Tropic of the Sea
Story by: Kon Satoshi
Paperback, approx. 236 pages, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
U.S.$14.95 / CAN$16.95
Yosuke Yashiro's family has a strange, unique tradition-once every sixty years they receive an egg from a mermaid where it sits protected in a shrine. Once the egg matures the family dutifully returns it to the sea, the mer-people bless their coastal town with bountiful catches of fish and calm seas.
But as commercial developers encroach on the sleepy seaside hamlet and Yosuke's father is lured away from tradition towards modern prosperity and turns the mermaid's egg into a tourist trap, what will happen to the promise their family made to the mermaids all those years?
Created by the late anime giant Satoshi Kon, Tropic of the Sea is a subtle, engaging work that blends realism with mythology and creates a fresh take on modern-day development and environmentalism.
“Let's be honest, everyone's interested in Tropic of the Sea just because it has Satoshi Kon's name on it—but in this case the substance lives up to the hype. Just like in Kon's films, this manga effortlessly blends slice-of-life realism and pure fantasy: some scenes capture the natural beauty of a sleepy seaside town, while others are mind-blowing displays of wonder as Yosuke gets involved in the mermaid legend. The storytelling is subtle enough to keep readers guessing—How much of this mermaid stuff is actually real?—and the answer is as haunting as the mystery itself. Meanwhile, the story's down-to-earth side is just as strong, looking at issues of friendship, growing up, and a community's struggle between progress and tradition. Delicate shading and details make the artwork a delight to look at, especially in the closing scenes as the seashore itself becomes a key figure in the drama. Picturesque landscapes also set the idyllic tone throughout. What's most striking, though, is Kon's natural talent for cinematic storytelling—every panel is a beautifully staged scene in itself.”
—Anime News Network
“However gobsmackingly gorgeous the dry-land scenery – like the verdant climb to the Hiratsu Shrine – the tour de force here lurks underwater: the shadow early on and late at night of what may or may not be a giant mermaid tail, glimpsed from above by falling torchlight. It ripples under the gentle waves. Later on young Yosuke will fall in, and never have I seen subaquatic suspension judged and then drawn with such precision: by which I mean, the degree of resistance water exerts on a body and the eruption of consequent bubbles below and on the surface. Sublime.”
“In spite of its 23 years, Tropic of the Sea is more relevant than ever as an environmentalist parable – mermaids, 60-year-old eggs, and underwater shrines, notwithstanding! More presciently spooky than not, Sea predates the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami by more than two decades …”
—The Smithsonian's BookDragon