By Susan Broadbent
As awesome as the setting for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is, I’m going to go down a different road in this edition and trade in the boots for some flippers. I’m quite excited for any hot weather because it finally means going swimming again! I may not be as extreme as Haru from ‘Free!’ when it comes to diving into the water, but it did get me thinking about a few series that take place in a world completely covered in water. Whether as a fantasy setting or post-apocalyptical scenario, they all bear some similarity to the 1995 film ‘Waterworld’. Sorry Max, I hope your car is waterproof….
Blue Submarine No.6 (1998)
The Earth has been flooded as part of scientist Zorndyke’s grand plan to replace humans as the dominant species of the planet. He has bred an army of sea-creatures to fulfil his vision, but humanity fights back with the international Blue Fleet submarines. The crew of No.6 are the focal point of this four part OVA who are joined by former underwater pilot Tetsu Hayami after crewmember Mayumi Kino enlists him.
The story differs from Satoru Ozawa’s original manga. Additionally the new characters for the OVA were designed by Range Murata and Takuhito Kusanagi. Blue Submarine No.6 became known for its early combination of traditional and 3D graphic animation. The relaxing jazz OST by The Thrill also makes it stand out.
I remember catching the English dub on TV many years back and I have rewatched it occasionally ever since due to its stance on war and peace and the amazing nereid (mermaid) designs. The ending may seem anticlimactic to some, but this anime takes you on a two hour journey that leaves you wondering what could be long after.
Aqua Knight (1998)
Yukito Kishiro is best known for his sci-fi work ‘Gunnm’, aka ‘Battle Angel Alita’. Loving his art style, my friend purchased the three existing manga volumes of this more light-hearted work, Aqua Knight.
Marmundo is not only a world covered in water, it is effectively a disc which is split through the middle. In the world of Marmundo, there exist knights who ride on orcas and are equipped with armour that lets them battle beneath the water. Ruliya of Perla is such a knight in training; after a storm she is swept onto a remote island and is helped by a naïve young boy named Ashika and his father. In gratitude Ruliya grants Ashika one promise, who in turn wishes to become a knight like her. However when Ashika is kidnapped by inventor and scientist Alcantra, Ruliya sets out on a quest to save him. Aqua Knight is a great read for a fantasy adventure with a strong female lead and well-thought out characters.
Admittedly Kishiro’s random humour shines through and particularly Ashika’s nudity may take some getting used to, but the art style is solid and so is the story line. Officially it is on hiatus, so I hope it does get continued one day. I say if you ever get a chance to read this manga, go for it!
Suisei no Gargantia (2013)
A more recent series, Suisei no Gargantia was recommended to me by a friend on the basis that a language barrier and cultural differences existed between the characters.
The beginning of the anime takes place in space in the far future with pilot Ledo and his mecha named Chamber battling the aliens “Hideaaze”. Unable to return to the main ship, Ledo enters a wormhole and winds up in a location unknown to him and Chamber: a planet completely covered in water, known in his history as “Earth”. He had been salvaged by the crew of the Gargantia, whose language, culture and technology seem alien an primitive to him. Having served as a soldier his entire young life, Ledo must adapt to a new life of community and peace, though conflicts are never far off. Pirates roam the sea and it turns out there may be something lurking below the waters, too…
There are fan-servicey elements in this anime, with character designs by Hanaharu Naruko this may not be surprising to some people out there. Furthermore perhaps 13 episodes were too short a time for a storyline with so much potential. As much as I loved the premise I didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I had hoped and the genre is not really mecha or slice of life, making it hard for me to recommend whole-heartedly like other series.