Friday, June 5, 2009

Chapter Review: Children of the Sea, chp. 3

Since Children of the Sea is going to print, regardless of its popularity in Viz's online anthology, IKKI, I will discontinue chapter reviews of this series after this post. I do plan to review this series in its print version.

The story: This chapter, "Hitodama," starts with another "testimony of the sea," or a mystery told to Daisuke Igarashi as he did his research for this series, and it really sets the tone. Following the short three-page testimony, there's another peek into Ruka's troubled relationship with her parents and a quiet moment at school in which she realizes just how lonely she is. As if sensing her isolation, Umi appears and they go off together for the arrival of a "hitodama" that he senses.

Reaction: All the sound effects in this chapter give Ruka's world another layer of depth. While reading along, I could "hear" the hollow footsteps in the school's hallway, the chirping of summer insects and the noise of desks being moved. This manga's details truly immerse the reader in the world Igarashi has created.

Deep thoughts: I had to look up the meaning of hitodama, as I wasn't familiar with the term. Evidently, "hitodama are believed in Japanese folklore to be the souls of the newly dead taking form of mysterious fiery apparitions." I'm constantly amazed at the definitive ability of Japanese language for such specific concepts -- while we simply lump hitodama in with ghosts or spirits, the Japanese language has seen fit to provide a word specifically for these apparitions.

Artwork: There's so much loving care and fine points in this manga, especially with the opening, colored pages. Igarashi's illustrations really provide such a great sense of place throughout, whether it's Ruka's classroom, her home or the beach from which she and Umi watch the hitodama.

The verdict: Again, I don't have enough content to make a sound judgment, but Children of the Sea is certainly the best manga I've read online and I know I'll be "clicking in" to watch this mysterious tale unveil itself in the coming weeks, as well as purchasing the print volumes when they're available. Children of the Sea is serialized online by Viz and can be read here.

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