After watching these macabre tales about the eating of mermaid flesh, Judge Bryan Byun will never be able to look at sushi the same way again.
Get ready for more gothic horror, Japanese style!
In Bitter Flesh, the second volume of Rumiko Takahashi's (Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha) moody horror series, Mermaid Forest, our heroes Yuta and Mana—a young man and woman who are older than they appear, having become immortal from eating the flesh of a mermaid—continue their journey to find a cure for their condition, and to find others of their kind. As with the previous volume, Quest for Death, this disc offers three episodes:
• "Mermaid Forest (Part I)" and "Mermaid Forest
• "The End of the Dream"
As a fan of Takahashi who greatly enjoyed the earlier (and woefully incomplete) OAV series of Mermaid Forest, I find this new series to be quite a treat. Not only is there simply more of the story, being a complete adaptation of the manga, but the animation and character designs do justice to Takahashi's distinctive style. The series clearly wasn't made on a top-shelf budget, though, and the artwork tends towards the run-of-the-mill, lacking nuance and detail. And while the English-language voice acting has grown on me since the first volume, it's still a little colorless; I'd be hard pressed to recognize either Yuta or Mana without seeing their faces, something I wouldn't have said about Ranma 1/2.
Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh, like the previous volume, provides a clear, clean transfer, free of major defects. The color palette in this series is brighter and more vivid than I remember the OAV being, and the DVD presents the colors quite well; while the artwork is certainly not the major draw of the series, it's pleasant to look at. English and Japanese audio tracks are provided, in Dolby Digital 2.0, and both tracks are clean and bright. Extras, once again, are minimal, with just an art gallery and set of three previews for Geneon titles.
The archetypal "wandering hero" premise never seems to get old, as it provides endless possibilities for stories of all kinds. Mermaid Forest is no exception; it's a reliably entertaining series with appealing protagonists, intriguing mysteries, and a truly creepy, ominous atmosphere that often blossoms into full-on horror. This being the creation of Rumiko Takahashi, though, there's an impish sense of humor that offsets the otherwise serious tone.
Mermaid Forest, Vol. 2: Bitter Flesh is cleared of all charges, though the court must reprimand this series for putting it off of sushi for a long, long time.
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