Children of the Sea (Volume 1)
Children of the Sea is a strikingly beautiful book. From the animals and settings to the characters and how they maneuver through their environments, it's all executed masterfully. I particularly like the underwater and half-submerged scenes and the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the aquarium where the main character's (Ruka's) father works. The art is mostly very soft and delicate, and gets very detailed when it comes to certain animals and backgrounds. Igarashi also does some more sketchy art at various points throughout the book, comes up with some really intricate pretty symbols that decorate the volume, and plays with watercolor to spectacular effect (except for a scene in the middle of the volume that isn't in color - without the color, the watercolor just looks muddy). Beyond the art, there are some really interesting things going on with Ruka and her family, particularly the relationship between her parents. The two boys that she befriends at the aquarium are very odd, as is the circumstances that envelope Ruka and her new friends, of fish disappearing the world over that may have something to do with a "ghost" that they all saw when they were younger that is still playing a part in their lives. This overlying mystery is trying to say something to give the book some substance, about how things in the universe are connected, that sort of thing, but overall, this is a pretty straight-forward story. There are some strange, intriguing things going on here, but the real draw of this title is the beautiful art. As part of Viz's new Ikki line, it sort of falls short of anything I would consider "alternative" in the world of manga, but ignoring that label, Children of the Sea is a pretty solid new title.