Mermaid Forest shouldn’t be called Mermaid Forest, because the name-giving Mermaid Forest only appears for two episodes that don’t matter in the slightest. It’s like calling Dragon Ball Z “Muscular Car License”.
Yuta is immortal and over 500 years old as he ate mermaid flesh. Only very few who eat that meat actually become immortal, the others turn into mindless monsters or die. After 500 years of looking, he finally has a conversation with a mermaid in hopes to regain his mortality because he wants to age and die in piece instead of committing suicide. Obviously the mermaid says that he can’t, stuff happens and he escapes with an imprisoned girl named Mana, who was supposed to be a sacrifice for a morbid mermaid ritual.
That was the first episode, now we spend six episodes watching a few experiences Yuta has gone through until the plot actually picks up again. The formula is almost always the same: Mana does some stupid stuff, Yuta and Mana die and/or are separated, Mana is kidnapped while Yuta is picked up by the friendly guys, Yuta finds Mana, sometimes a retarded fight happens and they continue their journey together. The lesson of each episode is usually: Living forever is depressing.
It becomes repetitive, it becomes boring, it becomes a chore. It’s just a shame as the stories within these filler episode are interesting and would make for engaging animes on their own but they turn out to be pretty bad thanks to repeating and flat character writing. If everyone doesn’t spend their time being complete idiots, they are usually confronted with situation which would have really easy solutions but are stretched because Yuta seems to have the memory of a bird. I mean seriously Yuta, just earlier you’re told that the certain way to kill a monster or someone immortal is to cut off the head. What do you do instead, despite being in the best possible position to do it? You try to stab the back without ever aiming for the head.
Stuff like this literally happens several times. There is no character development EVER, the character writing is flat and lazy and the characters are just idiots from beginning to end. This is where my biggest problems are: The stories are interesting but everything else is bad. Yuta had absolutely no personality changes during the course of his long life. I’m just throwing it out there but YOU WILL CHANGE AFTER LIVING FOR SEVERAL CENTURIES FOR F*CKS SAKE! All the female characters are either the cute, clumsy, innocent Mana, good women who experience something bad once they meet Yuta (and usually fall for him), bad women who behave like cliché bitches because they can, old people who are scarred and never explain the mystery in time because of said bad women and bad women who behave like cliché bitches because of the old people. All the males are tragic heroes, dicks, sad dicks, bland “YELL CHARACTER XYZ NAME REPEATEDLY” characters, doing things because they don’t know better or tragic characters that are forced to do what they do, despite easy solutions to the issue at hand. That’s all the character writing you’ll ever get, no one will ever change and everyone fulfills their quota of by-the-book stuff they do. Yuta is the worst offender to this, despite supposedly having a lot of combat experience and several memories of very similar situations that they currently go through, he behaves like a moron instead and suddenly forgets everything except yelling the name of whichever character is currently in need of saving… again, usually Mana.
Having a good story is important but there is no overarching plot in the slightest. We have a collection of short stories which are all interesting and even the main story is very engaging, but how am I supposed to care if nothing has any consequences at all? Why should I care about the current situation if the solution is way too obvious? Why should I care about the weaknesses and expositions of the enemies if Yuta immediately forgets all about it? Why should I care about Yuta who is a walking, contradicting cliché who only magically survives through convinient plot-armor in his own right? Why should I say anything else about the story if the ending is another manga-bait cliffhanger?
I’ll just make it quick from here. This anime looks old, though still very appealing until you get to the fight scenes. I hope you love still images with zoom effects. It has very boring action scenes because there is, no pun intended, no action. Other than that, everything still looks nice and there are very disturbing scenes which are pleasant to look at. Though, and I’m not trying to be racist here, all the old women kinda look the same.
The opening is something I hate because of awful Engrish but I personally know a few people that actually enjoy this song, so I will just classify it as a simple case of “You love it or you hate it, there is no in-between”. The rest of the soundtrack is quite good, though it never tries to be more than an ambient soundtrack, which isn’t bad as it does help to support the dramatic scenes.
I’ll also do something else in this case, I usually don’t want to do it when it comes to anime thanks to my lacking experience in comparison to video games but it wouldn’t feel right if I would just hate on something. I see tons of potential in this anime but there are several improvements that must be made:
One very simple change would make all the short stories come together and give Yuta tons of character as well: Give him marks (like tattoos, clothing, rings or whatever) to wear that directly connect to these stories, that would automatically make us care for his past.
If you have issues with the action scenes then try to avoid them as much as possible, waste some time in thoughtful conversations or let us hear the character’s thoughts.
More diversity to the cast would have also been appreciated because as you saw above, there is a very limited amount of templates here.
Please change the title too, it’s basically the promise of something great that is wasted away in filler.
And finally, Yuta is an awful protagonist for the reasons I named earlier.
Perhaps I had too many expectations of Mermaid Forest when people recommended it to me. It’s a repetitive and cliché anime with several interesting stories but nothing else except a nice soundtrack. The characters are dumb, nothing has any consequences, there is a lot of filler, there are many plot holes and the episodic formula gets old really fast, though it is changed a little bit in the final episodes. I can’t recommend it to anyone, though you can look at this if you want to get inspiration for your own stories if you’re into that.