Title: Seto no Hanayome aka The Inland Sea Bride aka My Bride is a Mermaid
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 1 Apr 2007 – 1 Oct 2007
Synopsis: One day on summer vacation with his parents at the beach, junior high student Nagasumi nearly drowns while swimming alone in deep water, but is saved by a mysterious girl with a tail like a fish. Later that night, the girl approaches him and asks him to take responsibility. She is San, the daughter of a powerful mermaid yakuza family, and in order to keep the mermaids’ secrets, Nagasumi must either die or marry into the family. Unfortunately, San’s father won’t let a mere human marry his precious daughter, so now Nagasumi must protect San’s identity in the human world while avoiding the assassins from the deep blue.
Animation: Bright, clean designs with no let down in frame rate.
Comedy: Can be hilarious, but too often is just thoughtless.
Characters: A few are appealing; too many are redundant.
“Please try to laugh, as an innocent love has thus begun,” so implores the monologue delivered by an old-sounding lady at the beginning of every episode of Seto no Hanayome. For a teenaged romantic comedy comprised of wild school hijinks, manic mermaid mafia assassins, and over-the-top reactions each bent on one-upping the previous outtake, it’s fitting that these opening words state only the very obvious. This silly school romance anime shows competent animation and on occasion agreeable humor, but its one-note comedic style leaves something to be desired.
Seto no Hanayome is solidly produced. The character designs are anime standard issue “big eyes, round faces, colorful hair”, but are pleasantly animated and consistently on model. In fact, animation as a whole is one of this title’s strong points; people are constantly in motion and switch between many exaggerated facial expressions, but there is no let down in frame rate or detail. For a full 26 episode series co-produced by Gonzo, this consistency is itself an achievement.
However, this is a gag series, so I eventually have to talk about the comedy. This anime has one main joke it revisits over and over that goes something like this: Nagasumi and San are a couple, her father is a crazy gang boss who sends crazy gang thugs the boy’s way, there’s lots of angry screaming, menacing glares, and comical violence, and Nagasumi escapes by being a goof. Rinse and repeat, every episode, every scene, every last chance it gets, as if the very next time will be just as fresh and hilarious as the first time. Instead it gets stale when it happens barely 5 seconds into every episode.
Maybe this wouldn’t be such a drag if the repetition of gags wasn’t compounded by the supporting cast. San’s father is a scarred-face angry man who yells a lot and wants to kill Nagasumi. San’s miniature guardian is a two-faced angry seashelled creature who yells a lot and wants to kill Nagasumi. Their teacher is a shark who wants to kill (eat) Nagasumi, and San’s childhood friend/rival is a two-faced angry teen idol who yells a lot. See a pattern? The classmates are equally simplistic: perverted monkey best friend; short detective classmate; disciplined sword girl; and shy, glasses-wearing class president. Most of these characters are not just annoying and prone to violent outbursts, but are terribly redundant too.
While most of the cast members have one gag they replay endlessly, happily there are a few that differed and caught my fancy. Lead girl San is composed and dignified, and her humor comes from deadpan delivery that is subtly cute and playful. The parts that focus on Masa, the afro sporting accidental Casanova, were also always entertaining. When the series tried different jokes in its latter half is when this series had its strongest episodes, like the Terminator parody or applying dating-sim logic to child raising. When it avoids falling into lazy patterns, the absurd humor can be a riot.
One thing to be said about Seto no Hanayome is that it is exceedingly consistent. The middle episodes are just as crisply animated as the first ones, but the jokes stay exactly the same too. The series is too long for its premise, so the more clever comedic ideas are diluted thinly between mediocre gags and overlapping characters. Seto no Hanayome can be amusing if taken in a little bit at a time, but the whole product too often relies on loud noise and wild action when it maybe should have spent more time crafting better jokes. The sheer repetition sadly makes this comedy often as tiring as it is fun.
The Rating: 5
Reviewed by: kadian1364