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Manga Review: A Sinner of the Deep Sea Vol. 1 (2024) by Akihito Tomi

Cover art for the manga A Sinner of the Deep Sea
"I've always lived my life the way I wanted, and my heart never lies'

Sea” official synopsis from Yen Press “The ocean covers about 70 percent of the earth's surface—a whole world, yet unknown to humanity…and in its depths a nation, thousands of meters beneath the waves. There, the mermaid Jo has been whiling away her days in peace. But that tranquility is shattered when her friend Ryuu is imprisoned for breaking the gravest of undersea laws: Their existence must be kept hidden from the people above. But why would Ryuu let the secret slip? And who did she tell? The curtain rises on Jo's adventure to save her friend—and on a story of love…?!”

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's “A Sinner of the Deep” presents a romantic vision of the deep, inhabited by a society of merpeople in a unique yet stylish society mimicking a ‘golden era' Hollywood-type aesthetic. It certainly paints a pretty picture that is deserved of the the slightly larger physical release from Yen Press. Still, the work's general simplicity keeps the deep sea adventure a surface-level exploration of the fascinating society it looks to explore.

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This is not to say that “A Sinner of the Deep Sea” is not without a potential, wide-ranging audience. The three-volume series is poised to offer a quick, delectable, romantic adventure in a bite-sized portion. Approaching the work with the mindset that not everything has to be a stunning masterpiece is essential. Moreover, shorter series can act to keep your appetite satiated for the next thing, offering light thrills in an easy-to-consume story. Akihito Tomi is no slouch either, with the characters wonderfully expressive and the underwater landscape a visual treat; it is not a manga without skill, just without substance that will resonate beyond that initial reaction.

Tomi's prowess with visuals and world building helps the rather formulaic plot of star-crossed lovers that plays out in the inaugural volume of “A Sinner of the Deep Sea.” None of the elements feel wholly original, but there is a comfort in what is, essentially, a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” with a few twists and turns under a manga aesthetic. At the same time, Akihito Tomi brings a modern flair to a classic story, with Jo presenting a strong independence removed from the damsel in distress trope. The series also offers light commentary on the need to preserve the sea life and landscape, which may or may not become more pronounced in subsequent volumes.

It is also important to note that the art style of “A Sinner of the Deep Sea” emphasizes eroticism. Akihito Tomi favors voluptuous forms, and while the artwork is not graphic, the approach here will appeal to a certain audience. The images between chapters, in particular, lean into the fashion and form of Jo. On the opposite spectrum, the depiction of the aquatic landscape has such glorious attention to detail that certain panels seem rooted in deep research and passion for the various flora and fauna of the sea.

It is hard to have a dominant opinion on “A Sinner of the Deep Sea.” It is serviceable in almost every manner, with the visual flair elevating it beyond being flat line average. Despite this, the manga is still an easy recommend, especially at only three volumes, as its light tone and upbeat visuals make it one of those series that will look sharp on the shelf when complete; it is a release I see myself flipping through again later. In addition, the work is a wonderful introduction to Akihito Tomi, a relatively unknown mangaka here in the West. Readers (myself included) will likely want to check out more of his work after seeing the potential within this deep-sea romantic adventure.

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About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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