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|Average Rating: 10.0|
Sarah scored this with 8/10. Disagree?
“Silver white hair, eyes of the deep young sea…’
The mystery underlying the true identities of the Children of Béfort is at last revealed in this volume. But before that, the action moves to explore Professor Gherta’s past. A school visit to the Rugen Museum shows a young girl moved to tears by reading a mysterious poem penned by the scientist Conrad Rugen. The adult Gherta then remembers her first meeting with white-haired, blue-eyed Demian in the ruins of Clairmont Sanatorium. What is Gherta’s connection with Conrad Rugen, an obsession that has driven her to become a scientist? And why does Demian evoke such paralyzing terror in her, even though his organization has been funding her research?
The Children bring Helga (along with Thoma and Chito) to the Sanatorium and Helga at last begins to remember her past lives on Earth. Then, through dispersing mists, we see a little girl lost in a forest, crying out for ‘Seth’. A strange boy appears out of the mist. In spite of the fact that one side of his body has been rebuilt in metal, she is at once at ease with her rescuer and chatters happily away. The story has shifted to the distant planet Greecia where the little girl, Tina, is the beloved only child of the elderly ruler, King Titus. And the extraordinary events that lead to the reincarnation of Tina begin to unfold.
At sixteen, Tina is torn between her affection for the faithful Seth, destined to be her husband, and the love she feels for his friend Soran, captain of the palace guard (the boy who rescued her years ago).
Titus’s gifted team of young scientists are none other than the seven we have come to know as the Children of Béfort. They have been developing a way to harness the Orsel energy of the Zone (the place where souls go after death) and are eager to show King Titus the breakthrough they have made in reviving a dead animal (strangely called a marmot here, but not like any marmot I’ve ever seen!).
But sinister plans are underway; Lord Gueroca, the King’s ambitious and embittered younger brother, is plotting to seize the throne. An assassination attempt goes horribly wrong and Tina is fatally injured in her father’s place. Crazed with grief, the King takes the dying Tina to the Tanatulum and demands that the scientists bring her back to life. What follows descends swiftly into tragedy; the bitter rivalry between the two brothers leading both to commit vile acts that bring death and devastation to the planet and heartbreak to the young protagonists.
‘Fantastic Children’, like the best science fiction, isn’t afraid to deal with profound issues and at the heart of the story lies the question: should scientists play god and tamper with the fundamental truths of life and death? And the tragic theme of divided lovers, undergoing endless incarnations as they search through time and space for each other, is a potent and engaging one, given an extra spin here with the involvement of the scientists whose rash experiments lead to such tragic consequences.
The depiction of the Planet Greecia is as attractive as the earlier landscapes of Thoma’s island temple; washes of blue and silvery white create a sense of ‘otherness’ whilst at the same time evoking echoes of Ancient Greece. And, quite magically, episode 17 begins with scientist Aghi softly singing the same song ‘Water’s Rest’ that ends every episode, whilst gazing out into a beautiful starlit night. (Although, please listen in the original Japanese; the US version ruins the magic!)
Best of all, Nakamura isn’t afraid to take his time to tell the story, with the result that nothing seems skimped or rushed. The scene at the end of episode 18, ‘Tragedy’, is one of the most moving as the disillusioned and badly injured Seth slowly stumbles back toward the palace through torrential rain, memories of happier times that he and Tina shared in childhood flickering through his mind.
Another engrossing volume that reveals answers to some of the mysteries while revealing new ones, whilst at the same time involving the viewer’s sympathies more deeply with the characters. A great piece of story-telling.
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|Score:||8 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Mon, 28 Apr 2008|