When one young man is lost, salvation comes from the unlikeliest of places: the ocean.
What They Say:
They say look before you leap and make sure you can swim before you go in the deep water, but when a picture of his late grandfather falls into the ocean, Shima jumps in after it without thinking. Nearly drowning as a result, he is instead saved by a very perfect stranger… one whose strangeness extends to only being human from the waist up!
For Shima, who’s always felt like a fish out of water himself, it’s more than just a revelation, and the young man and merman quickly begin to bond in ways neither anticipated. And yet, it’s going to be far from easy sailing. After all, Shima and Isaki aren’t just from opposite sides of the tracks, they’re from entirely divergent species, and swimming in separate gene pools may make maintaining a long term relationship a whole different kettle of fish!
For this viewing, I took in the English dub. Both the English and Japanese tracks are available in 2.0. The mix was fine, though I didn’t really notice any particular directionality. While I like all of my releases to get the 5.1 treatment, this is a quiet, dialogue based series, so the 2.0 mix is perfectly acceptable.
This is an interesting title, visually. The animation is very basic, with many rough movements and seeming low framerates. However, the overall art-style is pretty rough too, as much of it appears to have been transferred directly from a sketchbook, so I think the “framerate” of the animation is an intentional effect. This is supposed to be an introspective title, and any action in it is essentially incidental to what’s really happening below the surface, so the rough nature of it is a nice reflection of that. I can see plenty of people watching this and being turned off by the art style, but I could appreciate it for what it was trying to do.
The package for this release is basic but well designed. The cover has a shot of Shima and Isaki in an embrace under the water, looking into each other’s eyes. In a nice touch, the ‘y’ in Boy in the title logo has a merman tail. The back has another picture of Isaki and Shima, this time with Isaki looking sly and Shima looking reserved, matching their personalities. The whole this is bright and colorful, like the majority of the show. There’s nothing special about it, but it reflects the feature well.
Like the packaging, the menu is basic but colorful. There is a shot of Isaki and Shima along the top, while the menu selections are laid out below in bright, neon colors. There’s a lot of blue and pink on the screen, and the menu selections stand out well, as does the highlight.
The only extra on this release is the original Japanese trailer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shima is a lonely boy. Shunned by his parents who wanted him to be everything he wasn’t, he was raised by his recently deceased grandfather and has never been able to express his feelings for fear that people would hate him for it. Feeling depressed, he takes a late-night walk along the coast where he falls in and nearly drowns as he is unable to swim. He is fortuitously saved by Isaki, a merman who was swimming nearby. Hearing Shima’s sorrowful tale, Isaki offers to stay with Shima in the hopes of brightening his life, and together they begin exploring feelings they never knew they had.
Yaoi is not generally my cup of tea, so I’m not going to pretend that I was pining to see This Boy Caught a Merman. Having now seen it, it’s still not my cup of tea, but I have to admit that I really liked the presentations of it. The art direction did a really nice job of portraying Shima’s inner turmoil, and I liked how the style and boldness shifted as his inner emotions did as well. I could see people finding it distracting, but I thought it was well planned out.
Plot-wise it is a solid title too. Even at only 30 minutes, they did a good job of setting up Shima’s lifelong anxiety and depression and building up the romantic tension between him and Isaki. By the end, their relationship feels completely natural, even if it is inter-species. As somebody who has no interest in the genre, I wasn’t particularly invested in the outcome one way or another, but it’s not hard to imagine that those who like BL would be.
While I loved the art direction of This Boy Caught a Merman, I could leave the rest. But to be fair, that’s more my general disinterest in the yaoi genre than it being actively bad. If yaoi is your bag, then you would probably find this fairly enjoyable as a sort of alternate telling of The Little Mermaid, but it will do little to change your opinion if you aren’t already a fan. Recommended for fans of yaoi.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 20 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Trailer
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: D
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Running Time: 30 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System