a.k.a. Rumic World: Ningyo no Mori
Mermaid flesh can bring you eternal life. It can also bring death or, even worse, damn you to live forever as a mindless monster. Yuta and Mana are two who were granted eternal life by the skin. Not sure if this was a blessing or a curse, they try to find some happiness in their never-ending lives. Yet not all are so lucky; Towa is stuck in a state between eternal life and being a tainted monster, and will do anything to grant herself the full benefits of immortality… even if that means stealing the body of another.
summary by Mugs
Lows: Lack of background on the main characters
Dark, depressing and decidedly unlike the work that Takahashi Rumiko is better known for, Mermaid Forest is nevertheless another solid creation from the talented writer. The story plays out a lot like 3×3 Eyes, and many of the same themes are present (examples: if eternal life is really such a good thing and what one would do if they had it, and the frequent and bloody deaths that Yuta seems to meet).
The show starts out in 1936 with a strange sequence where we see Yuta die for no apparent reason, and then switches to a pair of sisters and a doctor. Even though at the time none of this makes any sense whatsoever, it does eventually become clear. This brings me to my biggest gripe about the show: not enough is revealed about the supposed protagonists. A brief glimpse is given into Yuta’s past, but that’s really all that is provided. How he and Mana met, why Mana is immortal, what their relationship is really like are all questions left without a shred of an answer. There were OVA sequels to this show and perhaps things are eventually answered, but standing on its own merits this left a gaping hole in the story. That being said, the story portrayed in this OVA is nicely put together, and we get plenty of information to fill out the “guest” characters’ motives and pasts.
The animation has an old look to it, and the shots themselves are, for the most part, dark. This combined with the subject matter and the way a lot of information is portrayed in flashbacks, it almost felt as if I was watching film noir. Devoid of comedy, this one is more for those who can enjoy a solid (if somber) story and don’t mind the surprising amount of blood that flows.
Mermaid Forest can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE, as part of “Takahashi Rumik’s Rumic World Collection” (6 OVAs).