This is Rumiko Takahashi at her darkest, but her trademark humor and romance also pop up in this three-volume series. Legend has it that if a human eats a mermaid's flesh, they will be granted eternal life. But is that a blessing or a curse? Immortal lovers Yuta and Mana travel through Japan and the centuries longing for a normal life. On their journey, they meet others who have consumed the flesh of a mermaid in hope of becoming immortal. But the powerful substance affects each person differently. Yuta and Mana are two of the lucky ones. Others are fated to die or transform into a savage monster, a "lost soul."
Ningyo Series began publication in Shounen Sunday Zoukan and later moved to Weekly Shounen Sunday. It was published sporadically during its serialization. The original Japanese release was two wideband volumes and was incomplete; the second was complete in three small size volumes.
The series was first published in English in the 1993 March issue of Animerica—Anime & Manga Monthly, a magazine published by VIZ Media. This magazine printed the first two story arcs of the first volume in Japanese. The remaining stories were subsequently published in comic book format by VIZ Select Comics, with 4 issues to each part, titled Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Dream, Mermaid's Promise, Mermaid's Scar, Mermaid's Gaze and Mermaid's Mask, published from 1993 to 1995.
The series was additionally printed in standard tankoubon format by VIZ Graphic Novels, who printed the series in three volumes, titled Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Scar and Mermaid's Gaze, from December 6, 1994 to March 8, 1997. VIZ Media re-published the title as a four-volume series, this time as Mermaid Saga from July 14, 2004 to December 22, 2004, in the original, right-to-left order.
Mermaid Saga is one of Rumiko Takahashi's earlier works that has been forgotten as the years go by. When you go back and read it, it's kind of easy to see why it was forgotten. It's not a particularly bad manga, but it's not particularly good either.
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.
Excellent manga. Too bad it was discontinued. It lacks a clear goal or an evil antagonist, who needs to be taken down, which is why it has more of an episodic character.
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.
Okay this was the first manga I bought and I can tell you it's not so bad. The story is well put and doesnt leave you into boredom although it does drif you away from the story one chapter and so forth on mostly the Main character Yuta's past than much on the current story with him and Mana characters are okay and the art is not bad. I guess if you want something to enjoy on a semi-long trip this one is alright to read it's an ok manga, but not as good as her others like InuYasha(even though I haven't read the manga
verison)nor I don't know why she ended without no sense of giving it a proper way of conclusion.
Ah geez, I haven't read this manga in so long, but I feel like I need to write it a review, since it was one of my favorites. As a 10 year old, naïve child, I first discovered Mermaid Saga in a library and thought "the word 'mermaid' is in the title, it must be a cute mermaid shoujo story about cuteness and love and glitter with pretty flower patterns all over the pages". Well, I read it and NOPE. Instead it was quite the opposite and I was so disturbed by it, yet loved it so much that I bought the manga and re-read
it 10 times over (although not recently...).
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.