2019 was a particularly bang up year for anime films with a whole host of creators putting out their A-game material. Superstar directors Makoto Shinkai and Masaaki Yuasa both put out full-length films and Studio Trigger came out with their hit debut movie Promare. You’d think three big theatrical anime would be enough for one year but we would be in the wrong if we forgot to include Children Of The Sea in that discussion.
Whether you go the anime film or the manga route, you can’t go wrong with this modern cult classic. Children Of The Sea is a profound story about a trio of adolescents who and inextricably connected the ocean and all the life in it. Experiencing the story is nothing short of an out of body experience where you astral project yourself through the oceans of your dreams.
Manga artist Daisuke Igarashi is known for having one of the most lustrous and exquisite pen games in the medium. Studio 4°C has a rock-solid reputation for making off-kilter and unconventional anime films for a large majority of their existence. Having the two come together for an incredible theatrical film experience is a real peanut butter meats chocolate situation.
Why The Original Children Of The Sea Manga Is A Cult Classic
If you wanted to save a good 80 seconds of your life and skip the next couple paragraphs, all you would have to do is look at a single page of Children Of The Sea to know it gained such a strong word of mouth reputation in certain circles.
Daisuki Ishiwatari’s art consistently looks like it’s something out of a dream, as he strives to convey majestic spectacle and while paying key attention to how he depicts lighting in process. Despite just being black and white ink lines on paper, the entire comic has a glow to it that makes the whole thing feel alive.
Ishiwatari’s vivid art is especially fitting as Children Of The Sea is a whole meditation on the circle of life. Of course other manga new and old, from Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix to Keiichi Koike’s consciousness bending Ultra Heaven, have tried to square against these concepts before and they do a great job.
Ultimately though in Children Of The Sea Daisuke Ishiwatari brings you on a transcendental journey where you’ll be swimming alongside the most noble of whales and dolphins in deep blue seas that shine with the beauty of the night sky.
Thankfully when Viz Media started releasing the comics in the states a decade ago, they saw fit to print the title in a deluxe oversized edition that really allows the readers to sink their teeth into the art.
The Movie Adaptation Was Such A Wonderful Surprise
Before talking about the Studio 4 °C produced Children Of The Sea anime film that came out in 2019, one has to remember the manga came out from 2007 through 2012. Being an absolute masterpiece and all the comic had gained a kind of cult reputation but no one would have assumed that it would’ve gotten a stunning theatrical adaptation years later. Before we got to even see that first trailer for the movie, we were shocked to learn that it was going to exist at all.
The idea of ‘Children Of The Sea’ being animated in the first place would have been a concerning one considering how unique a work of art the manga was.
Thankfully however most of us in the know about the comic had our worries quelled with that initial trailer that dropped for the movie. Somehow, and perhaps because they’re the only animation production studio that could do it right, it seemed like the eclectic Studio 4 °C had figured out how to both capture and then make move Daisuke Ishitari’s beautiful and precise penwork.
When the film actually came out, people were pretty divided over the final work. Its lovers and naysayers both agreed the film looked spectacular, however, while some said it was the best anime film of 2019 eeking out over Ride Your Wave and Promare others found the work to be lacking substance beyond its style.
However nitpicky you want to get about the film is up to you, but we can at least agree it’s worth watching for the spectacular visuals alone and the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.
Anime We Recommend If You Need Something More To Scratch The Children Of The Sea Itch
We admit there’s not much else out there that’s like Children Of The Sea. Daisuke Igarashi’s seafaring comic was in a league of its own when it first came out and it’s something of a miracle that the surprise 2019 film was able to translate much of its magic to the big screen. However after experiencing its majesty you might be left wondering ‘gee, what exactly can I watch next? What else will come close encapsulating the beauty I just experienced?’
A good place to start when fishing for more like Children Of The Sea would be some select films from the same animation studio Studio 4 °C. Maybe the one that comes closest in all-around feeling is Tekkonkinkreet based on a manga by Ping Pong’s Taiyo Matsumoto, a meditative film about two orphaned kids who have to take drastic measures to get by in unforgiving city slums.
Another from the studio that might do the trick would be the beloved auteur Masaaki Yuasa’s film directorial debut Mind Game which takes you on a different kind of Journey.
Stepping away from Studio 4 °C, you could also look to truly classic anime films like Night On The Galactic Railroad, the Galaxy Express compilations, and the early Ghibli works like Nausicaa. These movies aren’t exactly the same but touch on some of that same wonder Children Of The Sea hit so well.