Friday, May 29, 2009

Chapter Review: Children of the Sea, chp. 2

The story: More of Ruka's world is revealed in this chapter, titled "The Day of Thunder," from her (implied) alcoholic mother to her aquarium-working dad. She's a lonely child at best, a forgotten one at worst. Other characters are introduced, as well, including Sora and Jim, the caretaker of Sora and Umi, who was introduced in the first chapter. It seems that Jim is their legal guardian after having found the two swimming in the Philippine Sea with a group of dugongs, a relative of manatees. According to Wikipedia, "the word 'dugong' derives from the Tagalog term dugong, which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning "lady of the sea."

Reaction: This is another beautifully drawn chapter that really showcases the loneliness of Ruka's childhood. It seems that she's misunderstood by everyone and longs for people who will miss her. I also liked the introduction of Jim, a tattooed scientist who surfs in addition to taking care of Sora and Umi. We also have a momentary peek at Sora and the unexplained and peculiar relationship between Sora and Umi.

Deep thoughts: The story of Sora and Umi being raised by dugongs reminds me of the story of the founders of Rome -- Romulus and Remus, who were raised by wolves. There's an air of mystery behind these two children and I'm interested in seeing if their fate is as "spectacular" as that of the Roman founders.

Artwork: Another beautifully detailed glimpse of the sea and those living on its edges. I loved the flashes of action that Daisuke Igarashi chose to illustrate, as they distill the characters so well -- from surfing with Jim to Ruka leaving for "practice" to Umi swimming in a tank. While they're all very "real," there's a surreal feel to it because of the fleeting moments we're treated to and the underlying meaning we're yet to learn.

The verdict: Again, I haven't read enough of this to form a stronger opinion, but this story is already ranking high in my "most anticipated" list. The artwork is amazing, the storyline intriguing and the characters endearing. Children of the Sea is serialized online by Viz and can be read here.

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