Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Bride is a Mermaid Anime Review!

A lot of romantic comedy anime are often hit and miss. Sometimes they're amazing and sometimes they suck complete donkey balls. My Bride is a Mermaid is a slightly older anime, having been created in the earlier 2000s, about a young man who, through a series of unfortunate events and circumstances, ends up getting hitched to a mermaid—which is kind of obvious, seeing how it's in the title. Fortunately for everyone who is curious, My Bride is a Mermaid happens to be one of the better romantic comedies.

Our story begins when Nagasumi Michishio almost drowns while on vacation. Luckily, he's saved. Unluckily, the person who saved him happens to be a mermaid. To make things even worse, the mermaid who saved him was Sun Seto, daughter to the head of the Seto gang, a mermaid yakuza group. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a law among mermaids that whenever a human sees them in their true form, the mermaid must die in repentance... or something. That part is never explained, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that this sticky situation can only be resolved without impending death on either side by one thing, and one thing only: Nagasumi and Sun must get married. Too bad her father, Gozaburo Seto, isn't keen on the idea and will do anything to stop this marriage from happening, including murder.

There are a number of aspects that make this anime better than the average harem romantic comedy. For starters, the series doesn't rely on fan service-y gimmicks and threadbare cliches to tell its story. Instead it relies on outrageous events and preposterous scenarios that could never happen in a million years. Things like a submarine suddenly crashing through the gymnasium floor during class, or an epic battle between a mermaid pop idol are pretty commonplace in this series.

Of course, it's not as if the story is free of tropes. However, the tropes used in this anime are used well. Chimp is the perfect example. He's basically the perverted best friend who's only real purpose is to be, well, perverted and humorous. What makes him funnier than most characters of his type is how he's used. A great example is how Chimp can sometimes randomly turn into a “wise old man” archetype character and start spouting ridiculous lines. It's even better because this character archetype was clearly inspired by none other than Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z.

Going through the episodes, it's clear that My Bride is a Mermaid doesn't contain much in the way of plot, but since this is a romantic comedy, I don't really think that matters. Every episode focuses on delivering off the wall and outrageous comedy, while exploring and further developing characters and character relationships.

Seeing how Sun and Nagasumi are our main characters, it's pretty obvious that they would be the focal point for most of these episodes. However, there are a number of side and support characters who actually get a time to shine. In fact, part of what makes this series better than most is because it gives its other characters enough screen time to properly develop. Even the “Class Rep,” a girl who is so invisible that we never actually learn her name, has several episodes where we get to see her being placed in the spotlight.

This sort of side character development is never more clear than in episode 24, where Kai Mikawa, Nagasumi's rival for Sun Seto's affection, gets a boil on his butt. During this episode, Chimp overhears the doctors talking about Kai and mistakenly assumes they're saying that Kai has contracted a terminal illness and will die soon. Of course, they were only talking about how Kai was insufferable, but he didn't hear that part. The entire episode then deals with Kai as he's treated like a prince, only to learn that he's apparently terminally ill. Despite knowing that what his real illness is—you know, the boil on his backside—Kai ends up believing he's going to die soon, which may or may not be because the entire world apparently said so. This episode would actually be really touching, except you know that Kai isn't really dying, and so the entire episode is just this huge build up for a massive train wreck.

Saying that, the series isn't all fun in games. While every episode delivers a good deal of comedy, there are also some life lessons to be learned, and we get to watch Nagasumi and Sun undergo numerous hurdles as they further their relationship and develop as characters. In most of the episodes, we get to see how these two interact with each other and with others.

One of the most important reasons I enjoyed this series is actually Sun Seto. In a day and age where I feel like a good portion of anime have become standardized to the point where characters are so bland I could replace any one of them with a character from another anime and the story wouldn't suffer, Sun is a breath of fresh air. She's one of those characters that you can't replace. Her personality is unique and every bit as outrageous as the other characters of this series. This allows her to shine as the main heroine.

Episode 22 epitomizes her individuality. During this episode, Lunar requests that Sun act as her boyfriend because she's rehearsing for a movie. Sun agrees. Not only does Sun agree, but she goes all out. The next morning we get to see exactly what Sun's ideal version of a boyfriend looks like. Poor Nagasumi doesn't quite match up. Perhaps it's not surprising, but Sun's idea of a perfect boyfriend is someone who acts like a yakuza thug. She's even got a beard.

It's not just the episodes like this that make Sun a likable main heroine. Outside of having a sweet and kind personality, Sun has these little quirks that make her feel a bit more real, such as her catchphrase, or the fact that she's a complete airhead, or how she panics whenever Mawari—Nagasumi's childhood friend and someone who's life goal is to become a cop—starts talking about following the rules. Little moments like this allow us to see Sun as her own person and not just Nagasumi's trophy wife, which is something that many harem anime suffer from.

Perhaps the prime example of proper main character development is at the halfway point, episode 13. Lunar, a mermaid pop idol and Sun Seto's self proclaimed rival, has fallen in love with Nagasumi. In this episode, her father decides that Nagasumi has to take responsibility and marry into the family, or he will be killed. He's then kidnapped and taken to the Edomae estate. There, he's strong armed into accepting his marriage to Lunar. The timely arrival of Sun, who confesses her feelings to him, sways Nagasumi to take a stand and state that he won't marry Lunar because he's in love with Sun. This sort of development is not only appreciated, but it's also what makes both Sun and Nagasumi more likable than the standard protagonists that newer anime of the same genre have a tendency to produce.

Another thing that I really like is how they properly reuse a joke in a way that, despite having already been used, remains funny even after using it again. In the first episode, Nagasumi and his parents are dragged to the bottom of the sea, where Gozaburo is waiting for them. After they arrive, Masa, one of the Seto gangs thugs and Gozaburo's right hand man, performs mouth to mouth resuscitation, essentially stealing Nagasumi's first kiss. This joke is revisited several times. In fact, whenever Nagasumi is in Masa's presence, he gets all starry eyed. Adding to the humor is the fact that Nagasumi's mother also gets starry eyed whenever Masa is around. This joke culminates until the last few episodes of the season, where we learn that Masa has lost his memory and is coming close to regaining it. This episode features an “out of the closet” joke, in which Sun mistakenly believes that Nagasumi is in love with Masa—much to her husband to be's horror.

Just as important to the series is how the anime had a satisfying conclusion. I've been let down by a lot of romance anime in my time. The biggest problem with harem romantic comedies is that most of them are always open-ended. They make you scratch your head and wonder why the hell you spent several hours watching these characters get closer to each other when, in the end, the main character didn't choose any of the girls, didn't man up, and the romance never progressed even after everything these characters have been through. My Bride is a Mermaid had a truly satisfying conclusion, and it shows that conclusion in the most spectacular manner possible by having a suddenly transformed Nagasumi in place of his usual character design. If you want a good comedy mixed with romance, then I'd definitely recommend you watch this anime.