Children of the Whales – Another Stop on the Netflix Journey

Enter a Storybook World…

Image result for children of the whalesOn an endless sea of sand floats a lone island known as the Mud Whale. It’s like something out of a story book, the villagers there living peaceful lives. Chakuro is one such person, he is a young record keeper for the Mud Whale. One day, a new island floats by and Chakuro is among those who go to scout it. There he makes a startling discovery, a lone girl named Lykos. However, with her discovery, the Mud Whale would soon lose their peaceful existence.

Once again I’m back with another entry in my Netflix journey. After the disastrous “documentary”, Enter the Anime, pretty much anything would be a welcome improvement. I had heard some really positive things about the first episode of this show, but had been warned it wouldn’t quite keep the quality. That said, I decided to check things out for myself.

Image result for children of the whales
The Mud Whale

In a lot of ways, this show reminded me of From the New WorldUnlike that series, Children of the Whales, only has a single 12 episode season to work with and it really shows. This isn’t to say that the anime is bad, it was pretty decent, but if you are expecting a tight conclusion, you simply won’t get it.

Other than that, you are going to see a lot of things in common. Folks have magic powers, their is a council of elders that holds many secrets, etc… There are key differences too of course, but I would confidently say if you enjoyed one, you’d almost certainly enjoy the other.

What stood out the most for Children of the Whales was its unique art style. It was no exaggeration when I called this a “storybook world” at the start of the article. Everything has this painterly feelingly, with a soft watercolor-esque palette. This was cool for a few reasons.

The first being that it was really unique. I can’t think of many shows that have utilized this kind of aesthetic, especially for its entire run. Secondly, it cleverly hides the true nature of the series. I won’t spoil things for you, but things do take a turn after a few episodes.

However, this is not all good though. As a result of this art style, the characters often look out of place on the backgrounds. They are drawn in a far too traditional way, lacking any of the softness of the background. Occasionally somebody looks like they belong, but a majority of the cast has this issue of popping off the background, rather than fitting into it.

The issues don’t cease to end here though. As I hinted at earlier, the writing suffers as a pretty direct result of the short episode count. Let’s start with Lykos, because that’s where problems really started to creep in.

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Lykos and showing off some of the animation, night skies always looking real good in anime

Lykos is from a different nation than the folks on the Mud Whale, unsurprisingly. Where she is from, people feed their emotions to these creatures and are taught that those with emotions are heathenistic sinners. It’s a cool idea, but here is the problem with it, the “emotionless” people, still have emotions.

Let me explain. It is stated in the series that over time the emotions come back to people if they don’t get rid of them semi-regularly. There is also mention that nobles in this world are permitted to keep a limited amount of emotions, but that is never really explained well. This is fine.

The problem is that countless time you see people who “don’t have emotions” respond as if they do, people you know don’t fit into either of the above exceptions I listed. There is a scene where a whole ship acts surprised by the leader’s commands, scenes where characters act out of fear, anger, or pride, and that is the issue with this plot point. These people just aren’t consistent.

Image result for children of the whales liontari
Liontari

You can really see this in the character Liontari. He’s from the “emotionless” nation but is clearly shown to have the most emotions out of everybody. This is all explained, and is a great idea if everyone else were consistent, but again, they weren’t.

Since people with emotions are evil according to this society, it is strange to me that Liontari is not only a full member of said society, but a member of its military. He’s put on the single most important mission too. He’s shown to have been bullied as a kid some, but other than that, he is fairly well respected. It just didn’t make sense.

If you put aside this rather glaring issue, the rest of the story is compelling. Children of the Whales was genuinely interesting and had a great world that it was building up in spite of these issues. It was just too bad that these issues were distracting because it did drag down the enjoyment level.

This was further compounded by Netflix’s infinite wisdom to not translate and subtitle whole sections of the anime. I was watching dubbed, but I checked, both versions have this issue. Episode 7 has a character sing a song, in universe, that holds plot relevancy. It sees reprisal in the anime, and is later sung by most of the cast later on. So it is obviously pretty important.

Unfortunately, Netflix didn’t seem to think so. The music is great, a genuine point of praise, but not translating this insert song was a big misstep. It’s bad enough when OP’s and ED’s aren’t translated, but a song sung in a show by the cast is pretty unforgivable to leave out. It’s like not translating minutes of dialog for no reason other than to save a few bucks.

This was a show from Fall 2017, when Netflix was still kind of new to this anime game, but even still, this was unacceptable and absolutely worked against the show. It seems like Netflix has learned its lesson with other shows, but to see this title suffer was a disappointing loss.

I say that, because this show is officially canceled by Netflix. You are never going to see how the story ends. There is a point where season one could end and have a decent conclusion, but it clearly builds up a second season in the final few. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Netflix has a horrible habit of doing this and they need to stop!

Sorry for the lack of subtitles, this was the best trailer I could find. It shows off the animation and some music though.

When it comes to my final verdict, I’m somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, it is a good show, but on the other, it has a lot of problems that make recommending it difficult. I’d almost rather say just go watch From the New World over Children of the Whales, because at least you’ll get a full experience there (even if that isn’t without its own flaws). It’s a shame we won’t see more of this, because given a bit more time, I think it would have really hit some high notes.


Have you seen Children of the Whales? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments. If you enjoyed my article, please consider a donation by clicking the Ko-fi button below, I really appreciate the support. Thanks for reading and I hope to see ya again soon!

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28 thoughts on “Children of the Whales – Another Stop on the Netflix Journey

  1. I’ve read the first few volumes of the manga and one of my favourite voice actors (Yuichiro Umehara) did the voice for Ouni (who isn’t too bad-looking himself), so there’s more than enough reason to get around to it…if I ever bother with Netflix in the first place (I obviously don’t, as of this comment). It’s a shame to hear about the song.

    Where did you hear about the season 2s getting cancelled?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sure, don’t let me stop you from watching it 🙂 Yeah, I really liked Lost Song but many didn’t, so I get it at least.

      As for my source, there are several that report on what, Netflix renews or cancels and several had this one listed as canceled. Furthermore, the time window has exceeded when a S2 should have come out as well.

      Like

  2. I really enjoyed this anime and I hated that so many people online were bashing it and giving it insanely low ratings in 2017. Thanks for providing a balanced review of this anime and pointing out some of the things I loved about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really surprised because I remember how much it was hated when it first came out (outside the first episode, which seemed to be universally well-received). There were certainly issues, but nothing that came close to how public perception made it appear. Also, without hindsight, there was no reason to believe a S2 wasn’t coming, had I watched current, I would have given this a stronger recommendation.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading and recognized that I did my best to provide a balanced perspective. I think that’s important to do, even when you really loved or hated a program, so it is something I always try to do (even if sometimes I do better at it than others). Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Children of whales is on my manga read list to start it is spoken in high regard and definitely is worth people’s time according to a manga youtuber I talk with. It’s a series plan to cover on the blog but had no idea a anime was made about it but for this series I am pulled towards the manga more than the anime. enjoyable post to read though Jon. it’s been a while I know since Lita last visited LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s fair, the manga keeps going where the anime doesn’t. The music is very worthwhile and some scenes are drop-dead gorgeous, but the negatives held it back for me with the anime.

      I’m happy to see ya around here 🙂 I know I haven’t been doing to great at visiting lots of folks, so I feel ya haha. Still, thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you around again soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed the story to a point, though the inconsistencies in characters kind of annoyed me. Then of course the lack of ending and knowing we’ll pretty much never see this anime finish makes it fairly hard to recommend. That said, it isn’t a horrible watch and there really were some solid ideas here even if the execution wasn’t quite up to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pretty much, we are on the same page. If this would have gotten a S2, I think it could have recovered and fixed some of the problems present in S1, but Netflix deemed this one unworthy :/

      There were certainly a lot of great things about the show, it just becomes hard to recommend because of how everything turned out altogether with no continuation.

      Ayano is right though, there is the manga if you do want to see the rest, and it is GORGEOUS looking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but there’s always so many books on my reading list I’m not sure I want to add another and unlike Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, this one didn’t leave me with a feeling like I had to know where the story went. While it would be nice, I’m equally happy to move on.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fair enough, I don’t really read manga myself so I’m pretty indifferent. I’ve maybe looked into the manga for a series a whole 3 times ever, otherwise I just have my friend tell me about it since he reads so many.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking into it, I noticed it was actually 2 separate songs. One just builds on the theme of the first. That said, having looked at the lyrics, it was /critical/ but I definitely felt cheated and it hurt my enjoyment.

      If it weren’t for the lack of continuation, I would still recommend it in spite of things. However, with the S2 confirmed never happening, it is more difficult to do so. If you have the time though, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you check it out 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Gotcha. That is really disappointing, but at least you found the lyrics. I’ve certainly called out movies and anime for leaving key subtitles out.

        Understood. That’s a bummer how season 2 isn’t going to materialize. I assume it’s based on a manga, so the rest of the story would be there, but it wouldn’t be the same. I have the day off, so I might have a bit of time to check out this and/or other series there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is manga based. I didn’t know that going into the show but when I was watching/reading reviews I learned that pretty quick. Netflix canceled S2 for a lot of shows it setup for, including Lost Song I learned. Pretty lame.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. The manga is pretty well regarded. It’s got great visuals at worst. Lost Song is a show I covered on here awhile back, it was Netflix’s attempt at a musical reminiscent of older Ghibli films. It had killer music, but just a decent story, though that twist was really good.

              I just can’t believe junk like Hero Mask and 7SEEDS gets more, especially with such sloppy productions, when things that are actually trying fall to the wayside.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I see. That’s good about the manga. I actually started watching the series today. Lost Song did look a bit interesting, but I’m not sure.

                That is a disappointment. It makes you wonder about Netflix’s priorities on distribution let alone who or what gets streaming rights.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Oh cool, I hope you enjoy it 🙂 Lost Song is super niche, but I promise it will pay off if you stick with it. Episode 7 or so is where the “real” story starts, which I know is an ask, but it was worth.

                  Well it seems to be that they only want to produce CG shows right now. Aside from Takagi, and proven winners like Aggretsuko, that seems to be where they are headed. When it comes to Takagi, they bought that up solely because it was a popular title and that’s about it.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Thanks. I’m halfway through the series at the time of this comment. That art style is quite unique to say the least. Good to know about Lost Song.

                    I’ve certainly noticed that with the Ultraman and Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya remakes. CG is getting quite overboard to say the least. I haven’t seen Takagi or Aggretsuko, so I couldn’t tell you anything.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Oh cool.

                      It’s more than just those, and it’s not that I particularly mind all CG (or primarily CG) shows, but I think putting all your stock on them isn’t the best idea. Takagi-san is great! S1 was a Funi licence but Netflix sniped S2.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Sure.

                      I’ve certainly noticed that. They shouldn’t put all their eggs in the CGI basket. Some were alright like ID-0 and Cyborg 009: Call of Justice, but it doesn’t beat traditional 2D animation. Okay, that’s what I was wondering about Takagi.

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmm, this is a real shame indeed. I have to say that the series premise sounds very cool, I like stories such as those. But reading on in your review and seeing how this is not going to continue as well as the numerous flaws, I’m going to pass on this one. Especially since I already have quite a number of shows that I still need to see 😊
    On an unrelated note…did you see my post on my blog today? 🤔🤔 Something about a competition and a certain person winning a prize?🤔😇😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It really is. The show was a good watch, but especially knowing that it will never continue makes it difficult to recommend. Ayano reminded me of the manga, so there is that if you’d prefer. It looks great!

      As to your post 😉 Yes, I got around to it. I schedule these in advance, especially since sometimes I am just getting up by time 11AM rolls around for me. However, it is a great time to post because almost every time zone is awake, or will be soon, by then 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m actually reading more manga than I used to these days, so who knows, I might just go ahead and do that 😊
        hmm🤔 Never thought of that to be honest (that 11 am posting your time). I always tend to post right after getting home from work (because it’s the best time for me, so I have plenty of time to respond to comments and all, and reading other people’s posts 😊).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Let me know if you do, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

          Your method is for posting is perfectly valid. I think this is maybe one of the only things I do to actually optimize engagement on purpose, but originally it was because in my Uni days, I’d always be getting back from class by 11 AM or so, so I could respond to feedback and such.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt like Children of the Whales could have been so much better if Netflix didnt get its hands on it. It had so much potential and I enjoyed the whole concept/story for the most part, but it did lack in areas as you stated above. I guess the manga is really good! The art that I have seen from the covers is brilliantly done. I may have to snag it for my personal collection.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For some of the Netflix shows, I definitely agree. The exposure just isn’t there for most things to succeed well. That said, you are totally right about the manga. I was watching some reviews and they would bring it up, woah, it is really good looking.

      Liked by 2 people

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