Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, July 04, 2009
      ( 7/04/2009 07:43:00 AM ) Bill S.  

'THE SEA IN TOKYO IS KINDA LIKE A BROKEN TOY." The first series to be featured on Viz Media's new IKKI online magazine, Daisuke Igarashi's Children of the Sea is a lovingly rendered, frequently contemplative look at "the path that connects the sea to space." Rated for "Older Teen" readers, the story centers on a young girl named Ruka -- and two mysterious boys who were raised in the ocean by dugongs. Both boys, Umi and Sora, have swum to Tokyo following the lights and sounds that seem to be accompanying the unexplained, large-scale disappearance of deep-sea marine life.

Monitored by workers at Enokura Aquarium -- Ruka's father Azumi and a tattooed wave rider named Jim Cusack, in particular -- the two boys spent their first years living "exclusively in the ocean." As a result, they need to periodically return to the sea for their own well-being. "If we don't keep cooling down with water," Uma, the younger of the two tells Ruka, "we get really hot, like we're burnt."

They also appear to be on a similar wavelength as our headstrong young heroine. ("Whenever things get tight, she starts playing rough," a handball coach says during an early character-establishing scene.) Ruka has been repeatedly drawn to the aquarium ever since she saw a "ghost" in the water as a child. "You smell like someone who sees and thinks the same things we do," empathetic Umi says. Ruka's "ghost" was a glowing sea creature that she witnessed vanishing from the aquarium tank as a harbinger of events to come. "Come to think of it," the adult Ruka recalls as she opens the story, "that may have been the beginning of everything."

Igarashi evocatively blends this sci-fi mystery with crisp (if occasionally familiar) characterization and a beautifully attuned sense for nature large and small. The big draw here, at least in Children of the Sea's opening volume, resides in its art, which at times recalls both manga/anime master Hayao Miyazaki and southwest underground comix artist Jack Jackson. It's particularly marvelous during the underwater scenes -- as when Umi and Sora take our heroine out snorkeling and she finds herself surrounded by schools of inexplicably glowing fish. They look like stars, and though we're not told why this is in the series' opening eight chapters, Ruka's opening statement about the pathway 'tween the ocean and sky would seem to hold the key. More than once Ruka and the boys compare the act of swimming to flying; for most of us heavy humans, after all, floating in the water is the closest that we get to weightlessness.

Viz is presently running Children of the Sea in online installments with the first print volume collecting chapters one through eight scheduled for a mid-July release on its Viz Signature line. To my eyes, the paper version is superior to the online edition -- the 6-by-8-1/2" book format makes it easier for the reader to luxuriate in Igarashi's art, while the monitor version proves especially unfriendly to two-page spreads. The online version is the place to start, but I'm thinking that a lot of manga fans will want a copy of this for their home shelves. Judging from the first volume of this atmospheric sci-fi tale, Children of the Sea will make a strong addition to anyone's well-kept manga library -- an undersea companion to Yukimura's Planetes, perhaps.


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter