Children Of The Sea

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Children Of The Sea
"There are some things in this film that it's better not to think too hard about."

Ever since Ruka (voiced by Mana Ashida) was tiny, she's felt an affinity with sea creatures. All the fish seem to come up to greet her when she visits the aquarium where her father works. She's been spending a lot more time there recently, since her parents divorced. Life has been tough - but it's about to get a lot stranger. When she meets two boys who have been raised by dugongs, Ruka becomes caught up in a mystery that could affect the future of all life on Earth.

Yes, you read that right. Raised by dugongs. There are some things in this film that it's better not to think too hard about - or not to think about at all. Why should you put up with this? Because it's breathtakingly beautiful, with the finest underwater sequences ever animated, and thinking becomes unnecessary when you can be fully satisfied by sitting back and gazing in wonder.

Umi (Hiiro Ishibashi), is a sweet brown-skinned boy, warm-hearted and excitable, who's thrilled to have a new friend, and he and Ruka quickly become close. Sora (Seishû Uragami) is as cold as his blond hair and pale blue eyes make him look, and treats her with contempt - which means, of course, that she's fascinated by him. This triangular relationship is complicated further by two things. Firstly, the boys are dying - something about their upbringing has left them unable to cope with life on land or in the sea, and the team of scientists trying to save them don't really know where to begin. Secondly, there may be more to Ruka's mysterious sea-related powers than she realised. After the three steal a boat and head out onto the ocean together, they all become convinced that whatever is going on with the big mystery of the day - fish vanishing from their usual homes and even from aquaria - she is somehow a part of it.

There are big themes here about the cycles of nature, reproduction, death and rebirth, plus a mysterious hint from an old fisherwoman that falling in love with sea people is just one of those tings people do in that part of Japan. Expect teenage angst, heartbreak, soul-searching an mystical revelations. It's the animation that matters. Watch it on the biggest screen you can. From the play of light through water to the huge number of moving elements in each scene, the almost photo-realistic detail in many of the fish and the dazzling visual imagination at work elsewhere, it's an astounding piece of work and one that will stay with you for a long time.

Reviewed on: 01 Dec 2019
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A girl is drawn into a mystery involving sealife around the world, in which two mysterious boys are somehow involved.

Director: Ayumu Watanabe

Writer: Daisuke Igarashi

Starring: Mana Ashida, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami, Win Morisaki

Year: 2019

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Japan

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