Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chapter Review: Children of the Sea, chp. 1

Earlier this week, Viz launched an online U.S. version of IKKI, a seinen manga anthology. Various series will be made available on the site and successful ones will eventually see print. The first manga they've serialized is Children of the Sea.

The story: This story opens with (presumably) the adult version of Ruka, the main character, relaying her story of the sea to a young boy while they're out sailing. In the opening pages of the first chapter, "Ruka," the reader is treated to a magnificent watercolor rendering of the deep sea. In it, a former deep sea photographer shares his tale of a possible demon sighting while out on assignment.

As the story goes on, the reader meets a much younger and lonelier Ruka, starting her summer vacation. On a whim, she takes the train to Tokyo, looking for the sea. At the end of the chapter, she meets a mysterious young boy named Umi.

Reaction: When I saw the opening pages and their detail (especially the watercolored ones), I was simply blown away. It's fairly obvious the mangaka, Daisuke Igarashi, took extreme care in researching and crafting the world of Children of the Sea.

Deep thoughts: As the reader follows along on Ruka's adventure, you can almost taste the desperation of her youth, her loneliness and the simple despair of a ruined summer. Her character draws the reader's empathy as it's shown more and more what a social misfit she is.

Artwork: While the watercolored pages are stunning in their own right, the real star here is Igarashi's panels. His artwork has a sketchy quality to it, most likely from the liberal use of cross-hatching. Regardless, it imparts a sense of detail that I can only liken to old English-style botanical drawings. The bugs, the flowers and settings are all given such a lifelike, and loving, sense of detail. In so many ways, this is real treat for the eyes.

The verdict: I haven't read enough of this to give it a recommendation, but the mysterious story pulls the reader in easily and the artwork is simply a delight to behold. Unless this series takes a severe turn, I can guarantee I'll continue reading this as long as Viz keeps on putting up chapters. Children of the Sea is serialized online by Viz and can be read here.

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