Chakuro is a young archivist on the island of Mud Whale. This island floats above an endless wasteland of sand. On this island, nine of the ten residents have been blessed with special powers but also curse them to an early death. While the inhabitants have seen other islands, they have never met or even seen any other inhabitants. However, one day, then find an island as large as their own. There Chakuro meets a girl that will change her destiny.
Deceptive in its bright pastel colors, there is a story with dark undertones that lurks within Children of the Whales, painting a world that draws you in to learn more. If you need similar anime recommendations, then look no further.
For Fans of Bright Colors, Dark Story
From the New World
After the sudden outbreak of psychokinesis, the .01% of the population that developed it started using their powers for nefarious means. Far into the future, the town of Kamisu 66 is wholly populated by psychics with the young Saki being one of the most recent to awaken her powers. Finally she can join the rest of her friends at the Sage Academy. However, her school days are plagued with questions that threaten to unravel the dark secrets of her idyllic village.
While Children of Whales doesn’t go as in-depth as From the New World does, both worlds function in incredibly similar ways. They start off about young kids that are innately curious about their world. However, while their societies have a peaceful front, the more they discover, the darker and more oppressive that society turns out to be. What lurks under the surface? Both shows will show you.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Thrown into a fantasy land with no memories of their previous life, the strong among this new group of people bind together while the weak are left to fend for themselves. Grimgar tells the tale of the struggles of the weak as they pick up combat skills and fight the creatures of the world in order to earn a living.
Both shows start off light and almost comedic, with Grimgar having a bit more action to it. However, as the series goes on, they both dip into darker territories and turn into more serious stories. With both featuring a lighter color palate, it makes the darkness of the story somehow more emotional.
Made in Abyss
The Abyss is an enormous cave system and the only unexplored place in the world. No one knows how deep it goes, but generations of bold adventurers have descended into it. In the town at the edge of The Abyss, an orphan named Rico dreams of raiding, as her mother did before her. One day while exploring the murky depths, she meets a boy, who turns out to be a robot, kicking off the start of her epic adventure.
The similarity between these two series is not just that it starts off youthful and bright before turning dark, but they both paint wholly unique new worlds. Many anime series do just that, but these two do it in a way that you are not so much invested in the characters, but drawn in to discover more of the interesting world presented.
For Fans of Interesting New Worlds
Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet
In the distant future, humanity has abandoned a ruined Earth and now lives in the furthest reaches of space fighting their eternal enemy, the Hideauze. During one of their massive space battles, a young soldier named Ledo and his mecha Chamber are flung through a warp hole into space. He crash lands on a strange planet that is covered in completely in water. To his surprise, he finds that other humans also live there aboard massive fleets of boats. Found by the Gargantia fleet, Ledo must navigate this strange new world.
Children of the Whales is so bright that it is sometimes blinding, while in Gargantia everyone is bright and just super shiny in color and design. Both types of animation are interesting in their own ways, but the series tell different stories. Despite having different settings, it shares the common themes of isolation and mystery of the past as well as showing a unique world that has its own cultures and customs for the audience to learn.
A Lull in the Sea
Long ago, all of humanity lived underwater. However, a portion of them soon left to live on the surface, losing the ability to breath underwater. With this gap between them, the two societies grew apart. A Lull in the Sea tells the story of a group of kids forced to attend school above the water where they come to terms with themselves and the discrimination against them.
Both series present new worlds for the audience as well as a mystery as to what happened to humanity in the past. However, the crucial difference between these two series is that the world really isn’t new to the audience in A Lull in the Sea, but it is new to the characters, which is just as exciting. Of course, A Lull in the Sea also has tons more drama in between the characters.
Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann
While digging around in his underground village, a young boy named Simon uncovers a mysterious object that turns out to be the ignition key to an ancient artifact of war. When their village comes under attack, Simon and his daring adoptive older brother Kamina use this weapon to fend off the invaders, discovering that there is a whole surface world above them in the process. With the sky now in plain view, Kamina and Simon set off on a journey that will take them across the galaxy.
Gurren Lagann is very much an action-heavy show, and mecha to boot. Consequently, Children of the Whales is more magical and whimsical. However, they have key similarities in their stories. Both shows follow a main character that is conflicted between being comfortable, yet wanting to see more of the world. When circumstance thrusts them out into said larger world, it launches them on an adventure that completely shatters the small sphere that they knew before.
For Fans of Life-Altering Magic
It has been five hundred years since humanity went extinct at the hands of the mysterious beasts that roam the land. Now the surviving races have retreated to floating islands in the sky out of reach of most of the beasts. However, there are ones nimble enough to put these people in danger. A small group of young girls, a race called the Leprechauns, are now raised as the only ones that can wield ancient weapons to fend off invasion by the beasts, but it often requires them to sacrifice themselves and they don’t often live to see adulthood. Enter Willem, the last surviving human woken from his slumber and sent to watch over these girls, still feeling the sting from the final battle where he lost everything five hundred years ago.
The similarities between these two series are pretty apparent in a very upfront sort of way. Both series are about the small dregs of humanity that live on islands after various apocalyptic circumstances. On these islands, there are a select few that can use a very powerful magic, but using it or just being expected to fight gives them dramatically lower life spans.
While enjoying summer camp together, 15 children happen upon a man in a cave filled with technology. The man claims to be a game designer and asks them to beta test. Soon after signing the contracts, the children find that they are actually pilots for a giant robot to defend earth from alien invaders. Unfortunately, the man neglected to tell them that they robot’s power source is… Them.
Bokurano is a mecha show about watching children suffer, but they both feature mechanics that allow the true power in the show to feed off life force. While Bokurano is a lot of drama, like Children of the Whales, the entire plot hinges on the characters discovering the real truth of the world.
Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are your typical middle school girls, but one day they encounter a cute creature named Kyuubey that offers to grant them one wish. In exchange for their wish, they must become magical girls and protect humanity from witches. While Sayaka accepts right away, Madoka is more hesitant, not knowing what she would wish for. However, her decision is even further delayed when the mysterious Homura Akemi, a transfer student, begs her not to accept.
Despite a difference in settings, the magic in both worlds functions the same way. In Madoka Magica, it slowly darkens a magical girl while in Children of the Whales it slows drains away your remaining life. Using the magic is risky, but of course in both series, there are a variety of reasons to use it.
Do you have more anime recommendations like Children of the Whales? Then let the world know in the comments section below.