My Bride is a Mermaid Season 1 Part 1 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, July 16, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When Nagasumi is saved by a mermaid, he suddenly finds himself engaged to her and that she’s the daughter of a yakuza family as well. Which is more problematic?

What They Say

Nagasumi's in hot water after a beautiful, young mermaid named Sun saves him from drowning. The deep-sea sweetheart's dad is a merman Yakuza prone to executing anyone who learns his family's scaly secret! Luckily, there's a catch - if Nagasumi agrees to marry Sun, he just might avoid sleeping with the fishes!

Of course, the honeymoon ends before it even begins when Nagasumi finds his life flooded with gilled gangsters looking out for their boss's little girl. The kid's definitely in over his head, but there's no denying the mermaid's allure - Nagasumi's hooked and Sun's ready to come ashore!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review!

Audio:
This release gets a bit of a surprise when it comes to the audio as I did not expect a 5.1 mix for the English language track as FUNimation has been doing more stereo mixes for shows like this lately. The Japanese stereo mix is a predictable but decent piece encoded at 192kbps that deals well with the forward soundstage since it's a loud and brash design many times. There's a lot going on over the course of it with plenty of yelling and a few characters on the screen so there's some depth and placement to be had. The English 5.1 mix, done at 448kbps, keeps to that but comes across as bit louder more than anything else. Both tracks are well done for what they are and they're free of problems like dropouts and distortions during regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally airing throughout 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The set contains thirteen episodes across two discs in a standard seven/six format that we've seen on many releases from FUNimation. The show has a lot of bright colors to it and obviously a slew of blues, especially in the early episodes, but water shows up everywhere and there's a lot of daytime scenes so it's a heavily used color. It holds up pretty well and the busy action scenes do too since the characters are overacting more often than not so the motion is regular and it doesn't break up hardly at all outside of some strong grainy moments that add a bit of blocking, particularly in some of the underwater scenes where there's a fair bit of gradients to be found. With only some line noise to be had during some of the fast paced panning moments and no cross coloration, this is a decent if unsurprising transfer overall.
 
Packaging:
My Bride is a Mermaid has a standard packaging design from FUNimation with two clear thinpaks inside a thin cardboard slipcover. The front of the slipcover feels very busy with ten characters spread across it, though the two leads are the more dominant characters across it even as Sun's father in a way overpowers Nagasumi. The blues in the background and the pink of Sun's uniform helps to give it a bit of color and vibrancy as the rest of the characters are fairly small and kept close together so that they don't really stand out all that much. The logo is kept to the upper left at a decent size and I like the style used for the text to give it a bit of color and texture. The back of the slipcover has a really nice layout to it with an olden style look with the block prints. The main section is essentially a circle where there's two rows of decent sized pictures going through it. The summary is spread across both halves and it lists the episode count and extras clearly. There's a lot of dark colors here but it's offset by the bright blues and pinks along the bottom and a smattering of color elsewhere. It's got a sense of fun about it while still being fairly dark. I really like how the back of the slipcover turned out.
 
The two thinpaks are really nicely done when you realize that you can connect the two front covers to provide a look at four of the core characters, both of the girls in their uniforms with the dominating men in their life overshadowing them from the background. There's a nice dash of pink in the background with the petals as well which doesn't feel like too much when you factor in Sun's uniform color either. The back covers work a design angle similar to the back of the slipcover except it's a lot darker with a dash of color spread across it, in reds and yellows for the first volume and green and blue for the second. The episode numbers and titles are also kept to the back here along the bottom using the font that works nicely for some of the themes of the show. Each cover is fully reversible as well as the back sides show off the cast with a large canvas to work with in different pairings. The smaller focus on the characters and the bigger canvas to do it works really nice, especially for Sun and Nagasumi.
 
Menu:
The menu design for the release takes some good cues from the cover artwork but also some bad ones. The background is similar to the back of the thinpaks and slipcover with the circular design and the colors, though it’s more blue than black here, and the left side features different pieces of good character artwork to give it a bit more vibrancy. The layout is fairly normal stuff for FUNimation and it’s the kind of release that still won’t read a players language presets which really boggles since it’s such an easy thing to set up. Where the menu loses me is that they do the navigation itself as vertical text, something that’s rarely appealing outside of doing it as a block of episode numbers, and they use the specialized font from the back cover in black and white to do it. It’s just not all that appealing looking and takes away from the overall design.
 
Extras:
The only extras included are on the second disc with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally known as Seto no Hanayome, My Bride is a Mermaid is a twenty-six episode series based on the manga of the same name written by Tahiko Kimura. The manga kicked off in 2002 so the anime started a surprising five years later with Gonzo handling the production for TV Tokyo, so there was a fair bit of material to work with from the source. The manga is still ongoing in fact with about fourteen volumes released in tankobon format to date. In watching the show, you realize just how few series really revolve around mermaid characters and that even from there only a few have been licensed over here. Most of them tend to be horror oriented at that and with this show giving off a Rumiko Takahashi vibe both in character design style at times and the frenetic nature of it, it’s easy to make comparisons.
 
The show revolves around Nagasumi Michishio, a junior high school student who goes to visit his grandmother in Seto Bay with his parents during the summer break. Nagasumi is fairly well picked on by his parents, though it’s done with love as you can tell, and they’re enjoying some time away from their regular lives a bit. Nagasumi is pushed into going out into the bay to prove he can swim, but it goes badly and he ends up nearly drowning. What saves him is a mermaid, though nobody believes that story when he relates it, even if his grandmother has a sort of knowing smile about all of it. It all changes though when the girl arrives with some dangerous looking menu who take Nagasumi and his parents and thrown them into the sea.
 
Which is where they do learn that mermaids are real and that they have a code that states that if people find out about them, they must be killed. Amusingly, the mermaid that rescued him is a young woman named Sun Seto and her father basically runs the mermaid family as a yakuza branch. They’ve got all the toughness to it that comes from the specialized dialect of Seto Bay and all the roughness of the yakuza. It’s pretty frequent that Suns’ father, Gozaburo, threatens to cut off Nagsumi’s balls and other manner of evil things. He even goes on to call him a fappy boy, which is just very amusing since it happens often enough. Because Sun saved him, she wants to pay him back and that means keeping him alive in front of her father, so what better way to repay a life debt than to become a wife? The first few episodes deal with both families dealing with this since it means Nagasumi’s parents have to be in on it and their lives are threatened too by the knowledge they now have.
 
The show doesn’t take too long to return back to Saitama where Nagasumi is from and it’s there that we get into the general routine of the series. Sun has to hide their relationship a bit as well as the fact she’s a mermaid. That’s somewhat difficult of course on both parts, though more so from the mermaid angle since if her legs get wet they revert to her true form. And obviously they’re going to find themselves in constant situations where that will happen. Sun and Nagasumi slowly start to figure out that they might have a real relationship here, though Sun is in it with a serious attitude while Nagasumi figures it won’t last until he realizes what she’s really feeling. Watching over them though is the bulk of Sun’s family that has relocated to Saitama and taken up jobs in the school itself with all of them hiding their true form. Which is very amusing since one of them transforms into a full shark and becomes a gym teacher of all things.
 
The school part of the saga introduces a few more characters to the mix which is expected. Sun takes on a lot of fans as she enrolls there, though they’re a bit wary of her after realizing their new homeroom teacher is her father and he’s damn scary. Nagasumi’s friend Mawari aspires to be a police superintendent some day so she takes on the case of figuring out who Sun really is. It doesn’t hurt that her last name is Zenigata either since that adds an extra bit of silliness to it. Nagasumi also has an unusual friend in Hideyoshi, who is affectionately named Chimp because he really does look, sound and act like it sometimes. He’s the comic relief in the show that goes a bit over the top but has his moments. Where the show left me a bit uncertain is about halfway through when they added Lunar, a pop idol who was competitive with Sun back in Seto Bay when it came to singing. Lunar adds the competitive side to things as she wants to show up Sun and that leads to a lot of the standard gags and setups.
 
My Bride is a Mermaid does run through fairly predictable stories when you look at it on an episode by episode basis. What helps to set it apart is that it’s a bit more raw in some ways because of the dialect and yakuza angle. There’s a fair bit of frenetic action and some of it comes from the character of Maki, a conch who does her best to defend Sun. She’s tiny, crude and intends to kill Nagasumi no matter what. One of the more amusing ongoing gags in the show is that Nagasumi’s first kiss is stolen by one of the men working for Gozaburo, a tough guy named Masa. Nagasumi’s mother has the hots for him, his father is concerned about that and Nagasumi keeps having near-yaoi moments when he looks at him as he gets all soft in the face and gooey. It’s highly endearing but it’s also the kind of quick turn on a dime the show takes sometimes with its humor as it’ll then turn crude and then sweet. The humor here is what helps it to work, giving it that extra bit of life to make these odd character combinations work. I mean, a mermaid that’s the daughter of a yakuza style family boss?
 
In Summary:
I was a bit wary of this title after seeing the trailer as it looked like it was just a cavalcade of comedy-action that didn’t appeal. Digging into the show, there’s a lot of quirkiness here that just sits right and makes it fun. The relationship between Nagasumi’s family is spot on, even if we never get their names. His mother having the hots for one of the yakuza, the way the characters riff off of each other and the way they do have fun with the mermaid angle by making it all yakuza based. Some of it gets a little old, especially with Sun reciting her honor among thieves line, but even that gets mocked every few episodes and changed up. My Bride is a Mermaid was a very pleasant surprise based on the expectations I had and I’m looking forward to the next set to see where they go with it.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 14 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: My Bride is a Mermaid (Seto no Hanayome)