Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Children of the Sea Volume 3

By Daisuke Igarashi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Ikki. Released in North America by Viz.

There's actually quite a bit going on in this volume of Children of the Sea, which surprised me as the feel of the book is that things are moving at a very slow pace. There's even flashbacks interspersed throughout, usually a sign that the author doesn't want the main characters to get where they're going quite yet. But here, it actually serves to flesh out Jim and Anglade, in preparation for future events.

I have the say, the more I see of Anglade, the less I like him. He's really coming off as a creepy guy, both in the flashbacks where Dehdeh points out that he'll be nothing but trouble to the current arc where he cheerfully wonders if Ruka will die, he's a character designed for ambiguity. And I actually feel a little bad for Jim, who spends most of the volume getting trashed for not thinking big enough and not doing enough. I'm still not entirely sure who 'the good guys' are here.

Well, we can always call Ruka one of the good guys. Maybe. She's still the audience identification character, which is bizarre considering everything she goes through in this book. After the climax of the last book she's still not quite all there, though she's convinced she has to go out to the sea with Anglade and Umi. (I swear, I'm starting to feel bad for her parents. Living with Ruka must drive them nuts.) She gets several stunning sequences where she's just swimming through the water looking at the ocean life, including one from the perspective of 'her soul' that's both stunning and intensely creepy.

She's still fascinated by Umi, but he's not quite himself either this chapter, having seemingly forgotten about Sora. Things aren't helped by Anglade, who makes Ruka doubt whether anything Umi feels for her is real or just in her head. (That said, there's a fantastic shot of Ruka and Umi on the boat holding hands that's really quite sexy. Ruka looks almost post-coital.) Of course, Ruka's need to understand Umi is the plot of Children of the Sea, so no doubt we will see more of this in the future, assuming she survives the cliffhanger. Well, OK, we saw her as an adult in the beginning of the series... way to spoil, Igarashi-san!

Much as I love the mood of this manga, and the art style, which is very distinctive, I have to admit that my eyes sometimes glaze over at the science. But I think that's merely my own disinterest rather than any fault on the part of the author. Certainly when the plot turns to mythology, such as the description of the world towards the end, the images evoked are riveting. I also enjoyed the cantankerous Dehdeh, introduced here, though I hope she'll avoid becoming the standard 'wise woman' from so much other media.

Really, I'm not sure it's possible to read Children of the Sea per se. You just have to let it wash over you and engulf you in its story. Like Ruka, we're trying to figure it out, fascinated and scared by some of the things we see... and trying not to drown. Haven't drowned yet, though, but I'll get another chance with Volume 4, which I eagerly await.

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