'Children of the Sea', directed by Ayumu Watanabe, has released on VOD (Video on Demand) and it's bound to confuse some of you — well most of you. It is a complex film with dense imagery and symbolism and does take several viewings to process the storyline.
At the outset, we think we can see where the story is going. Ruka is the 'problem child', whose parents are too busy with their professional lives and personal woes to pay much notice to her. Her father works at an aquarium and Ruka is haunted by memories of a childhood visit when she felt something — a glowing presence. But no one knows this. Her mother sits and drinks beer all day. At the beginning of the film, Ruka gets aggressive with her classmates while playing games, and initially, she seems like the average teenager. The story has a path. Or so we think.
However, that's when the film surprises you. Ruka encounters a boy swimming among the whales in the aquarium. The boy is named Umi (which means sea in Japanese). He has a brother named Sora (meaning sky in Japanese), and the two say they were raised by dugongs. Ruka becomes friends with the two boys and they discover a powerful connection to the sea. Meanwhile, there are other things occurring in the world.
We see glimpses of whales in Manhattan, animals are vanishing and aquatic life has gathered around a meter crash. The tale of the brothers becomes clearer and it is revealed that they have a short lifespan, though we are not exactly certain why. Watanabe wishes to portray the inherent doom that prevails on the planet along with life lessons of the universe. He attempts to illustrate the connection between the stars in the sky and the depth of the ocean. This explains the entire acid-psychdelic trip that Ruka seems to take through the ocean and it's a crucial journey that changes her personality forever. The boys have gone and have taken something of her with them.
At the end of the film, a woman on a boat explains to her that the children of the sea 'appear discreetly' and talk to them 'softly'. "They tell us, where we are from, and we are headed in life. It has been revealed to us in shapes and sizes... a goddess kissed by a whale, or boys who leap through time. Even in the palm of your hand, there is a story. The universe is hiding in another form." Ruka sighs and wishes she could see Umi and Sora once again.