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Manga / Children of the Sea

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Children of the Sea is a Seinen manga by Daisuke Igarashi, which ran in Monthly Ikki from 2005 to 2011. Not to be confused with the Black Sabbath song.

Ordinary grade school girl and Tomboy Ruka finds herself thrown into an increasingly bizarre quest along with two other boys, Umi and Sora. Rather than the normal summer she might have wished for, she ends up caught up in the midst of what might be a massive mythological quest involving the origins of the boys and what the sea really is. Others interested are Jim, a tattooed surfer with a mysterious past, as well as Anglade, a young prodigy and scientist. Along with a lot of the scientific community at large, they seek to find out why aquariums around the world are losing fish under strange circumstances, as well as the other unique phenomena the boys appear to be causing.

Children of the Sea is replete with a lot of Scenery Porn and a strong environmentalist theme. Apart from Witches, this is Daisuke Igarashi's first major series, and probably the only work of his English speakers are likely to be familiar with. Children of the Sea has been nominated several times for the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize and has won others, notably for its quality of art.

A film adaptation by Studio 4°C under the direction of Ayumu Watanabe and with music by Joe Hisaishi released on June 7, 2019 in Japan. GKIDS has licenced the film for release in the U.S. with plans to screen (in both Japanese and English) later in 2020, and Madman Entertainment has picked up the Australian & New Zealand rights, premiering it at the Sydney Film Festival on June 15, 2019.

Tropes present in Children of the Sea:

  • Ambiguously Brown: Umi, especially when compared to his brother. Turns out they aren't blood-related, though how they ended up together is a mystery.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Sort of. Used with Sora and Umi to further show their otherness.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Ambiguous example as it never specifies if it’s platonic or romantic. As Umi’s physical body is turning into cosmos and is being eaten by fishes, Ruka swims towards him and begs him to take her with him so they can always be together.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The anime movie. The festival succeeds and produces a healthy amount of fish for the fishers, but Sora and Umi are both gone with the former dying before the festival took place and Umi sacrificing himself for Ruka. While Ruka is still sad about her friends dying, she presumably apologizes and befriends the girl whose nose she broke, she becomes a big sister, and she retains her memories of Sora and Umi.
  • Caught in the Rain: In a non-romantic sense, Ruka and a seagull that might be Sora.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The movie provides a rather bizarre and magistral example. As much as every character was almost completely deprived of all the immense backstory that was given to them in the manga, all the characters are still present in the plot at the more or less their most significant points...although with nigh to zero explanation as of why they are there or sometimes of who they even are. The result is a movie whose characters seem to enter and exit the action with barely to almost no connection with each other whatsoever, rendering it practically a Random Events Plot.
  • Creepy Child: As mostly benevolent examples, both Sora and Umi have elements of this, though Sora more neatly fits it. And so do the other "sea kids" we see examples of.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Umi and Sora. Though the tie might be more malevolent than assumed, since those sea creatures also eat Sora.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: At a few points in the manga, we are told that a mysterious organization is spying on Sora and Umi to possibly take advantage of whatever they are trying to achieve in a non-better specified way. Apart from setting Anglade's house on fire for his decision to not tell them about the "Event", they never show up nor they have any meaningful impact on the story.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: Ruka messes up a player on a rival soccer team in a roundabout of this trope, though she isn't a little girl anymore.
  • Marriage of Convenience: in the manga Kanako hastily seduced and eventually married Masaaki as a way to escape from her family and a possible life on a secluded island. Not suprisingly, by the time the story begins, their marriage is in tatters.
  • Raised by Wolves: Sora and Umi were raised by dugongs.
  • Rousseau Was Right: in a later part of the manga, Anglade gaves Jim a speech about language and animal sounds that boils down to him being convinced that humans are, or at least used to be, this.
  • Sleight of Tongue: Before he dies, Sora gives Ruka a piece of the meteorite via a kiss.
  • A Storm Is Coming
  • Tomboy: Ruka.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Sora, in spades.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Sora has very little time left before he dies. Jim tries to ensure he lives long enough for the festival to happen, but his time is shorter than anticipated.