There are rare kinds of scores in anime. Sometimes you have great anime that you want to gush about. Then you have the terrible anime you want to rant about. And then there’s a rare sight: an anime so mundane that it warrants neither praise nor condemnation. This is the case with Mermaid Forest. Spoiler: Don’t trust mermaids, ever.

Mermaid forest is a series of short stories that center around a man named Yuta. It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid you gain immortality. Thus, having eaten the flesh of a mermaid, Yuta has been alive for 500 years, searching for a way to return to his humanity. In the present day, meets another immortal named Mana who is about to be eaten by mermaids since they in turn eat humans to keep their eternal youth. Yuta saves Mana and together they search the land for answers to their future.

Mana and YutaUnfortunately thats all there is to the plot. I have said before in my exposes on the last episode of Otogozoushi and all of Blood+ that the struggles of what true immortals must be going through is very interesting. If nothing else, Mermaid Forest focuses on this aspect of Yuta’s character. He hates his immortality and wants to just be human again. While he could die if his head was cut off, he wants to grow old and die peacefully. When he finds Mana he is told by a mermaid that it is impossible for him to return to normal. After the initial shock though, he seems to accept it and decide to build a future for himself and possibly Mana.

Character development is basically void in this saga. Since the only character to appear in all the episodes is Yuta and he’s been alive for 500 years already there isn’t much growth or quest he has to undertake. Most of the stories are short lived and don’t give him time to rise to any occasion or discover anything profound. Instead he mostly reminisces about the past and the hot women he never lived with as well as saving Mana from being killed/kidnapped/eaten (which she is constantly getting herself into).

Mana eating Ningyou NikuThere are two things about Mermaid Forest that I will always remember: If you find a mermaid, kill it before it kills and eats you (and try to eat it if you feel lucky) and that everyone in Japan has access to mermaid in some manner. Yuta is constantly running into people who have mermaid in a jar somewhere and are using it to gain immortality (which never works). The sheer absurdity of how many people he finds like this is overwhelming at times until you remember that he is 500 years old and we are probably only watching the highlights of his life.

Even so, the show was interesting. The fact that people year for immortality, but the one man who has it has been mourning that fact for half a millennium. The loneliness is a major theme in this show. Yuta has outlived all his friends and lovers and has only gotten close to a few people. Also, the introduction of the true legends of mermaids from Japan (and subsequently England since I went and looked it up) were a nice find. Ever since I was small I was under the impression that mermaids were good (Disney). But in fact, every culture that has a mermaid legend has them being murderous and harbingers of bad omens.

For 13 episodes, Mermaid Forest wasn’t that bad. But without a plot and no character development it wasn’t that good either. It had its moments but really it was something that was mediocre and dull. Thats why Mermaid Forest gets a score smack dab in the middle: a forgettable 2.5 out of 5 stars. I will never be able to look at Ariel the same way again.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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