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Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau – 02 »

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau – 01

「私たちの大事な世界の全てだった」 (Watashitachi no daijina sekai no subetedatta)
“It was the Entirety of Our Precious World”

Initial Expectations

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau looks like a culmination of many things I would wish for in an anime. Judging by the PVs, there’s a cast mainly comprised of children, who possess superpowers, and are slowly coming of age. Most importantly, it displays a unique and gorgeous art style that is so refreshing to look at. Don’t those oceans of sand look sexy? Disclaimer, I don’t swing that way. But seriously, I wonder if JC Staff were trying to take lessons from PA Works, because they probably ended up creating their most beautiful show to date. I’m still somewhat concerned at their recent inconsistency when it comes to adaptations, so I’m preparing myself for potential drops in quality. However, some optimism is warranted where the director Ishiguro Kyouhei can bring over his experience from adapting Shigatsu, where he delicately handled the source material with precision and sensitivity. Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau could even be anime of the season if they keep things up! Let’s dive head first into the sand, and see how they manage.

General Impressions

Not all people are born equal, and this can be said for people who live on a gigantic boat traversing the seas of sand, colloquially referred to as the Mud Whale. There are the unmarked, a minority of ordinary people who lack special powers, but live to a ripe old age just like most of us would. Then there are 90% who possess the mark, being blessed with the telekinetic powers of Thymia, at the cost of living severely shortened lives. The series starts on a somber tone of Benihi’s funeral, a marked woman who died at the young age of 27. As the person who taught Chakuro and Sami to use their Thymia, her death obviously has a deep effect upon them. Such an occurrence also leaves a deep impression of the cultural mannerisms pertaining to these people, regarding how they remember the dead, and it also serves to instil an important dynamic. Although our characters seem like adolescents, they’ve lived out half their lives. Let that sink in for a moment – you have so much to live for, but are ordained to die in the next decade or so. To be perfectly honest, Thymia is no blessing in comparison to the curse it brings.

Nonetheless, we get an idea of what our characters are like, through how they find beauty and meaning in such a limited life. Sami (Kanemoto Hisako) tries to teach children how to control their Thymia, imparting her knowledge to the next generation, and following the footsteps left by Benihi. From what we’ve seen, she’s a kind and gentle soul, who might have feelings for Chakuro. Her older brother Suou (Shimazaki Nobunaga) is one of the Unmarked, and next in line to become Chieftain. Their sibling relationship would explain why Suou is desperately researching ways to help extend the life of those who are Marked. Ouni (Umehara Yuichiro) reminds me of Yatogami Kuroh from K in terms of character design and combat prowess, although he comes across as being more aloof. Alongside the other outcasts, can they find some meaning to their existence beyond the Mud Whale? It’s hard to say, but I reckon Ouni will eventually play a pivotal role later on.

Befitting of her name, Lykos (Iwami Manaka) acts like a lone wolf. Though love and hatred are two sides of the same coin, apathy is the complete opposite, hence I could understand why the elders felt so terrified of her. If someone lacks any semblance of emotions, how are they meant to appreciate the value of life? That said, something is off about Lykos’ claiming to lack emotional capacity. For example, she cried when the mysterious curse compelled her to make an attempt upon Chakuro’s life. Also, I suspect that she fed the cat some food, despite being starved herself. I certainly wouldn’t think that the cat could open the cat food containers by itself, and it didn’t really have a reason to help her on a whim. Hence I’m inclined to think she’s a kinder person than what she might seem, who is actually sick of killing people, and needs Chakuro to help hoist her out of the darkness.

Speaking of our protagonist, Chakuro (Hanae Natsuki) is one of the Marked, and serves as an archivist for the Mud Whale. By keeping the records as if they were diaries, he can bereave those who died, and slowly make peace with his inevitable fate. As someone who also defaults to writing as a coping mechanism in difficult times, I can relate all too well with Chakuro. My only criticism would be directed towards how we received our exposition through his narrative. There was a lack of flow, one which kept on getting interrupted by random information lumped in less than appropriate places, to the point of breaking immersion. How frustrating! Then again, I’ll begrudgingly concede that it actually fits Chakuro’s characterisation. He’s an observant boy, who soaks in details of the world around him. Yet he is awkward when it comes to expressing himself,  lacking eloquence in both his writing and speech. However, he writes because he wants to, and for the sake of future generations. If these excerpts are all meant to come from the diary a 14 year old boy, then the clumsy writing becomes justifiable to some extent. When I was his age, my writing was probably worse, and I imagine the same could be said for many of us. So long as he keeps up at it, maybe we’ll start seeing improvements down the line.

Concluding Thoughts

If I had to bring up similar shows, Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau might feel like an amalgamation between Shin Sekai Yori and Nagi no Asukara. However, clear influences running from classical civilisation completely distinguish the series. Greek is widely adopted into the various terminologies, while the Mud Whale itself bears hallmarks of Babylonian architecture. In short, the creator did a fantastic job of capturing ancient sentiments on an epic and fantastical scale.

That aside, the appearance of Lykos poses many questions. Where did she come from? Is there a civilisation that exists beyond the Mud Whale? If so, would that civilisation be friendly or hostile? Here is where I would echo the elder’s sentiment. Lykos is a harbinger of doom, who will likely mark the end of the Mud Whale’s voyage. After all, what happens when a civilisation that know of only war and death, encounters a paradise free from such evils? The paradise will become tainted at best, and at worst, utterly destroyed. If Lykos is any indication to go by, a living hell exists beyond the paradise of the Mud Whale, forcing children to abandon their emotions and fight in bloody wars. Sure, nothing new, but it’s an implication that never stops being so damn tragic for me. Whenever I hear about children being victims of war, I always think, what did they do to deserve this? I’m not ready to see the Mud Whale succumb to the violence of such a brutal reality, but it’s certainly looking that way if the civilisations are destined to cross paths.

As they say, et in Arcadia ego. Whenever I get that vibe, I’m conditioned to steel myself for the horrors up ahead, in anticipation for the bait and switch. The Mud Whale is all these children know, so I suspect that the series cover their journey into a wider world, and one much crueller than anything they could possibly imagine. However, the show must continue, as we become implicit in witnessing this glorious yet tragic spectacle.

ED Sequence

ED: 「ハシタイロ」 (Hashitairo) by rionos

Preview

October 11, 2017 at 9:41 am
22 comments »
  • October 11, 2017 at 10:09 amWorldwidedepp

    What Animes comes into my mind, that could be inspiration for this:

    Ozuma
    Suisei no Gargantia

    btw, this two was also hosted here, use the search function in the top right corner

    • October 11, 2017 at 10:12 amZaiden

      Suisei no Gargantia was also on my mind! I remember fondly following Zephyr’s posts for that series. However, I preferred Shin Sekai Yori/Nagi no Asukara, and didn’t want to create a large cluster.

      But thanks for bringing it up, Worldwidedepp!

      • October 11, 2017 at 10:15 amWorldwidedepp

        Np, sometimes my “Anime Wikipedia” are burning with passion, and this is my own personal treasure, so forgive me for “my style”. there is no ill meaning behind it

      • October 11, 2017 at 10:16 amZaiden

        No offence taken! You’ve done nothing wrong, and if anything, what you brought up was really good. Keep up with the passion. It’s always good to see you comment around the place.

    • October 11, 2017 at 10:12 amWorldwidedepp

      forgotten this:

      Chrome Shelled Regios

      • October 13, 2017 at 6:15 pmShrubbery

        Chrome Shelled Regios, was the first anime that came to my mind (though I had forgotten its name), been a long while since that aired. Interesting animes with original settings like these are sure to get my attention for at the very least the three episode rule.

      • October 14, 2017 at 7:27 amWorldwidedepp

        Same here

        These Animes come into my mind, because of:
        Ozuma: The Sand are like Water
        Suisei no Gargantia: the Way the Society live on the Ships (is the Stranger their Savior?)
        Chrome Shelled Regios: nearly the same as Gargantia. But in Regios they fight about “resources points” (How limited is their Resources to life?)

        As i said, it is still to soon to tell what path they walk, or have behind them. But the Shadow of their past is dark.. Dark like War

      • October 14, 2017 at 7:35 amWorldwidedepp

        I try to use Pictures:
        http://randomc.net/image/Kujira%20no%20Kora%20wa%20Sajou%20ni%20Utau/Kujira%20no%20Kora%20wa%20Sajou%20ni%20Utau%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2024.jpg
        She is to weak, because of starving. She is the last of village. So Regios fits her well

        And now they want to go back to this Village to life there? Then what happen that she was the last of them? “battle royal?” because of food problems?

        and so on..

        Sorry, for the Zombie comments now

  • October 11, 2017 at 10:32 amAki-Chan

    The thing about the elders fearing Lykos because she lacks (or appears to lack) emotions seems a little….well, when this is only the first episode and we don’t really know anything, hypocritical might be too strong, but it seemed a bit weird to me. Because the culture of the Mud Whale seems to be a lot about supressing emotions, which can be seen in:

    -Benihi’s funeral scene, the thing about how those seeing the dead off are not supposed to cry or they’ll ‘be quickly swallowed by the countless other souls in the sand’ (can’t remember the exact wording.
    -the habit of lacing fingers tightly when experiencing strong emotions as a way of trying to supress them (Chakuro notes Suou doing this, and was also encouraged to do this during the funeral in a failed attempt to stop him crying)
    -Chakuro mentioning that his writing isn’t supposed to be emotional (specifically, that it’s ‘not allowed’ to be

    So it seems like this is a culture that prefers emotions to be kept out of life, or at least heavily suppressed. So to react so badly to an emotionless girl seems to contradict that, somewhat. Wouldn’t she be the ideal because of it? Of course, given they referred to her as something that has a specific name (can’t remember it, something beginning with A?), I suspect there’s more to it than her lacking emotions, and again, first episode, so much left to know. But still, it strikes me as really odd. What do you think?

    • October 11, 2017 at 10:37 amWorldwidedepp

      i get an feeling, that these on the Island are “Sinners” that are now into hiding from the World…

      There must had been an War or something similar, and these where the “bad guys”

      • October 11, 2017 at 10:39 amWorldwidedepp

        or the opposite.. they are the last Survivors and are running or hiding, and fear that they will found out

    • October 11, 2017 at 10:39 amZaiden

      Obviously, suppressing emotions but carrying a stigma against the apathetic seems a tad hypocritical. And it was something I disapproved of in the council’s treatment of Lykos. Simply put, they came across as highly conservative and traditional people who are out of touch.

      However, I’ll adopt another perspective. After all, the elders talk about how nothing on the mainland had changed, and exhibit a terrified reaction when she escapes – suggesting that Lykos is not an isolated case. Consider this.

      When you suppress your emotions, it’s not like you lose your moral bearings.

      When you’re stripped of emotions, what feeling is going to stop you from killing like Lykos almost did? No hesitation, no guilty, no nothing. The loss of humanity can turn you into an effective instrument that takes lives.

      Both might have the same goal in mind, intending to stop something bad from happening with the Thymia. However, the second action is far too extreme, and has nefarious applications beyond what was perhaps originally intended. There might be many people like Lykos, figuratively programmed to kill on sight. Falena might be full of sinners, but what if their sin was merely trying to escape such a cruel destiny?

      • October 12, 2017 at 9:30 amAki-Chan

        Oh, I didn’t actually think about there being a distinction between supressing emotions and lacking them. But that makes a certain kind of sense, too.

      • October 12, 2017 at 12:59 pmZaiden

        No problem. You brought up fantastic points, that deserved a comprehensive response! Keep it up!

        Plus, I actually watched the episode twice (once with my housemates, and once by myself). That allowed me to catch a lot of the things I initially missed out on.

  • October 11, 2017 at 12:33 pmZJZJ

    Really enjoyed the first ep and looking forward to more. I kinda went in without any idea of what the show was or remembering anything about the synopsis, so I didn’t know what to expect.
    But the setting interested me straightaway with the whole village-y feel and natural use of powers. Based on that alone I thought it would be lighthearted and slice of life-y, which I didn’t mind since I like the characters and the character interactions felt natural.
    Then came along the new girl. “Ooh, so there’s more to this show! Great!” were my thoughts. Then the weird thing with the elders and the sense of lots of missing information in this peaceful village – it reminded me of shin sekai yori as well, a little. Then the three of them sailing away – and I thought this would be a trio I’ll be interested in seeing the interactions of, and learning more about the world with them.

    Overall, as someone who didn’t expect anything or know what to expect, it kept giving me more things to like and look forward to. I liked it before anything even got started, so I’m sure I’ll like it more from now on. Really happy about it and will keep watching.

    • October 12, 2017 at 1:04 pmZaiden

      Hey ZJZJ! I’m looking forwards to more as well.

      Imagine if our protagonists survive and get away, but all the elders died. Those gaps in information would never be filled in. What a terrifying thought!

      Anyway, also really happy I got to find it too and will definitely continue to watch this.

  • October 12, 2017 at 5:36 amjhpace1

    So many things to comment on about this anime, but many people have above have already voiced them. I’m also getting a Dark Sun vibe with the world of sand, rainwater being precious, and the isolation on the Mud Whale.

    http://randomc.net/image/Kujira%20no%20Kora%20wa%20Sajou%20ni%20Utau/Kujira%20no%20Kora%20wa%20Sajou%20ni%20Utau%20-%2001%20-%20Large%20Preview%2002.jpg
    The preview is what gets me. We are about to see an “island paradise meets empire”? The reason for so many people in masks – to hide their identity, and suppress their emotions as they use their telekinetic powers for the empire? This isn’t going to be a “local” story, I fear, but a world-wide series that changes the world, much like other anime themes.

    Are we going to see “Thymia slaves”, like Dark Sun? Is water a currency in this world? What about religion, and how it affects everyone? Or is this simply the Big Empire the characters are about to run across?

    • October 12, 2017 at 1:07 pmZaiden

      At first, I assumed this was pretty lighthearted, and was prepared to praise that aspect of the series. But then I caught the preview, and as you say, those masked people don’t look like good news.

      Anyway, a complete gamble, but I’m sure as heck we’ll have a tonal shift down the line. You make some good points as to how these figures might serve the Empire, and talk of Thymia slaves are a real possibility. You also hit the nail on the head – Kujira feels epic because it affects the entire world in which our characters live in.

  • October 12, 2017 at 6:48 amTCHKM

    This seems similar to Shin Sekai Yori but this is more similar to Simoun. It was set in a semi-uotapian world(there were some violent nations) where all children were born as females. They had ability to pilot special aircrafts. After reaching a certain age they had to choose a gender and the won’t be able to pilot those aircrafts anymore.

    • October 12, 2017 at 1:08 pmZaiden

      I’ve never seen Simoun myself, but sure sounds interesting! I might consider giving it a go, though I have less free time these days.

      • October 12, 2017 at 9:54 pmWorldwidedepp

        in Simoun, priestess and their Vehicles are used for War… It is a bit different then here

  • October 15, 2017 at 11:01 amWorldwidedepp

    Ep 02:

    I just saw some screenshots, but that alone made me uneasy… The cliffhanger..

    Seems like Shin Sekai Yori is alive

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