Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Children of the Sea Review: A Beautifully Animated Ocean Epic

Release date: September 1, 2020 (USA Blu-Ray and Digital)
Running time: 111 minutes
Starring: Mana Ashida, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami 

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad worked. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora, who were raised by sea creatures known as dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does. As the kids get caught up in the mystery behind the sudden worldwide disappearance of the ocean's fish, they uncover cosmic connections that will change them forever.

First off, Children of the Sea is a beautiful film, with some absolutely stunning animation.  It is computer generated but has several parts that are styled to look hand drawn.  It is an interesting combination of styles and one that works for the most part.  This hand drawn aspect is taken to the extreme on close ups, where you see a lot of mimicked pencil marks and a higher level of detail.  Think Ren & Stimpy's style of having detailed close ups.  However, this is a double edged sword as the close ups also redraw the characters to have different proportions, most noticeably the eyes.  Japanese anime generally has larger than normal eyes, but the close ups make this even more noticeable.  But aside from these, you do get some absolutely breathtaking scenes, especially towards the end when the artists' imagination can really let go.  It has some amazing sequences that will likely have you holding your breath as you submerge into this sea of colors and concepts.

Like a lot of Japanese animation, Children of the Sea deals with some heavy, universal topics.  It tries to tackle some very large issues and tries to pull together individualism and the greater good, while also focusing on nature and the environment.  But it feels like this task is as vast as the ocean, and in the end Children of the Sea's task seemed a little too big for its ambitions.  The story feels like it has some holes, and some places where visuals are meant to explain the situation.  But overall it just feels like the story took on too much and did not have enough time to fully explain the concepts.  Which is a shame because the characters are interesting and well voiced.  And the ideas explored in this film are notable.  It just would have been nice if the story had lived up to the breathtaking visuals.

Children of the Sea has some amazing animation that will cause you to hold your breath as you submerge yourself into this sea of colors and concepts.

Rent it.
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