Friday, 3 August 2012

Review: Selfish Mr. Mermaid volume 1

Review: Selfish Mr. Mermaid volume 1 (of 2) by Nabaka Kamo
[Aka: Wagamana na Ningyosama]

Timid crybaby Kanan (Uke) comes home from work to find his bathroom flooded by the flat upstairs. Going upstairs to investigate he finds a male mermaid asleep in the bathtub. Kaioh (Seme) is the son of the king of the sea and is currently living on land to better interact with humans. As soon as he meets Kanan he decides to move in with him since the downstairs flat has a bigger bathtub! The pair become lovers and after an idyllic honeymoon period mostly spent in bed, Kaioh has to return home for his father's birthday and takes Kanan with him.

Haru, the boy Kaioh bullied as a child sees how attached the prince is to his cute human lover. He kidnaps Kanan and forces Kaioh to fight him a a duel. He fights dirty and tricks Kaioh into leaping into the water to rescue Kanan, and has a giant clam ready to ensnare his tormentor. Kaioh has true love on his side and escapes the clam. He's about to kill Haru, but Kanan pleads for mercy and Kaioh indulges him. Kaioh rescues Kanan and drags him off to bed to be ravished happily ever after....

There's a bonus story about Haru's fate. Bullied as a child Haru sought refuge in a deserted area of the ocean - he discovers a giant clam also hiding and the pair become friends. The clam becomes his best friend to whom he recounts all his woes. Yup - this is the same clam who detains Kaoih in the fight. Haru goes back to his friend to seek comfort after losing to Kaioh again. At first he's angry at the clam for letting Kaioh go, but he quickly realises that it's because he is still too weak. The clam sheds silent tears for his friend and desperately wishes for arms so that he can comfort Haru. Magically he is transformed into a human and Haru is confronted by a beautiful stranger suddenly embracing him...

I confess to being quite disappointed with Selfish Mr. Mermaid. I'm not too keen on the artwork or the characters, didn't find the main story particularly interesting and thought that there wasn't enough mer content. The best part for me is the bonus story about Haru which is really sweet and the artwork is more chibi - Haru as a child, BESM style is really cute. And there is the odd panel that's really sweet like the one where Kaioh carries off Kanan in fish patterned PJs.

Kanan/Kaioh are the archetypal uke/seme but they aren't particularly likable. Kaioh, as the "Selfish Mr. Mermaid" title suggests is a bully and Kanan cries all the time. The pairing is sweet enough but it really is a textbook example of a yaoi pairing and isn't interesting. There's a great deal of sex, particularly considering the length of the volume but again it's not that interesting or amazingly erotic. It has its moments, but its not very varied and all in human form.

None of the mermaids have tails (booooo!) and there is a distinct lack of mermaid content - Other than the underwater setting  and the odd detail, this could quite happily have been a contemporary human story. I also found it weird that the term "mermaid" is used rather than "merman."

Things/innovations that I did like: Mermaids tears turn into pearls which they sell in order to make money. A bathtub can be used as portal between the underwater world and our own - they jump into the bathtub to get to the undersea kingdom and we imagine that's how Kaioh arrived as well. There's also a nice nod to "Mermaid Forest" when Kaioh teases Kanan that a human can obtain eternal youth an immortality by consuming mermaid flesh.

It's a real shame that this is the most accessible merman manga available to western audiences as it's really not the best in the genre and doesn't even have proper tails.

Verdict: 3/10

You can read it for free here:

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