Review: A Lull In The Sea

By Andrew McDanell on July 6, 2015, 8:28PM EDT

A Lull In The Sea, or Nagi No Asukara, was quite the hit back when it aired in 2013. A series that captured hearts by combining stunning visuals by Studio P.A. Works, the creative writing of Project-118, the screenplay of Mari Okada, and the beautiful character designs of Buriki. To answer the call of fans, NIS America has released the Complete Premium Edition Blu-ray Set. Containing the entire series in Hi-Def quality, while also including extras that could only be found in this set.

The series takes place in a world where all of mankind once lived alongside the Sea God in the ocean. However at one point many of these people decided to leave the ocean to live on the land, creating a divide between the people of the sea and the people of the land. While communications and traditions may still pass between the two, there's no denying that over time feuds and discrimination would become a fact of the world.

After centuries have past, four middle school students of the sea village Shioshishio find themselves sent to attend school on the land after their school closes. While both sides of the coin seem to be willing to the idea, it doesn't stop the children from having to face uncertainty and struggles along the way. Climbing head first into discrimination, broken traditions, feuds between leaders, self discovery, and even love.

These four students are a band of friends that have been together their entire childhood. Hikari Sakishima, the short tempered son of Shioshishio's Chief Priest who often scolds Manaka despite having feelings for her; Manaka Mukaido, an emotional and indecisive girl who frequently relies on her friends and quickly grows feelings for a boy of the land; Chisaki Hiradaira, a relatively reserved girl who has feelings for Hikari, but chooses to keep silent to avoid breaking friendships; and Kaname Isaki, a mature and quiet boy who has strong feelings for Chisaki.

Even with a strong focus on its main cast of students, the show often takes detours to its robust cast of characters that surround them. Each having their own personalities, goals, and futures to explore. It's a difficult task that many shows fail to execute, but this series manages to pull off excellently. Never feeling forced and managing to expand the story and develop characters through their interactions with the main cast.

Early on, the focus hits on the four students as they struggle with their new school and dealing with discrimination. Although this shifts into an event that explores how the sea deals with their people falling in love with land dwellers. It's during this time that the show's emotion and drama begins to shine as Hikari's sister Akari faces a tough decision for her future. An ongoing theme of love and sacrifice that continuously challenges the cast as the story progresses.

Unfortunately, one of the main difficulties facing the viewer coming into this series is its focus on love pentagrams. The whole concept of A loving B, while B loves C, but C loves A. Taking this to a whole new level, the series manages to push this to the point of a 7 character circle of unrequited love. It's heartbreaking to say the least, but unlike other cases of shows, including some from P.A. Works, A Lull In The Sea manages not beat the dead horse. With so many characters to take the edge off situations, the love struggles are given time to breath and settle rather than suffocate the series. Although it does have a few moments in its later episodes that can be a bit much.

Bringing all of this together is some masterful work done by Studio P.A. Work. Well known for their beautifully crafted visuals and characters. Vibrant colors and smooth animations that make the world feel believable and alive. But it really is the attention to detail that makes this show stand out as one of the best looking series out there.

Each environment is unique and often wonderful to look at. From the sea life riddled village of Shioshishio, to the boat filled port city of Oshiooshi, the sea and land classrooms, the mountainside homes, the market places, and even the bustling inner-land city. There's so much to take in and so much of it is breathtaking.

Marrying the visuals to create some powerful moments and scenes is a soundtrack created by a host of talented artists. Everything from acoustic guitars, full orchestral pieces, and emotional violin and piano scores that all fit together but take on the moment for themselves.

Thankfully, the Premium Edition release by NIS America manages to bring all of the great elements of this series into a nice package that celebrates what makes it so great. A sturdy chipboard box houses everything with a colorful and vibrant illustrations of the cast; three Blu-ray discs which are inside their own uniquely illustrated cases; a two disc soundtrack that contains 60 tracks of the beautiful music heard throughout the series; and a 76-page hardcover artbook that contains character art and info, an episode guide, prop designs, background art and more.

Unique to NIS America's release is also the English voice work done for the series. Giving not only the option of Japanese with subtitles but also and English option. Talents such as Max Mittelman, Michelle Ruff, Bryce Papenbrook, and Brianna Knickerbocker take on the main cast. Even if those that prefer the original tracks might avoid it, it's still a noteworthy performance that manages to impress. It may be NIS America's best work and proof they are taking it seriously.

A Lull In The Sea is quite easily one of the best shows of its kind. It's the robust cast of characters that you love watching grow, the beautiful animation, the interesting and dramatic storyline, and overall care put into it. Everything is crafted to near perfection and NIS America did it justice in their localization.

If you're interested in getting this series, the Blu-ray Premium Edition and Standard DVD versions are still available for purchase from select online retailers including: Rightstuf, The Anime Corner Store, Anime Pavilion, Collectors Anime, and NIS America Online Store.

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