Imagine a world where sea and land are the largest bridge we have to gap as people. A societal space that seeds a deep prejudice within each community. People of the land seen as outcast, those who stripped Ena the very thing that allows humans to live in the sea, for a life away from it. Now one may think with this brief synopsis A Lull At Sea would be an anime that takes a hard look at what it means to be human, how religion and divine intervention shape us, or simply a tale of how even the broadest of gaps can be bridged in times of crisis. That, however, would be a stretch to a conclusion if I have ever seen one.
Animated by P.A. Works and carrying a beefy score of 8.10 on MAL, A Lull At Sea is a 26 episode Fall 2013 series that has in every right earned the title as a classic. A complicated tale of love and loss as 7 of the main characters fight to receive the love of one of the others, only to determine their love interest is in love with someone else. It’s like a soap opera with 14-year-olds that personalities span from the cool quite type, to the moron, to the dick. And honestly, I hated every second of it.
Following (main main) Sakishima Hikari it is quickly shown he is in love with airhead Mukaido, Manaka. The only issue is Hikari is a massive abusive asshole who is quick to rush to conclusions and has the temper of a raging alcoholic. And for some fucking reason, has the most girls longing for him in the show. The series starts out as the main children of the sea, Chisaki, Manaka, Hikari, and Kaname are headed up to land for school, as the one in the sea has closed. After verbally abusing Manaka a bit Hikari and crew decide to head up without her, waiting for her on the pier Hikari looks out at a fishing boat who reels in a catch, on the boat is student Kihara, Tsumugu and the catch is none other than Manaka. As they stare at each other, one on the boat one in a fishing net. Hikari describes the moment as a fated encounter and feels in that instant he has lost his love to the land.
Which is a major jump to conclusions but that is all this show is. A bunch of brats getting jealous and mad, throwing each other under the bus to get any type of upper hand. In short, it’s slow-burn melodrama shit and in the worst way possible. The series starts to grow some teeth around episode 13 but it quickly runs out of steam by episode 17 slowing back down to a series that tries way too hard to convey the emotions and pain these kids are feeling.
There is also a strange 5-year time jump that throws two land girls, Shiodome, Miuna, and Hisanuma, Sayu into the fray. But, I stuck with it, I mean it has an 8.10 score on MAL for Christ’s sake there has to be something in this show. Maybe it is like Angel Beats, the ending is the meat and it all comes together. So on episode 26, I watched every second, the intro, the outro the credits. I wanted to savor this moment, Violet Evergarden was one of the slowest burning series I have ever seen but in the end, it had me in tears, maybe A Lull just needed a little more time to do it.
But in short, nothing happened.
Loves were acknowledged but only one relationship actually formed. In a sense, it was one of the biggest opt-out closings in a series. Throughout the show all the kids are afraid of one thing, changing. They don’t want their loved ones to change they don’t want to change themselves. They are constantly afraid of change because they don’t want this tight group of friends to fall out, but that is something that is both toxic and unreal. One of the greatest things about having friends and growing up with them (I’m speaking as someone who is in a long term relationship with my high school sweetheart) is watching them change, it’s not easy, sometimes it’s really hard and who they become may have not been the person you fell in love with but that is also (I think) part of the beauty.
Changing is a human event. Taste buds, inspirations, likes, and dislikes change constantly as people go through their lives. Events, hardships, love, loss, all of these play to how a person matures. What all of them were afraid of is one of the greatest tools of a slice of life anime, how they mature and change. So throughout this whole 25 or so episodes, I was expecting a build-up to change, but it never occurs. It was the biggest miss I think the series could have done, when I say nothing happened, I mean it in its truest form. Confessions happened sure, but what comes out of it? Seemingly nothing. They still go to school, they still remain friends, and that’s it.
All and all I hate that I hated this show. It has been something on my watch list for literal years and being dressed up as one of the most complex love struggles I went into expecting to feel sadness, pain, love, and loss. But in the end, I was filled with meh, and disappointment. I feel like if I watched this show in 2014 a year after it came out I may have felt differently. But how romance and drama play out in anime in 2021, in short, the shit doesn’t add up.
As always, thanks for the read!