|A Japanese Version of Highlander||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Macabre to the extreme.
For some INSANE reason, a preview to the anime movie based on this series came at the beginning of the early Ranma 1/2 video tapes. It was an incredibly gory and shocking scene where this kid uses his finger and thrusts it into the eye of a man right before a humorous comedy. Why? I can only assume it was because Rumiko Takahashi; the creator and writer of Ranma 1/2, was the writer/artist behind this horror series as well.
But anyways, the manga series has similar overtones of horror and gore and blood as well. The Mermaid Saga refers to the basic concept that eating the flesh of a mermaid bestows upon you immortality. A young fisherman named Yuta and his fellows find part of a strange fish washed ashore and they eat it. His friends all die and one is changed into some bizarre monster that they are forced to put down. Only Yuta remains unchanged. That was five hundred years ago and Yuta has not aged a day since. Yuta discovers that the fish was a mermaid and that by devouring the flesh of a mermaid can confer upon you immortality, or death, or a hideous transformation into a irrational monster.
Like so many fictional immortals; he finds it more of a curse than anything else and wanders, searching for a way to remove his immortality. It's often a sad story and he occasionally encounters others like him who have eaten the mermaid's flesh and gained immortality including that kid from the bloody preview who it turns out is 800 years old and is a manipulative Machiavellian and thoroughly insane to boot. It's like a sort of Japanese version of Highlander.
At the very beginning of the story, Yuta encounters a new immortal Mana who has been raised in isolation for most of her life by a village of elderly mermaids who intend to feast on her flesh as in a bizarre reversal—if they eat the flesh of an immortal human, they regain their youth and helps her escape even though it ruins his chances of finding out a means to restore his mortality. And so he continues his quest, accompanied by the rather naïve Mana who he struggles to teach the ways of the world while looking for other immortals who might had clues to removing his immortality.
Each stories aren’t very long but are fairly well written with more than a touch of gore, violence, and disturbing horror—with usually a touch of sadness and tragedy as well. Usually Yuta is the recipient of a lot of bloody injuries which he simply recover from but it does allow for Takahashi to put him through a meat grinder at times. There is a bit of humor thrown in, usually via Mana who doesn’t understand things. I personally would have thought that Mana would have a larger role but Yuta is more or less the driving force and main protagonist of the stories. Along the way the duo encounter a number of individuals, a good many of them tied to Yuta’s long history and occasionally other immortals as well.
The art is extremely good with clean lines, the movement of the characters are believable and the backgrounds and settings are realistic as well.
The scenes are suspenseful even if the characters aren’t that developed. I think this series is above decent supernatural suspense and drama without being too over-the-top horror with blood and gore. For someone who just read the Ranma 1/2 series, Mermaid Saga is a shocking eye opener and just show the sheer versatility of Rumiko Takahashi as a writer. I expect a horror fan will like this series a touch more than myself otherwise.
RATING: 3 AND 1/2 STARS.