I’m trying to like this show, but I can’t. It just feels emotionally dry. Y’know, like sand. Five minutes into the episode, Ema starts singing and dancing. Why? Can she do nothing to help her people? After all, she wants Chakuro to protect the mud whale, but when the fateful day comes, she just dances? But what is even the point of the song and dance? I rewatched the music video twice just to see if I could glean anything meaningful from the lyrics, but uh… not really. The animation’s great, but animation alone isn’t enough to make me feel anything. Plus, you’d think it’d be hard to breathe or even move with all that sand flying around. Sand hurts, people. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and… why, it just gets everywhere! So despite all the impressive animation and sand filters being applied, I’m nevertheless taken out of the moment because individuals shouldn’t be moving about like this in the midst of a sandstorm. I dunno, man, maybe it’s just me! During Ema’s routine, we see shots of people huddling in doors, looking sad and pensive. The song by itself is not abjectly terrible, but I just don’t feel as though it adds anything to the episode. In fact, it kind of achieves the opposite: I feel like the show is trying too hard to create atmosphere and ends up just wasting time for a song.
When Chakuro and gang make their way to the enemy ship, it’s, well, pretty unexciting. They run down a dark corridor, and every so often, enemies pop up from out of the shadows to attack. Luckily, our heroes have no problems repelling anyone, and Lykos’ suspicions are confirmed: the people of Falaina have stronger thymias. Why? Eh, we’ll find out later. You should know the drill by now. Chakuro stops to smell the ship only to discover that it has the same scent as his home. Well, I’ll be. He starts to get all sentimental. After all, he’s getting the same sense of nostalgia, so why do they have to fight? Uh, so if he didn’t get the same sense of nostalgia, is it suddenly okay to kill each other? I mean, what exactly is the logical conclusion that the kid is trying to get at here? It’s one of those moments where it might seem really deep if you’re a kid, but… eh, not really. Try to think it through. Plus, zoning out like this is ridiculously careless of him, because he’s on an extremely dangerous mission. As such, it’s probably not a good idea to zone out and start sniffing around your surroundings like a puppy. Ouni does his badass thing like usual. It’s nothing new. A short while later, enemies pop out of the shadows to attack our unsuspecting band of merry nous-assassins, but this time, it’s Chakuro’s turn to save the day. Nevertheless, carelessness is the theme of the day.
They finally reach the end of the corridor, and Skylos’s nous supposedly lies just ahead of yet another corridor surrounded on both sides by stained glass windows. Fancy. Everyone is in high spirits, because they haven’t lost a single soul, and hey, they’re about to finish the mission! So now it’s Lykos’s turn to zone out for a short moment. She finds it suspicious that the road to the ship’s nous was so undefended. It makes no sense! By the time she comes back to the real world, however, it’s too late. Her group has gone ahead without her and walked themselves right into a trap. Okay, okay, these are kids. They’re not trained soldiers. They’re not some super duper spec ops team. They’re just the biggest fishes from a very small pond, so it’s not surprising that they don’t have every single contingency covered. But it’s a bit of a stretch that no one else even wonders why the mission is going so swimmingly before it’s too late. We then enter the realm of ridiculousness when Lykos only realizes that they’re walking into a trap at the very last second. It’s a bit of a narrative conceit. By having her zone out, she gets to stay behind. And by staying behind, she’s not within firing range. The story gets to keep her (and another cute girl) alive in a very lazy and contrived way. It might work for most people, but I think it’s stupid.
Back on Falaina, they’re actually not doing such a bad job defending themselves. People die, but it’s war, so you expect some collateral damage. No one important really bites the dust either. Hakuji goes down in order to protect some children, but he also wanted to commit mass suicide just a few episodes ago. As a result, getting sliced up is his mini-redemption arc. It’s not as though he has a role to play anymore, so he becomes narrative fodder. Like I said, no one important dies. This in itself can actually be a bit of an issue depending on your perspective. Again, I find the show is oddly unemotional, because it just doesn’t really do a good job of conveying the gravity of war. Important characters have plot armor, so there isn’t really any tension or drama. I already discussed how the episode pulls a lazy trick to keep Lykos out of danger. Likewise, Suou gets himself into a sticky situation, but I never believed for a single second that he was in any actual danger. The pink-haired, crazy soldier kills everyone else instantly, but of course he toys with Suou. Of course. Plot armor says you do not kill. So I sit there and know that it’s just a matter of time before someone shows up to save the young chieftain. And since most of the strong fighters are on Skylos, it’s eyepatch man’s job to save the day. Yawn.
Not only that, we still have that long-standing issue where the enemy has no character development whatsoever. The crazy soldier is just crazy. He’s utterly one-dimensional. All he does is laugh maniacally, and it’s actually pretty annoying to listen to. I’ve seen this archetype so many times already. Change it up, guys. At least give it a small twist. If I wanted a generic genocidal clown, I can just fire up Final Fantasy VI for the billionth time. I mean, I’m glad Suou summoned up the courage to fight, but it’s also a bit foolish. He has no powers, and to make things even worse, he has no training. If you want to be the chieftain who fights on the frontlines, fine! But make that decision before the day of the battle. Don’t suddenly decide to fight on a whim. Needless to say, Suou proves to be completely useless. But enough about the crybaby chieftain. The rest of the invaders barely even speak. It’s a bunch of faceless clowns slaughtering children. And back on Skylos, Chakuro races just in time to see a bunch of nobodies die. But it’s okay, because the main characters, i.e. himself, Ouni and Lykos, are still perfectly fine. And I know they’re going to be fine, so whatever. After seven weeks, Children of the Whales still hasn’t succeeded in convincing me to emotionally invest myself in any of the characters. Then again, my posts on this show seem to get the least amount of readers, so I must be missing something.