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Mermaid Saga
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 12/31/1999

Synopsis:
Legend has it that whoever eats the flesh of a mermaid will be granted eternal life and youth. Yuta is one of those who have received this "gift". But is it really a gift? Yuta has been forced to watch his loved ones age and die through the years. For five centuries he has roamed the world searching for a "cure", or for someone like himself. As fate would have it, Yuta chances upon a girl named Mana. She too has been bestowed with immortality like Yuta. Together they travel through Japan longing for a normal life. Soon, they meet others who have also experienced the mermaid's "gift". But as they soon discover, mermaid's flesh affects each person differently. Yuta and Mana are just the more fortunate ones...

Review:
Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga is truly different from her usual comedic works. I guarantee those who know her only for "Ranma 1/2" and "Urusei Yatsura" are in for a surprise.
Each chapter presents a different tale and yet everything is tied together by the main characters, Yuta and Mana. It's like a group of short stories unfolding inside one main plot. It's not episodic, and the stories can stand alone. They are, however, greatly enriched by the base storyline about the legendary mermaid flesh. It's really quite an inventive approach, and I've come to admire the depth of Ms. Takahashi's imagination.

The overall atmosphere is grim. The tone is serious, as darker facets of human nature are revealed. Everyone wants a piece of the mermaids, and all for various reasons. Greed, vengeance, selfishness... they are the driving forces in the pursuit of the elusive mermaid flesh. Yuta and Mana are plunged into the situation, being immortals on an unending quest for something... even they cannot be sure of what they're truly seeking.

The art is simple in style, yet pleasant to look at and effective -- as is always the case with Ms. Takahashi's works. Panel layout is quite conservative if compared to her later works like "Inu-Yasha". Mermaid Saga definitely is a suspenseful page-turner which will leave readers very satisfied. It's a pity that this is not enjoying as much exposure as the likes of "Ranma 1/2" and "Urusei Yatsura" are. In some ways, this series is even better than Ms. Takahashi's more popular works.

Miscellanies:
The Mermaid Saga manga series is now also an anime series named Mermaid Forest.

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Mermaid Saga
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Review title:
Mermaid Saga
Alternative Titles:
Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Gaze, Mermaid's Scar, Ningyo no Mori
Volumes:
8
Suitable For:
Young Adults
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Published:
1984-1994
Genres:
Horror, Romance, Shounen,
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