Mermaid Forest, Vol. 3: Unquenchable Thirst

Film:
DVD:

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

Features:

  • Production art gallery

Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

  • Violence
  • Child endangerment
  • Weird scary creepy wrong things
  • Don't eat anything

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

My Advice: Add it to your anime or horror collection.

Rumiko Takahashi's creepy work of genius continues in this third volume. In the first, stand-alone episode, we temporarily bid adieu to Mana and concentrate on Yuta's past. Long ago, he encountered a pair of hucksters, a young girl and an old man, who were selling fish as "mermaid flesh" and conning the peasants who wanted immortality. What made their deception work, however, was the fact that the young girl would cut herself and show how quickly she miraculously healed. Yuta, at first thrilled to encounter fellow immortals, learns that he's wrong when it is revealed that the con artists are involved in something much more distasteful than Yuta thinks.

Next, the two-part episode, "The Last Face," has us back in the present as Mana and Yuta encounter a severely wounded boy, who then takes some medicine and is instantly healed. The mystery evolves to include hidden faces (literally) and people who are not who they say they are, as well as new facets of the mermaid flesh mythology.

The plots here continue to develop the world and legends surrounding Yuta and the mermaids in fascinating and creative ways. Viewers will be wrapped up in the mystery along with our protagonists. The plots can get convoluted now and then, but that befits a mystery-horror tale such as this. The characterization is rarely neglected for the sake of thrills or plot, and while Mana's a bit too wimpy a female sometimes, she also has a way of getting the inside track into the heart of the mysteries they must unravel.

The features list is the same as previous issues in this series: a production art gallery. This would be more disappointing if the release in Japan had been much better. However, how about some text from a narratologist about mermaid myths? Why not some footage of Takahashi working or, dare I hope, an interview? Even the text of a manga version?

The artwork is typical for Takahashi, with fine detailing and an appreciation of color, shadow, and background. She's a master at creating a mood and sneaking up on you with a change in that mood. You might think the fact that this is animated will reduce the fear-factor, but it does not. This isn't a slasher flick; it's creepy, like Shirley Jackson or Richard Matheson.

The audio is similarly strong, with continued good performances from all concerned, in English and in Japanese. There's some decent use of the stereo track, as well as delicacy in handling the complex mix of sound effects, environmental sounds, and dialogue in places.

If you haven't picked up any of the volumes in this series yet, then you can still plunge in here, which is pretty much true of any of the volumes. You'll miss out on the character introductions, but all you need to know, you'll pick up as you go along. No one does horror like the Japanese, and Mermaid's Forest is no exception.

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