Ruka gets kicked off her handball team for the entirety of summer vacation, but she can’t stand to be at home with her mother, so she leaves her home every day in search of something to quell her spirit. On one of her unfulfilling adventures, she meets Umi, a strange boy who swims at length in the ocean and says Ruka has the same curiosity as him and his brother. Once released from the hospital, brother Sora joins the two and gets them into more trouble out on the open water with a “commandeered” boat belonging to the local aquarium. One of the workers there has been looking after Sora and umi, and tells Ruka he believes the boys were raised in the ocean by dugongs. Out in the deep water, Ruka witnesses a whale shark glowing and becoming lights that resemble stars, just like a ghost in the aquarium she saw as a young child.
This volume has a lot of set up and moves at a slower pace than most manga. There is a sense of urgency at the end in regards to Umi and Sora, so some readers who are invested in them might continue reading. There are moments where we peek into Ruka's past and her family life, which are great for her characterization, but otherwise, Ruka is an audience stand-in, meant to observe Umi and Sora and try to figure out how they're different. She could use some more personality in order to stand up to the two boys. There are also undertones of environmentalism throughout, but ultimately, readers leave this volume with possibly too many questions to keep interested in what's happening.
The illustration style is similar to Paru Itagaki’s in Beastars. Readers who enjoy that unpolished line work and varied textures might be piqued by the art in this title.
VIZ has this in their Signature line, which is intended for older audiences. There are some instances involving alcohol and smoking, but nothing else in the first volume that is inappropriate for younger high school audiences. The density of the story and the slow pacing wouldn't make it a great fit for middle grades or younger.
Sara's Rating: 7/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publisher: VIZ Media
Publication Date: July 21, 2009
ISBN: 9781421529141 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 7/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Mystery, Animals, Friendship, VIZ Media
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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