Anime like the children of the sea
“Children of the Sea”, directed by Ayumu Watanabe, is a magnificent exploration of the many mysteries of life. A multifaceted and layered work of art, the film illustrates the journey of the outcast Ruka, as she meets and develops a bond with brothers Umi and Sora, who were raised by dugongs or sea cows. Based on the works of mangaka Daisuke Igarashi and adapted by director Ayumu Watanabe, the film is a study of visual poetry. Although “Children of the Sea” is quite unique in its portrayal of the universe and its mysteries, the themes and ideas can be found in many anime masterpieces. Here we explore a few. You can watch many of these anime on Netflix, Crunchyroll, or Amazon Prime.
7. Tekkonkrinkreet (2006)
If trippy is what you are looking for, look no further. “Children of the Sea” unfolds like a feverish dream with no end in sight. In fact, a character in the film, Anglade, even exclaims, at one point, “The world we live in may be just the dream of the seashells that live in the abyss.” ‘Tekkonkrinkreet’, too, unfolds like hallucinatory reality, with bizarre sequences that make for a dizzying but heady watch. Like “Children of the Sea”, it tells the story of two orphaned brothers, Kuro and Shiro. We soon learn that the two brothers are at loggerheads with the yakuza, who aim to recapture their beloved but crumbling city. Both films challenge the conventional anime style by attempting something beyond our wildest imaginations. If ‘Children of the Sea’ has taken you on a hypnotic journey of a lifetime, ‘Tekkonkrinkreet’ surely won’t disappoint.
6. Colorful (2010)
As a core, ‘Colorful’ and ‘Children of the Sea’ are beautiful journeys of self-discovery. ‘Colorful’ is the story of a desolate soul who receives a second chance by being transposed into the body of a 14-year-old named Makoto who committed suicide. The film is a depiction of how the soul within Makoto tries to accommodate its own past journey, Makoto’s previous life, and his present being. Ruka is as much a lost “soul” as the one that houses Makoto’s body. Just as the soul sets out on a quest to discover the essence of the body it possesses, so too, Ruka sets out on a quest with Umi and Sora to understand the true purpose of her being.
5. Ponyo (2008)
“Children of the Sea” and “Ponyo” both write a euphoric love letter to the sea and its life and blood, its inhabitants. If you consider yourself a thalassophile (an eternal lover of the sea, the ocean or the beach), the Hayao Miyazaki-directed ‘Ponyo’ is a tribute to the sea as majestic as ‘Children of the Sea’ is. “Children of the Sea” portrays the deep connection between land and sea, through the sea-breeding Umi and Sora and the land-breeding Ruka. ‘Ponyo’, too, shows the intertwined journeys of water baby Brunhilde (aka ‘Ponyo’) and Sosuke, raised in the earth. ‘Ponyo’, who has always dreamed of a human life, escapes from the deep blue sea and finds company in Sosuke. The two films showcase the insurmountable links forged by their respective protagonists and the adventures they undertake along the way.
4. Hotarubi No Mori E (2011)
‘Hotarubi No Mori E’ is the poignant story of an interspecific relationship between Hotaru, a young girl, and Gin, a humanoid she meets when lost in a forest. In “Children of the Sea,” Ruka forms a unique connection with humans Umi and Sora, who are both incredibly similar, yet completely different from her. Hotaru also develops such an emotional attachment with Gin. She does this despite her inability to touch it, as it will disappear if touched by a human. Both films take place over the summer (or several summers, in the case of “Hotarubi No Mori E”) and culminate in coming-of-age experiences. The heroes and heroines of the respective stories are part of a bittersweet reality where they are united in emotion but divided by the physical.
3. Your name (2016)
Cosmic connections are the founding theme of “Children of the Sea”. The cosmic connection between Ruka and Umi, sea and sky, man and ocean, is explored in the most powerful way. “Your Name” also explores the intertwined destinies of its protagonists, Mitsuha and Taki, and the cosmic connection between past and present. In “Your Name”, director Makoto Shinkai presents us with a timeless love story, between Mitsuha, based in Itomori, and Taki, a resident of Tokyo, who start to change bodies intermittently, but never really cross paths. “Your Name” and “The Children of the Sea” both feature events of astronomical proportions that unfold and unite, as well as separate, their characters in more than one way.
2. Alter With You (2019)
Another environmental-themed film, “Weathering with You”, is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who, like Miyazaki, seems to have become a permanent fixture on our list. “Weathering with You” is exactly what its title sounds like: Its central characters, Hodaka and Hina, like Ruka, Umi, and Sora, weather the storms of climate change and environmental damage while cruising through first loves, discovering self and adolescence. In a dystopian Japan, where rain is the perpetual season, Hodaka, a runaway from a small town meets Hina, an orphan who harnesses the ability to manipulate the weather. “Children of the Sea” and “Weathering With You” both use a potentially apocalyptic Japan as the backdrop for a bildungsroman, and they do so with aplomb.
1. Princess Mononoke (1999)
Like “Children of the Sea,” “Princess Mononoke,” a Studio Ghibli classic, has distinctive undertones of environmental justice. “Children of the Sea” presents the fate of marine beings, Umi and Sora, trapped and exploited in the name of human gain. ‘Princess Mononoke’, too, paints a gory picture of the environmental blood humans have on their hands. It portrays a cursed prince, Ashitaka, who joins forces with San, a young woman raised by wolves, in her quest to save the life of the forest. Both films feature central characters raised by decidedly non-human creatures. Both films tell deeply empathetic stories about animal and marine life. Both films are a must-see cinematic spectacle.
Read more: Children of the Sea End, Explained