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Ocean Awe

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♫"See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me!"♫

This is the tendency for people to long to see the ocean in person, and admire it when they do, especially for the first time. Something about its vastness and majesty causes people to be inspired by it.

This trope doesn't actually have to apply to an ocean; any large body of water, such as a sea or large lake, will do. A good rule of thumb might be water extending to the horizon.

Can overlap with Scenery Porn, and Watching the Sunset. Often found on the Beach Episode.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is a major theme in Attack on Titan, where humanity only managed to escape extinction at the hands of the Titans, a race of man-eating giants, by hiding within skyscraper-sized walls. In their childhood, the main characters managed to find a rare book that spoke about the outside world including the ocean, and one of their dreams is to defeat the Titans so that they can see the ocean for themselves. They eventually make it (turns out they live on an island), but Eren is the only one who can't enjoy it, because all he sees is the last barrier standing between them and their enemies — the rest of the world.
  • GUN×SWORD has an episode "Thank You Ocean" where captain Kaiji really really likes the briney blue. Earlier in the series, Wendy also displays some awe of the ocean in "Light My Fire." Van, naturally, is unimpressed.
  • Discussed in Blue Gender; Kaido's Satellite Love Interest for an episode or two mentions never having seen the sea, Kaido describes it in comparison with the nearby lake and promises to show her one day. He runs to be back with Marlene within the same episode.
  • Tigre in Lord Marksman and Vanadis was in so much awe of seeing the ocean for the first time that he was just wordlessly standing there for 30 whole minutes just admiring it.
  • In Fate/Zero, this is a major motivation for Rider Alexander the Great. In life, he conquered his way across Asia because he wanted to see the Pacific Ocean, but he died before he got all the way there.
  • Briefly touched upon in the third episode of Dragon Ball where Goku sees the sea for the first time. Given that he'd only lived in the mountains and the largest body of water he'd seen before that was a river, it's an understandable reaction.
  • Used a lot in Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish and a driving force in building the relationship between Josee and Tsuneo, particularly in the opening scene where Tsuneo is diving and taking pictures of fish and Josee's visit to the aquarium with Tsuneo.
  • In One Piece, there are a lot of Scenery Porn seascapes. In fact quite a lot of the pirates chose piracy in the first place because they love the sea.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • Rico finds The World Is Just Awesome due to his previous existence as a bedridden hospital patient before being given his cyborg body, but finds the ocean particularly fascinating. When the Social Welfare Agency is shut down and the research department is transferred to a vessel offshore (presumably for legal reasons) he's overjoyed.
    • Claes used to go fishing with her handler on the many lakes of Northern Italy, but the memory has been wiped from her mind by the Agency. At one point in the manga, she's taken to Lake Maggiore and spends a long time sitting on a pier looking out at the water, unable to comprehend why the sight affects her so much.

  • In The Legend of 1900, Max meets a guy who talks about seeing the ocean for the first time and hearing it scream (metaphorically) that the world is immense. Later, he meets the man's daughter, and she seems to think similar things about the ocean.
  • The very timid Ninny in The Invisible Child by Tove Jansson is terrified of the sea for the reasons other characters would be awed.
  • In Blast from the Past, Adam (who has been living in a fallout shelter for 30 years and has only just come up into the sunlight) has what might be described as a religious experience when he finally sees the ocean.
  • An ongoing theme for Red during the last half of The Shawshank Redemption.
    I wish the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

  • Anabasis: One of the earliest examples when the Ten Thousand (the army of Greek mercenaries fighting their way through hostile Persian territory) reach the Black Sea: the Black Sea was dotted with Greek colonies, meaning that the worst of the Ten Thousand's troubles were over.
  • In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, this is subverted when two old ladies see the ocean for the first time. "It's not as big as I was expecting", says one.
  • In the novel A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, neither the main character nor the titular best friend have ever seen the ocean, so they have plans to go together. Then the best friend, well, dies, and the main character decides she's going to take her friend's ashes and go see the sea anyway. I don't remember whether there was awe, but the longing part was a major plot point.
  • ½ Prince: True for Kenshin, even though Kenshin, being an NPC, hasn't even heard of the concept of the ocean, and the ocean he stares longingly at once he finally gets there isn't real.
  • Hive Mind (2016): The first time Amber's unit sees the sea, they're all (except for Rothan, who has seen it before) completely overwhelmed by just how huge it is. They've grown up and lived almost their entire lives inside an Arcology, and the largest room they'd ever been in is a very large indoor wave pool that they call a "beach".
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Fall of Gondolin: Tuor reaches the west coast of Middle-Earth and has to watch the Great Sea for the first sea, becoming in love with it.
      In this way Tuor passed into the borders of Nevrast, where once Turgon had dwelt; and at last at unawares (for the cliff tops at the margin of the land were higher than the slopes behind) he came suddenly to the black brink of Middle-earth, and saw the Great Sea, Belegaer the Shoreless. And at that hour the sun went down beyond the rim of the world, as a mighty fire; and Tuor stood alone upon the cliff with outspread arms, and a great yearning filled his heart. It is said that he was the first of Men to reach the Great Sea, and that none, save the Eldar, have ever felt more deeply the longing that it brings.
    • The Fall of Númenor: When Aldarion was taken out on his first sea voyage by his grandfather Vëantur, he became completely enamored with the beauty of sea and the strange coasts and lands.
      As he came to the top of the great bluff that stood out from the land and sheltered the haven from the north, he turned and looked back over the sea. A west wind was blowing, as often at that season, beloved by those who had a mind to sail to Middle-earth, and white-crested waves marched towards the shore. Then suddenly the sea-longing took him as though a great hand had been laid on his throat, and his heart hammered, and his breath was stopped.
  • Most of David Eddings' works feature a moment of this. He also put something of a twist on it in The Malloreon, when the main characters are being chased by the Raveners. When they reach the seaside, the ghoulish creatures immediately retreat, because, supposes Belgarath, "they're afraid of the one thing that's hungrier than they are."
  • The first chapter of Moby-Dick is largely a speculation on the fascination for the sea.
    Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
  • Brian Jacques uses this in a number of the Redwall books. High Rhulian, Legend of Luke and Pearls of Lutra probably make the most of it. Also used by the same author in the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman trilogy. Pirates, Greek sailors, slaves and monks in The Angel's Command and Voyage of Slaves all have their share of ocean gazing moments. Subverted, Ben and Ned have a special relationship with the brine too. It's probably relevant that Brian Jacques worked as a merchant sailor before settling down as a writer.
  • An old Fremen in Dune Messiah, a man who came from a planet devoid of any kind of rain or surface water, was, by his own words, healed of the Jihad by the sight of the ocean. This is, however, a rather ambiguous example: no longer drawing a sense of purpose from Jihad, he was left with a profound resentment towards Muad'Dib for upturning the old order of things that the Fremen was nostalgically pining for.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In Warrior Cats: The New Prophecy, the four chosen ones and their two partners set out to see the ocean to fulfill their prophecy. They are all impressed when they finally get there.
    • From the third series onward, many young cats are excited to see the lake for the first time after having only been told about it before, and are suitably impressed when they do. Subverted in The Fourth Apprentice, when the lake is nearly dried up due to one of the rivers feeding it being blocked during a drought, and Dovepaw can't believe that this large puddle is what everyone's been talking about.
  • Played with a bit in Passage (volume three of Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series). A desire by the various characters to see the ocean is a major plot point, and everyone is duly impressed when they finally make it; in the end, however, they decide they mostly prefer the river. Whit (the female protagonist's younger brother) in particular agrees that the sea "sure is impressive" but finds it a little too big; by contrast, he was practically ecstatic with joy when he got his first look at a big river.
  • Subverted in Animorphs with Rachel. While not exactly afraid of the ocean, she hates going in there, because it's an enemy she can't fight or intimidate. It's just there, and will kill her without even noticing.
  • Black Man. People returned to Earth from Mars get a Thousand-Yard Stare whenever they see any body of water larger than a puddle.
  • Watership Down. Bigwig is fascinated by the seagull Kehaar's stories of the Big Water, though like all the rabbits he has trouble grasping the concept. The rabbits do have a similar awe when encountering a large river for the first time.
  • The Immortals: Daine, who has spent most of her life in mountains far inland, is briefly struck speechless with awe when she sees the ocean for the first time in Wild Magic. A friend who grew up in a fishing village and is used to the sight gives her some gentle teasing over it.
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: Decades at sea haven't diminished the awe Amina feels for the ocean as a natural wonder and a place of adventure. She finds that prayer has a special poignancy there, since sailing is itself an act of faith for her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Homicide: Life on the Street, Detectives Pembleton and Ballard take a crack dealer who has witnessed a murder to Chesapeake Bay in order to convince him to come forward. He believes that he's looking at the ocean, and while Pembleton insists on correcting him, the sight gives him a new perspective, and he helps the squad.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Thirty Days", the ship encounters an ocean literally floating in space as a giant ball of water. (Some Precursors had separated it from its planet for unknown reasons.) It inspired a group of aliens to make a home there, and it stirs up Paris's childhood fantasies of being a sailor.

  • From Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance"
    I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean...
  • The "Sea Symphony" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, an awe-inspiring choral symphony based on poems by Walt Whitman.
  • La Mer by Claude Debussy, a three-part tone poem showing the sea in three moods: From dawn to noon on the sea; play of the waves; and dialogue of the wind and waves.
  • "Four Sea Interludes" by Benjamin Britten. They were originally written as incidental music for his opera Peter Grimes, and later combined into a concert piece. They are: Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight, and Storm.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: While on a boat-ride out at sea, Ayane acts ecstatic seeing the ocean through her paipai drone due to her paraplegic treatment at home. In the epilogue, Ann brings Ayane to a beachside to let her see the ocean with a better view.
  • Played around with Garet in Golden Sun, who has never seen the sea. We do see his surprise once when he sees "its vastness", then again when he is told that what he saw was a (really big) lake / inland sea. Later, when the party obtains its Cool Ship, Garet says they're going to see the real ocean. Sadly, none of this shows up in the second game, because you meet again long after sea travel is a novelty.
  • This is justified to the point of a possible subversion in the game Baten Kaitos, and Baten Kaitos Origins, respectively. The characters in both of these RPGs are shocked to see the ocean because it's non-existent for most of the games, and this is a large part of the plot (hence the subtitle "Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean"). As a result, and especially in Origins, the characters thought the ocean was a myth.
  • In Dark Cloud 2, Max, who had never been out of Palm Brinks before the start of the game, was awestruck at the sight of the ocean at Veniccio.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, this occurs in the Event "Dusk-colored Sophia", where Sophia silently and profoundly gazes at the dusk-tainted ocean.

    Web Comics 
  • Evan in Whispers in the Wind is a young military who, because of his various "mischieves", was punished to never sail except locked up under the deck. For someone who has the "calling of the sea" to quote his superior, it's probably even harder than not being allowed aboard at all and that's why he immediately accepts when Bailey offers him to join his pirate crew.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: Fjord deeply loves the sea. The party notes that he seems far more relaxed and happy once he's back on a ship during the Adventure on the High Seas arc. Towards the end of the campaign, he has a discussion with Jester stating that there is nowhere he feels more at home than in those waters, culminating in him swearing the Oath of the Open Sea as a paladin in service to the Wildmother.