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 is a series of manga graphic novels in three volumes by Japanese mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. Two of the stories from the series, Mermaid Forest and Mermaid's Scar, have been adapted as anime OVA, and all of the tales, except one, were later produced as an anime TV series.


History

The original manga was serialised in Shōnen Sunday, starting in 1984. The first tankōbon was Ningyo no Mori, named after the third story within it, or Rumic World: Ningyo no Mori in its OVA adaptation.

This first OVA was released in Japanmarker in August 1991 and was picked up surprisingly quickly in the United Statesmarker. It was distributed by Central Park Media and was marketed as one of the "Rumik World" anime (along with Maris the Chojo, Fire Tripper, and Laughing Target).

Mermaid's Scar, released in September 1993 has the distinction of being one of the two titles which launched VIZ Media's anime line, VIZ Video. Along with Ranma ½, Mermaid's Scar broke ground for VIZ and set them along the path as one of the leading anime producers in America. Mermaid's Scar is available dubbed only.

In 2003 the animation company Tōkyō Movie Shinsha produced a 13 episodes TV series based on Takahashi's short stories as part of the Takahashi Rumiko Gekijō series. All but Mermaid's Gaze were animated. While closely following the story of the original manga (more so than the OVA versions), many of the violent aspects of the stories were toned down. Only eleven episodes were shown on Japanese TV, with the final two episodes (Mermaid's Scar) released direct to video, allegedly because this particular story was too violent for TV. It was released in North America by Geneon.

Summary

Legend has it that those who eat the flesh of a mermaid may become immortal. However, there is a small chance of that happening, with a much greater chance that the consumer will die or become a damned creature known as a Lost Soul (or Deformed Ones in the English dub). Mermaid Saga tells the tale of Yuta, a immortal who travel across Japanmarker and meet others whose lives have been ruined by mermaid flesh.

Manga volumes

Vol# Volume Name Japanese Story Name English Story Name Alternate Story Name
1 Ningyo no Mori Ningyo wa Warawanai A Mermaid Never Smiles Mermaid's Smile
Togyo no Sato The Village of Fighting Fish Mermaid's Village
Ningyo no Mori Mermaid's Forest
2 Yume no Owari Yume no Owari Dream's End Mermaid's Dream
Yakusoku no Ashita Mermaid's Promise
3 Ningyo no Kizu Ningyo no Kizu Mermaid's Scar
Shari-Hime The Ash Princess
4 Yasha no Hitomi Yasha no Hitomi Mermaid's Gaze
Saigo no Kao Mermaid's Mask


TV Episode list

{| class = "wikitable" width = "98%"
# Title Original airdate



Characters

Note: In some cases a character is portrayed by a different voice actor in the OVAs. These voice actors are also added.

Main characters

Mermaid Scar OVA (English)
The main character of the series, he is a 500 year old immortal. He ate the flesh of a mermaid out of curiosity when his fellow fishermen had captured one, but out of all the fishermen who ate a piece, only Yuta survived. His comrades had either been poisoned or turned into Lost Souls. Yuta was afraid that he would meet the same fate, after nothing happens to him, forgets about ever eating the mermaid's flesh. He takes a wife and lives normally until he discovers that while she grew older as the years went by, he hadn't aged physically since the day he ate the flesh. He hears that a mermaid will be able to help him turn normal again, so he begins his endless travel in search of a way to become mortal. Along his travels, he meets a girl named Mana, another immortal. He rescues Mana from mermaids who were planning to devour her, and she joins him as a traveling companion. Kind-hearted and helpful, Yuta has befriended many people who are affiliated with the mermaid's flesh over 500 years, and tried to help them from its curse.


Mermaid Scar OVA (English)
The female protagonist of the series, she is an immortal and Yuta's companion. She was raised by a group of old women who kept her captive and incapacitated in a hut. In reality, they were mermaids who sought to eat her once she reached adolescence and consumed human flesh in order to regain their youth. She travels with Yuta after he rescues her, and possesses a large sense of loyalty and feelings towards him, but due to her somewhat naïve and spoiled nature, she doesn't seem to truly realize her emotions towards him may be love, or even simple affection (even where Yuta stated she might have been jealous, she doesn't understand what that word means, mistaking the pronunciation for jellosy and asks if it tastes good). She is fifteen when she gains immortality at the beginning of the series.


Other characters

Masato in Mermaid Scar.
Mermaid Scar OVA Voiced by: Chris Turner (English)
A young boy who has been immortal for eight hundred years. He has a face of an angel, but the soul of a devil. Despite his childlike appearance, eight hundred years of loneliness and wandering have turned Masato into a cruel and heartless monster. His first victim to whom he fed mermaid flesh was his original mother eight hundred years ago, who became a Lost Soul. After one hundred years of being adopted by various people and losing them to famine, disease, and war, the boy decides to end this cycle of loneliness and try mermaid flesh again. For the next seven hundred years to come, he would patiently give mermaid flesh to a woman, and have her pose as his mother until she was deemed useless, not caring if they turn into monsters, and knowing that he would one day find a true immortal companion. He also managed to take a Luger pistol from a war and hid it, which he used in his battle against Yuta. His latest mother figure, Misa, actually gave him the name Masato. He found her during World War II after she had lost her real son in an air-raid. Sixty years later, Mana and Yuta came across Misa and Masato, and after Misa began losing her regenerative powers, Masato set his sights on making his nanny, Yukie, as his new mother-figure. Unfortunately, Yukie turned into a monster, and Masato turned his sights on Mana. However, after seeing how Mana was devoted to Yuta and brutally attacked Masato for it, the eight hundred years old boy gave her up for being a "horrible girl", and set the mansion on fire in an attempt to burn the two to death. He took Misa's car and fled, but plowed right into a truck (off a cliff in the OVA), and was thought to have perished. However, since his corpse was not found, it was implied that he was still out there searching for another mother. Masato is the only character in the entire series known to have lived longer than Yuta, a fact that shocked and horrified Yuta when he tried to use his own 500 years to intimidate Masato.



Mermaid Scar OVA (English)
She lost her husband and child during World War II, and nearly died herself when she met a little boy who offered her a strange piece of meat. The child was Masato and the meat mermaid flesh. At first Misa was happy to have a new child in her life, but she grew afraid of the fact that neither were aging, and became terrified of what Masato was capable of. After escaping from him five years ago, she was taken in by an old man whom she later married. About one month ago, the two were in a boating accident and Misa was thought dead until a week later when she appeared with no wounds. Masato tracked her down and forced her to continue to act as his mother figure. She, in turn, tried to take the mermaid flesh from him to prevent him from feeding anyone else it, but to no avail. Unfortunately, Misa failed to become a full-fledged immortal, as the mermaid flesh's effect began to wear off, and her healing powers were getting slower and weaker. Masato then simply told her that he would find a replacement. She eventually died after being attacked by a Lost Soul which was formerly Masato's nanny, Yukie. Masato shed a tear for her demise before departing.


Mermaid Scar OVA (English)
Masato's nanny. She is loving and caring and an excellent choice for Masato to choose as his new mother. Yukie doesn't know anything about Masato's immortality and Misa's dreadful past when she became an immortal. Later in the story, Yukie got engaged, but worries that she might leave Masato forever. To prevent her from leaving, Masato gives Yukie a piece of meat in which it turns out to be mermaid's flesh and then she eats it. She didn't become an immortal, however: She transformed into a Lost Soul. After Yuta kills the monster, he discovers that it is Yukie who ate the mermaid flesh by finding her ring lying on the floor. Yuta possesses Yukie's ring during his travels to help him remember Yukie as his friend (in Mermaid Scar OVA, he throws the ring to the ocean in the end).


She is a daughter of Toba Island's headman, but due to the headman's sickness, Rin has to take over his leadership. Rin has been searching for a mermaid to cure her father. By that time, she meets Yuta when he came back to life after dying in a terrible battle he was in. Rin and Yuta fell in love with each other and Yuta promised to stay in Toba Island if he could turn back into a mortal. Isago wounded Rin's father to force Rin and Yuta to go hunting for a mermaid. They catch one but the Sakagami Islanders kill Yuta and capture Rin. In the end, Rin and Yuta learned that Isago is a mermaid. Yuta decides to leave Toba Island because he does not want to marry another mortal girl while he is immortal. Rin continues her father's leadership.


A wife of the Sakagami Island headman. Isago told her husband of the immortality of the mermaid's flesh and encouraged him to find one. Isago is pregnant from her former husband who was murdered by the Sakagami pirates three years earlier. In order to give birth to a healthy child, Isago needs to eat the mermaid flesh, because she is in fact a mermaid. She tells Rin that there are mermaids who can walk on land and mermaids who swim at sea. The ones who walk on land eat the swimming mermaids' flesh, especially during pregnancy. Isago finally ate mermaid flesh, dived into the ocean, transformed back into a mermaid, and gave birth to two healthy babies.


Mermaid Forest OVA
She was Dr. Shiina's fiancée. She suffered from a deadly illness when she was a young girl, so Towa's twin sister Sawa fed her the blood of a mermaid. The blood cured her illness, but her arm deformed that of a Lost Soul's and her hair turned pure white. While she didn't age on the outside, her insides continued to age at the same rate as a mortal's. When Towa's father learned of what Sawa did to her, he had Towa locked up in a cell underneath the house and never allowed her to come out. Sawa lived a normal life: She wed and had a child while Towa lived alone with no visitors except for Shiina. Her deformed arm caused her terrible pain, so she asked Dr. Shiina to cut off the arms of dead girls and re-attach them onto her. But after a few years every arm also became deformed and the pain came back. After their father died, Sawa released Towa from her cell. Towa threatens to replace her body with Mana's unless Sawa reveals where Mermaid Hill is. Once Towa found the mermaid, she tries to force Sawa to eat its flesh to fulfill her revenge, but Sawa dies of a heart attack. Robbed of her revenge, Towa joins her sister in death and asks them to burn Mermaid Hill and everything associated with it.


Young
Towa's twin sister who inheritted the family line and thus was placed in charge of guarding Mermaid Hill. When Towa was dying, she fed her the blood of a mermaid. Towa recovered from her illness, but her arm became deformed and her hair turned completely white. As years pass, Sawa is married and gives birth to a child, but her husband dies fighting in World War II. Her child and father died sometime after that. Sawa reluctantly reveals the location of Mermaid Hill after Towa threatens to kill Mana. Upon arrival, Towa tries to force her to eat the mermaid's flesh. But Sawa suddenly dies of a cardiac arrest. Her body is apparently burned in Mermaid Hill.


Towa Kannagi's fiancé. Shiina begged Towa many times to leave with him and go somewhere else, but she always refused telling him that there was something she must do. However, Towa did ask him to cut off the arms of dead girls and replace her deformed arm, which he agreed to. Shiina recounts to Yuta and Mana his history with Towa and how she would never look his way but was always fixed on her "other self" (in the OVA, after Towa ran into the burning Mermaid Hill to end her life of revenge, Shiina chased after her to join her in death, making up for fifty-five years of lost time).


He was once a mortal, but he ate the flesh of a mermaid corpse he found lying on the beach in the hopes that he would gain imortality. When he woke up, he saw that his village has been destroyed and everyone - including his family - had been murdered. The flesh had transformed him into a Lost Soul, though not fully as he can speak and has human feelings. He had apparently lost control of himself after transforming and done the deed himself. The transformation had caused his eyes to swell so he was called "Big Eyes" from then on. He is without company for a long time until Mana came along. He finds her just reviving next to a dead Yuta at the bottom of a cliff they fell from. He takes her to his cave and feeds her after she wakes up. He wants Mana to stay with him for company as she is the first person to treat him kindly since his transformation. Upon finding Mana and Big Eyes, a hunter who lost his left eye to Big Eyes 40 years ago attacks him. The attack causes Big Eyes to lose control of himself and revert to his Lost Soul side. Mana tries to protect him, but Yuta and the hunter have no choice but to kill him in the end. As he lay dying, he calls out Mana's name with his last breath. Yuta tells her that this shows Big Eyes died as a human.


She died as a young girl during the Warring States period. A Buddhist monk found her father mourning the loss of his only daughter. Pitying the man, the monk attempted to resurrect Natsume with an ancient art called "Hangon". Even though he was inexperienced, the monk used mermaid's liver in the process. Using a mermaid's liver for Hangon not only brought Natsume back to life, but also granted her immortality. However, it also caused her to eat the livers of animals and even humans. Many decades later, Yuta meets Natsume while he is questing to find a mermaid. He also meets the monk who has decided to return Natsume to bones. When Yuta meets the monk, he agrees that he'll try to help the situation, but Natsume befriends Yuta and asks if she can come with Yuta on his journey. But her father became angry at this and tries to kill Yuta to prevent Natsume from leaving him. With her father dealing with Yuta, Natsume is now unprotected from the monk, who is able to rip out her liver. Natsume saves Yuta from getting killed, but her father jumps from a cliff with her in his arms. Her father died from the fall, but Natsume was able to live a little bit longer. She tells Yuta a good-bye and she says that she'll always be with him in his journey, and then she returns to bones.


Young (English)
A young boy who seems to be a kidnapping victim. Yuta and Mana found him terribly injured when he escape from the moving car. Nanao swallows his mother's medicine and suddenly, his wounds healed fast. Yuta and Mana takes Nanao home where they meets his mother and grandmother. Nanao's grandmother is behaving strangely and tells Yuta and Mana that they shouldn't bring Nanao back home. She then shows them a picture of the boy and his mother. Yuta looks at the woman's face and said that this woman is different from Nanao's mother and the boy is much different than Nanao. By that time, Yuta discovers that man who kidnapped Nanao is actually Nanao's father, who is also named Nanao. Nanao's "mother" is actually Nanao's grandmother who became an immortal 25 years ago and plans to feed the mermaid's flesh to him. The medicine Nanao's mother gave him is actually mermaid's ashes to build up his immunity to the mermaid flesh. Nanao is about to eat the flesh but stopped by Yuta and Mana while Nanao's mother didn't have the strength to stop him from eating it. Nanao's mother then leaves Nanao's father her gift and the boy back and went off to the world.


She became an immortal in 1969 after her divorce with her husband and about to be separated with her son, Nanao. She fed her son mermaid flesh and she ate it, but Nanao spit out the flesh and left him scarred. However, Nanao's mother became an immortal, but she has a scar on her face, making her feel the pain for all enternal. Years pass, she sees her son all grown up, got married, and has a baby son. With the baby as a reminder, she kidnaps the baby, naming him Nanao and raising him as her own son. By that time, she saw a dead woman lying on the beach, replacing her face into another's, making her look like a different person and hide away the scar and she lived in almost constant pain. When she met Yuta and Mana when they bring "Nanao" back home, "Nanao"'s grandmother showed them a photograph with a woman and her son. Both "Nanao" and his mother are much different. They have learned that "Nanao"'s mother has fed him mermaid ashes all along, but they're not sure why. Mana and Yuta learns that the two people are the same person who switches faces. "Nanao" is her grandson as a replace of her real son, who is also named Nanao. She plans to feed the mermaid flesh to her grandson, but could not because of what happened to her real son. She finally gives up her gift from her real son and gives him back the boy and went off to the world. Her body was found at a warehouse that was apparently set on fire.


She met Yuta years before World War II. When she learned about Yuta's curse of immortality, she tells him a secret about mermaid's ashes. She spread the ashes all around the field of red flowers, causing to bloom all year long, never to wilt or die by season, including winter. She calls the field "red valley". Soon, she and Yuta fell in love and began meeting in the red valley in private. Her fiancée, Eijiro, got jealous of Yuta falling for Nae, but never believed that she would betray him. He learned about Nae's signal of meeting Yuta in the red valley, so he went there to meet her. When she arrived at the valley, Eijiro became shocked of her betrayal that he strangled her to death. As years pass, Eijiro learns his mistake and sadness of what he done to Nae. But he learns about mermaid ashes and found it. The ashes brought Nae back to life, but she became a shadow of her former self. When Yuta came back to Nae's hometown with Mana, she plans to reunite with him, but Eijiro prevents it. Sometimes, Nae goes into murderous trances because of her shadow form. But Eijiro is deeply in love with her, and overlooks it. As Yuta and Nae reunite once again, she tells Yuta that she is having a nightmare. Then Yuta remembers that there is a village legend that a priestess came to the village, carrying a jar of mermaid ashes. And then a man murdered the priestess, but the ashes went into her mouth, brought her back to life as a shadow, but then wears as she went to the mountains as her deathbed. Nae's affect of the ashes wears off, left her to die once again in the red valley as her deathbed.


Before World War II, Eijiro was a young, bright man who fell in love with Nae Kogure, who is from a wealthy family. Unfortunately, when Yuta came to town, Nae falls in love with him, planning to meet him in the red valley. When Eijiro discovers that Nae is planning to run away with Yuta, he refused to believe that she would go wander off to a world with a wanderer like Yuta. So he staged a meeting to test her loyalty to him. When she failed and tried to go to Yuta, Eijiro became enraged and strangled her to death. After realizing what he had done, Eijiro buried her body in the red valley. He then dedicated his life to finding the rest of the ashes to use on Nae, and when he did he used them on Nae's body, bringing her back to life. When Yuta and Mana return and learn of Nae's resurrection Eijiro stops at nothing to destroy them and keep Nae safe. When he learns that Nae will never love him the way she loves Yuta, he orders his men to kill her too, finally rejecting the monster that he created.


(Manga only)
Akiko is the sister of Shingo Kiryu, but unlike him she does not have his violent nature. She is a sweet girl who blames herself for Shingo's disturbing behavior. When they were young, Shingo liked to kill small animals with his knife. Akiko was sickened by this and tried to stop him, but accidentally hit him in the face with his knife and caused him to lose an eye. Shingo continued hurting animals and eventually people, but always blamed it on the loss of his eye. Akiko felt responsible for Shingo and always defended him whenever he did something wrong. Eventually even Akiko grew disgusted by Shingo's behavior and decided to poison him. Because she felt responsible for the way he turned out though, she poisoned herself as well. The poison she used was the flesh of a mermaid, but instead of becoming an immortal, Akiko continued living in an almost comatose state. Many people have come to believe that she is actually a life-sized doll, and she is sitting in a chair in her home to this day. Shingo returns to his childhood home hoping to find his sister. After a battle with Shingo, Yuta decapitated Akiko, thus ending her life as a lifeless doll.


(Manga only)
Shingo is the insane brother of Akiko Kiryu. They lived together in the Kiryu Manor shortly before the Russo-Japanese War. Yuta worked there temporarily and saw Shingo's cruel and sadistic behavior firsthand. Akiko tried to prevent her brother from hurting anymore people by poisoning him. She did not realize though that the poison was actually the flesh of a mermaid. Shingo seemed to die after eating it, but he was able to dig himself out of his grave and return home. His father was so upset to see him that he tried to kill him again, but that failed as well. Because of Shingo's insanity, he was kept in a cell in the basement of the Kiryu home. Once he was released, he ripped the eye out of his sisters corpse and fled. Because it is his sisters eye, every time he murders someone he sees the last thing that she saw, his own twisted face reaching down to rip her eye out. Shingo believes that by killing his sister he can finally make the visions stop, so he continually harasses the elderly women who now live in his home. After a battle with Yuta, Yuta decapitated Akiko, then attempted to do the same with Shingo. After Shingo suffered another vision, he came to realize he would forever be tormented by his sister's last sight, and he took Yuta's sword and decapitated himself.


References

  1. Clements, Jonathan. McCarthy Helen. [2006] (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia: Revised & Expanded Edition. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-933330-10-5
  2. Mermaid Forest, Volume 1 - Quest for Death; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; July 5, 2005.
  3. Mermaid Forest, Volume 2 - Bitter Flesh; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; September 20, 2005.
  4. Mermaid Forest, Volume 3 - Unquenchable Thirst; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; November 15, 2005.
  5. Mermaid Forest, Volume 4 - Unending Nightmare; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; January 3, 2006.


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