The first volume of Children of the Sea, by Daisuke Igarashi, is a mysterious and beautiful tale about the earth's own undiscovered country -- our oceans.
I believe it has been said that human beings now know more about the moon's environment than we know about what is happening beneath the surface of the earth's oceans. Children of the Sea offers the world of the ocean as a truly mysterious place, full of beauty, life, strangeness and potential danger.
The story opens with a grown woman narrating a story about the sea that no one knows but her, about the "ghosts that cross the seas." The story retreats to when the woman, Ruka, was a child and saw a "ghost" in the aquarium where her father works. Flash-forward a few years and Ruka is a bored adolescent with no real outlet for her energy. She's kicked off her summer team for elbowing another girl in the face and breaking her nose. Ruka's restlessness and boredom lead her to travel to see Tokyo Bay where she encounters a strange young man, Umi, who seems oddly at home in the water.
Umi, along with the hospitalized Sora, are two young boys who are the "children of the sea," and were in fact actually discovered underwater as babies. How did they survive underwater? Why are they still tied to the water? Both boys seem to belong to another word, and while in the sea they are adept and at home, they also endanger their health if they stay dry for too long (hence Sora's on and off hospital stays). Somehow Ruka -- who saw a strange "ghost" in the aquarium as a child -- is deemed by Umi and Sora as having the potential to understand the mysteries of the natural world of the sea thanks to her special sight.
While Ruka befriends these children of the sea, all over the world strange things occurrences are being reported by marine biologists and scientists. Fish are disappearing everywhere, while at the same time all kinds of unusual fish from all over the world are appearing in harbor where Ruka lives. It is possible that they've followed Umi and Sora there? And the biggest mystery of all, what exactly are Umi and Sora -- the next stage in evolution? A de-evolution of the human species?
While there are many fascinating mysteries to draw the reader to the world of the Children of the Sea, the greatest strength of the work is Igarashi's depiction of underwater landscapes as soundless, endless, and bursting with life. Depicting the sea as a starry sky, I found myself lost in the wonder of the various depictions of nature as undulating, breathing, and a vast undiscovered country. Igarashi's art is rough, unfinished, almost ugly, and yet perfectly suited to represent all same qualities that we experience in the natural world which make it so shockingly beautiful.
Right now Viz is currently serializing this story online here before the first volume is published in late July. I highly recommend checking out both the online chapters and the book itself. It is a lovely package in over-sized format, with French flaps and color pages.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.