Lessons from Children of the Sea

Every once in a while, one may find themselves contemplating the reason for our existence or even that of the universe itself. Children of the Sea is a Japanese animated film, directed by Ayumu Watanabe and produced by Eiko Tanaka, that dives into such concepts. The film is based on a manga series written by Daisuke Igarashi. The story follows Ruka, a young girl who meets two boys who were raised at sea by dugongs. The children share a connection to an event orchestrated by something beyond human comprehension while experiencing relationships between humanity and nature, showcasing the beauty of life itself. These are challenging ideas to tackle through storytelling, but Children of the Sea does so in a beautiful manner with incredible animation produced by Studio 4°C. Watching this complex, thought-provoking film reminds me of lessons that I hope to carry with me through my life and share with others.

  1. 1. The universe is vast.

    It’s both fearful and comforting to remember how much exists beyond our comprehension. On one hand, the unknown is out there, and it could bring consequences. However, Children of the Sea reminds me that the unknown isn’t a scary thing. In fact, it's humbling. The world does not revolve around any specific person, and there will always be things that are out of one’s control. It can be calming to remember that one’s decisions do not change the course of the entire world in the grand scheme of things. Children of the Sea presents the idea of “dark matter,” a concept that our perception of the world is only half true.

    “The amount that humans are able to see is actually a small fragment of what exists in this world,” says protagonist Anglade, a marine biologist. “Over 90% of the universe is made up of mass that remains a mystery.” As humans, we can’t see everything that the universe has to offer. It is much more vast and complex than we know. There is something larger at play that we may never be able to understand, but this only connects us all as living things that have been placed in this world. 

  2. 2. Everything is connected.

    The world may be vast, and one may not necessarily impact it on a grand scale, but everything in the universe is connected. Children of the Sea points this out on multiple occasions. For example, the way a galaxy forms is compared to the process of thinking and feeling. Sora, one of the boys raised at sea, explains, “The universe is a lot like humans. Tiny fragments of memories are floating around inside each person. By some chance, several memories become connected to each other, and then that memory becomes a little bigger... That process is what we call thinking or feeling... just like how a star or a galaxy is formed.” This example showcases how a phenomenon as incredible as a galaxy being formed can be compared to that of a process that humans experience every single day. 

    “All life forms are made of the same matter. Every one of us is comprised of it... every single living thing on Earth... we are all exactly alike,” describes Anglade. “If we went into outer space, it would look just like the ocean.” We are all made up of the same matter, and we all impact what we touch in a small way. We don’t ever really forget the people that we meet. Even if we think that we’ve lost something, it is still within our memory, connecting the past, the present, and the future. Recalling that everything plays a role in life is valuable. One can move forward knowing that everything that has happened in his or her life has shaped him or her somehow with some kind of purpose, just as you have shaped another's life. Recognizing that everything is connected can encourage us to allow the universe to take its course as it is meant to, one event impacting the next. We can learn to trust the process and believe that everything exists for a reason. We can also appreciate all different forms of life as we all come from the same place. It is important to respect the beauty of humanity and life in order to treat it with kindness.

  3. 3. Life is beautiful.

    Concepts such as dark matter, galaxies, and the unknown represent the beauty and mystery in life. The idea that we are not perceiving everything that the universe has to offer means that there are experiences and life forms that are completely unknown to us. Of course, that may seem frightening, but it is also enticing as humans are curious by nature. Even if we can’t learn everything about the universe and our existence, we can appreciate what we know and value what we have. Children of the Sea expresses this by animating small moments in life, holding frames on the ocean glittering in the sunlight and sunflowers dancing in the wind. Mystery and magic can be found right before our eyes. The film additionally emphasizes the importance of respecting nature for its beauty and refraining from interfering with it. We must protect the planet rather than destroy it or cut it apart while trying to find answers. What we need to know may come to us in time without impeding on the natural course of things, and we must learn to accept and respect that. 

“We are all connected to a place deep inside us all the time,” Ruka says. “The most important promises we make are not made with words.” By keeping an open mind and embracing the unknown, one can find the beauty in everyday life and experience it more fully. I find myself watching Children of the Sea on multiple occasions in order to remember this and recall that my everyday challenges are not so significant in the grand scheme of things. However, I hold a responsibility to recognize that my actions can impact others in terms of my kindness and respect towards all life forms and life itself. In the end, there is a universe out there that is waiting to be experienced, in all of its vastness and complexity, and I believe that it has a plan for all of us.