Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto
A ring breaks the surface of the ocean and sinks towards the bottom. Before it reaches the ocean floor, it is intercepted by Marin, a mermaid. Entranced by the beautiful ring, she resolves to go into the surface world to find the person who lost it into the depths of the ocean and return it. However, the surface dweller in question, Kanon, wants nothing to do with it and throws it into the island forest instead. Urin, Marin's sister, goes to look for the ring so that they can get this business over with and return to the sea, far from the uncaring surface dwellers.
While doing this, she is manipulated into releasing the surface half of an ancient evil by the name of Sedna, and it immediately sets out to release its other half so that it can cover the world in darkness.
I have no idea what inspired Junichi Sato to go out and create this show, but if I told you it was based on a pachinko game, would you take it seriously?
Well, you should, and I'm not saying that just because Sato himself decided to helm this project. (Fresh off his work on Aria, even.) Nor should you dismiss it because of its rudimentary plot, because that's not all this show has to offer.
While part of Umi Monogatari is a magical girl/shrine maiden show, the settings, the animation and the art lends it a peaceful and gentle feel. The island where the show is taking place in is gorgeous, a sunlit paradise that wouldn't feel out of place in Aria, and watching this island slowly get swallowed up in the darkness is almost intimidating. There are one or two... odd logical fallacies, like how can tears trail down one's cheeks when you're underwater, but outside of that, I can think of nothing to complain about.
The characters are mostly made up of girls -- a Sato trait, methinks -- all cute as buttons, save possibly Kanon, who tends to fall into spells of evil auras at times. Then again, she's the one caught up between not wanting to be a fortune teller like her mother wants her to, but rather go to the big city and attend college. Of course, Marin loves her unconditionally all the same, just as she does everyone else, because that's just the kind of character she is. (Not to mention she's got long, blonde hair and a rather generous set of curves.) She IS unique in her unconditional love, though, seeing as the other residents of the sea has a somewhat... less positive view on the land dwellers.
And yes, the name of Marin's sister is Urin, so get your yuks out of the way now before you go and watch it. (I tell you; she could NEVER attend a school in Norway, for instance, since her name is basically the Norwegian word for... well, yeah. The teasing would simply never end.) She is, naturally, not quite as eager to head to the surface, and while she's not as outwardly racist against the human beings as fellow mermaid Warin, she isn't too keen on them either. Then again, she's just a child, which means she's more prone to spells of jealousy and despair, which, again, leads to some pretty tense situations in the last half of the show. The fact that she's outlandishly adorable just makes it all worse.
Rounding off the main cast is Matsumoto, the talking turtle. He's the one who guides the maidens of the sea and sky. He's generally more forgiving of the humans than your average mermaid, but finds himself exhasperated by Kanon's cynicism. He's also old enough to have lived through Sedna's last attempt to cover the world in darkness, so he has some idea what they're going up against.
Then again, things are usually never that easy, which is why this show stands above your average magical girl/shrine maiden shows. (Not that I've seen much of the latter.) Umi Monogatari does lend itself to some enemy-of-the-week encounters for a couple of episodes, but it becomes quite clear that "darkness" has quite a few more facets than most shows tend to portray.
And those bastards got Muramatsu Ken to do the music too, which made the soundtrack a certain must-buy for me. He lends the calm, balmy mood of the island a mellow, jazzy house-band feel, much like he did in Sketchbook ~Full Color's~, but he also adds a few touches of single-instrument Ukulele pieces and shrine maiden song. (Which is even an island special in this show.) These people sure know how to yank my musical crank.
Maybe it's because Umi Monogatari manages to hit that right balance of seriousness and silliness that makes it so much fun to watch. It's also atmospheric as sin, and aware enough to realize that its characters aren't just going to spontaneously change just because someone gives the right kind of pep talk. Its usage of the character Sedna is about as accurate as AMG's use of the three norns, but that's ok. The surprises this show have in store for you is worth it, and the atmosphere is what will make you want to return.
It's a recent Junichi Sato work, which is the only reason you should ever need, but if that's not enough for you; it's also a visual and aural pleasure by itself. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: It's got the kind of violence that should be expected from a show of this kind; relatively mild battles. The main payload of this show is angst and darkness, none of which is very direct or physical.
Version(s) Viewed: Prelicense digital source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto © 2009 ZEXCS
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