Miss my review of volume 1? You can find it here!
Note – We received a watermarked review copy from VIZ, and are therefore unable to provide any images for this review.
When we last left Chakuro and the other inhabitants of the Mud Whale Falaina, they were being invaded by a mysterious force of harlequin-looking soldiers. Ordered to be executed by the Allied Empire, Chakuro watched helplessly as his close friend Sami was killed, and died in his arms.
Volume 2 continues the devastating attack against Falaina; the early chapters document the invading soldiers’ merciless fighting style and skilled mastery of Thymia to maim and murder quickly. Yet, amidst the helpless situation, a few heroes rise. Ouni, well-known troublemaker and rumored to be the strongest Thymia user aboard the Mud Whale, awakens a terrifying power after seeing a friend murdered in front of him. Chakuro also is able to tap into a previously unawakened source of power following the death of his childhood friend Sami.
Lykos appears to be recognized by some of the soldiers, and her background is given some more substance after it’s revealed that her older brother is none other than the commanding officer responsible for the extermination of the Mud Whale. She encounters previous acquaintances (though they could hardly be called friends), and refuses to return with them.
While citizens of the Mud Whale are being massacred, the council of elders remains silent. The adults know what’s going on, but fail to tell any of the marked youth what’s happening.
After battling away a handful of soldiers, and Lykos’ insistent refusal to give herself up, her brother commands the soldiers pull back and leave her there as a “Sample” to see how living on the mud whale affects the body. Leaving as quickly as they arrived, a void of grief, despair and confusion is left in their wake.
The citizens of the Mud Whale prepare a massive funeral, and all pretext of masking ones emotions are lost to the wind: the children and teenagers of Falaina weep and sob for their loved ones, unable to contain the depth of their grief.
Suou is appointed the new mayor, following the death of Taisha in the previous attack. The council of elders inform him of what’s going on: that the citizens of the mud whale are descendants of exiled criminals, subject to the Empire’s execution at any time. Knowing that they cannot resist the might of the Empire, the council deems that they will sink the Mud Whale into the sands, and take every last living soul along with them.
Suou, of course, thinks this is insane. He wishes to fight the Empire, not surrender all of their lives for some unknown reason. After he protests vehemently, the head of the vigilantes (the Mud Whale’s security forces) knocks him out and puts him into the cells below.
Meanwhile, Chakuro is struggling to come to terms with the death of Sami. In a vision, he sees her, Taisha and others amidst the swirling sands. Sami confesses her feelings, and Neri informs him that he has a special gift of seeing into the hearts of others. He must work to help keep the Mud Whale together emotionally, Neri warns, or they are all doomed.
Word spreads about the Elders’ plan to sink the Mud Whale, and Chakuro sets out on a mission to recruit allies and save everyone. With new allies like Ginshu, Masoh, Ouni, and a newly-rescued Lykos among them, Chakuro leads them towards the heart of the Mud Whale. There, a Nous serves as the engine, or heart, of the massive ship. The elder’s plan is to kill the Nous and send the ship into the dunes, and the volume ends just as Lykos leaps in front of arrows fired at this sensitive core.
Wow. What a ride. The opening chapter of this volume certainly continues the same sense of helplessness one felt reading the conclusion of volume 1, except it went on for quite a bit longer. Watching the helpless children and young men and women of the Mud Whale being butchered was tough – but certainly drove home that this is a transformative moment for everyone who survives.
Elements of the story, when taken on their own, certainly seem familiar. However, Children of the Whales does an exceptional job of blending these elements into a story and universe that stands out just enough. Aided by some stunning artwork, there is some seriously compelling drama in this volume, with the prevailing emotion being Grief. It’s an interesting comparison to the first volume, which opened with a funeral as well. Chakuro reflected on how this funeral was natural, how things are meant to be…that children who couldn’t control their emotions weren’t properly trained yet. The difference between that funeral and the one in volume 2 couldn’t be more stark.
The characters are all very interesting, though Chakuro still stands above the crowd for me. I particularly enjoyed the scene where he sees those who have died and moved on – a highlight of this volume for sure.
Overall, Children of the Whales continues its fantastic storytelling in a rich and vibrant world. I can’t wait to see how things play out in the next volume…which should be landing in less than a week!
Interested in picking up Children of the Whales? You can find it on VIZ’s website here.
Children of the Whales (Volume 2)12.99
- Striking art style will keep you engaged
- Compelling drama makes for a great volume - loss, anger...and what comes after
- There's a richness to the world we haven't even seen yet - makes me excited for what happens when they bring the fight to the empire
- The "awakened power" trope is a bit overused
- Chakuro still seems to stand out when it comes to character development