Manga Review: Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition Volume Two

Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition Volume Two collects the remaining seven chapters of the series into one volume. It appears from this release that VIZ Media is breaking down the volumes the same way the second English releases did in 2004. In other words, this volume collects the third and fourth volumes of the second English release.

Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition Volume Two
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 16, 2021

This volume continues Yuta’s journey as he tries to find a mermaid, since it’s said that a mermaid is able to help someone who has eaten the flesh of one to become a normal human being again. He is accompanied by Mana, a young woman who was forced to eat mermaid flesh and be a sacrifice. Yuta rescued her in the previous volume, and she goes with him wherever his journey takes him.

The first story sees Yuta and Mana encountering a young boy named Masato, who is on his way to live with his mother. After this encounter, the story skips ahead two years into the future, and we see things aren’t going well for Masato and his mother. Yuta and Mana are working at a job site nearby and hear about a weird corpse that was seen floating in the water a year earlier. The boy is brought to the work site by a woman named Yukie, who works for the family and cares for Masato. Mana recognizes him. As fate would have it, Masato has a connection with mermaid flesh, and Yuta finds out what’s going on.

The first two chapters focus on this story, and there’s a twist in here that I hadn’t anticipated. That twist has to do with which character had eaten the mermaid flesh and is the immortal. I thought this twist was a nice touch, since the character in question isn’t the person the reader would have necessarily suspected. Thanks to Takahashi putting this twist in, it made the “Mermaid’s Scar” chapters a more interesting read.

The next story, “The Ash Princess,” is told over the course of one chapter, which to me, was surprising. Throughout Mermaid Saga, there are only two chapters that contain a self-contained story. The first one appeared in Volume One. It should be noted that “The Ash Princess” takes place earlier in the timeline than many of the stories in the series. In this story, Mana is not traveling with Yuta, he’s dressed in different clothing, and he mentions that he’s been alive for 210 years (in the “modern day” storylines, Yuta comments that he’s been alive for 500 years). This story focuses on a girl named Natsume and her “pa,” who claims to sell mermaid flesh; however, what he’s actually selling is fish. It’s revealed that Natsume is an immortal, but that she was brought back by a monk using a technique that brings people back from the dead but used a mermaid liver to enhance the technique. Now that monk is trying to get the mermaid liver from Natsume and return her to the dead. Yuta ends up embroiled in this situation. This was an interesting story, and it plays out differently than many of the stories included in Mermaid Saga. However, I do wish it was somehow made a little more clear when the story is jumping around in time. I remember this happening in the previous volume and being confused at first because I hadn’t realized the stories weren’t being told in a linear fashion. At least this story saw Yuta saying how long he’s been alive, so I was able to piece together that it was a story from earlier in Yuta’s life.

The next two chapters focus on the story “Mermaid’s Gaze,” and it sees us return to the modern day. Yuta and Mana come to an area that Yuta has been at before and encounters a family he had worked for years earlier. It turns out the troublemaking son had eaten mermaid flesh years earlier and is now immortal. He is trying to get a hold of his sister’s doll, and an old woman who still works at the family home refuses to give it to him. Yuta and Mana hear ghost stories involving the mansion, and Yuta recognizes it as the place he had worked at previously. This is another story in Mermaid Saga that Yuta returns to a location from his past, but this time is able to encounter one of the people from the past since they have also eaten mermaid flesh. The son is a horrible person, and what we learn about him reinforces this idea to the reader. These two chapters were very chilling, and probably the closest this series comes to what I would associate with horror manga.

The final two chapters, “Mermaid’s Mask,” are also on the darker side and more in the horror vein. This is another story that involves a child, but there’s weird circumstances surrounding his mother. Yuta and Mana come across him after he’s escaped from a kidnapping attempt, and the two of them take the boy home. After hearing some of the local town gossip about this family, the two of them decide to stick around and try to figure out the truth about the family. There’s some twists in this story that make it more interesting, especially since it’s the second story in this volume that involves Yuta and Mana encountering a child who just happens to have a connection with mermaid flesh in some way, shape, or form.

However, at the end of this volume, there is no resolution for Yuta’s quest, even though this is the final volume of the series. In some respects, it’s a bit of a let-down, since the reader follows Yuta through all of these stories and at the end of it, he’s still no closer to his goal than when the series started. However, when you take into consideration that this is a manga by Rumiko Takahashi, it’s not entirely surprising that the story doesn’t have a definitive ending. When you think about how long Ranma 1/2 lasted and ultimately didn’t have a definitive ending, this isn’t quite as bad.

If you’re a fan of Rumiko Takahashi and don’t mind the idea that the overarching storyline of the manga doesn’t end, then I would recommend reading Mermaid Saga.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Additional post about Mermaid Saga:

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