Rabu, 02 September 2020

‘Children of the Sea’ Review: Finding Beauty in the Watery Depths - The New York Times

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More than 80 percent of the ocean is unexplored by humans. Begin there, and you’ve got the heart of the mostly stunning and totally mystifying — if downright confounding — Japanese anime feature “Children of the Sea.”

On summer break, while visiting the aquarium, Ruka, a reserved 14-year-old girl with a curious connection to the sea, meets two brothers who were raised by dugongs (manatee-adjacent mammals also known as “sea cows”). The brothers are being studied for their aquatic abilities: Their bodies are more adjusted to living in the water than on land. Ruka soon finds they’re involved in a larger mystery about disappearing sea life.

Adapted from Daisuke Igarashi’s manga and directed by Ayumu Watanabe, “Children of the Sea” translates Igarashi’s wondrous illustrations through a combination of traditional hand drawing and C.G.I. technology. The result, accompanied by Joe Hisaishi’s whimsical string-heavy score, is mostly dazzling (Hisaishi also did the music for Hayao Miyazaki’s revered films “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”). The close-ups of the characters’ faces, so carefully sketched that each line reveals a depth of expression, and the shimmery, lustrous animation of the sea and its inhabitants would make even Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” rethink opting for land. Taken together, however, the styles clash; the drawings make the C.G.I. look artificial, and the C.G.I. flattens the drawings.

Watanabe’s animated feature is characterized by such disjointedness; he presents an enigma in the form of a ghost whale and a pair of mermaid boys, and the further we fall into the whirlpool of a plot, the murkier things become. The third act erupts into a cosmic, existential query that flirts with the concept of ultimate knowledge. (“Am I the universe?” Ruka asks, in the midst of a perplexing mind trip.)

“Children of the Sea” finds plenty of beauty and purpose in the watery depths but doesn’t provide enough grounding first: It’s all too easy to get lost 20,000 leagues under the sea.

Children of the Sea
Not rated. In Japanese, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes. Rent or buy on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms.

The Link Lonk


September 02, 2020 at 11:33PM
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‘Children of the Sea’ Review: Finding Beauty in the Watery Depths - The New York Times

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