Abi Umeda’s Post-apocalyptic Manga Children of the Whales Coming in November

VIZ Media’s given sci-fi/fantasy and manga fans alike reason to rejoice with the newly announced English-language translation of Abi Umeda’s Children of the Whales. An anime adaptation of the manga series is currently airing in Japan with plans for a worldwide Netflix release in 2018, but just as they say, “The book is way better than the movie,” so too go manga and anime.

In an endless sea of sand drifts the Mud Whale, a floating island city of clay and magic. In its chambers a small community clings to survival, cut off from its own history by the shadows of the past. Chakuro is the archivist for the Mud Whale, diligently chronicling the lives and deaths of his people. As one of the short-lived thymia wielders, he knows his time is limited and is determined to leave a better record than his predecessors. But the steady pace of their isolated existence on the Mud Whale is abruptly shattered when a scouting party discovers a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about their home than they do…

Best known for the manga series Bluish, Genshitan Janome, and Lien no Tou yori, Children of the Whales (Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau) is easily Abi Umeda’s greatest masterpiece. Set in a postapocalyptic desert world, the manga series takes world-building to a new level through minimalist awe—it’s high fantasy Mad Max a la Ursula K. Leguin’s writing. The population of Chakuro’s community are divided into two groups: the Marked, who can move objects with their minds using a strange power called “thymia”, at the cost of shortened lifespans, and the Unmarked, people who lack thymia but enjoy longer lives.

“With an intriguing plot, beautiful, European-comics-influences artwork and fantasy-inspired setting, Children of the Whales will captivate manga readers as well as mainstream adventure and comics fans,” says VIZ Media editor Pancha Diaz. “When the inhabitants meet a mysterious girl from another floating island, their lives and society are irrevocably changed!”

© 2013 ABI UMEDA (AKITASHOTEN)

Through Umeda’s fantastic art style, reminiscent of the anime Last Exile and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Children of the Whales’ visuals seize hold of you on page one while the brilliant storytelling and characters suck you in. It balances an insightful examination of humanity’s relationship to our emotions and the kind of action any shōnen manga would envy. The premier volume is available for pre-order on VIZ’s site for $12.99 ($17.99 Canadian), and if you only have room for one new manga series in your life right now, this is it.

Children of the Whales Volume 1 premieres November 21st.

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Paul McCue
Editor-in-Chief

Paul is a Children’s Literature grad student at Hollins University. In a past life he studied film and animation at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He writes female-centric young adult literature and still does some film and animation work on the side to make the inner child in him happy. An avid fan of anime, his first exposure at age twelve was Ranma ½ to which he thought, “Huh… well that’s different.” He often wonders what kind of person he’d be if the world of Fallout ever became a reality…