It’s not often that an anime comes along that carefully manages to balance and portray mature themes without overwhelming its audience or drowning its positive message. To this extent Children of the Whales unlocks the potential to be a masterful piece of work but sadly it falls short of reaching those great heights.
Based on the titular manga, Children of the Whales is set in a world where sand has replaced the seas and the population has been divided into two groups, the marked and the un-marked. The former posses supernatural abilities which also shortens their lifespan considerably and the latter is your regular everyday human. In the story we follow Chakuro, a marked teenager who works as an historian and archivist, obsessed with cataloguing the the daily happenings on the Mud Whale, an island or ship of sorts which constantly moves with the current of the sand and where the story is centred.
Following the chance discovery of another island, Chakuro joins the scouting party and soon comes to realise the original inhabitants came to a grizzly end and happens upon the only survivor, Lykos. This chance meeting with an exotic and mysterious girl sets in motion a series of events which comes to shatter the daily routines and lives of those on the Mud Whale and sees the islanders come into conflict with not only a powerful hostile force, but also their past and with themselves.
For an anime to present the themes of war, the use of child soldiers, class struggles and be able to manage and project these subjects in a subtle, almost gentle and non overwhelming manner is not easy and I have to commend the show for this near perfect execution. With that said, the story begins to fall apart in the latter stages and starts feeling too rushed. Characters begin to bounce in and out and as you hold out a little hope of some character development, the show seemingly stumbles and your fighting a constant sense of frustration of what could have been.
The story will continue but I doubt there will be much of an improvement.