‘Umi ga Hashiru Endroll’ Depicts Life of Filmmaker More Than Elderly Person

© Tarachine John (AKITASHOTEN) 2021
The cover of the first volume of “Umi ga Hashiru Endroll”

Umi ga Hashiru Endroll
by John Tarachine (Akita Publishing Co.)

With society growing older and graying, “Umi ga Hashiru Endroll” (End credits roll showing the ocean) starts like a manga cheering on and supporting the elderly population.

The protagonist, 65-year-old Umiko Chino, has recently become a widow, and for the first time in a long time, she goes to a movie theater she used to go to with her husband when they were younger. There, she meets Kai Hamauchi, a film major student at a college.

Umiko is more interested in watching people watch movies rather than in the movies themselves. As Kai notices, he says, “You’re more into making movies than watching them, aren’t you?”

The story of an elderly person and a young person bonding over their favorite things is similar to Kaori Tsurutani’s “Metamorphose no Engawa” (“BL Metamorphosis”), which I reviewed in 2018. Both feature elderly women as the main characters and are often paired together as manga portraying an aging society.

However, as I continued reading, I began to wonder if this manga was really that kind of story.

Umiko eventually enrolls in the same art college as Kai and is surrounded by a sea of young people as she pursues a career in film.

Umiko says: “I wonder what the difference is between those who create and those who don’t. I think it’s whether they set sail or not … and anyone can set sail.”

At 63, I’m about the same age as Umiko and was moved by her words. However, from that point, the tone of the manga begins to subtly change.

Umiko, who was an ordinary homemaker, has a hidden talent for filmmaking. Kai sees similarities between Umiko and his best friend, who had given up on his dream of making movies due to family and finances.

Umiko declares to Kai, “I’m going to make a film featuring you,” to which Kai responds, “I want to make a film featuring you.”

This was a really exciting scene. But after that, the story starts to shift away from depicting the life of an elderly person. So much so that Kai starts looking more like the lead character.

The manga’s author, John Tarachine, revealed in an online interview that “it was the editor’s idea to make a 65-year-old person the protagonist.” Since the series’ serialization began in 2020, it’s not hard to imagine that Tarachine was aware of “BL Metamorphosis” and its success. “Umi ga Hashiru Endroll” also became a hit after its first volume, proving the editor’s advice was spot on.

In the manga, Umiko’s age is only meant to create a fish-out-of-water situation on an art school campus. The real story is about filmmaking. Other such works that it could be compared to are “Tenmaku Cinema” by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki, currently serialized in Shukan Shonen Jump weekly manga magazine, and “Sayonara Eri” by Tatsuki Fujimoto.

Filmmaking has become a popular subject for manga, and those works should be discussed on their own.

I might have grumbled about a few things, but the art is well-done and shows the skill of the mangaka. The work is also becoming more entertaining through the introduction of various young characters with distinct and strong personalities. “Cheering on the elderly” is what made the manga popular, but I am concerned that sticking to that might dilute the real theme.

I really hope the mangaka will forget about the cheering on and fully depict the development of Umiko and Kai’s relationship, which is somewhat akin to love.