Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Robert Harris
Review Date: Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Scenario by: Michiko Yokote / Manga by: Pink Hanamori
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:William Flanagan

What They Say
Lucia Nanami is having love problems. Her handsome classmate, Kaito, seems attracted to her, and she's certainly fallen for him, but there are still obstacles in their way. The fact that she's a mermaid princess fighting a war to protect the seven seas from the corrupting influence of Gackto is one problem. Another is how Gackto's minions keep putting the lives of Kaito and her mermaid friends in peril with their constant attacks.

Also, Lucia can't tell Kaito that she's a mermaid or else her life will be snuffed out, and she'll vanish in the sea foam. And what's worse, Lucia and Kaito just can't seem to keep from bickering! Still, Lucia's optimism and determination can overcome anything!

The Review
Let me get one thing straight right off the bat: I gave the first volume of Mermaid Melody a C because, despite some fundamental problems, it was quick, stupid fun. The art is gorgeous, the story is light, and the characters are sufficiently wacky and sugary, in equal parts. Like a bag of Skittles, or your candy of choice, it was fine as a one-time thing.

The second volume of Mermaid Melody is much like that second bag of candy; you know you shouldn't have it, but you do anyway, and you spend the time immediately afterwards regretting your life choices and, more specifically, the very last one. The problems aren't so forgivable anymore, the characters aren't so endearingly dense, and the embarrassing mishmash of story ceases being a humorous curio as it dawns on you that yes, they're actually going to go through with it.

Where do I begin? The characters get emotional constantly, but rarely show any actual emotion; this is probably the closest experience I've gotten to a poorly acted High School play outside of a smelly auditorium. The emotions are quicksilver, and the characters feel as if they're reading lines off a script that says, �Ok, in this panel, be sad. Now two pages later get angry.� With no real emotional foundation, all of those teenage mood swings seem more the onset of early psychosis rather than relatively immature characters responding to difficult situations.

The sense of flow throughout the entire manga is awful as well. Characters pop in and out seemingly at random (or as the script requires, anyway) and it can be hard to tell what's going on with constant, unannounced setting changes. Speaking of the characters themselves, they're about as deep as a kiddy pool during a drought, which is ironic given the premise of the series. Very rarely do any of them break free of their defined character archetypes; Lucia is always bubbly and dense, Hanon is always playful and spirited, and Rina is always cool and composed. It becomes grating when every character acts exactly as you'd expect all the time.

The story is just as inane as it ever was. There are a few glimpses into Gackto's motivations, but they're short and don't serve to clear much up. The individual chapter stories are a mixed bag; take for instance Hanon's chapter where a mermaid from her old kingdom comes to visit. This mermaid, named Meru, betrays Hanon & Co. but after they defeat Gackto's woefully inept minion, everything seems to be instantly forgiven. Most follow the same general mold, although the last two chapters focus on Lucia and Kaito's relationship, and manage to stand out as particularly good in a sea of mediocrity.

Mermaid Melody could have been good. Not great, but good enough. However, flawed execution at nearly every turn results in something that is actually far less than the sum of its parts. I hope I've managed to convey just how lifeless and detached the characters seem; as I read, I get the constant feeling that I'm floating through the ether and just witnessing random snippets of their lives. In fact, I'd say �floaty' is a very good word to describe the second volume of Mermaid Melody. Everything seems very light and ephemeral, and you get the feeling that it's only a remarkably good balancing act that's managed to keep this house of cards from tumbling down.



Mania Grade: D+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 0-345-49197-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left