The Bride of Seto
If Jr. High School student Nagasumi Michishio watched as much anime as I do, it should have come as no surprise to him that a seemingly harmless family vacation to the Seto Inland Sea would result in an engagement to a beautiful, sweet girl whose family is made up of the local yakuza clan all of which who happen to be merfolk. I mean, this kind of stuff happens all the time, right?
So yeah, “My Bride is a Mermaid” (Japanese title “Seto no Hanayome” or “The Bride of Seto”) is one of those kinds of anime. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. When working in an established genre, it is really a question of how good they do the genre, and this series does a great job.
The Magical Girl/Harem combo can be done for romance (Ah! My Goddess or an overdose of fan service (Eiken) or for straight-out comedy which is what “My Bride is a Mermaid” goes for. Based on the manga of the same name by Tahiko Kimura., this series is almost a parody of the genre and delivers some good laughs with the many bizarre situations Nagasumi finds himself in. The undersea humor reminded me a lot of One Piece more than anything else, with the romantic element thrown in. “My Bride is a Mermaid” is pretty much a fan service -free anime, with maybe just the slightest hint of it here or there if you squint your eyes, but that is about it.
The story is basic: Nagasumi and his family go for vacation to the Seto Inland Sea, where Nagasumi almost drowns and finds himself rescued by a beautiful mermaid. No one believes his story until that same mermaid, named Seto and with legs this time, shows up at his doorstep and begs for Nagasumi to accept her as his fiancé. The merfolk have a code, it seems, of killing any human that sees them in their nautical form, and the only way around it is for Nagasumi to take Seto as his bride. Marry the beautiful girl or be killed. Of course, to complicate matters Seto’s family is also the local yakuza clan, and Seto’s father would much rather see Nagasumi dead than give away his precious daughter.
Nagasumi and Seto are only engaged, not married, so they spend time going on dates and Seto eventually returns with Nagasumi to his hometown of Saitama to attend school with him and get to know him in preparation for their future. Seto’s family isn’t going to let her go off alone, however, and they soon show up to wreck havoc on Nagasumi’s school life. Of course, there are some human girls back at school that fancy Nagasumi as well, and a rival mermaid shows up to give Seto a battle for Nagasumi, who she wants to take as her manservant. Hijinks ensue.
There is all sorts of good comedy packed into this series. Seto has legs only so long as her feet don’t get wet, which means that water is flying everywhere during the series. Seto’s bodyguard Maki is a tiny little elf-girl that lives in a spiral shell but comes out sword a swinging every time she thinks Nagasumi is over-stepping his bounds. The series relies a lot on running gags and playing around with the genre tropes, such as Nagasumi getting his “first kiss” stolen by male yakuza member Masa so Nagasumi is rendered as a “bishonen” -type whenever Masa shows up. When Seto gets serious, she is suddenly shrouded in darkness and accompanied by falling cherry blossoms, which leads the other characters to wonder where all the blossoms are coming from. There are two transformed-animal yakuza members, Shark Fujishiro and Octopus Nakajima who are exactly what their names sound like.
The only complaint I have with “My Bride is a Mermaid” is with the subtitles. Japanese is a language with many regional dialects, and too often translators feel compelled to use various English accents or way of speaking to capture this. It doesn’t work. Even though Sun and her family speak perfectly polite Japanese using the dialect local to Seto, the subtitles have them speaking like a bunch of hillbillies saying things like “yer gonna get it” or other ridiculous phrases. When Sun says “Watashi was Nagasumi no tsuma ni naru” the subtitles says “I’m yer future wife” which is not at all correct. She doesn’t speak like an uneducated country bumbkin. I don’t mind it if this kind of translations is used when done for effect, like when the tiny Maki talks in her “yakuza voice” when trying to be intimidating but then switches back to normal Japanese, but putting those words in Sun’s mouth all the time just doesn’t work.
This release by Funimation has the first 13 episodes of the 26-episode series originally released in 2007. The series is continued in My Bride Is a Mermaid: Season One, Part Two. Although the boxsets say “Season One,” there actually is no “Season Two” following up this anime There were two OVA releases in 2008 and 2009, although I don’t know if there are plans to release these as well, but it is possible they would be released as a limited “Season Two,” but they would be very short and non-continuous.