Directed by Ayumu Watanabe (After The Rain, Space Brothers, Mysterious Girlfriend X) and produced by Studio 4°C (Tekkon Kinkreet, Steamboy and the Berserk Trilogy), Children of the Sea (Kaijuu no Kodomo) is a feature length film released in 2019 and based upon a manga of the same name by Daisuke Igarashi. The plot revolves around our main character, Ruka, who while on her summer vacation, plays handball. However, after injuring a teammate during practice, she gets reprimanded by her coach. When she goes to see her dad at his job, which is at an aquarium. There, she meets a pair of brothers, Umi and Sora, who seem to have a connection to mysterious phenomena which have been occurring around the world lately.
The first thing one will undoubtedly notice, from start to finish, is the insane quality and detail of the visuals. It is undoubtedly one of the best looking anime movies ever made, most likely in terms of animated movies produced worldwide too, for while I haven't really watched any animated movies produced in other parts of the world, this movie is just so stunning that it would strongly surprise me if that wasn't the case. It looks that good, and my goodness I wish screencaps were able to convey just how gorgeously fluid this movie is. Thankfully, SakugaBooru exists, so I've linked some short clips (less than 30 sec) at the bottom of this article, which should give you a general of how it looks in motion.
However, a lot of the thematic content went over my head, or maybe it's just light on it? To be honest, I don't know. The structure reminded me a bit of Oshii's films, I feel like there's some inspiration from his works here, especially with how the longer dialogue scenes are interspersed with the rest of the film, there's also some similarities in the tone of the dialogue, specifically in how it’s written; it’s rather difficult to catch on to a lot of what is being conveyed, especially at later points. This can definitely be a positive though, I imagine it would be a lot easier to pick up on such subtext during repeat viewings, which is a good thing - having a different experience each time you watch something definitely is interesting.
The structure is definitely my least favourite thing about the movie though, for after the first half hour it begins feeling very disconnected, and I do have to admit that I lost track of the plot at some points. It’s a bit of a difficult movie in that sense, then again the Oshii comparison: if you’ve watched Ghost in the Shell 2, then that’s the most accurate comparison I can give. I will definitely rewatch this more, and I am without a doubt getting the home video release because, this can't be stated enough: it looks absolutely incredible. The song used during the ending credits was also great. Can definitely see upping my score on repeat viewings, but I don't want to be hasty and give it a too high score after my first viewing.
In conclusion, I can, with confidence, give Kaijuu no Kodomo a glowing recommendation, for while it has its issues, such as the confusing plot structure and, at points, rather obtuse dialogue, there is also much to love. This here is the future of anime, and embrace it with open arms. I remember watching Oshii’s “The Sky Crawlers,” and thinking: “wow, the way this combines 2D and 3D animation is truly stunning.” And this truly feels like the natural evolution of that. Here are some sakugabooru links so you can get a taste of just how fantastic it looks.