As the legend goes, the eating of mermaid flesh grants a human being immortality. Yuta and Mana are two of these people cursed with an endless existence and, as such, find some solace in each other's company.
But they are not the only ones who know the secret of immortality as granted by these means. A solitary mansion by the sea and a family doctor hide deeper and darker secrets on the subject, and when Mana is kidnapped by the inhabitants of the mansion, Yuta must uncover the horror within, rooted in the past of the ones cursed by the mermaid's touch.
Takahashi Rumiko, better known as the creator of the action comedies Ranma and Inu Yasha, shows another side of herself in this chilling horror tale of greed, lust and sin. And with that, she proves herself to be an excellent creator of great horror as well.
I think I established the fact in my Inu Yasha review that I'm somewhat of a Takahashi fanboy. And it's no wonder either, as this is one of the most suspenseful horror-thrillers I've seen, with a truckload of hidden secrets and plot twists.
The settings are great, and the colorful backgrounds in the beginning present an interesting and well-thought-out contrast to the dark and gloomy style that oozes in as the main plot starts moving. The art is actually great for the time period and the animation, is just as good. The background and atmosphere is, like I mentioned, light and colorful at times, and dark and gloomy when it needs to be. The technical aspects of this film are some of the main reasons this title is as great as it is.
Of course, the rest of that greatness lies within the characters and the story. This being a single-shot story (as opposed to the newer TV series), character development does take a back seat, though the characterizations themselves are good enough. The fact that there aren't too many characters is a good thing in this case.
The myth about the mermaid's flesh are not only being told through the actions of the residents in the mansion, but also during flashbacks from Yuta's past. We learn that eating mermaid's flesh doesn't necessarily grant immortality. Just as often, or more so, it kills you or turns you into a monster. Although we don't really get to know why, one can always guess. It is, nevertheless, a great insight to the character of Yuta.
The residents of the house, mainly the old woman and the mysterious, white haired one with the bandaged arm is no less played out, though it takes the entirety of the OAV to bring forth their motivations and the small snippets of their past. But when they do, rest assured; you will most likely not be disappointed.
Although I do wish they could have played out more Mana's part. How did the two meet, and how (and why) did Mana end up eating mermaid's flesh? It might be that this part of the story is being told in the bigger numbers of manga issues released, but it was something I wondered about nevertheless.
Now, let me remind you that this IS horror. As such, it does get rather violent at times. And just to remind you; since Yuta is immortal and can't die, he does place himself in the receiving end of most the violence in this movie. It's no "Braindead", but he does bleed a lot, mainly from being attacked by demonic-looking dogs or other ... beings. Also, though this is a minor case, there is some slight nudity on Mana's part, though very brief. (She was lying unconscious on a table as the doctor was examining her. I won't spoil anything by telling why.)
So, with the suspenseful story, the greatly acted, if not developed, characters and the settings, we have a winner of a horror tale. By all means, go get it.
A solid title which makes me hunger for more, if you'll excuse me the expression. ^_^ — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Adults only. There's some close-to-splatter like violence performed mainly on Yuta and the fate of some ... beings in this OAV is rather horrible as well (though not outright gross as in you-know-what-title). The short segment with the nudity isn't much of an issue here.
Version(s) Viewed: UK VHS release from Manga Video, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Mermaid Forest © 1985 Shogakukan / Kitty
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