At long last, it’s time to dive in to the aquatic romance drama from a while back. This is quite possibly the most dramatic romance that I’ve seen to date. Just about every episode seems to end with a massive cliffhanger like someone confessing or being (literally) swept away before they can do something. It’s a very interesting show so you’ll stay engaged the whole time and ends up being a solid show for that reason. That said, while there are a lot of romances in the show, I can’t say that I could get behind most of them, but the main romance was on point which is what counts right?
The show introduces us to a world very much like ours except for one big difference, a huge chunk of people live underwater. This started ages ago and so there is a divide between those who live underwater and those who live on the surface. They don’t tend to get along very well but at least the kids are allowed to attend school on the surface. They have Ena which effectively lets them breath and interact as normal but they must stay hydrated by swimming or splashing water on themselves every once in a while or they could dry out and die. It certainly makes everyday life a little trickier.
The surface dwellers are all completely normal while the underwater factions get a bit more supernatural too. See, they serve the Sea God and he is represented by a familiar/high priest who accepts their tokens and free meals in exchange for keeping things peaceful. You get the feeling that the surface dwellers wouldn’t buy into that as much. There is a whole world out there but the series mainly sticks to one village. I found myself wondering how the rest of the planet handles the situations and disasters that come into play later on in the series. I guess there wasn’t much time for that but it would have been interesting.
Now lets get to the main story. We follow a group of kids from underwater, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname and they’ve always been a very close knit group. They would like for things to stay the same always but with their having to go to school on the surface and growing up that seems impossible. They’re all changing and there is no way to turn the clock back now. They can at least do one last big project together which is to create a Lady Ojoshi doll to celebrate the annual Ofunehiki festival. This used to be an annual thing before there became a lot of bad blood between the two factions of humans.
Having kids from the sea and surface work on this together could help to finally heal the divide but it won’t be easy because Hikari isn’t particularly happy about this. He started off on the wrong foot with the surface characters because a guy named Tsumugu is among them and Hikari’s childhood friend Manaka seems to like him. This is where all of the drama starts. The chain of events seems to be: Kaname likes Chisaki who likes Hikari who likes Manaka who likes Tsumugu. With everyone chasing after someone else, that means almost nobody can have a happy ending here.
This is a very character driven show of course so you can expect a whole lot of development for all of the characters here. The romances are a big factor in the show as well so I’ll talk about each one and how they stack up. The cast is at a decent size here as well but fortunately the series is over 20 episodes as 13 probably wouldn’t have been enough to really handle this one. As it is, you feel like the show did a good job of covering a whole lot of ground and even changing things up with a big time skip midway through the series.
The animation is fairly good here. I wouldn’t call it anything super special but as this isn’t an action series they don’t have to worry about big fight scenes or anything. The backgrounds with the water are on point and that’s what counts. The visuals underwater can be good as well and I liked the ice effects. The show could have a bit of fanservice at times but for the most part stays away from that so you could still call this a classier romance story. Falling into that trap would have been bad for the show.
The soundtrack is really good. In this case the second ending particularly jumps out as it plays early for a few of the cliffhangers and works really well. Whenever you hear the song picking up you know that something big is about to happen. It’s suitably emotional and works really well for the show. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the normal tunes during the episodes are good enough as well. They really serve to enhance the scenes.
Where the show does particularly well is with the drama. The show takes itself really seriously and it works here. Typically I am more of a comedic romance fan if I have to watch something that’s part romance but everything here was dialed up to 11 and it just worked. The show doesn’t do anything halfway and the drama kept me interested so it succeeded. I’d say that’s a credit to the writing as well as to the strong character cast here. You wouldn’t be able to pull off a romantic drama otherwise which is why the genre is so tough to get right. There are some really annoying characters here but that tends to be intentional. The pacing is good as well but now lets go into the characters in more depth.
Lets talk about Hikari first. As the main character he will be getting a ton of screen time here. Initially he is very headstrong and always getting into fights as he lets his jealousy over Manaka get the best of him time and time again. He’s quick to fight and constantly gets into a lot of trouble. It’s hard to root for him at this point in time because he’s just causing so much damage. It’s also the wrong approach to try and win Manaka over as well.
After the time skip he’s a lot more mature and a much improved character. He definitely did good by that point and does his best to keep everyone on track. He really grew into the leadership role out of the main group of friends and by the end I liked him a good amount. Then you have his best friend Kaname who is much more of a quiet figure. He tends to keep his feelings to himself most of the time and just enjoys being part of the gang. Gradually as he sees everyone else making moves he starts to make his.
Unfortunately while Hikari went up as the series went on, Kaname kept on going down. He started out well as the smart member of the group who always had Hikari’s back but then things started to get rough when he would do whatever it took in order to try and win out in the battle of relationships. This would cause him to put Hikari on the spot and try to stir up trouble. He went way too far at different points and there was no going back for that. It’s quite possibly why his ending isn’t quite as bright as some of the others.
Manaka is the fun heroine here who always has a good time and sees the bright side of things. She’s always a fun character and also gets quite a bit of development as the series goes to the end. I don’t think she stuck out as much as the other main characters as her personality is a bit more simple and she doesn’t have as many big character moments to have to fight through. Still, she is always at the center of things so you will see a lot of her.
Chisaki is Manaka’s best friend but of course she likes Hikari so that makes things a bit tricky. Chisaki is always trying to be the very mature member of the group so in a lot of ways she is like Kaname there. That said, the more you bottle stuff up, the tougher it can be and so she makes the situation a lot tougher on herself. She just isn’t able to voice her feelings as easily as Hikari can. Chisaki certainly has her big moments here and of the 4 characters I would say that she gets the most tragic scenes. You feel worse for her than the other 3 in part because you really know that she’s doomed from the start while for the others you figure that they could possibly have a shot at some point.
Tsumugu is the guy from the land who is here to help out and he at least treats the ocean kids well from the start. You can’t say that about a lot of the other kids who were around. He knows a good amount about the ocean children which makes sense as the series goes on. I like that he has a cool head on his shoulders and doesn’t panic a ton the way the other characters do. Tsumugu calculates every move and then tries to find the ideal outcome. He takes this approach to romance as well and this makes for an interesting approach. I liked him well enough. He may have broken up the main dynamic of the main 4 which left them a little sore but he always meant well and he doesn’t tend to make any big mistakes.
Then we have Miuna and she starts out as a girl who causes a lot of little problems for the heroes but after the time skip she becomes a fairly big character. She likes Hikari but of course that’s a problematic crush there and so you can’t root for her and have to hope that she can get over it. Miuna feels doomed from the start due to this and while the whole thing is sad, you just need her to move on. Beyond that plot she was much improved after the time skip to the point where she could now think up plans to help with the festival and do her best to pull her weight.
Her friend Sayu gets a bit less of a role. She starts studying really hard though and does her best to be a bit of a genius. She tends to also be good at being direct with the other characters like Miuna and isn’t quick to get too discouraged or depressed. Her romance may have some of the least development to it but at the end of the day she has spent years on improving herself and putting herself in the best possible position to land her guy. I appreciate the effort into that.
Lord Uroko is an annoying character though and now he’s someone that you won’t be rooting for. He likes to remind everyone that he is just a scale of the sea god so he can’t do much but he rarely helps the heroes out. He tends to feel like a pawn all the way through but one who makes the wrong decisions. Attacking the heroes was already uncalled for with the ice but then helping with the tidal waves? This guy’s a villain if you ask me and I’m glad that Hikari didn’t give the guy a second thought as he went to save Manaka. Sometimes you just have to go out there and save lives even if the cryptic characters claim that it’ll just make things worse. You can’t listen to them.
Akari is a reasonable character for the most part. She was one of the first to rebel from the village since she liked someone from the surface world. I did not approve of the relationship but I agreed with getting out of the village. Those guys could be a little too dicey at times. She did her best to still mend the relationships with everyone in the meantime. Akari ended up being a very memorable supporting character. More so than her husband Itaru. I was less sold on him and he didn’t feel quite as pro active as she was. He was mostly just around but not doing much of anything.
Atsushi doesn’t have much of a role in the story at all except to be someone who likes Miuna but doesn’t seem to stand a chance. As soon as he appears you figure that he’ll get to do something though. I never really liked him much but his role is so small that you won’t really think about him anyway. Now Tomoru was a very annoying character. This guy is the chief of the village and yet he can never be bothered to actually help Hikari out. Worse than that is the fact that he will get in the way. The old traditions are just too important to him and he takes forever to act. He really needed to have Hikari’s back no matter what and helping out earlier could have also solved some of the issues they all faced ahead of time. By not doing that he just put them in an even deeper hole. He has got to be one of the worst characters in the show.
Now lets talk about the final pairings for the show and I’ll tell you which one(s) worked and which did not. This will of course have spoilers to skip the next 7 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. This is really about romance and drama so if you know all of the final pairing then it’ll probably take away from your enjoyment a bit. So yeah this is your big warning on skipping it because it’s time to dive right in!
First up we have Hikari + Manaka as the first final pair and this one you will probably have guessed. They’re the main two and the show is about all of the obstacles that get in their way. Hikari openly liked her from the start but it always seemed like Manaka liked Tsumugu so things weren’t working out. It turns out that she didn’t like him in that way and just appreciated having him as a good friend. Some scenes may make you think twice about that but at most I suppose you can write it off as her having a very temporary crush on him when they first met. That said, this is easily the strongest romance of the series.
It’s a romance where both of them were the top option for each other and that’s a good thing. There were no rebounds here and Hikari did try real hard for her. He got rejected several times for moving a bit too quickly and I’m all about slowing things down so that wasn’t bad of Manaka. Ultimately I could give this romance a thumbs up because a lot of time passed and so the relationship developed naturally rather than being rushed. It was a good romance all things considered.
Next up is Chisaki + Tsumugu and this one is definitely a lot weaker. Keep in mind that Chisaki has liked Hikari all this time. Tsumugu wasn’t even on her radar until deeper into the series once the time skip happened and Hikari wasn’t a realistic option anymore. Even then she didn’t want to get together with him because she figured that it just wouldn’t be right but by the end she “settled” for him. Second choices never really work and so naturally this one’s going to get the thumbs down. It’s still a rebound even if it’s slightly less so compared to some of the other romances coming up.
After those two is Kaname + Sayu and this is probably the weakest romance. Kaname was desperately after Chisaki and even played dirty with the other characters to knock Hikari out of the running but in the end she just never ended up liking him in that way. He still likes her by the end of the series and only gives Sayu the hope that one day he will like her. On one hand the pairing doesn’t actually happen yet so perhaps it never will but if it does then it wouldn’t work as another rebound. This romance also gets less screen time than most of the others. At the end of the day you felt like Kaname was probably going to lose out and as the show went on that is what happened. Playing dirty never pays.
Then we’ve got Miuna + Atsushi as another romance that takes a nosedive here. Atsushi likes Miuna a lot but the guy barely gets 10 minutes of screen time in the show. Miuna is flat out not interested because she likes Hikari. Glad that ship didn’t work out but Satoru would be a very obvious rebound if it happens. As with the last ship it was only starting to be set up and hadn’t actually gone through so that gives me a little leeway to not give it the full thumbs down yet.
Akari + Itaru is next up and this one is definitely a full thumbs down. Look, Itaru’s wife died fairly recent given how young their daughter Miuna still is and yet he is now going out with the wife’s best friend Akari? It’s easy to see why Miuna was so upset. It’s an unspoken rule that you never go out with friends and so that was a bad idea. It really didn’t make either character look good and while it’s supposed to be a very emotional moment, I wasn’t buying into it. This was a romance that didn’t really need to happen.
Finally we have the Lady Ojoshi and the Sea God. We get to learn more about this one and it just makes the Sea God look really petty and awful. He broke up a perfectly happy couple on a whim and while Ojoshi tried to be happy it was clear that this was not the case. By this point it’s not like you could take things back and so their relationship ends rather tragically. The Sea God then decides to be petty for the rest of his existence and becomes another one of the worst characters here so that’s definitely not a good look for him. In the end the only romance I actually thought was good was the main one with Hikari and Manaka. The rest of the romances lose out but the show is written well so it’s still a fun adventure.
I’ve mentioned quite a bit about how the writing was good for this show and it’s important because as a non action title you’re really counting on the writing and characters to be on point. Without them there is no way the show could have succeeded. It also made some really bold choices like having the big time skip midway through. Part of why that one was interesting was because only some characters aged as the ones in a coma did not. So that really served to change the dynamics up. A few years may not be too crazy and you could make it work in a relationship but at the same time it is still tough because you know that you missed out on several years of your life.
A lot of the show is about The Ofunehiki festival and creating a Lady Ojoshi. To be honest this tends to be the most dull part of the show relatively speaking as you’re more interested in the interactions than the actual play. It is used to great effect though as tragedies always happen around this festival. You can see why a lot of people don’t even want to do it anymore even if the adults handle it in a very petty way. Hikari really has to handle most of it which is a bad look for the grown ups. The time skip was a good way to show how things have changed for a lot of the characters and not as much for others. It’s almost like having two completely different shows rolled into one. Hikari is still stuck in his season 1 mode but everyone else has changed so much. Even the attitude when doing the festival again was very different for the adults and kids who had aged up. There was a lot less petty fighting and everything this time around as people saw the very real danger from last time but also the bonds that came through it. Still would have been interesting to see more of the outside world and I wonder if the threat was as apocalyptic as Lord Uroko made it out to be. Something tells me that he exaggerated a bit. This wasn’t the point of the show but it still made me interested.
Hikari also gets the best hype moments of the series like when he saved Manaka from the sea god’s trap. The shoe is not generally going for hype but it does have its moments. Due to the drama there will also be times during the show where everyone makes a mistake or two. I don’t think there is a single character here that acted perfectly but at least most of them are likable so it’s cool. Some moments may feel like they’re just here for drama but it just works out. Each episode has some kind of big development and that’s key for this kind of show. There is also some humor but for the most part this is a very serious show. A happy one as well as a sad one but you’re just along for the ride. It’s so eventful you may be tempted to say that it isn’t a slice of life but I think that’s still appropriate.
Overall, A Lull in the Sea is a good how. It’s a very emotional tale about romance and characters having to grow up. They all deal with a lot of drama and issues that pop up because no matter how hard they try, they aren’t able to keep the old dynamics the way they once were. It’s just not possible and the show is really about accepting change. While it may sound a little too dramatic on its surface, the show does a good job of keeping you invested. It just dives in 100% to being a super dramatic show and that really works out. I would recommend this if a drama sounds appealing to you. Then you won’t find ones much better than this title.