Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea is a profoundly beautiful five volume manga series that I picked up on a whim (one of my libraries owns the first four, I was able to ILL the fifth). The covers intrigued me, as they are beautiful. In many ways, Children of the Sea is more art than manga. There’s a story, but I felt it was almost secondary to the artwork that fills the five volumes.
The story centers on Ruka, a middle-grade Japanese girl who lives with her mother, after her parents separated. But everything in her world is not as it seems. In the first volume, we learn that when she was younger, Ruka saw a fish turn into light and vanish (which sets up the supernatural/fantasy elements that are elegantly woven into the story). This event changes Ruka’s life, though she doesn’t realize this until later. Ruka’s relationship with her parents is tenuous, like any teenager and near the beginning of the novel, she runs away and ends up meeting a boy named Umi. Though they go their separate ways, their paths are destined to meet again, and they do — but this time at the aquarium where Ruka’s father works.
Umi, and his brother Sora, sense something special about Ruka and the three of them become friends. The five volumes are filled with their adventures and artwork that wouldn’t look out of place in a Studio Ghibli production. Interspersed through the five volumes are stories about these children of the sea and how they have changed people’s lives (I promise, you’ll want to read to find out more) as well as how the sea as a whole has changed the lives of the characters within the manga.
I loved this series because the characters are likable and the artwork is breathtaking. The ending was satisfying, if a little heartbreaking, but at it’s heart, Children of the Sea is a coming of age manga. Everyone grows up, but people also grow together. Igarashi also emphasizes the importance of relationships (friends and family) as well as the need to take care of our waters. Although the setting is like our world and the characters are diverse (from all over the world), he brings them together in a beautiful and thoughtful way.
This manga is not for everyone, especially people who crave a lot of action. But if you’re looking for something beautiful, something that will comfort you, Children of the Sea might be exactly what you need. You don’t need to be interested in manga or comics/graphic novels in order to enjoy this journey or the art that brings it to life.