I was a big fan of InuYasha when it was airing on Adult Swim back during its heyday-anime-run. Its story focused on an outcast who’s on a quest to find an elusive supernatural item in order to become something he’s currently not and...wait...wait... This review is about Mermaid Saga not InuYasha – yet their similarities are striking and need to be noted. For reference, Mermaid Saga started serialization in 1984, while Rumiko Takahashi’s later work, InuYasha began in 1996, and it’s really hard not to see the influence an immortal man named Yuta had on everyone’s favorite demon-dog. Sit boy!
Okay, so right off the bat there’s something fishy going on (pun intended) in Mermaid Saga as the story opens with Yuta searching for a mermaid. Everyone he meets assumes he wants to eat the mermaid’s flesh as it’s common knowledge in Japanese folklore that if you do, you’ll become immortal. However, Yuta’s search is for the exact opposite reason. You see, a long time ago he inadvertently became immortal and he’s lived through a lot of history. He’s also “died” so many times he’s lost count and yet he’s never encountered someone like himself. Meanwhile, Mana is a girl with an attitude who’s been held captive by some old hags for many years, and following some harrowing events the two are brought together. The pair make some new discoveries and then set off on a journey across Japan to enjoy their lives – presumably together.
Each new chapter is presented in a very monster-of-the-week-format and depending on what you like this may be a good or a bad thing. One benefit is that it’s easy to pick up and start in on a new chapter without feeling like you needed to remember what’s been going on previously. The story skips around in time a bit as it presents some of Yuta’s life previous to meeting Mana via flashback sequences. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to tell when the story is taking place in the past due to the clothing people wear and the technology in the eras in which they live.
Since this was written in the 1980’s the character designs might seem a bit dated, but that’s part of what I consider to be its nostalgic charm. The artwork is good for its time and it’s pretty simple and clean, without a lot of flashy background effects which you might see in more modern series. For those who like some action, there are many good fight scenes; however, I did feel like the transitions between panels were a bit choppy at times. Also, is it wrong that I was amused by how many times Yuta gets stabbed in the gut with sharp objects? Poor guy…he needs to just stockpile some shirts. Anyway, if you’re still on the fence on whether or not to pick up Mermaid Saga, some other well-known works by Rumiko Takahashi’s include Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura, and, of course, InuYasha, so if you’re a fan of any of those series this Signature Edition Manga from Viz will be a great catch for your collection.
They say that if one consumes mermaid flesh, one can attain immortality. Unfortunately, the more likely result includes becoming horribly deformed or turning into a vicious monster! Even if one were to gain eternal life, however, is such an anomaly a lucky blessing or a terrible curse?
Yuta became immortal when he unwittingly ate mermaid’s flesh, and now he seeks a way to become human again. Hundreds of years later, he encounters a volatile and determined young lady named Mana while searching for a mermaid. Could this mysterious woman hold the key to saving Yuta’s humanity?