A Lull In The Sea Part 2 (Episodes 14-26) (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 307 minutes approx.
The first half of this fantasy romance series from P.A Works ended on a dramatic note when three of the main characters from the undersea world of Shioshishio were washed away in a tumultuous sea storm during the Ofunehiki Festival.
We pick up the story five years after the events of the Ofunehiki Festival. The inhabitants of Shioshishio are now in forced hibernation, their world now encased in a strange barrier, while the surface entered an extended winter period, with the sea now frozen over.
Lone survivor Chisaki stayed on the land, taken in by Tsumugu and his grandfather Isamu. Akari and Itaru married and have a young son, Akira and Miuna and Sayu are now high schoolers. None of them have forgotten about their missing friends until one night Hikari is discovered naked on a beach – however he hasn’t aged since that day five years earlier.
One aspect of the group dynamic of our young protagonists this show not discussed in depth in the review for part one was their romantic endeavours. With the bulk of the fantasy/folklore facets now established, the many strands of the complex relationships amongst the group can now be put under scrutiny, being as it is now a key focal point.
If this sounds off-putting to you don’t give up just yet, with such well defined characters and astute writing, this is one romantic drama that successfully blends heartfelt pathos with rich slice-of-life grit. Tears are shed and loyalties are tested but the execution is free from deliberate manipulation and reliance on lazy contrivances, thanks in part to the fantasy saga of the Sea God being the centrifugal force behind it all.
The conceit behind the main drama is the interpretation of the legend of the Sea God and why exactly he should be so angry at the surface world. This fable is explored in depth in these episodes, with the previously apathetic messenger of the Sea God, Lord Uroko, having to step up to solve the mystery, although it is the selfless sacrifice of the youngsters that leads to the unveiling of the truth.
But first we need to expands upon the situation with Hikari’s awakening and the intriguing web of relationship problems which is about to be spun. Before the hibernation period, Hikari was in love with Manaka, the girl who eventually became the sacrifice at the Ofunehiki festival; Manaka had feelings for Hikari but both were too shy to say anything. Meanwhile Chisaki was in love with Hikari who failed to notice, just as Chisaki was unaware that Kaname was holding a torch for her.
We’re not done yet though because over the years Tsumugu has fallen for Chisaki but she won’t move on because she fears she is being loyal to Hikari – who has another admirer in the form of his now step-niece Miuna, which raises a number of moral questions should they wish to act on this. A few days after Hikari is found, Kaname appears on the land, again having not aged over the five years.
While this provides Tsumugu with a rival for Chisaki’s affections, the five year age difference might prove an insurmountable obstacle for Kaname’s campaign to win her over but fear not, because obnoxious brat Sayu has had a thing for Kaname, and now they are both the same age, perhaps he will look at her instead of Chisaki?
That’s quite a messy situation even by anime standard’s and seems to cover all the bases in terms of the various permutations of the possible couplings as well the morally ambiguous ones for those who like their dramas with a darker edge. Yet, as mentioned above, it is handled with adroit care and attention and is driven by the characters rather than the story, which should make this palatable to even the most cynical and hardened of viewers.
While these affairs of the heart threaten to destroy this one tight knit camaraderie the mystery of the sea remains a prevalent theme, and leads to an important discovery that paradoxically strengthens the bond between the group and throws a fresh spanner into the works at the same time. These poor kids can’t seem to catch a break but when the problems bigger than their petty jealousies they are able to band together to seek a solution.
Much like the first half this concluding part of the series ends with another bombastic spectacle, providing nail biting and emotionally charged drama with higher stakes for all concerned. In true anime fashion the rationale behind this climax begins to feel a little too clever for its own good, incorporating existentialist twists and highbrow sophistry in raising the spiritual side of the fantasy facets. But as a piece of magical escapist drama the results are wholly engaging and undeniably effective.
It is difficult to pick out an individual strength of this series, since it ticks so many boxes across the board. The visuals are truly breathtaking in terms of both eye pleasing artwork and in creating palpable moods – while the first half was vibrant and energetic, this time the dour winter landscapes create a suitable air of melancholy for the drama to play out in.
The story has been tightly crafted and knows the right time to hit us with heavy drama, action or silly humour while the characters are all personable enough for us to want to follow their journey. The dichotomy of the surface and sea communities is a suitable metaphor in exploring race relations and social integration issues while providing an immersive fantasy backdrop which enchants or imaginations.
Ultimately, my words feel inadequate to do this wonderful series justice. Engaging and charming from the first episode to the last, it is fair to describe A Lull In The Sea and an uplifting experience, and is one of those shows that comes along every now and then to remind us why we love anime in the first place!
English Language (with partial English Subtitles)
Japanese Language w/ English Subtitles
Clean Opening 2
Clean Ending 2
Clean Opening 2 (alt)
Clean Ending 2 (alt)
Blu-ray Complete Series Collector’s Edition (Released September 21st)
3x Blu-ray Discs
2 x CD Soundtracks
Rigid Art Box
Rating – **** ½
Man In Black