Synonyms: Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Gaze, Mermaid's Scar, Ningyo no Mori, Mermaid Saga
Published: Aug 1984 to Feb 1994
Authors: Takahashi, Rumiko (Story & Art)
Serialization: Shounen Sunday Super
Score: 7.621 (scored by 1230 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page. Please note that 'R18+' titles are excluded.
This manga doesn't have much in the way of a plot. It centers around two people who are cursed to live forever, and that's really all there is to the main plot. The meat of the manga doesn't come from its main story, but rather its short story arcs, which all together make up a "saga," so to speak. Some of these arcs do have some interesting moments, but for the most part, they're forgettable, and some these arcs rely a lot on shock value.
I adore Rumiko Takahashi's art style. A large chunk of this manga came out early in Takahashi's career, and this was a time in which her style hadn't quite found its groove just yet. By the end of the manga, however, the art improves drastically. In fact, this is usually the case with most of Takahashi's older works, such as Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura. The improvement in the art isn't gradual like it is in the other series I just mentioned, however. This manga was on hiatus for a number of years, and when Takahashi finally finished it, the change in art was very sudden. It's difficult to judge the art because for most the manga, the artwork is only okay, and it's really only great for the last few chapters of the manga. The artwork is never unpleasant to look at, however, and it always carries the Takahashi charm.
This series only has two main characters, and neither of whom is very interesting. Both characters also seem to be lacking in the personality department. They aren't characters you're going to hate, but you also won't like them. You do see their relationship grow a bit, but you still don't get an emotional attachment. There are some semi-interesting characters among the story arcs, but they aren't really memorable either.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Mermaid Saga. Kind of. It has some mildly entertaining moments, but it's never exciting, and there are some admittedly boring moments. It's not a bad manga, but it's not really a good manga. I personally wouldn't recommend this manga to anyone except for Rumiko Takahashi fans. Even then, I'd actually suggest watching the Mermaid Forest TV series over reading the manga. It tells the same story, but it's more entertaining in anime form. Really. read more
The main characters are rather bland. Yuta is your average good guy, Mana is your average brat - which is surprising since they both have such dark and tragic pasts.
The episodes themselve though are incredibly well structured, engaging and gripping.
Well, that's enough of my life-story. Now onto the review!
The story takes unoriginal concepts (immortality, man-eating mermaids, crazy shotas, etc...) and puts them all together to create something very interesting and, strangely enough, original in its own way. Now, why I can't give this manga any rating higher than a 7.5 is not because it was mediocre, but as a big fan of this manga, I wanted more. The story was interesting enough to elaborate more on, yet the author chose to end the series prematurely and without resolve. The ending wasn't bad, but when I had reached it, I thought there was going to be more and I looked until I discovered that it really was finished. I really wanted to learn more about each character's past and especially their future. You never discover if they ever revert back to being normal human beings. For that, I can't say I am completely satisfied with this manga story-wise, yet what it does have to offer is very interesting short stories, which introduce new characters and overall do make the manga very enjoyable. I like that it's not just the flesh of a mermaid which can cause immortality, but other things too, such as; ashes and blood. So, overall the story was great, but I think if the mangaka continued, it could have been something amazing.
Rumiko Takahashi's style is somewhat old school and I love it for that. Yes, it may seem quite simple-looking at times, yet there is something just so beautiful about it. Mermaid Saga's art does surpass many of Takahashi's other series, yet it remains consistent to her style. I love the atmosphere her art gives off in this series. It's so elegant, but it manages to be eerie as well, which is perfect for this manga.
This is another area of the manga that could use some sprucing up. The characters in this manga are for the most part one dimensional and nothing particularly stands out about them. I did expect better in this area, looking at some of Takahashi's other works, like Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha which have characters that make both series come to life. Generally, I did not feel anything towards the cast of characters in this book. Infact, this manga may have some of the flattest characters that this author has ever created. Even though it is a very short series and character development is inevitably lacking because of that, it isn't impossible to make characters that are interesting or atleast have personalities. Still, they all weren't that bad, just not interesting.
As a kid, I loved this manga and as a young adult I still love it. I will probably reread it too very soon. Like I said before, what it does have to offer is a very interesting concept, which is definitely worth the read. It's short yet sweet. Although the ending is pretty bitter-sweet in my opinion, I still would highly recommend this manga. Even if horror isn't your cup of tea, Mana and Yuta have a pretty nice relationship going on (although, as I said before, if the story and characters were furthermore developed, then the romance part of the manga may become alittle more evident than it is).
Overall, I give this manga a score of 7.5/10 (curse MAL's inability to allow .5 scores). In my eyes it's obviously a 10/10, but looking at this manga from a more critical point, it does have many flaws, but it also has a great amount of charm and personality (although the characters lack that lol). The atmosphere is bang on and I think this could have been one of Takahashi's best works if she had decided to continue it.