Molly Y-Y-Y-Y-Yeah-A-Lot – Secrets Of Cerulean Sand

Posted on Apr 24 2011

Welcome to the real April edition of the Rants-a-lot series. This month I’ll be passing on an under-appreciated gem of anime introduced to me by our very own Tyto. Get those tissues out because this one’s a tear jerker. Let me teach you about the Secrets of Cerulean Sand.

Take your favorite childhood animated film, give it a sprinkle of European Steampunk flare, an audacious little girl and some dangerous explosives and you’ve got this charming little series that’ll leave you wishing that your childhood was more exciting. Set in an era of great (yet outdated to our current standards) technological advancements, Cerulean Sand chronicles the adventures of a girl in search of her presumably dead brother throughout what seems to be the near eastern deserts of what seems to be Saudi Arabia (except not). For sanity’s sake, let’s stick with “the east”.

The story revolves around a seemingly prominent “English” (except not) noble family, the Buxtons. George, the older brother, is a scientist/ engineer/ goodness-knows-what that dreams of creating the first flying machine (I’m pretty sure Georges flying death machine could steal the Wright brothers’ one-man paper plane’s lunch money). St. Berain, the family’s loyal butler with an unearthly amount of energy and speed for an old geezer like him, is a poor old sap that shouldn’t have survived as long as he did. Big Man Buxton, the owner of a major, wealthy town bank, loses his wife when birthing his baby daughter Jane. (One wifey down). Jane will grow up to be a dust-covered fool that gives St. Berain a run for his money. In the shadow of her loving brother, George, she, too, wishes to create a flying machine that will take her to her mother(s) in the sky. Oh childhood dreams and aspirations.

A couple of years later, a widow and her tiny 11-year-old son, William, come to move in with the Buxtons. Poor kid. For the first whole episode, you come to pity this poor displaced child. Feeling lonely and abandoned by his mother, he begins to develop a deep seeded hatred for the Buxtons. Then….. his mother dies. 14 minutes in and we watch childhoods shatter right and left. The kid snaps. Now, his only solace is young Jane who only knew his mother as her own.

Now, another time skip. Jane is perhaps 10. William is around 19 and George is maybe 23. George is a tad taller, but just as lanky. The man hasn’t aged a day. William on the other hand……OH DEAR LORD THAT CHIN!! William consumed the puberties of 3 children. No 19-year-old is that abnormally large!

Anyway, George decides to leave home to travel to “the east” to find the mysterious Floating Liquid that will allow ships to fly. But then….. he dies. (and it should be noted that by this time, the Hulk that is William has disappeared after some sticky black market dealing accusations.) Years later, Jane decides to ditch school and search for his presumably executed brother under the watchful eye of St. Berain. Let the life-endangering adventure begin!

Amidst her travels, Jane meets a whole slew of colorful characters, some pertinent to the plot, others for comedic relief. Oh, and she meets Scooby Doo’s distant cousin. No, not Scrappy. This little weaner dog is far too useful to even be mentioned with Scrappy. Though not terribly important to the plot, this little daschund dog, aptly named Sky, gets Jane’s pretty little posterior out of trouble on more than one occasion. He’s like Lassie, but better.

I’m going to leave the story from here on, because this series has a few mind-blowing twists that you’ll see coming from a mile away anyway, but I don’t want to risk letting the cat out of the bag too soon. Let’s, instead, talk about what makes this series so darned adorable. To us children of the 80’s and 90’s, the animation style is very reminiscent of every great kid’s show from the time of our youths. This anime came out in 2002, but looks like it could have come right out the early to mid 90’s, what with their tacky CGI work. Cerulean Sand screams American animation. Lo and behold, this wonderful series never made it too far out of Japan and never got dubbed. A crying shame if you ask me. By the end of the series, I began to loath Japanese pronunciations of basic English names.. “GEEORGEE-ONEE-SAMA!!”. I felt like I was ordering perpetual Oraangee Chicken from Tasty City. Anyway, I feel as though the anime would have greatly benefited from an English dub.

Where to go from here..? Oh right, so the story plays heavily on the basics of story telling with basic character archetypes. The writers utilized the basics of story-telling to create a children’s book style plot. In keeping with the mind-set that the audience is comprised of nose-picking 5-year-olds, the dramatic irony becomes overwhelming. For those who failed Introduction to Literature, Dramatic Irony is when the audience is given more pivotal information than the characters in given situations. Unfortunately, that is this story’s driving force. They don’t leave much for the imagination.

Now, the end of the story was a tad overzealous. The writers used Miyazaki’s formula almost to a tee. In the end, a girl flies… And everyone dies in a giant fireball… Ok, not really a Miyazaki end, but if you consider every major Ghibli film, a girl faces some moral dilemma and eventually flies. However, here’s a bit of trivia for you.

Ever hear of a certain French author, Jules Verne? Me, too. Author of such classics as A Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days, Verne was the forerunner of the Science Fiction genre in the late 1800’s. Cerulean Sand takes major plots and characters (namely a villain by the name of Harry Killer) from his two novels, Facing the Flag about an inventor who creates a weapon of mass destruction and City in the Sahara about a hidden city, Blackland, in the desert. I’ll leave it to you to find the parallels. (Yes, I’m recommending you a book as well as animus.)

So, in the end, this story is about young girls who get themselves on the black list of an insane murderer whose chin as killed thousands, breaks out of prison a few times and haplessly beats up faceless, moronic goons. I had considered recommending this series to a professor of mine with a young daughter when I was about halfway through the series. Until the last six or so episodes of the story, this anime is fairly tame and down to earth. Then murderous chins start shooting guns that aren’t guns and… everyone died… Best Kid’s story ever. The dream shattering kind.

I can’t complain, this series was good for a cathartic cry and a few schadenfreude chuckles. So let’s wrap this up:

Pros: Nostalgic, explosive wielding mad man with a chin that could decapitate limbs with family problems and a spiffy soundtrack.
Or, In the end, a girl flies and people die. Or, I think the size of that flying ship is compensating for something. Best, most ridiculous, soul crushing story children’s story to date. All jokes aside, the story captures your cold, uncaring heart with the warmth of childhood hope.

Cons: Every shortcoming in the anime just adds to the charm. I simply cannot complain. Just ignore the fact that no one seems to die from the potentially dangerous falls but always from ridiculous fiery explosions.

As far as a fun time goes, this 26 episode series is an under-loved treasure that just can’t be ignored. Ignore, however, the gratuitous mushroom clouds and the maniacal laughter of a murderer with daddy issues. It’s like that elephant in the corner. Just pretend it’s not there.

Well, that’s another month for me. I’ll be back at the end of May for a summer kick-off special! What will it be? Even I don’t know!
Now, go crush some childhoods with Secrets of Cerulean Sand

Bibbles Out

You Might Also Like...