After watching Kaleido Star and Strange Dawn, you can pretty much consider me a fan of Sato Junichi, the guy who directed them. Umi Monogatari is his latest work; it’s nowhere near his best, however it still is a very solid series: focused, emotional and powerful. This series demonstrates that even with a simple story and clichéd setting you can do a lot of nice things.
What impressed me the most about this series is that it has so many ingredients that anime has become infamous for, and it makes them work. It has a big-boobed hot chick in a swimsuit as a main character, alongside her is her younger sister, also in swimsuit. We have this evil power that brainwashes everyone, there’s an angsty love triangle subplot, people getting into fights over the smallest misunderstanding and let’s not forget the animal sidekick.
There is really a LOT of angst and drama in this series. Usually in anime, this means a lot of cheese, but here the creators manage to make a very emotional series while avoiding getting ludicrous or melodramatic by keeping the characters genuine. Especially Marin and Kanon are a couple of very likable character. They’re well fleshed out and avoid being stereotypes. Especially Marin cries a lot, but for once you feel that it’s part of her character, rather than having her cry for the sake of melodrama.
While a cheesy mahou shoujo at first sight, Umi Monogatari at heart is a story about adolescence: a tale of growing up, expanding your horizons, getting into fights and trying to make up again, which never is easy. It’s also about discrimination and misunderstandings, and it has a lot of meaning put into the emotions of the different characters.
Granted though, the plot is very simple; if you’re not into the characters, or like a fast-paced plot in which a lot of stuff happens at the same time, you’re not going to like this series. Umi Monogatari is more like one of those series that takes its time in subtly developing its characters. Still, that final episode really has been the best ending I’ve seen so far in this season, and has a good chance of being among the best endings of the shows that ended during the Spring and Summer Season, even though I usually dislike those sorts of endings.