Anime Review: A Lull in the Sea

January 5, 2017

Hikari looking out at sea

I hope that everyone is doing well, and have made realistic goals for the new year.

While I cannot say that I have made any goals, I do at least get enough peace and quiet to relax and do something enjoyable.

As many of you know, I got three anime titles last year that I have been meaning to get through, and I have covered one of those three so far.

Today, I will reviewing another one of those titles, which is called A Lull in the Sea (part 1 and part 2).

Hikari & friends

There exists two villages located next two each other that have shared history, yet do not get along too well.

One of those two villages exists under the sea, and when the local middle school closes down, four childhood friends are forced to attend a school the other village while learning about what is important and that the things that they believed may not be the truth.

Manaka smiling

I am not too sure about this one.

While I did enjoy it when I first saw this on Crunchyroll, which, unfortunately lists the sub and dub as separate shows, unlike Toradora!, opinions do not always remain the same.

Fortunately, there are things that I liked, so I do not need to skip right on into right what I hated.

I liked how I was pulled right on into the show from the very first episode to the point where I did not want to stop watching, for the most part, for any particular reason.

Even though people would say that it is because of the visuals, which do seem to look pretty nice, even compared to how many landscape photos there are out in the world, I was more interested in seeing how the characters that we meet in the beginning develop in an environment that they are not used to being in and how their bonds would be challenged.

Now, some people might find this relatively boring, as they might want something closer to Attack on Titan or any of the anime that my generation grew up watching, but many of those titles do not really have much substance to them and they will grow rather stale, not to mention age horribly.

However, when a show does not have a heavier focus on fighting than developing its characters, though it is possible to have characters grow while fighting others, it tends to feel more satisfying and/or has a message that could transcend time.

True, it is not like that for all series or the entirety of any anime, but that does not change the fact that the do have that potential.

Speaking of messages that could transcend time, I liked how many of the characters went through some of the same things we may experience or have experienced, such as the pain that comes from having feelings for somebody.

While it was part of made things feel over the top, and may seem unimportant to people like me, we all have those times where we feel like it is better to not be able to fall in love, and the show does a good job of showing that the absence of those feelings might not be as great as we think at the time because it can hurt ourselves and others, much like how we push people away or refuse the help when we need it hurts both parties, when we are only trying to be considerate.

Likewise, when Manaka, who sacrificed herself to make sure that her friend's big sister would not be separated from her family, was brought back up, her friends were in pain because they did not think that she could be happy, and every time that she even thought about things like love, she was experiencing pain herself, yet did not know why and was wondering what love was.

Unfortunately, love is one of those things that can be understood by experiencing it yourself, so I cannot really grade P.A. Works on how well they explored the matter, especially because anime tends to be a real mixed bag on what love is outside of a family paradigm.

Still, P.A. Works does deserve some credit for exploring issues like this, so I will give them some minor applause.

I also liked how the adults did not always seem to be like adults at all.

On a few occasions when I was hanging out at a friend's place and watching television with them, one of their parents would come in and express disgust about seeing how adults in those shows were not acting adults or seemed to be dumber than the kids, because they thought adults would not do that kind of stuff.

While I will say that those shows probably portrayed that did take some liberties, because the premise or format called for it, much like how the police in detective, mystery, and crime fiction works tend to come off as more incompetent than the police in real life, adults do not always act adults, with the results of the election between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, or, as some would refer to them, the halfwit and the criminal, being a good and recent example.

Because of this fact, I would have been mad had P.A. Works made the adults always act in the way that an adult is expected to act, though that does not mean that we should treat adults like children either.

After all, if the adults always acted liked adults, they would not feel as human as the characters in Weston Kincade's A Life of Death, which showed some good instances of adults not being adults, and I do not think readers or anime fans would want characters that do not feel like humans.

Fortunately, seeing as P.A. Works did not do that, they deserve a lot of praise because the staff that they had working on this seems to understand how to create human-like characters.

Another nice thing about this show was how I was able to get a chuckle out of the show a few times.

Even though it did not have me laughing as much as Barakamon, Baka & Test, and D-Frag!, it did have me laughing a bit.

The funniest were scenes that were one of those that would have seemed to be embarrassing when we were young, but are not big deal as we get older or it is happening to somebody else.

I really reminded me of how we tend to worry more about what others think than what is really important, which plagues us for our whole lives, and that made things almost as funny as seeing Mikoto Misaka from the Raildex universe becoming embarrassed when others notice what she likes.

As much as I want to give P.A. Works a lot of credit though, this kind of stuff is fairly common in anime now, and not as funny, so I we just have to give them a thumbs up for doing a decent job.

The thing that I liked the most though was that this series was dubbed and is available on both iTunes and Amazon (part 1 and part 2).

While this was not the first title that NIS America has released dubbed, nor is it the first series from them that I watched dubbed, I have had issues with them because NIS America used to focus only on subtitling anime and they only released subbed anime in stores like iTunes, with Pandora Hearts and Toradora! being good examples, while the dubs were only available on Blu Ray or DVD.

Now, some of you guys might be saying that this is no big deal, because of the opinion that watching anime subbed is a better experience than watching it dubbed, but, as I brought it up my review of Toradora! and the Lupin III vs Detective Conan special, there are problems that crop up with subs that do not exist in dubs.

For the longest time, NIS America has been the biggest offender when it comes to poorly subbed anime, in terms of the subtitle quality, not the quality of the translations used for those subtitles, because they do not have a good track record of creating easy to read subtitles, which made me swear off getting anything from them unless it was dubbed or they improved the quality of theirs subs.

However, things seemed to have changed over at NIS America, and, while I do not know if their subtitles are any easier to read now, somebody decided to start releasing the dubbed versions of some of their titles on digital storefronts, instead of just in physical formats, which seems to rival the prices of Aniplex of America's releases.

By distributing it through this method, not only can I get the titles at a cheap price, but I also do not have to worry about shelf space or if I have a headache, and that makes me want to give NIS America a big round of applause.

If they can release more titles into various channels both subbed and dubbed, I might be more in the mood to buy their titles.

Unfortunately, many of the titles I do want to see from them are still subbed only or only available dubbed on Blu-ray or streaming services, so it will take a bit more time for their reputation with me to turn around, especially because of how impressed I was with Discotek's subbed releases.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked.

Because the adults were portrayed as actual people, even the moments where they do not act like adults and the characters go through things that we have experience or will experience, as well as the fact that this is one of the few NIS America dubs available for digital purchase, this was a fairly decent show.

adults arguing amongst themselves

Although I liked the show, there are some issues.

However, aside from issues that are too minor to about, only two things really bothered me.

First, I could not really feel for many of the troubles that the characters face.

While there were a ton of scenes that exude some emotion, which I do expect to see in a good series, there seemed to be way too many of them present.

Readers and anime fans may want to be able to connect with the characters on an emotional level and understand what they are going through, but things really need to be balanced out.

It is like stretching out a story beyond the appropriate end. If there is too much of it, the feelings that the audience got while first watching the show will suddenly vanish.

You should have known that much, P.A. Works, because I have seen a lot of your titles and almost none of them have me walking away with the same kind of feelings as Narcissu or Clannad, but you failed to deliver in that respect, much like many, but not all, of your other works.

Honestly, it is no wonder that there are people complaining when there is too much melodrama, and shows that the staff does need to mature a bit more.

The thing that I hated the most though was how this series did not seem like one complete story.

When I first watched this over on Crunchyroll, I liked the series more than I did right now, but this is the one thing that seemed to have been the same between the two viewings.

In the first half of the show, there is heavy focus on the characters and their troubles, while also trying to get the villages to come together to prevent a calamity that is to come, but things did not really carry over all that much into the second half.

Yes, the second half did answer a few things and ended it with a happy ending, but that still does not mean that the show does not feel like one intertwined story.

What is going on, P.A. Works? Instead of getting better, you are getting worse.

Many anime fans like anime because most of titles have one cohesive story for the entire duration of the show. We do not like when things are not that connected, and that might be why 26 episodes is hard to a stretch a series out for.

However, this is not one of those titles, because this feeling of the stories being different makes me feel more lost than how I felt watching ef – A Tale of Memories.

If I had to say why this felt like two separate stories, it would have to be because one of the characters experienced a bit of memory loss and the second half is spent trying to get those memories, in addition to the ability to fall in love, back, and there is a five-year gap in the storyline.

Even though there are a few anime that do feature a time skip, such as Boku Dake ga Inai Machi and many of the popular anime, the journey still feels like the same journey, instead of an entirely new one or one that fixes the mistakes of the previous one.

P.A. Works, however, decided to two have two separate journeys.

Seriously! This series would have been a whole lot better if Manaka was killed off, or if P.A. Works split this up into multiple seasons than ran at different times.

Unfortunately, I doubt that P.A. Works would ever learn, and all I can hope is that I will be proven wrong.

While there were only two things that bothered me, they both hurt the series enough that it went from being great to just being okay.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the negative aspects were major enough to make this good enough to only kill time.

I recommend this to fans of P.A. Works and those that want to see some character growth, but only if you take a good long break from the series after episode 13 before watching 14-26.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but my recommendation of taking a break from the series after the first half should still be followed.

What are your thoughts on A Lull in the Sea? Did you like it or hate it? Do agree that one of the series worst flaws is that it does not have one cohesive story or am I missing something? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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