Children of the Seas – Beautiful like the Ocean (Review)

During these difficult times, viewing movies in theaters isn’t an option. The North American film distributor GKIDS took steps to distribute Children of the Seas both digitally and physically. With the movie now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, we got a chance to dive into the aesthetically pleasing film. Children of the Seas is produced by STUDIO4°C with a score composed by the critically acclaimed Joe Hisaishi. 

GKIDS describes the film as:

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish.

One significant take away from the film is the stunning visuals and smooth composition. If you want your eyes to look at something pretty for two hours, this is the film to watch.  

Since The Children of the Seas revolves around the mysteries of the ocean, the creative decision to choose this particular art style was smart. It’s not your typical anime-style film we usually see. 

The visuals and sound design were stunning. While the characters were also integral to the story, that’s about it. They helped move the plot but it didn’t move me.

What truly makes this film special is how the theme is conveyed directly in the animation and stills. There are many shots and frames where the backdrops and scenes overwhelm the picture, which serve to imbue the audience with the same sense of insignificance compared to the universe. 

Because of the fact that the ocean is 90% unexplored, the parallel between the universe and the ocean drives this uncomfortable thought closer to home. 

This movie was intense in unexpected ways because of how it conveys this theme.

They certainly min-maxed this film. The artwork, cinematography, and animation was some of the prettiest I’ve seen in awhile, but it feels like some of the other aspects of the film suffered as a result. 

Knowing Joe Hisaishi composed the music got me interested in the film, and I was really looking forward to hearing it. However, I think I expected more than I got. 

The soundtrack isn’t bad, per se. It doesn’t distract from the viewing experience, but it doesn’t stand out either. It’s ambient music, which isn’t exactly what Joe is known for. 

I don’t want to pigeonhole a composer into one style, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to hear some of the soaring orchestral swells that are found in many of his other works.

It wasn’t as impactful as his other works. In Children of the Seas,you can’t quite remember any one musical motif, compared to  his Ghibli soundtracks. However, the music compliments the story well, and it makes you feel like you’re swimming. 

While the soundtrack was not as memorable, I think it worked well for this particular film, which continued to show how he can masterfully work with any type of story.

I think some of the more intense segments heavily relied on the sound design, so I would give it points for that. I do agree that I was expecting a melody to anchor the soundtrack which didn’t seem to be there.

This was a long movie. I don’t regret watching it, but I don’t plan on watching it again.

I think that if you want to study visual design or mood in animation, The Children of the Seas is a must watch.

This is not your typical anime film. While I also felt a bit fatigued at the end, the film does a fantastic job exploring the themes due to how abstract it is. 

If you want an experience, this is the film to add to your watchlist.

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