Kii takes a look at some anime!
Children of the Whales is an anime that aired in Japan from October 2017 and launched globally via Netflix in March 2018. The series was directed by Kyōhei Ishiguro (Your lie in April), written by Michiko Yokote (Cowboy Bebop, Saint Seiya, xxxHolic) and animated by J.C.Staff (Food Wars, Excel Saga).
The plot focuses around a young record keeper named Chakuro (voiced by Natsuki Hanae in Japanese and Johnny Yong Bosch in English) who lives on a large moving vessel called The Mud Whale. The Mud Whale has been aimlessly cruising through a giant ocean of sand for the past 100 years and nobody seems to know anything about the world beyond, minus some smaller floating islands they sometimes come across and scavenge from. It’s on one of these islands that they encounter the first human that they’ve seen outside of The Whale. Lykos (Manaka Iwami and Melissa Fahn) is an emotionless child soldier who may know more about The Mud Whale than the inhabitants do.
These inhabitants of The Mud Whale are categorised by those who can use a magic-like art called thymia, the Marked, and those who can’t, the Unmarked. Due to their use of thymia, the Marked lead noticeably shorter lives than their counterparts and rarely make it to their thirties.
Thymia in particular makes this series very interesting to me. It’s like a monkey’s paw of magic and yet it’s also vital for the people’s survival on the sea of sand. I also believe that it makes for some interesting characters; Suoh (Nobunaga Shimazaki and Bryce Papenbrook), an Unmarked who has made it his mission to figure out how to extend the lives of the Marked as he believes their burden to be unfair and Ouni (Yuichiro Umehara and Reba Buhr), a rebel with unusually strong thymia who is locked up in the belly of the ship.
To keep this spoiler free, I can tell you that things go to shit pretty quickly and the people of the Mud Whale are thrust into a world that they don’t understand, let alone are prepared for. I found the themes of the conflict unique as the benefits of using emotions vs erasing them to ensure that they don’t get in the way are explored. The secrets of the Mud Whale itself are also intricate and enticing.
The series contains twelve episodes but I would have preferred if it was longer. There are some moments that end up feeling a touch rushed and the story had points that I wish could have been expanded upon in more detail. It seems that the series wants to develop into a second season but this has yet to be confirmed. I would definitely like to see more from this anime as I still have questions and want aspects of the story to be opened up.
My slightly personal and a little picky gripe is that whilst the opening cinematics are nice, the theme is weak. The song is ‘Sono Sake E’ by RIRIKO, I listened to the full song instead of just the section for the opening and I don’t really know why the section they chose was used. The song in its entirety is pretty nice and has some nice instrumentals whereas the opening focuses repeatedly on some long held notes. It was, without a doubt, the most I’ve used the skip intro button on Netflix.
Opening theme aside, I would absolutely recommend Children of the Whales if you’re looking for something new to watch. It’s not a feel good anime as some parts are a little harrowing, however, it’s very hopeful. The action is good, the animation is lovely and I felt the concept was unique and attention grabbing. Give it a watch and let me know what you think!