Type: TV (13 episodes)
Mermaid Forest - TV
The legend says if you eat mermaid flesh, you'll gain eternal life. Yuta is one of the few who did... and lived. While true, the legend left out many details. Most who eat the flesh drop dead, or are transformed into hideous monsters. A few are simply left disfigured.
Yuta is determined to end his immortality and live a full normal life. Finding a living mermaid seems to be the best bet, but more often he encounters the terrors left by the curse of the flesh, and the horrors of human nature itself. Cursed with an existence devoid of meaning, he travels with a fellow immortal named Mana he met long ago.
Disclaimer where I'm coming from on this one. I believe Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga is truly amazing fiction: anime, manga, or otherwise. Her earlier works produced as 80s/90s horror OVAs are a big part of what got me into anime. That's a lot to live up to. Coming from the dark age of anime (early 2000's with shoddy CGI), I put off watching the TV series for quite a while. Eventually I broke down and decided to give it a go. I feel better about putting this one off, because it's a huge letdown.
Don't get me wrong, the concept is still completely awesome. How awesome? I'll put it this way. The Mermaid Saga is so awesome, that even with crappy animation, bad character designs, terrible music and poor story telling it still qualifies as average. Damming praise for a show I have mixed feelings on. I still like the series, but it deserves so much better. It should have high budget love and attention making this series one of the best anime titles ever produced. The potential for disturbing, but elegant aesthetics is absolutely there! Instead it's done cheaply and half assed. *sigh*
Having seen the OVA, aside from more stories; the TV series did finally satisfy my curiosity as to why Mana seems so... "catty". What kind of person is she anyway? It turns out that's precisely what she was: a tantrum throwing brat. It didn't really register in my mind when Yuta makes passing comments about her "finally growing up", but now I get it. Mana was on the verge of maturing into a woman. After eating mermaid flesh, she never did and is now frozen in that state of immaturity. This kind of depth in the consequences of immortality is one of the things I like most about the show. That part at least, still shines through.
I'm not going to get into the guts of the show because that would be a long explanation. Instead I'll get to my recommendation and you can decide if you trust me. Mermaid Forest is a throwback to great horror anime, but even better than that. It's incredibly imaginative in concept, and great story. If you crave a show with such a concept, and can fit the story together properly in your mind despite what's being poorly shown to you, and can ignore most other bad points: you will absolutely want to watch this one. For everyone else it's a tough sell. The issues pile up very high; often making it hard to watch. If you're the sort to passively expect anime to win you over, then you likely don't have the amount of forgiveness required to appreciate this one, and will want to avoid it.
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