This is one of those stories that drops you in the middle of things and tries to explain some aspects of this odd and strange life that you have encountered, but not explain too much, kind of like the lives that these people are leading. This is “Kujira no Kora wa Sajō ni Utau”(“Whale Calves Sing on the Sand” or “Children of the Whales”.)
It is the Year 93 and we focus our attention on Chakuro (that guy with the papers in his hand). He is an archivist and is charged with the task of protecting the past records and keeping an updated record for future generations. He, with a group of other people live on a giant vessel called a Mud Whale that drifts over the seas of sand. Yes, although a naval vessel, the ‘ocean’ is actually sand, but it can be as treacherous as water is.
On the Mud Whale, society is divided into two kinds of people: the Marked, who can move objects with their minds using a strange power called ‘thymia’, at the expense of shortened lifespans, and the Unmarked, people who lack thymia but enjoy longer lifespans. Chakuro is Marked but is not aware of what that fully means, nor of his shortened life. One day, they encounter another ship like theirs and Chakuro finds a girl inside, Lykos (to his left), starting an adventure that changes the lives of everyone.
This is a discovery series, much like ‘Gargantia’ was, in trying to find your place in the world and learning those dark secrets that were kept from you, secrets that change everything that you know and where your life will go. It’s just that when they are attacked by The Empire (and Lykos’ brother is on that ship) that they realize there is a lot more going on than they first knew or could even imagine.
That being said, the bad guys have even less motivation than those on the Mud Whale. It seems more that they were ordered to do something and they do it, but do not know or understand why they do it. They just do it, but they do spout off that indoctrination nonsense, which means that people are not to think for themselves. And those in charge appear to be in charge because they have hung around long enough to pretend they have ‘wisdom’ and deserve to lead.
Also, for a bunch of pacifists, the Mud Whale folks eventually give as good as they get, despite some truly appalling losses. It’s really hard to play catch-up with life when you discover there were a lot of things you didn’t know and you have almost no time to learn it all. The end of the series smacks of another season, as a new and grand adventure has presented itself to those who have survived.
The show feels like one giant flashback, as if Chakuro is on the verge of getting his Viking funeral and is passing on his knowledge to the person that will replace him and what lies ahead for all involved. The fight sequences felt off, as you have a choice of either fight or die and a load of folks were given the latter option. Although that second season would explain things better, I have a feeling this is the end of the road (or the shipping lane) for this tale. Guess I’ll have to read the manga…
Binge the show, as it plays out pretty close to real time and you need the confusion and uncertainty when something completely unexpected makes landfall (so to speak) and you have to really fly by the seat of your pants.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Standard approach)
Plot 7 (Rather typical)
Pacing 7 (A lot of hurry-up-and-wait)
Effectiveness 7 (Too many secrets)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 9 (Plays the tension far better)
Overall 7 (Good story, hurt by thinness of the full history)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I must write it down.