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Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh (2003) – DVD Review

Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh DVD cover art


Based upon the manga by Rumiko Takahashi
Directed by Masaharu Okuwaki
Character Designs by Masaki Sato


  • Production art gallery

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Endangered kittens
  • Wicked doctors
  • Twisted dogs
  • Violence
  • High creepy factor
  • Quasi-cannibalism

Released by: Geneon
Region: 1
Rating: 16+
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Get if if you love Rumiko, and you know you do.

[ad#longpost]In this second volume of Rumiko Takahashi‘s classic horror anime, Mermaid Forest, the mythos of the show is explored a bit more, and we delve deeper into the creepy world of Mana and Yuta. Attempting to rescue an abandoned kitten, Mana wanders into a road and is hit by a truck. She is sent to a hospital where doctors attempt to treat her (or do they?), but has disappeared from it by the time Yuta arrives. In searching for her, he discovers a strange mansion with even stranger residents; the house is rumored to have a mermaid cemetery adjoining it. Eventually, he finds the Mermaid Forest, where the pathetic and fearsome existence of two women will provide him with further answers about the legend of the mermaid flesh and the curse with which he has been infected.

The two-part “Mermaid Forest” episode was released as an OAV during the 1990s in a slightly different and condensed form, so that part of this disc might be slightly familiar to you. The version presented here, however, is improved, but faithful, so if you liked that earlier version, you’ll enjoy this just as much, if not more. The stand-alone episode sends Mana out on her own for a bit as she meets and works with a Deformed One who is not as evil and inhuman as she expects at first. It’s an interesting chance to see more of Mana without Yuta translating her naiveté for the rest of the world.

The special features list is basically limited to a production art gallery, which is actually quite nice. Fans of Takahashi’s work or those anime fans interested in how productions like this come together will want to look at and study this. It is, however, too bad that we so very rarely get interviews with Takahashi or even texts of previously recorded interviews, perhaps translated from the Japanese into English.

Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh

The art is what you expect from Takahashi. If you like the aesthetic style of shows such as Inu-Yasha or Ranma 1/2, then you’ll like this show, as well. The colors are all bright and clean, with moody sections done in a lovely, watercolor-like atmosphere. The dark, frightening sections leave just enough hidden to be terrifying, without just being muddy and uninteresting. Takahashi is a master of knowing how color and suggestion effect viewers.

The show sounds just fine, with clear dialogue nicely balanced with the music and sound effects. The voice acting is solid, especially given how difficult it must be to act in a horror piece; sounding terrified on cue, while standing in a little padded booth is probably rather a challenge.

Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh

Basically, if you enjoy horror or myths, then you will almost certainly enjoy Mermaid’s Forest. It’s not a Takahashi for kids, but it is still a solid bet for most anime or general horror fans. Takahashi is not one of the highest paid women in Japan for no reason; she remembers that fiction–and anime is fiction, don’t forget—is basically about the story, and she’s a master storyteller.

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