Finally, a fantasy manga that has a concrete storyline! Abi Umeda’s Children of the Whales weaves in so much adventure and fantasy that it’s really hard to put down. This story is about a population of criminals that are carried through a vast sea of sand within a floating island called the Mud Whale. The island also holds magical powers that are only provided to those whom are “Marked.” New revelations come into play in this volume, and as we discover what caused the isolation of these people as we are pulled in by the luminous illustrations.
One of the issues that is introduced in this story is the fact that the civilians trapped in the Mud Whale aren’t able to steer the island to where they want to go. In fact the Mud Whale, being an actual organism, provides these civilians with a home and thymia, just not freedom. Now looking for a way to change the course that the island is moving to, our main character, Chakuro, finds a way to finally change the lives in the Mud Whale. I am loving the way that this story is unfolding with the mysterious history of the Mud Whale. We discover so much about how these characters came to live on this island and what caused their isolation from the rest of the world. We also learn how everyone sees and takes part in this confined civilization.
The illustrations that we see in this volume are already so beautiful that I cannot imagine how they would look with color. The details that are put into each scene become part of the characters and magnify the surrounding events. There is a beautiful scene where Chakuro uncovers the truth about how navigation of the Mud Whale works. The way this discovery not only impacts Chakuro but everyone living within that island is illustrated with strong emotion and features that cascade throughout the manga. These encompass the frustration that Ouni has with her inner conflict, as well as further display the annoyance that invaders have towards the Mud Whale. They also demonstrate just how beautiful the world is as seen through the eyes of the maker.
There is a weird way that the story unfolds which makes it confusing. We swing back and forth from various locations before understanding what is happening. These scenes also become inconsistent with what the characters are going through and how they are affected by these events. It’s hard for the audience to fully comprehend the story without coming back to characters later. The character Aima is also frustrating, as they rivet importance but we don’t know to what extent.
Overall, I am very impressed with this manga. It only has minimal negatives that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying it. Enveloping so much with so little effort, this adventure will lure you in with enjoyment.