Title: Yumekui Merry aka Dream Eater Merry
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 7 Jan 2011 – 8 Apr 2011
Synopsis: Fujiawara Yumeji possesses a strange ability to tell if people are going to have nightmares. He himself has recently been going through repeated dreams in which he is assaulted by cats. One day, a mysterious girl falls on top of him and he soon learns that, not only is there a fine line between dreams and reality, but there are things living in the dream world as well.
Visuals: Painterly and masterful.
Music: Perfect for the anime’s dream-like qualities.
Voice acting: Amateurish.
Humans can dream any number of times. With dreams, you can do anything as long as you wish for it. These are important messages to keep in mind while growing up, but in all honesty, the premise isn’t exactly all too original: evil guys cross over into the human world, a young boy possesses some strange ability, and a mysterious girl shows up out of nowhere. It’s a touching theme deep down, but the way the narrative is woven makes the ending somewhat predictable.
But this anime is surprisingly good because studio J.C. Staff has the expertise to bring the best out of very basic building material. Quite simply, the anime embodies how painterly anime could get without becoming abstract; it combines gorgeous watercolors for backgrounds with the force of bold manga-esque lines in action scenes to create an engaging dream world that is integral to the main story. All too easily can the viewer get lost in the masterful use of color, applied in a liberal yet effective style that brings out the atmosphere of the show. Awash in reds, blues, and yellows, the backgrounds in this anime are vibrant at times but murky at others, embodying the psychological states of the characters at hand. Subtle in its effects, the art of Yumekui Merry is a perfect fit for the themes of the show on several levels. At the same time the art of the dream worlds is integrated well stylistically with a much more realistic depiction of the human world.
Combine this with Merry’s wonderful background music, and it’s difficult not to find oneself at least somewhat invested in the characters. Piano melodies for the happier scenes fully bring out the brightness of the trees, flowers, and sunlight while the more mellow jazz track impregnate the heavier scenes with a sense of melancholy and contemplation. The battles in the dream world are heralded by dramatic organs. All in all the anime deserves praise for its wonderful manipulation of atmosphere.
Still, the series itself is a diamond in the rough — it has fantastic aspects that made it a thoroughly enjoyable anime, but at the same time it floundered on several levels. Especially since the quality of animation is quite high at times, a drop in the quality is jarring. For example, some scenes show the characters’ faces sketched roughly and disproportionately, despite having a fully completed background. Also worth noting is the noticeable limitations to some of the voice actors’ talents. Several of the characters in Merry are done by newcomers, and their lack of experience shows clearly during certain scenes, many of them comedic.
Much of this anime was wasted potential, which could have gone to better use with a stronger cast of actors and twice the number of episodes. Yet its difficulties cannot fully detract from the show’s stronger points. By the thirteenth episode, viewers are still left wondering about the main bad guy since the anime ended before all the character’s conflicts were solved (granted the manga isn’t finished yet). Tempting as it is to give this anime a higher rating simply for the amount of potential it had, in the end the show never truly became the great anime it could have.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Kylaran