The Children of the Sea (2019), by Ayumu Watanabe – Review

It is a film that demands a lot from the viewer, but that returns twice as much as invested.

I had the opportunity to see for the first time The children of the sea in one of the surprise marathons of Sitges 2019. It was the first of a block completed with Away, a beautiful piece signed by Gints Zilbalodis, and Weathering with You, the expected new film by Makoto Shinkai, director of Your name. Leaving aside the risky decision to dedicate the entire session to animated films, it became clear to me for the first time that a marathon can end up ruining the mental predisposition of some spectators and taking their toll on works of undeniable value. It was the case of The children of the sea: After a few hours, only his psychedelic climatic sequence had left a face in my memory, relegating the experience to oblivion in favor of other titles of greater accessibility. Now, revised a second time, I have been able to appreciate all its uniqueness, its emotional strength and its boldness. It is a film that demands a lot from the viewer, but that returns twice as much as invested. It requires patience, but it doesn't expel you immediately if you relax. However, it also quickly encloses itself and does not invite to fully enter its proposal; This is not a defect, it is a conscious choice, and everyone judges whether it is appropriate or not. But perhaps the best, at this point, is to go into details.

The children of the sea it is the adaptation of the homonymous manga, written and illustrated by Daisuke Igarashi; It is the first time that a work by Igarashi, a reference in the fantastic genre, is brought to the screen. The film, in charge of Ayumu Watanabe, collects the five volumes of the manga and starts with Ruka, an introverted student with problems to manage her emotions. At the beginning of a summer that is expected to be complicated, he knows the story of Umi (“sea”, in Japanese) and Sora (“sky”), two mysterious brothers who were raised by dugongs and now live in the aquarium, where they are the object of I study for its strange adaptation to the marine world. At the same time, a series of anomalous phenomena foreshadow a radical change on Earth, and it is suspected that the boys might be linked, being the cause or the response of what is to come.

It has enough expressiveness and beauty to compensate for its many gaps, and should be a fundamental title for lovers of anime.

From here, the film moves away completely from its conductive thread.
Ruka becomes a simple mechanism to focus our attention on what
truly important: Umi, Sora, and the imminent event that involves
All marine beings. Beyond some vague attempt at realism, with
pseudoscientific explanations that contribute little to the whole, the lines
arguments are increasingly diluted, intertwining and confusing
between them, to give way to the symbolic and emotional element, whose mission is
bring the viewer closer to a very dense exhibition about the origin of life and
the organic beat of the Universe. And no, it is not easy to digest. But it is not for
lack of narrative resources.

Who has read the manga states that the plot hermeticism of The children of the sea it is precisely his
primary factor. Eliminating the rational element, the mind begins to feel
in a freer, more primitive way, and the complexity of what it lacks
of referents in the language is articulated from the emotional response. This is the
That seems to incentivize this movie. The text goes completely to the plane
secondary, with multiple interpretations according to the subjectivities of each
one. There are even subplots that are abandoned without further explanation. Everything
seems to be oriented towards the final hatching, the climatic sequence
mentioned at the beginning, the peak of narrative experimentation that already
some have even compared to Kubrick's superluminal journey in his
Space Odyssey Nor will we be so bold here, but it is true that they are born
of the same theoretical basis. And these proposals suit the format well
audiovisual: in the case of The children of
sea,
any element arranged solely for sensory stimulation
It is more relevant than the whole verbalized plot (and that there is, in fact,
a certain excess of verbalization). It is a film supported almost in its
totality for its aesthetic elements, because there are concepts that are best seen
Than explain them.

Personally, I don't get along with cinema that pretends to be more an intellectual challenge for the viewer than an accessible experience. This is already a matter of taste. And it seems more than understandable that The children of the sea I will not have the repercussion in rooms that I would have chosen to be, at least, a little closer. But, in honor of the truth, the second viewing left me much calmer; I was not a less valid spectator for not understanding what the movie offered me the first time. It was that there was nothing to understand. I gave my time a second time to a story that I knew would leave me again at the starting point, and it was more or less like that. But that time spent reconciled me with the pleasure of enjoying things without having to rationalize them. And of course The children of the sea It can be interpreted until understanding, but nothing happens if it is not done. It has enough expressiveness and beauty to compensate for its many gaps, and should be a fundamental title for lovers of animeas it was Your name in his year and for reasons, ironically, very similar.


Synopsis Ruka is a young teenager whose parents have separated. His father works at the local aquarium, so he spends a lot of time there, fascinated with the huge amount of marine species that meet there.
country Japan
Address Ayumu Watanabe
Script Daisuke Igarashi
Music Joe Hisaishi
Gender Animation
Duration 110 min.
Original title Kaijû no kodomo
Premiere 01/24/2020

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