My Bride Is a Mermaid has an awesome premise. Nagasumi Michishio (Takahiro Mizushima) visits the Seto Inland Sea with his parents while on vacation and almost drowns. He doesn’t remember much about it until Sun Seto (yes, it’s a pun, as are many things in this series—she’s voiced by Haruko Momoi), a young girl his age shows up and explains that—because she saved him from drowning—he must marry her or both of them must die. It turns out her father is head of a merfolk–yakuza crime syndicate with very strict rules about such things.
I first saw the opening episode in this series years ago (not too long after it aired in Japan). It was—as I said—awesome. The humor was over-the-top and timed perfectly. Almost all of the characters were interesting and great fun to watch. The story was unique and very Japanese. The music was catchy, and the animation was very well done. It had great potential, but it faded as the series progressed.
Rather than trying to keep the unique flavor of the first episode, My Bride Is a Mermaid quickly devolved into your standard harem fantasy story. There were a lot of sight gags used in the first few episodes that were quite fun. They are especially fun if you understand some Japanese or have an understanding of the right parts of Japanese culture. However, they used them too much after they were introduced, so they quickly became stale.
Listening to the characters switch back and forth between Hiroshima-ben and “standard” Japanese (what you hear on national news broadcasts) was great fun. It’s not often that I get to hear the Japanese I remember fondly as it’s not commonly used in anime or any other Japanese shows.
Sun’s mother, Ren (Makiko Nabei), was my favorite character. She was very proper and commanded respect, but she also had a ruthless side. I think I liked her the most because she was one of the most normal of the characters. Most of the other characters in My Bride Is a Mermaid became more caricatures than anything else, totally off-the-wall bonzo for the most part. This didn’t work because it gave the viewer nothing with which to anchor themselves to the story. There were very few relatable characters, and those that offered something of that were too generic.
One of the main things that initially drew me to the story were all the references to Japanese culture. Japanese culture bits pop up in almost every anime, but this series was steeped in them. I could watch the series 10 times and likely not notice everything. Many of them were exaggerated, but the essence was there. This was a bright spot in My Bride Is a Mermaid.
The opening theme song, “Romantic Summer” (yes, it’s an English title), was great fun. This was another thing that initially drew me to the series: the song had a solid beat, fun lyrics, interesting animation, and promised a raucous series. All through the series, music was used to great effect. Even the legendary vocal powers of mermaid sirens played a part in multiple plot arcs.
Sadly, the full 26 episodes did not live up to the initial potential. Everything was predictable, most of the characters lost their charms, and the story was not satisfying. I really wanted to like My Bride Is a Mermaid, but Gonzo let me down this time. I recommend watching the first 5-10 episodes, but you’re on your own after that.
Original Air Dates: April 1 – September 30, 2007 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-MA
Network: TV Tokyo
Language: Japanese, English
Original Title: 瀬戸の花嫁 (Seto no Hanayome)
Alcohol/Drugs: 4 (frequent smoking and drinking)
Language: 3 (frequent mild and deity, some stronger)
Nudity: 1 (a number of almost-nudity bits, regular mermaid fan service, a lot of swimsuit and bathing scenes)
Sexuality: 2 (frequent innuendo, some sexual references)
Violence: 4 (abundant comical violence, frequent yakuza threats and attacks, all meant to be comical)