of the actual story. The reader is hearing the story of the mysterious woman. The mysteriousness of the woman is quickly captivating and the reader is suddenly drawn into the book. The story is told is chronological order except for the few excerpts where random people tell their stories of the mysteriousness of the sea. These excerpts indirectly answer the questions concerning Umi and Sora’s past. The different panel transitions used in the book brought a lot of closure to throughout the book. Closure is the logical assumptions that the reader makes between panels. It’s how we connect panels in the reader’s mind. Action – to – action and subject – to – subject are the two most popular transitions in Children of the Sea, Volume 1. Action – to – Action features a single subject during their progression of actions between panels. This type of transition brings about the most closure. (McCloud 70) Subject – to – Subject transition is when the scene or idea remains the same but between each panel a new character or object is the focus. (McCloud 71) Overall the narrative style of Children of the Sea really emphasizes the mysterious nature of the sea but overall, the novel.

Perhaps the most engaging part of this manga though is not the narration of the story itself, but instead the drawing found in the panels. The artist found in Children of the Sea is stupendous. Daisuke Igarashi combined a classical manga style with more realist elements. The background and people are something not common to either western or eastern comics. The background is both extremely detailed and extremely unique. Due to this manga’s focus on marine life, we see a lot of intricate drawing of different animals. Even pages that in most comics are simply there, such as the copy write page and page before the title page, have hidden treasures on them. Daisuke Igarashi adds delicate drawing of marine life and the sea on these pages which really showcases the beauty of the work he is drawing. We especially appreciated the table content which was made to look like an old map of the sea, complete with drawings of sea dragons. This style creates a world as soon as the reader opens the book, even though Igarashi’s strokes are short and resemble sketch marks. The lines don’t always completely connect, but they seem perfect for the novel. Even the characters seem extremely realistic. The shading and lines emphasize the difference of each character and makes them each look individual, making the story more real to the reader. The drawings as whole found in this manga are beautifully done and help create a realistic-looking world for the story. Though this manga maybe slow and doesn’t have a concrete plotline, the drawings and character development still creates a world of mystery and intrigue.

In conclusion, we can see the Children of the Sea is an original piece. The story is one which readers can easily be absorbed into because of its ability to lure in readers. The manga can be considered slow and doesn’t have a solid plotline but the illustrations create a beautiful work of art. Overall, Children of the Sea is a book that must be read.

Works Cited

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, 1994. 70 - 71. Print.

By: Haley Ramirez, Saniya Rattan, Monica Kozbial

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...

Your review explores the mysteries and secrets of Igarashi's manga in its long, detailed summary. The subsequent comments on closure seem unconnected to your discussion of mystery and are more analytical than evaluative. Why is Igarashi's use of closure distinctive enough to merit separate commentary here? I'm also a little puzzled by your claim that the first book lacks a "concrete plotline." Your initial summary would seem to indicate that such a plot is present. Finally, proofread a little more carefully to avoid obvious errors (e.g., 'copy write' for 'copyright' and 'table content' for 'table of contents').