It was the Entirety of Our Precious World
Sinners of Falaina
I’ve Had Enough Of This World
Let’s Suicide In The Sand With The Mud Whale
I Don’t Want to Run
Tomorrow, I Might End Up Having To Kill Someone
I Want To See Your Future
Disappear From This World
I Want To See Where Your Choice Leads
I’m Setting Off On A New Journey
It’s Just A Dream
I’m Glad I Was Born Here
Children Of The Whales is an artistically presented, dreamy anime adapted from the Manga of the same name. Although the pacing is a little inconsistent and the tone jumps from slapstick humour to deeply emotional themes in a jarring way, Children Of The Whales is a unique, interesting anime that favours inner conflict over external fighting. This focus is likely to be divisively received from audiences but it’s ultimately the excellent world building and lore that trumps any flaws, making this an interesting and beautiful anime well worth checking out.
The story reinvents itself several times through the 12 episodes with concurrent storylines in two different areas dominating the later episodes. The main bulk of the show takes part on the fantastical mud whale; a large boat made of rock floating on an endless desert sea. The main protagonist, fourteen-year-old archivist Chakuro (Natsuki Hanae), and the other inhabitants aboard the mud whale find their life forever changed when a scouting party bring back a mysterious young foreign girl, Lykos (Manaka Iwami). The cataclysmic events that follow include a battle on-board the mud whale led by the mentally unstable Liontari (Ryujiro Izaki) and Lykos’ brother before slowing the pace to explore the repercussions of this fight. Those expecting an anime rife with action and fast paced dialogue may well leave disappointed, especially with the deceivingly quick pace the first few episodes adopt. When the pace slows, Children Of The Whales feels much more comfortable and it’s here that the plot flourishes. There’s a lot of inner turmoil, monologues and anguish here dominate much of the run time over physical fighting and this focus might irk those looking for something more action orientated.
Children Of The Whales is beautifully presented too. The soft lines and colours of character models blend perfectly with the hand-painted backdrops and the use of colour is truly exquisite. Every establishing shot feels like a painting and some of the sunset scenes that bathe the mud whale in a neon pink hue, are stunning.
Despite the thematically strong narrative, at times it feels so ham-fisted into the narrative and melodramatic that it actually detracts from the appeal a little. Whilst it is an important focal point of the show, every scene is dominated by this inner conflict and constant message of how important emotion and drive is that it detracts a little from the message. There is an attempt to inject some humour here too but for the most part, it comes across as contrived rather than actually helping to empathise with the characters.
Still, for the most part Children Of The Whales is an absorbing, mature anime that thrives when it slows down and explores the characters inhabiting this beautiful, sand-soaked world. Most of the characters are well fleshed out too but the real stand out here is the world building which is excellent. There’s an incredible amount of backstory, history, and interesting little rituals the characters take part in that make this feel like a living, breathing community rather than another generic fantasy world. The awkward bursts of humour and the open, unresolved ending might put some people off but despite its flaws, Children Of The Whales’ positives outweigh the negative making it another very good offering from Netflix’s ever-increasing anime genre.