Set in an alternate world where two subspecies of humans exist, those with the ability to live and breathe underwater and those living on land.
The story follows the close knit group of friends Manaka Mukaido, Hikari Sakishima, Chisaki Hiradaira and Kaname Isaki from the village under the sea Shioshishio, coming of age and learning to come to terms with their emotions and their changing environment.
The story doesn’t have a central protagonist and there is a nice gender balance and it thankfully doesn’t pander to the base with a need for fan-service, clichéd set-ups and ‘walk-in’ scenarios. With characters so close to each other yet so distinctly different in personality you could say they each represent a colour of the rainbow, each serving a purpose and not just lingering in the background only to pop up every so often. Secondary characters also serve to drive the story forwards, giving the anime a well-rounded feel.
At the heart of the story are the central themes of love and friendship. The ability to convey one’s own feelings and respond to another’s is the biggest issue many of the characters suffer from and are in-turn tormented by. With their local school having closed, for reasons I won’t go into here, they attend the middle school above the sea, attempting to make new friends while adjusting to life both above and below the waves. However, facing discrimination from locals, dealing with their own emotions as well as that of their families and fellow villagers, gives birth to an interesting and intriguing story which plays out on this picturesque seaside town.
Emerging through childhood and transcending into early adulthood is a path we’ve all taken and each character in the anime deals with the transition differently. With that said, this isn’t your typical all out predictable romance anime. It retains a sense of mystery, with plots unfolding at a steady pace whilst managing to surprise you here and there. As we dive deeper into the story, its supernatural element begins to reveal itself and we come to learn how humans, who were once one and the same, came to live separately.
The most notable aspect of the series is the artwork which has been given the utmost attention to detail by P.A Works who’ve really pushed the boat out in creating a living, breathing town; which feels all the more real with its astounding voice-cast. I haven’t seen artwork this impressive in quite a while and that really is saying something. The colours aren’t too bright or too vibrant and the undersea village Shioshishio feels alive with gentle currents flowing through, the odd fish swimming by and “drift-bubbles” given off as characters run by.
The series is similar to the much adored Clannad as well as the darker series From The New World; spun like cotton candy on the seashore, it’s managed to capture the warm glow of Clannad and the remote, supernatural, earthy feel of From The New World, to give rise to a beautiful summery anime which we can all relate to. If you’re looking for something different, beautiful, easy-going with enough pull to gently tug at your heart-strings, this is a definite must watch.
A Lull in The Sea is released by MVM Entertainment on the 10th August, with the second part of the anime out on the 7th September.