Mermaid Forest Box Set -

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  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 69.98
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mermaid Forest

Mermaid Forest Box Set

By Lauren Goodnight     September 24, 2007
Release Date: August 08, 2006

Mermaid Forest Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
An ancient Japanese legend says that if one were to partake of the flesh of a mermaid, one would be granted eternal life and youth. Yuta ate the mermaid's flesh 500 years ago and became immortal. Since then, he has had to deal with living a lonely never-ending life, watching his loved ones grow old and die. He spends centuries searching for a mermaid and wishing he had a normal life like others.

He believes that the Mermaid will be able to tell him how to become mortal again. When he arrives at a village, he meets a girl named Mana, who also became immortal by eating a mermaid's flesh. Together, they start their journey in attempting to find a mermaid and regain their humanity.

The Review!
Please see the single volume reviews for a detailed breakdown of the audio, video and extras. This collection contains the same discs as those individual releases.

The packaging for this release is not different from the original releases as it is simply a repackaging. The box is sturdy chipboard, and the covers are single-sided and eyecatching, with graphics that look like vectored versions of Takahashi's art for the original Mermaid manga. The inserts are basic, with the cover art on one side and the episode titles on the other. The box itself is very understated, with blue impressions of slim mermaids on a sea-blue background. On the front of the box are Yuta and Mana, the main characters of the Mermaid Saga, wearing modern clothing.

Based on Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga, which I believe had no final ending (at least in the published English editions), Mermaid Forest takes us through several of the original tales with a somber tone and art that (finally) brings Takahashi's original source material to life. While this series occasionally flounders in getting somewhere, seeing characters that truly look like the originals is refreshing and is enough to keep me watching. The OP and ED are especially true to type, with the separated hair, the stylized eyes, and the particular motion of fabric.

The reason I put so much emphasis on looks with this series is that more often than not, Takahashi's art, does not make it onto the animating table, while the story drags on just as well as it does in the manga. The Mermaid Saga was one of her shorter pieces, broken up into short 4-6 issue story arcs that came at irregular intervals and had ...well, irregular content. Definitely mature, definitely grisly, and most definitely melancholy. Brilliant stuff, if you are able to track it down. But back to the look. From Urusei Yatsura onward, Takahashi manga made extremely popular anime, even when it didn't look a thing like the manga. UY, Ranma 1/2, and Inu Yasha are all long-running and popular anime but rarely do they reference the source for their look. Not so with Mermaid Forest: almost every second is stuffed with backgrounds, buildings, and most importantly, characters that look to have stepped, fully formed and moving, straight from the pages of the source material. True, the voices often throw me, because I read the manga and watched the original Mermaid Scar OVA around the same time, so those voices tend to stick in my consciousness. But when it looks this good, I can forgive the Japanese casting choices I disagree with. I will admit to not having seen the other OVA that is incorporated into the storyline here, the Mermaid's Forest OVA, so a lot of this is new when it moves on the screen.

Just like the original, Mermaid Forest is made of a series of story arcs. There are few single episodes throughout the set (only 13 episodes makes this a fast watch), but where they are placed is strategic in understanding the journey our heroes (?) go on in search of life, or death.

Yuta is looking for the answer, the finality really, to his immortality. He and his friends, all fishermen about 500 years ago, ate mermaid flesh. They all died or became monsters, but Yuta survived and despairs over the family he lost and the loved ones he has given up over the years. Mana was stolen away as a baby and raised by human-form mermaids to be their food; Yuta found her just as she became immortal from mermaid flesh, and they ran away from the monstrous beings. Almost at cross-purposes initially, Yuta and Mana bolster and complement each other throughout, making their exchanges a joy.

Some of the story arcs take place in Yuta's haunted past, and some of them take place inthe present with Mana as a player. Those have interesting twists, as Yuta develops a bond with Mana, and Mana starts to live her life as a normal human, even though she finds out in terrible ways what Yuta already knows: the cold hands of death can never catch her for long. I agree with the original reviews of this series in one aspect particularly: the Mermaid's Scar storyline was like deja vu to me. It was beautifully done, as was most of the series as a whole, but it was slightly creepy to me nonetheless. I loved it.

I love this series because it recalls for me something I cherished when I was a young girl: the sweeping strokes of Takahashi's art that helped usher me into fandom. I never thought I'd see an animated series that actually looks like her iconic style, and I cherish this one for that reason alone. Add to that a somber, sometimes gruesome horror story, or rather, several gruesome horror stories, and you get a worthwhile set. Buy Mermaid Forest. It is unlike anything you already own, I am pretty sure of that; horror fans will be satisfied, romance fans will find their subtext, history nuts will dig the settings and details, and fans of the supernatural will call it home. It may not be the best thing going, but it is brilliantly entertaining.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

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jnager 3/13/2012 10:00:27 PM

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