On an abandoned subway car, a mysterious hooded figure launches their attack on a young woman. Under pressure and out of options, she unwittingly unleashes a power that derails the train, setting off an explosion. The woman (named Rhonda) narrowly escapes with her life, and when she regains consciousness she finds herself in an underground hideout being looked after by two children. She leaves hurriedly, not wanting to get the kids involved, and rushes to a temple where a local gang has set up base. Unable to pay tribute to the leader, Rhonda finds herself in trouble, until she reveals her identity as the daughter of an influential man… and the woman who’d killed him. The gang leader attacks her, which triggers her ability once more. Her power is recognised and she is granted passage through the gang’s territory.
Not knowing what’s happening to her, Rhonda searches for a mysterious person known as The Goat, who may just have the answer…
One of the biggest things I noticed about this anime was the diversity. And far from ‘political correctness gone wrong’, I think that it’s definitely a good thing. The main character is a black woman, who are rarely found in anime at all, let alone front and centre. So far the majority of characters are people of colour, whether they be black or Hispanic, and the main Hispanic character in episode one actually speaks Spanish on screen. This makes perfect sense as this series is set in the USA, one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet, yet historically it’s rarely been recognised in popular media
Another thing I noticed is that the children actually look like children. Copper is thirteen years old and Pint is even younger, and they both still have a squishy pre-pubescent design. Children in anime tend to either exist in the cute elementary school stage or as almost adult high schoolers, so it’s nice to see somewhere in the middle.
I think the fact that this project has a Western director helps in reflecting a more realistic future America, leading the Japanese-style art with the cultural background of someone born in the country (even more specifically, New York City).
Despite the fact that I usually watch subs instead of dubs, I have watched my fair share of English language anime and I didn’t actually recognise the voices of any of the VAs here. Nor did I recognise any of the names credited. So I decided to research the cast and it looks like it’s largely made up of actors that aren’t established in anime voice work, which could be very hit or miss. But seeing as Stephanie Sheh was involved with casting, I have high hopes.
I love that this merges sci-fi/fantasy concepts with city backdrops and gang warfare. As I mentioned in my Tokyo Ghoul post, it’s a combination that I absolutely love so I’m interested to see what they do with it.
The overall animation quality isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s not bad and the concept is interesting enough to compensate. And they’re doing something that’s not exactly common. It’s not every day that an international team of creators make an anime in partnership with a Western streaming service like Crunchyroll. The most famous example (with 22 million views on YouTube and many more on Crunchyroll) is 2016’s Shelter by Porter Robinson, Madeon, and A1 Pictures. Children of Ether is arguably the next step up; with a longer duration, a larger cast, and a clear cut plotline. Unlike Shelter, which had a lot of the wider details open to interpretation, Children of Ether has much more definition. I still prefer Shelter – although admittedly it’s not entirely fair to compare the two given that the formats are so different.
Overall, this is either a big risk or something that really works, but only time will tell.
If you liked this, you’ll like:
Bungou Stray Dogs – The protagonists, unaware of the true powers they possess, run away from their past and the destruction they left behind.