Sun and Nagasumi face their toughest time yet as the Mermaid Exam is upon them.
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 loophole: if Nagasumi agrees to marry Sun, he just might avoid sleeping with the fishes!
He's doing his best to keep his finned fiancee happy, but a rising flood of rival suitors and gilled gangsters has Nagasumi gasping for air! He's definitely in over his head, but there's no denying the mermaid's allure - Nagasumi's hooked now that Sun has come ashore!
Contains episodes 14-26.
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.
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.
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 is similar to the first in that it has a very busy feeling to it with so many characters here. It's a bit darker than the first though with gray being the dominant color. It's also a bit more grim in a way as you have Nagasumi along the bottom looking very serious and angry while Sun is above him in a wedding gown looking all calm and distant. 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 some of the key characters of this set. The sunset design of it has a nice tinge of somberness to it and it's appropriate as the first cover has a close-up of Masa looking away while the second has Shiranui looking stern while her older brother is shadowed in the background of it. 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 both volumes. 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 the class rep and Nagasumi.
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.
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)
The first half of My Bride is a Mermaid proved to be quite the surprise. The trailer didn't appeal when I saw it but the show managed to capture my attention because it was fun and had a certain kind of raw charm to it that worked really nicely. With it mixing the yakuza with mermaids and then keeping it all a secret from people while two young people ended up bonded, the show had a pretty rough tone at times because of the yakuza side from the adults but also the way that Sun grew up in that environment and took to it pretty well, giving her more of an edge than the typical female lead character. She came across as much more capable and intense, though sometimes too much so but that lead to her not being a pushover.
The second half of the series fares pretty well though it feels like it loses some of its heart along the way because it makes such a push to show that it has some. The main thrust of this half revolves around the arrival of Akeno Shiranui who has arrived from Seto in order to give out the Mermaid Exam to both Sun and Nagasumi. The intent of the exam is to prove that the two are doing what they need to in order to keep their secrets while also proving that they really do love each other. Shiranui is pretty aggressive with the Exam as she puts them through the paces and it constantly keeps the two on edge for awhile as they make sure they're on the straight and narrow.
Unsurprisingly, there's a different goal that Shiranui has as given to her than the Mermaid Exam, which is mostly a sham. The real goal is to try and break the pair up instead of make sure they work well together. Through the Exam, Shiranui tries to come up with different ways of messing things up but ends up proving that the two are truly in love. The young lovers are indeed very much in love, though it's not exactly an overt or standard teenage love, but they've managed a bond that's pretty strong. Watching them work through the challenges is fairly routine material but they make it fun because of the ocean related aspects, the mermaid-isms and the yakuza angle. It works far better than I would have expected and a lot of it, outlandish as it gets as time, really comes down to the simple fact that I think it's good fun.
One of the best stories of the set involves Lunar's father deciding that the best way to understand his daughter is to play a ton of gal games and figure out what's in her heart. He, and other of his family, take it to the wrong direction and he goes so far as to dress up in a schoolgirl uniform which leads to a lot of really terrible gags that make you laugh a lot. Seeing the embarrassment of the kids over it and then watching other adults dragged into it makes it all the richer. The gags for this run over about two episodes, making it a bit more interesting, since they bring in the class rep to follow-up an earlier episode with her interest in Nagasumi in a way that gets her caught up in all of it. She turns out to be the unsung hero of the series I think and the one I rooted for to really find a way into Nagasumi's heart.
With a series so heavily vested in comedy, the end run can be the really bad section for it. So many shows spend the bulk of their time dealing out the comedy and fun that they feel the need to roll with a serious arc to close it out. My Bride is a Mermaid goes towards that end as it has Sun and her family invited to visit a particular Mermaid nobility who is actually a ladies man that uses and abuses women from various families. That means that the gang has to go and try to rescue Sun from certain doom by working together. It's a straightforward serious two episode story to close things out, but it manages to infuse it with a great deal of humor overall and kept it very much in line with the series as it has been, just with a bit more to it. I went into the final arc with a fair bit of fear that it would be too serious but it proved to be fun and they didn't add a lot of epilogue material to it either so that we don't get sappy and stick to the humor.
My Bride is a Mermaid lacks a little something that made the first set so much fun and part of that is because a large part of it is a test for the two leads by Shiranui. As a comedy, the show proved itself in the first set and that kind of material carried through easily into this one. The serious side of the show comes in the form of the parents who are trying to understand their kids, but that often leads to humor and fun as they make things worse in their own awkward way. There's a whole lot to like with this set in general as it lets the supporting cast shine well, particularly the class rep and even Mikawa at times, and it gives us more of Chimp having fun with being a lackey. Comedy shows are pretty hit or miss in general but this one is far more a hit than a miss and one that has replay value and is worth owning.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.
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