The Ocean of Secrets is the debut manga of Safa A.K. Al Ani, better known to her fans as Sophie-chan. The story begins in Nova Scotia when Lia is visited by her friend Nina who wants to take her out on a boat. Lia has been skipping school and is a bit reluctant to go, but Nina really wants to take her so she agrees to do so. After reading a rather odd news headline, she also learns that there may be potentially hazardous weather in the forecast, but the two embark on their boat ride anyway.
Soon, a storm stirs up the ocean and Lia is tossed overboard. What appears to be a grim finish for Lia turns into an unexpected beginning. Lia is rescued by two people who were passing by on a boat named Albert and Moria, except this boat seems just a bit strange due to the fact that it’s flying in the air! Lia now finds herself on a magical adventure involving the people who saved her and three hidden kingdoms floating in the sky!
I have been following Sophie-chan’s YouTube channel for quite a long time. I was always a fan of her videos and admired her artistic ability. Being someone who is still learning how to draw, I found her to be an inspiration to further my own abilities. She has been laboring over this manga for quite a few years and now that the first volume has been printed, she can sit back and enjoy the reactions of those who get to read what she has poured her heart and soul into.
For a debut manga, I was actually very impressed. Being a follower of her channel, I knew the kind of art she was capable of and what her style was like and the manga showcases that beautifully. She did mention in one of her videos that she was unhappy with the first round of printing and I could see why as some of the word bubbles were a bit too close to the spine or a couple of the full-page images didn’t line up fully. That’s certainly not Sophie-chan’s fault by any means and I don’t think it detracts from the overall quality of the manga.
The story itself is intriguing and the amount of information given to you in four chapters is vast, but it’s spaced out well as to not overwhelm the reader. It introduces us to Lia properly and offers up an easy-to-understand explanation of the way the magic kingdom works. None of the chapters felt long or sluggish as the story was well-written and kept you turning each page wanting to read more. Some manga series will offer a lot of dialogue and then throw you into action scenes, disrupting the flow, but The Ocean of Secrets doesn’t do that. There’s a great balance between dialogue and art to keep the pace smooth from beginning to end making it a very enjoyable reading experience.
Overall, the manga was very enjoyable and I’m happy to see a preview for Volume 2 at the end of it. The fact that this was self-created and self-published is a very impressive feat and should serve to inspire anyone who wants to make their own manga to not give up and to always press forward because it is possible. If you need some more inspiration, make sure to check out Sophie-chan’s YouTube videos… especially the one that explains how she got to where she is today… I guarantee you that you will be moved even more by it!
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