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[R1 DVD box art]
AKA: Takahashi Rumiko Gekijou: Ningyo no Mori, Takahashi Rumiko Theater: Mermaid's Forest
Genre: Horror action / adventure
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Formerly licensed by the now defunct Geneon.
Content Rating: 16 (Violence, bloodshed, mature elements.)
Related Series: Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Scar
Also Recommended: Mermaid Forest OAV, Mermaid's Scar OAV, 3x3 Eyes
Notes: Based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, licensed and released in North America by Viz.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Mermaid Forest TV

Synopsis

Having eaten mermaid flesh and survived, Yuta has turned into an immortal, wandering from place to place in an attempt to find a solution to his neverending loneliness. On that route, he meets up with Mana, who has suffered the same fate, and together, they travel from place to place and get caught up with various people suffering from the many facets of the mermaid's curse.


Review

The original Mermaid Forest OAV has the honor of being among the first works of anime I ever watched, back when VHS was the big thing. (And imports were expensive as sin -- even just UK imports.) I never really got around to watching the Mermaid's Scar OAV, but seeing as both Mermaid Forest and Mermaid's Scar are featured in this TV series as two-episode arcs, I don't consider that a big loss.

First word of advice regarding this series, though; don't let the box art fool you. If you've watched the original OAVs -- well, any of them, that is -- you might notice the vastly more detailed character art of our main characters. This does indeed represent the show at its best. Problem is, character art and animation tend to vary greatly from episode to episode. The opening episodes and closing episodes look great, while some of the middle ones are not as lucky. Now, I'm generally not one to make a big fuss about art and animation quality, but the sheer difference in level on both can get somewhat disconcerting.

That said, the horror fan in me can still get excited about this show even after all this time. I originally stated in my review for the OAV that I would have liked knowing how our two leads met and ended up travelling together, and the TV series -- by extent of the manga it's based on -- addresses this in a quite satisfactory manner. In fact, a lot of the episodes in this manga goes into how events of the past have influenced Yuta and turned him into the man he is today. We also learn that the reason they don't do this with Mana is because she has basically spent her whole life in captivity, which you'll learn in the episodes centered around how the two met.

The DVD is rated 16 and up, and for good reason. Mermaid Forest is a horror show that doesn't flinch when putting their characters through the wringer. It's not a particularly gory show, just direct, and not afraid of showing the darker side of the characters you'll meet in it, preferably at the very last second. Which is just how horror should be. And with the TV series, we really get into the meat of the show too, if you'll pardon the pun. Keep in mind, though; this show doesn't reach any particular conclusion beyond what each story arc provides. Then again, neither does the manga. Which is delightfully ironic, come to think of it.

I have to wonder whether Mermaid Forest's time has passed. It would be a shame if that was the case, because the stories in this series are what I would easily call timeless. Granted, it's got flaws. The art tends to vary in quality, becoming quite terrible at its worst, and the lack of a proper conclusion might bother some people, especially since this seems to be a trend in anime nowadays. That said, Mermaid Forest should be on the list of every horror fan's curriculum.

I wonder if it's possible to hope for a continuation of the manga in the future. I would very much like to see that happen.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The violence, while still present, has been greatly toned down compared to the OAV. The curse of the mermaids cause either very painful deaths or turn you into a near-mindless monster.

Nudity has been pretty much eliminated too. All the important bits are covered up.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Mermaid Forest TV © 2003 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Takahashi Rumiko Theater Production Committee / TV Tokyo
 
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