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 1-26.
The audio presentation for this release is standard fare from FUNimation as we get the bilingual release with the Japanese track in stereo encoded at 192kbps and the English mix in 5.1 at 448kbps. The Japanese stereo mix is a predictable but decent piece 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 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 twenty-six episodes across four discs in a standard seven/six/seven/six format that uses the same discs as the original half season releases so there are no differences in the encoding here. 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.
The packaging for this release condenses things a bit by putting the four discs inside a single sized keepcase with a hing inside to hold everything. The release uses an O-Card to give it a bit more impact visually with brighter colors but it uses the same artwork as the keepcase itself so it doesn’t have any extra variety to it. The front cover has a bit of an odd angle to it but it works well as it shows Sun reaching down to Nagsumi as she saves him while they’re underwater, but not. It’s an appealing looking cover with its character artwork and colors as it stands out well without being overpowering. The back cover uses a lot of colors to it to play up the undersea angle with its Japanese origins and the center section where all the info is has a lot of appeal with the layout and color design of it all. The show is given a decent summary alongside a few shots from the show but mostly it’s all just very colorful and engaging. The bottom portion is a bit more difficult where it has the production information and technical grid as it’s black text on too many different colors which makes it hard to read. The release has a good reversible cover though which is a plus as the main side has a good action pose from Nagasumi with a serious look while behind him are two large shots of Sun and Lunar as they’re playing it up for all it’s worth. The back panel for it has a cute shot from the show of some of Sun’s family while below it is a breakdown of episodes by disc with titles. No show related inserts are included with this release.
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 and fourth discs 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.
As the series progresses, 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 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?
My Bride is a Mermaid is a show that I really did enjoy overall even if the second half felt a bit more forced than the first half did. As a comedy, the show proved itself in the half and that kind of material carried through easily into the second half, but it was the introduction of some of the supporting cast that threw it off balance. Shiranui ended up putting me off a fair bit the more she got involved. I liked the first half more because of the introduction of the characters and especailly Sun’s family and their arrival at the school. Shiranui was just too much on top of characters like Kai and the two of them pushed out other more potentially fun characters like Mawari. That said, there’s a whole lot to like with this show in general as it lets the supporting cast shine well 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.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 3rd, 2012
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
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.