DVD Review: A Lull in the Sea – Part 1
04/08/2015 1 Comment
All eyes may be on the upcoming Collectors Edition Blu-ray release of A Lull in the Sea, and rightfully so, but for those wanting the basic content on DVD then what exactly can you expect from Part 1? Well find out in our Review.
Due to the closure of their middle school, four students from the sea, Manaka Mukaido, Hikari Sakishima, Chisaki Hiradaira, and Kaname Isaki must attend middle school on the land, despite the growing tension between the land and sea people. While getting used to their new lives, these four and their new friend from the land, Tsumugu Kihara, plan to put on an Ofunehiki, a festival traditionally organized by the land and the sea people, in an attempt to create peace between the two villages.
A Lull in the Sea, alternatively known as Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea, is an emotional rollercoaster that just never stops; it will make you laugh, it can make you cry but through it all it will leave you smiling with satisfaction and strangely enough this is only just the first half. A unique tale between different cultures and lifestyles, along with a slight hint of blossoming romance and character development, is what’s on offer here and while it may not be to everyone’s taste of entertainment it’s certainly worth watching.
The series takes place in a world where humans live both on land and in the ocean whereby for several years both types of humans have lived in peace amongst each other and it’s here where the story of A Lull in the Sea, which sees four middle-school-friends attend school on land, begins. With the closure of their school in the ocean Manaka Mukaido, Hikari Sakishima, Chisaki Hiradaira, and Kaname Isaki find themselves as outcasts attending a school on land and as such attempt to blend in while sticking together as a group; it’s a traditional “outsider looking in approach” to the story but sure enough one of the ‘on land’ humans, known as Tsumugu Kihara, shows an interest in the group and after some ‘heated’ discussions involving Hikari Sakishima, they all start to become friends and attempt to lead a normal school life; well that’s if you can call it normal.
Of course being from a different culture isn’t easy and as a result Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname are often picked-on by other students; and in a bid to break this tension the class room teacher organizes a class project for them to build a Ofunehiki, a ritual piece used in a festival that aims to keep peace between the two cultures and the sea god. Ironically however only those from Shioshishio (and Tsumugu) agree to work on it; but as time progresses the students who attend the school also learn to accept them and begin to work on the project as well – much to the pleasure of the teacher who keeps offering them ramen as a reward. This storyline of building an Ofunehiki, which in turn sees the students wanting to do their own ritual for the year, is what sparks the bond between the two cultures; however elsewhere within this series there is a more emotional storyline to be had.
Alongside the story of the students building an Ofunehiki is numerous romance -stories and a rivalry between people of the ocean and people of the land. For starters the first, and most dominant, love-story, is one which sees Hikari’s older sister Akari Sakishima being in love with Itaru who is a man that lives on the land. What makes this interesting, especially compared to other romance stories in anime, is that people from the sea are forbidden to be ‘intimately involved’ with those who live on the land and more importantly Itaru has a young daughter known as Muina.
It’s an arkward situation where not only do the adults not understand their feelings; but Muina is struggling to cope with these new changes in her life. It’s an emotional story; but when the people from Shioshishio hear of this relationship they attempt everything they can to stop it. It’s not just Akari that’s in love either; as throughout these thirteen episodes the relationship between Hikari and Manaka, as well as Chisaki and Kaname, begins to change which in turn causes all-sorts of confusions and unexplained feelings with the characters. As a viewer we all know whats happening, and at times so do the characters themselves, but yet its still so engaging to watch – and I am not one to usually like a romance story unfold.
Romance aside there is a more serious tone to be had within this first half of the series; as while our main cast of characters are trying to understand their feelings for one another the higher-ups at the underwater village of Shioshishio believe that everyone will die soon due to the climate changes that are occurring and as such drastic measures must be taken. Be it a love-story between characters, arguments between two cultures, or an impending threat from nature this first half of A Lull in the Sea offers quite a lot of entertaining merits and when backed up by its amazing visuals – especially their eyes – and its soundtrack you’ll be in for one magical and emotionally challenged experience.
When it comes to bonus material on this DVD release of A Lull in the Sea – Part 1 then there is a few surprises to be had; some more questionable than others. For instance the ‘usual’ bonus features, such as textless songs and Japanese trailers, are on the first DVD disc which also houses seven episodes from the series.
If that wasn’t strange enough the second DVD disc, which features the remaining six episodes, contains a bonus episode and a variety of trailers for other NIS America licensed shows. Whats ‘bizarre’ is that the bonus episode is actually Episode fourteen – the first episode from the upcoming Part 2 release of the series.
I may call it bizarre but it’s actually a pretty clever way of promoting the upcoming instalment; however I suggest not watching the episode until you’ve seen the previous episodes in this release – otherwise it will spoil a lot of the story.
The remaining bonus content is for trailers that have been released by NIS America in the states; the reason these trailers are included is because NIS America have authored the discs for both regions (UK and America) and as a result not only is the content the same but it’s the ‘exact’ same disc used in both countries.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Region: 1 & 2
Running Time: 2:45:33 (Disc 1), 2:21:54 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 192kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
A Lull in the Sea throws viewers into a unique new world of different portions that sees two rivalling lifestyles attempting to live with one-another while the younger generation find themselves in new relationships. It’s a slice-of-life anime series that has a more serious, and semi-realistic, tone to it. The show may start off as four-friends attending a new school in a different environment, but by the time this first half ends it’s all about finding love and surviving the impending apocalypse under the sea; or so we are led to believe at least. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that I enjoyed watching from start to finish and I can’t wait to see where it leads me next.
Entertaining values aside this UK DVD release of A Lull in the Sea – Part 1 is quite interesting; mainly because of how it has been produced. We all know the Collectors Edition Blu-ray (which contains the entire series) has been produced in partnership between MVM and NIS America; however after digging through this disc it seems they also worked with each other for the DVD Release. Everything on these discs have been produced/authored by NIS America and as a result there is no MVM or UK warning logos – basically we have the US disc but with a BBFC logo slapped on the front of the disc artwork. Of course it’s not unknown for distributors to do this, as Manga UK did it previously with Fairy Tail & Jormungand, but it’s the first time that MVM have done it (as far as I recall). This is not necessarily a bad thing; as it means we receive all the benefits that the US disc would get – such as NTSC picture format as opposed to PAL as well as trailers for titles we wouldn’t usually see. Ironically though this does lead-on to NIS America’s interesting way of creating disc menus; as when you choose to play an episode it will bring the options of which part of the episode you would like to play (such as Prologue, Opening, Part A, Part B, Ending and Next Episode Preview). Once again it’s not a disappointing feature; it’s just a little time consuming when you want to dig into the action.
Menu layouts aside the DVD quality remains true and high as you’d expect it to be – as well as white English subtitles throughout – however for me the highlight of this set (other than the story) was the production of the English Dub. At times it provided some stellar performances and from the voice cast, especially Max Mittelman (Hikari) and Michelle Ruff (Manaka), but at other times misunderstandings can occur – for instance no end of times I thought Manaka was being called Monica and even worse was the prenounciation of Hikari and Akari; as they sometimes sounded the same. It got even worse when conversations had both character names in the same sentence, such as “Hey Hikari, wheres Akari”; on paper it looks fine but verbally it sounds the same. For me this was the only niggle I had with the English Dub; as everything else seemed to fit perfectly. Of course the Japanese audio track does not have these issues; but quick glances on the subtitles can make you ‘double-read’ them at times.
For me A Lull in the Sea – Part 1 was an unexpected surprise; other than the initial announcement made by MVM Entertainment several months ago – and the teaser trailers released by NIS America – I expected nothing and yet here I am completely soaked into it’s underwater glory. The DVD release is on par with everything you’d expect to be it and is definitely worth owning; but considering the impressive visual nature of the show you may wish to upgrade to the Blu-ray as you’d probably get a more rewarding viewing experience out of it. Which is something I plan on doing myself as well.
A Lull in the Sea – Part 1 will be available on DVD from the 10th August 2015; meanwhile the Complete Series will be released on Blu-ray as a Collectors Edition set on the 21st September 2015.