“I’m Glad I Was Born Here”

「ここに生まれてよかった」 (Koko ni umarete yokatta)

As we accelerate towards the end, everything smashed into fragments, with the series was trying to cram as many loose ends as they could. Rather than attempt to half-heartedly deal with everything at once, which had the side effect of showcasing many flaws, I kind of wish they just focused on fewer things. This was a long time coming, but I shall now proceed to rattle about my gripes.


Jebaited. That sums up how I felt, when the attempted revolution fell apart in a couple of seconds like a damp squib. If there’s one thing I absolutely detest, it would be intentionally misleading viewers by having Chakuro ominously narrate the end of the previous episode, when nothing was ever going to happen. This isn’t even misdirection, so much as plain deceit. Remember, never go all-in when your poker hand consists of literally nothing. Otherwise, you’ll end up with nothing left in the bank! Though it’s not like Kujira had anything to spare at this point anyway…

Last Look at the Empire

I never wanted to see Liontari again, so other than voicing the same old dissatisfaction, I don’t intend on pursuing that topic any further. Orca makes a final appearance, shedding some light on the sarx (Greek for Flesh), a speciality reserved for the upper class enabling the retention of emotions. As such, it immediately becomes apparent that the Empire’s society faces an endemic issue with corruption, starting from the very top. But because we’ve arrived at the end of our journey, this matter won’t be dealt with any further.

I’m not sure if I should be unhappy at never receiving closure, or whether I should be happy that there was no opportunity to mess this up as well. For someone who possessed the makings of a great anti-villain, it’s a real shame how Orka’s thought process is never properly explored. From what I can tell, he wanted to create a better world, where people won’t have to kill one another. A noble sentiment worthy of admiration, if not for the shallow circumstances of his character’s creation.

The Truth about Falaina

Suou reveals the truth to the Marked, about the reason behind their shortened lives. Some respond with anger, chucking rocks at him. But amidst the general despair, Ouni steps up to rally the Marked, urging them to respect the sacrifices made by those who died. Then everyone starts singing and dancing and holding hands, which should mean it’s gonna be a happy ending, right?


Final Impressions

No, that was not a happy ending for me personally. If possible, I’d ask for a return on my time investment, since it could have been better spent on other things. For every promise that Kujira made, amounting to delusions of grandeur, it fell miserably short due to conceit. It had a fantastic fantasy setting, and gorgeous visuals to boot, so where did it all go wrong?

One of Kujira’s biggest weaknesses was an inability to adequately address death. In the final episode, Masoo died peacefully, and most of the characters were crying. However, I found it impossible to muster any sense of sadness myself, and it pretty much underlined a huge problem throughout the series. Dying became such a commonplace occurrence, that it became difficult to appreciate the sanctity of life. To top it off, this wasn’t even the first time I experienced such an extreme degree of apathy either. While attempts were made to bestow meaning through the cultural customs surrounding funerals, that just wasn’t enough. Despite being a nice idea, tradition simply cannot compensate for a lack of characterisation, which was sorely missing in our fictional setup.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau itself feels greatly inspired by literary works from classical civilisation, and I can see that it tries to take on their wonderful ideas. But these ideas clearly pose too much of a burden for the plot to withstand, conceptually speaking. And that ultimately came down to the root of our issues – the way in which our story was told. It’s no use having a great vision, if you do not have the means of bringing it about. We saw but a pitiful fraction of Kujira’s vast world. The pacing was all over the place, and the narrative flow was consistently interrupted by interesting yet half-baked ideas – our end product being a mess of unrealised potential. Not only did the plot severely suffer, we didn’t even get to know our protagonists that well! Lykos felt like a complete stranger to me, and when characters cannot be connected with even after a twelve episode run, that begs some serious questions. I think I speak for a lot of people, when I say that Ouni was the only character I liked!

Aye aye. I held out till the end in spite of the warning signs, because I hoped that the ship would eventually correct itself. Many people told me to pull out when there was still time left, but I foolishly ignored them, choosing to wait for the turnaround whilst embarking on a perilous voyage. Instead, our boat fully capsized, sinking alongside all the hopes and dreams that I had for this series. May a season two never grace our shores, amen.

Thanks for sticking with me. So long sailors, and see you on the other side!



    1. So it didn’t get a Season 2 announced upfront? Not surprising. You’ll have to hope it does well on its home video release & Netflix(Who would probably license it again). For what its worth, its being released in two boxsets, the first on Jan 28. So if you follow sales you should look then.

  1. this wasn’t even the first time I experienced such an extreme degree of apathy either

    Apathy = apatoi, so maybe the whole point of this anime was to rob people of emotions just like the Nous do!

    So yes, a bit of a mixed bag. Beautiful artwork and a setting that’s gradually unfolding to reveal a world far more interesting than the little hermetic bubble that was the mud whale before its disastrous encounter with the outside. Set against this, we have the uneven writing, the clumsy exposition and often unengaging characters.

    Still, the end card of the version I watched said “The journey will continue”, so I guess we will be getting a second season at some point and I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

    1. Hey Angelus!

      Given how the source material was a manga, I wondered if many of the issues actually originated from there. As I said, many of the problems with Kujira stemmed from narrative, and as such, I think the anime directing staff are equally as complicit. After all, the hallmarks of an impeccable adaptation come from creative decisions that mitigate weaknesses or bring about improvement.

      It’s not like the director (Kyouhei Ishiguuro) is a slouch either, given his track record with Shigatsu. But as far as I can tell, his abilities are only proportional with the strength of his source materials. I really enjoyed the mystery set up in Occultic;Nine, and reckon it had some of the most dynamic cinematography from last year. However, when they ran out of source material to adapt, it completely fell off the wayside.

      Now, Kyouhei Ishiguro is still a young director, meaning he has many years left in the industry. However, he sure has a lot that he can learn. Otherwise, we might see a one-trick pony, who can only handle shows on the merit of their source material.

      1. Shigatsu, eh? I hadn’t been sufficiently engaged with Kujira to follow up on the staff, so that’s interesting because Shigatsu was another show I enjoyed almost in spite of itself.

  2. Well put, @Zaiden. This anime was like someone read Shin Sekai Yori and wanted to “improve” it by dropping the intelligence level and adding a seasoning of anime tropes. It’s hard to believe how badly this show managed to bungle its potential when it came to actually creating a sensible and engaging story on the stage of its initially interesting-looking setting and admittedly very pretty backgrounds.

    1. The lack of subtlety certainly didn’t help. Someone who I know said they felt that their intelligence was insulted, and I can certainly see where they came from.

      Some things were so obvious, but Kujira had to come up with ways of hammering the point home, even after the horse was beaten dead. The dead horse’s name? Nuance.

  3. The show is beautiful in its artistic direction and use of colour. The story itself never went anywhere after the first few episodes. The story revelations were uninspired and poorly executed. Example: That the sand whale fed on the lifespan of the marked was obvious the moment that Lykos mentioned that her people aren’t short-lived and sacrificed emotions to their engine. Bringing it as a revelation in the 11th episode is both very late for this to occur, and it didn’t take into account that this isn’t new information for any human viewers.

    Worse still, this show failed to produce likeable characters beyond Sami whom was the one character that felt like a real person beyond her character description as she acted and showed emotions all the way through. The others seemed like puppets that are there just to convey the burial ritual that the show is so enamoured with.

    Most damning of all: What exactly did this show convey in its 12 episodes of runtime? They did not explore the repercussions of the short-lived marked people. They did not bring any degree of closure to the story or provided a message the author wants us to hear. It is empty, much like those soldiers of the empire.

    Even its universe is poorly thought out. The inconsistencies show through the cracks of the fabric. Why is the empire using poorly trained children as their soldiers if they aren’t hampered by short-life spans? If the sacrifice of emotions is needed for their ship’s engines, then what is up with the capital which appeared to be inland? To whom do the people there feed their emotions?

    Long story short: The boldness and audacity of its first episode hinted that this could be an intriguing speculative tale like shin sekai yori, Terra e… or last exile. It wasn’t. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

  4. Why is the empire using poorly trained children as their soldiers if they aren’t hampered by short-life spans?

    Although it’s not been stated specifically, it’s fairly clear that their Thymia is still only usable when they are young, even though they may have a normal lifespan.

    To whom do the people there feed their emotions?

    To Anthropos, the “First Nous” of the Emperor.

    But yes, this show is spending too much time badly channeling Shin Sekai Yori and even maybe Equilibrium. And yet the hope that there will be a second season has made me really come to quite like it at the end.

    1. I did hear about Anthropos, but it should be related to the mothership. The capital seemed separate to me from the mothership. Then again, it may not be after all. Perhaps this “empire” doesn’t actually consist out of any large domains.

      As for the need to be a child for thymia: I did not think this was the case with the empire due to how they paid for their power. If it is, then there is still the question whether organized troops wouldn’t outperform these passive soldiers we got to see here.

      The one bright thing about the show is that they did try to do something original here, which I will applaud. If only it had legs.

  5. What went wrong? Well for me they stuck to long on this War thing, and much Blood, slaughter and what they got in the end?

    Also this
    feel like “cut” into the Story. As if they did not know any better and “imported” some alliance.. When they never saw other Island as only the aggressors.. Did i miss something? So the other Islands know the “position” of each one?…

    As i said, it feel like smashed between the Storyline

    I lost the urge to watch it, when the frist attack wave cost some life. Soon after that i lost hope to find the way back into this anime.. to much War, sadness, grief and such.. to lessen “Light”

      1. I just need to turn on the TV and watch the News to get an handful of this sadden stories. So why i “hurt” me to watch this things i try to avoid?

        Well, this is my try to explain it with words

      1. My internet friends were all surprised seeing me commenting every week.
        You see, for worse it is wouldn’t be a good thing if the anime managed to surprise me in a good way? I insisted half wanting to confirm my impression and half wanting to be wrong.
        I was not wrong.

  6. I am getting sick of the Netflix licensing. It almost forces you to want to get it illegally since you won’t view it until after everyone is done discussing it. Does anyone have a work around or suggestion for how to see it when it is being discussed.


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